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Sep 12, 2008 02:25 PM

Bon Mar Che Bistro--Hong Kong New Territories Village Style Food?

I was walking down Garvey Ave. in Monterey Park when I noticed a sandwich board proclaiming "Now Open" and a picture of a chef. I was somewhat puzzled because I didn't know of any restaurants at the particular location, but apparently while I wasn't looking somebody built a small mini-mall across the street from the Catholic school and indeed there was a restaurant at the very back of the mall. That little sign had a couple of interesting things on it. It said "H.K. N.T. Village cuisine" which I presume refers to the New Territories area of Hong Kong. It also had the letter "B" highlighted with a bunch of Chinese characters. At first I thought they were proclaiming a "B" rating from the health department. However as I approached the restaurant I saw a sign on the window that said "B Village Cuisine." (And the rating is "A".) The inside of the place was quite interesting too. Near the front there were Chinese vegetables laid out on the counter of the open kitchen. The restaurant did not have printed menus. Rather the "menu" is posted on the walls in the form of various signs and banners. "Village pork" "Village dumplings" "Village chicken" "Village chow mein" "Filet Mignon Chow Fun". Also there were a number of cruise ship posters and pictures on the wall, leading me to believe that the chef used to work the cruise line circuit. I settled on the deep fried fish balls, which I thought might be fish balls on a stick like at the Hong Kong Fish Ball stand in Rowland Heights, though at almost $7 it would have been kind of pricey. What I got was batter encrusted supersized fish balls, a bit bigger than a whole scallop (which it kind of resembled). I can't say anything great about this dish, though it was interesting and artistically presented on vegetable leaves.

I'd be curious if someone could explain all the references to village cuisine and dishes. Is Bon Mar Che Bistro something new under the sun in terms of regional Chinese cuisines here in Los Angeles? Bon Mar Che Bistro is at 331 W. Garvey in Monterey Park, on the block east of Lucky City.

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  1. Went back for a second visit and found out some additional information. This indeed is New Territories Village style food cooked by Chef Li, formerly of Crystal Cruises. When I questioned him whether this style of food was different from traditional Hong Kong food he said it was very different. He noted that village food lacked the British influence (whatever that might be) and was low in oil, salt and MSG, something which seemingly would fly better on the Westside than in Monterey Park. (On the other hand their specialty seems to be pig stomach.) Indeed the filet mignon chow fun was so light and oil free that it threw me for a loop. One other unusual thing I noticed was a waiter carrying out a hot bowl of soup from the open kitchen who headed straight out the door and into a neighboring store. I guess if your business is close by they'll deliver and not bother with takeout containers.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Chandavkl

      Interesting. I thought the New Territories is pretty built up now? Hopefully the food is not too cruise ship influenced. But this looks like something different that I'd like to try. Thanks for your report.

      1. re: Chandavkl

        Was that Poon Choi that the waiter was carrying out?

        Does the place have Poon Choi?

        1. re: ipsedixit

          Actually it was something I had never seen in a Chinese restaurant, a large bowl of soup with slices of tomatoes (seemed to be uncooked) and pale greens (possibly lettuce) floating on top, indeed obscuring the remaining contents of the soup. Guess this just adds to the differing style of food being served at this restaurant.

          1. re: Chandavkl

            That sounds like it could in fact be poon choi.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              Hardly sounds like Poon Choi, this is what it should look like

              1. re: Sgee

                I know what poon choi looks like, make it at home sometimes.

                Just from Chandavkl's description, it sounded like a possibility. Who knows.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  yeah i always thought poon choi had alot of meat in it...this didn't sound like it had alot of meat in it and sounded more soupy

                  although i haven't had it since i was young

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Especially not with raw tomatoes..... and floaty greens......

                2. re: ipsedixit

                  Yes, it does served Poon Choi. Delicious too! I had the duck with shrimp. Next time around, I have to try out the wine chicken.

          2. A big thank you to Chandavkl! I am lovin this place. I love that it's a bit different, delicious homecooking, very low on the grease and little or no msg, and all the house-made items. We went for pun choy at dinner. Not only delicious, but fun too. The standouts for me was that incredible duck, made in house, with five different spices; thin crispy skin, very little fat. Their pork belly had a higher ratio of meat to fat than a lot of pork belly I've had. Also really liked the pork with taro root. We separately ordered a dish of the steamed ground pork. It was topped with small pieces of octopus, shallots, scallions; juicy and delicious.

            Then I went back for lunch, especially to try the house made fun, which was thin, smooth, and delicious. Their housemade fishballs are also really good. They have a sticky rice cheung fun, different and good. The jook was also a standout, home cooked jook where you can still see the individual "blossomed" grains of rice.