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Oct 21, 2008 03:55 PM

Arcadia restaurants other than Din Tai Fung

What are good and relatively inexpensive (ie, under $25/person) restaurants in Arcadia other than Din Tai Fung?

Please describe with details, if possible. Thanks!

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  1. Right on Baldwin, a few blocks north of Din Tai Fung on the opposite side of the street, is a dumpling place. It's called... Dumpling something. Dumpling House? Dumpling Master? Dumpling... God, my mind is destroyed. Maybe somebody else can help. It's northern - big, thick-skinned, filled dumplings, plain and herby. Quite good. The leek pies are quite tasty.

    32 Replies
    1. re: Thi N.

      it is called dumpling house.

      not too far away on rosemead (a couple blocks south of las tunas) is another place called dumpling house and is quite good.

      1. re: Thi N.

        Dumpling House on Baldwin is awful.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          Huh - either I'm on crack, it's gone seriously downhill, there's a radical divergence of taste, or I'm misremembering the place. All are very possible. Haven't been in 2 years. All my non-XLB dumpling love lately has been spent at Noodle House on Garvey, and 101 Noodle Express. Trust slacker and ipsedixit more than me on this one, in any case, is my advice.

          I personally find it very hard to be within 10 blocks of Din Tai Fung and do anything else but go to Din Tai Fung.

          1. re: Thi N.

            Perhaps you are recalling the Dumpling House in Rosemead (on Rosemead Blvd.)?? This place is very good and does indeed have thick skinned dumplings. But "herby"?? Dunno. Don't even know what "herby" means. :-)

            The Dumpling House on Baldwin (in that same section where there's a fish/chips place and some Thai joint, right?) is simply a fraud.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              I'm so surprised to hear you say that! I love Dumpling House. In a recent XLB crawl with a bunch of people, we rated DH XLB's highest of all out of DTF, MLV, and several other spots. The flavor and texture were right, better than DTF's soulless skins and bland fillings. Their pork and celery dumplings are a nice little departure from the typical, and their beef rolls and gigantic and delicious. Where's the fraud? Am I thinking of a completely different place?? It's across and down the street a bit from DTF? Everyone I've taken there has really enjoyed it.

            2. re: Thi N.

              What non-XLB's do you get at 101 Noodle House?

              1. re: Burger Boy

                1. Pumpkin shrimp dumplings.
                2. Cumin lamb skewers
                3. Beef roll.

                All dumplings good

                1. re: Thi N.

                  Hey Thi, I have very little XLB experience but isn't the shrimp & pumpkin a XLB. Love the beef roll but I hear they do a great pork & chicken toll, have you had those?

                  1. re: Burger Boy

                    Burger Boy,

                    101 Noodle does not serve XLB.

                    Asking what "non-XLBs do you get at 101 Noodle House" is sort of like asking what non-hot dogs do you get at McDonald's. Just doesn't compute.

                    Anyhow, the dumplings, won tons, beef roll and the drunken chicken are all good gets at 101 Noodle, although I think the beef roll is a bit overrated and overhyped. To each its own, however.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Well Ipse, excuse me, but what are those dumplings then? The shrimp and pumpkin, the pork & schrimp, the shrimp and scallion? Excuse me for not knowing all the technical difference. I thought those juicy things with the thick skins where XLB's. Someone educate me please! By the way, that beef roll is amazing, but I will try another place if you will lead me.

                      1. re: Burger Boy

                        It's my understanding that the dumplings at 101 Noodle are "dumplings," whereas XLB are a special dough containing a liquid and some sort of filling (and, hence, not called a dumpling).

                        Here's a link to the Wikipedia topic:

                        1. re: Burger Boy

                          Dumplings are not XLB and XLB are not dumplings.

                          101 Noodle only serves dumplings.

                          Just like a plate of meatloaf isn't a steak dinner, a XLB is not a dumpling.

                          Not that one is necessarily better than the other, but just because both meatloaf and steak are beef-type products does not make them one and the same.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            Ok. So the pork & shrimp with juice are dumplings. O thought those were XLB's. So there are dumplings like at Empress Pavillion and these? Are XLB's bigger? more juice? I guess I need to go to DTF or MLV and get the XLB's so I know the deifference. Thanks

                            1. re: Burger Boy

                              the very generic, quick and easy way to describe xlb vs dumplings is:

                              xlb: round & steamed

                              dumplings: oblong, can be boiled, steamed or pan fried (into potstickers

                              1. re: wilafur

                                Thank You very much Wilafur, I think I understand now. I look forward to trying real XLB's.

                                1. re: Burger Boy

                                  yeah, the main difference between xlb and other dumplings (contrary to ipse's post, xiaolongbao ARE dumplings of a sort, they are soup dumplings) is that the meat filling will be floating around in a pool of soup inside the dumpling.

                                  People get all heated up about them because when they're good, they sort of explode with juice in your mouth. Then you get to chew on the little meat dumpling inside. I've easily eaten 40 or so dumplings at a sitting. I think my record is about 60. Sigh, I can't do that these days.

                                  I think Din Tai Fung is a good place for them. The main problem with DTF is that they're much more expensive than other similar places. Price aside, I can't think of a better xlb place though.

                                  1. re: choctastic

                                    No, XLB are not "dumplings of a sort" at all. That's just sloppy thinking.

                                    XLB are "baozi" or buns, and in the case of XLB, buns made from unrisen dough.

                                    Dumplings are not buns, or baozi.

                                    Each -- XLB and dumplings -- have separate and distinct provenance. XLB are a Shanghai creation; whereas dumplings originated in the North (e.g. Beijing and parts thereof).

                                    XLB are not dumplings in the same way a Monte Cristo is not the same as French Toast, even though both involved egg-dipped, fried sandwich type creations. If someone were to ask for a good French Toast recommenation, it be odd, if not completely inapt, to suggest a Monte Cristo dish.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      I agree with ipsedixit. Perhaps non-Chinese folks do not see much of a difference between XLB and dumplings. Or they may consider XLB to be a particular type of dumpling. But to most Chinese people, there is a clear distinction.

                                      Chinese people make very clear distinctions between food from different areas. In contrast, many non-Chinese folks don't think the distinctions are that significant. Sometimes, I've gone to non-Cantonese restaurants, and upon discovering that I'm Cantonese, patrons and staff ask why I am eating at a non-Cantonese place.

                                      Saying XLB is a dumpling is like saying all types of rolls, breads, etc., are bread. A French roll is not a German 9-grain bread. A hot dog bun is not a baugette. It may be obvious to a Westerner, but to many Chinese eaters, these all fall under the category of bread.

                                      1. re: raytamsgv

                                        Ah, thanks for correcting me. Though, I do tend to think of rolls/hot dog buns/etc as breads, so maybe I just think sloppily in general.

              2. re: ipsedixit

                agreed, dumpling house on baldwin is one of the WORST restaurants i've ever been to. been twice (equally bad both times). first time, they just left dirty plates on all the tables, figuring they'd clean up at closing. second time, we were ignored for a long time even though there was only one other table in use.

                food-wise, i'm chinese, and these were the absolute worst dumplings i've ever had... filling was flavorless mush. at no time could we identify at all what we were eating. just terrible. and yes, the food was just as bad both times.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  I think the place is just OK for the price, but judging from the other posts, it may have gone downhill since then. I think there are better places: Tasty Garden (HK-style cafe) on the southeast corner of Baldwin and Duarte. Garden Cafe--another HK-style cafe on Baldwin (just south of Huntington on the east side) is pretty good, although I like Tasty Garden better.

                  If you want dim sum, there is Full House on Golden West and Duarte (in the 99 Ranch mall). It's cheap, and the dim sum is decent.

                  Bean Sprout is a sort-of Western/Taiwan vegetarian fusion restaurant on Huntington. I think the cross street is 2nd. It's mostly Chinese, but they serve salads with the dishes.

                  Chang's Garden, located in the plaza just east of DTF, serves decent Shanghai food. I think J&J and Mei Long Village are better and cheaper, though. On the other hand, it does have a decent decor.

                  1. re: raytamsgv

                    No No no, Chang's Garden is terrible. Serving quasi Shanghai style food catering to the hype after they got featured in LA Times a couple years ago. had seasonal veggies- wayyy too salty. Fish that was 30 bucks was decent. Everything else was so so. You'll probably have a better chance at Nice Time Deli across the street from DTF or Mei mei thats in the same plaza as Chang's garden.

                    1. re: AndyGanil

                      I think our friend Mr. Gold disagrees with you, though the folks from the Guide Michelin probably don't. Check out this week's LA Weekly...

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        I disagree with Mr. Gold quite often, especially when it comes to Asian and particularly Chinese food.

                        I don't understand, it sounds like you're saying that if Jonathan Gold says so, then it must be true in fact, and we should follow like sheep.

                        1. re: slacker

                          No, what I would say if the subject came up is that I have found him to be a reliable guide. That's probably because I've found that his taste in food of any sort aligns almost perfectly with mine. It must align equally with a whole lot of other people's as well, or he wouldn't be as successful as he is, but there will of course be exceptions. I'm not putting those down at all; de gustibus, non est disputandum (or: there's no point arguing about taste) is a good motto for any food freak to have.

                          1. re: Will Owen


                            I'm not trying to debate the merits of Gold's reviews, but I am curious as to what basis you contend that Gold is "successful".

                            I understand that he's won a Pulitzer, but that's more for writing and a literature recognition than a pure culinary prize.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              In my books, anyone who gets to travel and eat and then write about it, and consistently gets paid to do it, is by definition successful. Anyone who gets tapped by the Caltech public-lecture program folks to share a stage with Shirley Corriher and talk about his favorite thing - food - with her, well, that's beyond successful. And anyone who can write about something that many intellectuals used to make a big deal about disdaining, i.e. the pleasures of the table, and have that writing not only treated as serious journalism but be rewarded for it, must be regarded as a very successful person indeed. See, that was the big deal: food writing being treated as real journalism. It was very much as revolutionary as Dan Neil's getting a Pulitzer for automotive writing, which made the day for automotive journalists (of which I am a very smalltime one) everywhere.

                              1. re: Will Owen

                                Dan Neil is one of my favorite writers - and not just for burning rubber. Glad he's survived (so far) the Times budget cuts an layoffs.

                  2. re: ipsedixit

                    I ate there yesterday as I was in the area. It's really not good. "The food has no personality," as one of my friends commented and, I agree. No flavor.

                  3. re: Thi N.

                    There is a good Chinese Restaurant called Oak Tree Inn. They are located on Fair Oaks just north of Huntington Dr in South Pasadena; not far from Arcadia. The food is Authentic and the live seafood is the best around. Their house special beef is to die for. Check them out if you get a chance

                    1. re: jumbo

                      Hey, not to start an argument here, but I live 2 blocks from Oak Tree Inn and we are nowhere NEAR Arcadia! We love the restaurant, but I wouldn't want anyone to head west on Huntington Drive looking for South Pas and think it's close by. Fifteen minutes will pass and they'll ask, "Aren't we there yet?" It'd be closer to drive south on Rosemead into Rosemead and San Gabriel.

                      1. re: Reeter1

                        I believe that jumbo may have meant "Pasadena".

                  4. In the same plaza as DTF are Chang's Garden: Shanghainese, not excellent, but pretty good. and Sinbala: Taiwanese cafe, I can't believe I still haven't been there, but it's just so crowded every time I'm over there.
                    Dumpling House, mentioned above, IMO is pretty mediocre and the place is gross. The XLB are good, but everything else is blah, and the walls are filthy, plus they let dishes sit around on the tables long after the guests at those tables have paid and left.

                    There's also Inaka Seafood, which is new. They have healthy Japanese prepared foods, and it's also a fish market. At night Chef Niki there offers an excellent multicourse dinner, but well over $25pp (for the dinner).

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: slacker

                      Dumpling House is a hit or miss for me, one time things were pretty good -- the other time everything is really greasy! But I do prefer their thick-skinned XLB to the Din Tai Fung version.

                      Inaka Seafood is alright for Japanese prepared foods, the salmon I had there were really dry and I'm a bit skeptical of pre-cut and arranged sashimi that's been sitting in their display window. But pretty generous portions for what you pay (I think $12 got me a salmon filet, sashimi, 2 deli salads and brown rice).

                      And yes, planning on doing Niki's way over $25/pp Chef's Table soon :)


                      1. re: slacker

                        In our not at all humble opinion, if Chang's Garden is not excellent then we have yet to experience excellence. We're still awaiting the chance to go there with a proper posse so that we can order a table full of stuff without hurting ourselves, but everything we've consumed there so far (two lunches, one dinner) has been...well, excellent. As is the service, the uncharacteristically warm and friendly attitude, the prices...

                        1. re: Will Owen

                          Let me know when you make another excursion to Chang's Garden.

                          I still have wet dreams, ahem, I mean still fondly recall their wonderful eggplant dish ... :-)

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            That's another good reason to drag in a posse - as Mrs. O does not like the fruit of the eggplant bush, I usually must either eat the whole thing (OK, I could) or order something else.

                            Keep in touch about that, ipse. My email address is public record...

                            1. re: Will Owen

                              Me too, Will! Really close to my new pad. ;-)

                          2. re: Will Owen

                            I've been there once for lunch, ordered dumplings, noodles kind of thing. And another time for dinner. Lunch was ok, but I wasn't really in the mood for northern style noodles, etc.
                            Dinner was also just ok. There was basically one flavor in the many dishes we ordered, if there was any flavor at all: 5 spice. It was either 5 spice or bland. There was another flavor: salt. I generally like smothered whole fried fish, from any ethnic cooking, but the sauce on this one was pretty much just soy sauce flavored. The spare ribs wrapped in sticky rice, wrapped in lotus leaves was good, but really, that's almost a can't miss dish. Pork belly, another hard to miss dish. Some other dishes sounded good, but were boring. The veg with bamboo pith: very skimpy on bamboo pith, which is very inexpensive.

                            1. re: slacker

                              I'm perceiving a difference in taste here - I would crawl through muck and barbed wire for "northern style noodles, etc." under almost any circumstances. Especially good ones. De gustibus...

                              1. re: Will Owen

                                Yes, definitely difference in taste. But sometimes, actually often enough, I enjoy northern style noodles, etc. It's just that at that lunch visit, I had previously OD'd on the stuff. The SGV has so much northern style noodles, onion pancakes, etc and so on, so no need to crawl through muck and barbed wire. :) Actually I'd never crawl through anything for northern style Chinese food.

                        2. In the adjacent stripmall to Din Tai Fung, is Sin Ba La, which is Taiwanese food. Good sausages, pork chops and Taiwanese shaved ice.

                          Right across the street from Din Tai Fung (SE corner of Baldwin and Duarte) is Tasty Garden, a very good HK-style cafe.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            How's Sin Ba La compared to Won Won Kitchen? And the other Taiwanese snack shop right next to Won Won Kitchen?

                            Wait... isn't there another Sin Ba La near Won Won? That you sent me to long ago?

                            My memory is cracking.

                            1. re: Thi N.

                              Won Won is better, but has a more limited menu. QQ is the place next Won Won that I sent you to previously. QQ is no longer as good because the original owners of QQ now own Won Won ... so Won Won is now the old QQ and the new QQ is now, well, not very good. There, does that totally fry your brain? :-)

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Nope - got it. That tracks my experience at the two places, too. Incidentally, my lady-love's favorite restaurant in Los Angeles is Won Won Kitchen, so I owe you a particularly big one for that alone, besides the billions of other fine recc's I've gotten from you over the years.

                                Well, it used to be her favorite, anyway. It might have been displaced by Puro Sabor, the Peruvian Manna from Heaven.

                                There's an item on the QQ menu - sort of a puffy soft steamed white bread with hunks of stuff and pickle and fluffy pork - that I loved, and Won Won doesn't have. Does Sin Ba La have it?

                                1. re: Thi N.

                                  Hmm, can you be a bit more specific? What "hunks of stuff" are you referring to?? Fluffy pork??

                                  1. re: Thi N.

                                    Ok, I think I know what you are talking about. It's sort of an open-faced bao, right? Kind of like a folded papusa? Not bread technically.

                                    Take a look at the pic, does this look right?

                                    1. re: ipsedixit


                                      And apologies for the radical non-specifity of language. I'm finishing my dissertaiton, about to go on the academic job market, and the the last of what brains remained me have been burned out of my skull. Repeatedly. And then trampled on.

                                      But that thing - that's the very thing. I love that thing. I think it was a snack conceived to Make Thi Happy.

                                      1. re: Thi N.

                                        Then the answer to your original question is "no".

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          Sin Ba La does have the open-faced bao, called Gua Bao, with pork belly, pickled vegi and peanut powder. I have seen it on the top of the counter for to go.

                            2. If you're looking for Chinese restaurants in Arcadia, than the posts here pretty much have it covered. The only other place I would add is Nice Time Deli, across the street on Baldwin from DTF. Their menu consists of Taiwanese dishes and some Shanghainese dishes.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: crystaw

                                Actually, to be fair, I think I should mention the food court inside the Ranch 99 Market. And, in particular, the beef noodle place. When they hit their notes right, they serve one mighty fine bowl of beef noodle soup. But when they're off, you'll swear you're slurping water-downed low-fat bottled gravy and chewing on nothing but beef gristle.

                              2. Zelo's on Foothill !! Amazing cornmeal crust pizza! Cheap, under $10 per person.
                                Get the corn pizza (yeah, corn on top of cornmeal crust :P ) - My favorite!

                                I also like Noodle House on Las Tunas for their handmade spinach noodle dishes!


                                2 Replies
                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    oh nooo! Bummer :(
                                    I feel bad now for not giving them any business recently *sob*
                                    I'm gonna miss that noodle ..