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Salty Crunchy Almond Duck Squares at Canton City in Montebello

First I'd like to say that old time-Canto American food just doesn't cut it any more, since modern Chinese food is so much better. But hey, in the 50s and 60s that all we had and we didn't complain about it. From my point of view the only thing still worth eating from that era is the pressed almond duck in brown sauce, squares of shredded duck meat mixed with some kind of filler and cooked in boiling oil. If this is your hankering, Canton City, 121 N. Garfield in Montebello, has what you're looking for. Caution, this stuff is salty and greasy, and people who have never had it before would probably consider it disgusting. Also be careful in ordering, since this dish is listed in the sweet and sour section, and if you don't specify they will give you this dish with sweet and sour sauce, not brown gravy. If you save the gravy and mix it with white rice that's fantastic by itself. I didn't see anything else on the menu that sounded the least bit appetizing, so this is a very, very specific recommendation.

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  1. Thanks for the heads up. There are a few of us on this board nostalgic for those old chop suey joints. I'm also nostalgic for those old Bob's Big Boy combos with the fries and iceberg lettuce salad with 1000 Island dressing.

    But sweet and sour is the way I like my pressed almond duck over the brown gravy.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ogawak

      I just learned that a new Bob's Big Boy will soon open near Anaheim Stadium and the Honda Center at the Stadium Promenade Center on Katella Ave east of the 57 Frwy. I hope that they have those cold frosties served in their metal containers that I used to enjoy so many years ago.

      1. re: HBfoodie

        Another Bob's Big Boy location that is in the works is in Downey. The old Johnny's Broiler is being rebuilt from the ground up. The original plans have been located and sometime this year it should reopen in all it's GOOGIE architectural glory.
        There is also another Bob's in Signal Hill on Cherry Ave. and Willow right in back of the Chevron station.
        And as for Canton City, I thought that place closed up.... good to see it's still around. Going to have to check it out soon.

    2. I was driving home on the freeway just minutes ago thinking about dining in Chinatown with my family in the 50s and 60s. My mother's favorite place was the long-gone General Lee's.

      One of their signature dishes, and we got it all the time, was the Pressed Duck.

      I may have to try Canton City for a trip down memory lane.

      1. Chandavkl,
        My favorite item at Canton City is the egg foo young which is the best I've had in SoCal IMHO! Their Cantonese style chow mein is also very good and that consists of noodles, onions, bean sprouts, celery, and pea pods.

        1. Went to Canton City based on a CH rec a year ago and it's got to be the worst Chinese restaurant I've ever been to. Had the sweet and sour rib combination lunch and the ribs were just fried breading and bone with hardly any meat.
          Forget it....there can't be anything worthwhile at this place.

          10 Replies
          1. re: monku

            "Forget it....there can't be anything worthwhile at this place."

            Just got back from my weekly visit to Canton City to get my fill of egg foo young - my tummy can't thank me enough!!!

            1. re: SoCal Foodie

              I work close by and have had pretty bad food the two times I went. I will go once more,however, and try the egg foo young. And perhaps the almond duck.

              1. re: TastELA

                I'm in that area occasionally and have enjoyed Canton City's "Retro" style food whenever I want to feast on Chinese cuisine that I grew up with in the 60's (Canton City has always been in that same location next to Cantwell High School). I used to like Paul's Kitchen in Monterey Park a little better, but they recently closed. May I ask what other Chinese food places in the Montebello area that you'd recommend??

              2. re: SoCal Foodie

                Pretty hard to mess up egg foo young.
                If that's the best they have to offer I stand by my opinion...FORGET IT !!!

                1. re: monku

                  "Pretty hard to mess up egg foo young."

                  Gee, I've had countless places that have served me crappy egg foo young but now I just get my fill from CC - the best I've eaten in SoCal!!!

                  1. re: SoCal Foodie

                    Isn't egg foo young supposed to be "crappy"?

                    I think crappy-ness is the quiddity of egg foo young.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      What is this egg foo young everybody is talking about? I've never had the dish.

                      1. re: Chandavkl

                        It's basically an omelette in the form of a patty that's filled with eggs, veggies, meat or seafood. Canton City serves a delicious one filled with finely chopped onions and bean sprouts, along with your choice of pork, chicken, or shrimp. It's moist and tender inside with the outside edges being crispy and served with a thick brown gravy over it. Accompany this with some of their tasty Cantonese style chow mein and it's a wonderful meal!

                        1. re: SoCal Foodie

                          Thanks for the description. That's the one dish we never ordered in the old days because it didn't resemble anything we were used to eating. Closest thing we had was a steamed egg dish with pork served in a glass dish. Strangely, I've noticed a few wholly authentic Chinese restaurants in the SGV (i.e., restaurants with nary a non-Asian customer in sight) offer Egg Foo Young among its specials.

                      2. re: ipsedixit

                        no, no, no...egg foo young is good when it is made well, but since my gramps restaurant is no longer around, I can't find anything equivalent. It was great b/c it was not battered like some I have tried. His was more omelet like w/lots of onions. He would grill them first, let them cool and then deep fry when they were ordered. I liked them fresh off the grill w/brown gravy. Now if anyone knows some that are made like this, let me know please.