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The best Taiwanese rice rolls in all of SoCal ...

ipsedixit Sep 6, 2009 11:27 PM

... can be found at Si Hai Restaurant (or 四海豆漿).

Dunno if it's related to the joint in Taiwan by the same name, but who cares when it makes probably the best Taiwanese rice rolls this side of the Pacific.

Sure, it's got the typical array of your generic Chinese/Taiwanese breakfast treats -- e.g. sweet or savory soybean soups, radish cakes, crullers, crepes, sesame bread pouches, etc.

But the star of the show here is the rice roll. The rice is soft and pliable, never rock hard at the outer edges. And, never crusty. The filling is savory and the crullers are placed (or are they chopped up?) just right so that you never take a bit and end lassoing out the entire length of the cruller -- leaving the rest of your rice roll eating experience without nary the whiff of greasy fried dough.

They don't skimp on the fillings either. Consider the rice rolls at places like Yi Mei or Yung Ho to be, say, a typical In-N-Out double double, then the rice roll at Si Hai would be a 4 x 4. Yes, it's double what you would get at the other places.

There's also something different about the rice. I dunno if they had starch to it, or maybe a pinch of sugar, perhaps, but it just taste different. Sure, it has that requisite "Q-ness" but it also has that certain je ne sais quoi that only the palate can discern, but which words can never fully capture.

But get there early (say around 6:30 a.m.), or you'll end up in line with a bunch of imported Taiwanese trophy wives picking up some breakfast road food for their chartered bus ride to some swanky Indian casino on the border of San Diego County ...

Cheers!

Si Hai Restaurant
708 E. Las Tunas Dr. #A
San Gabriel, CA 91176
(626) 285-8369

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  1. TonyC RE: ipsedixit Sep 8, 2009 08:44 AM

    A-friggin-men.

    This Rowland Height seafood has immediately turned the SGV TW brekkie scene upside down. It also helps the owner is manning this Eastern station on the weekends.

    2 Replies
    1. re: TonyC
      Chandavkl RE: TonyC Sep 8, 2009 10:03 AM

      I presume you're referring to the sister location (Four Sea) in Hacienda Heights.

      1. re: Chandavkl
        TonyC RE: Chandavkl Sep 9, 2009 02:19 PM

        Sorry, major typo.

        Indeed, Hacienda Heights Four Seas. Geebus, got a lil excited by the thread there. The only thing I really do not like is 油條. Too soggy, not crispy, no puffiness.

        jotfoodie, For 蛋餅, stick to Yi Mei on Atlantic. Yung Ho, all location, borders on inedible, and are all basically filthy dirty.

    2. Thi N. RE: ipsedixit Sep 8, 2009 10:40 AM

      Must... have... as soon as possible...

      Why is it that crunchy things inside less crunchy things is such a great thing?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Thi N.
        ipsedixit RE: Thi N. Sep 8, 2009 10:51 AM

        Well, crunchy fillings are good ... crusty and crunchy rice? Not so much.

      2. Thi N. RE: ipsedixit Sep 8, 2009 10:42 AM

        Also: do such things always contain fluffy pork and pickles, or is that regional?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Thi N.
          ipsedixit RE: Thi N. Sep 8, 2009 10:57 AM

          Crullers, pork floss and pickled radishes are par for the course.

          Other ingredients you might find incl. (in no particular order or preference): scrambled egg, pickled turnip slices, salted duck egg, and Chinese pickled cucumbers and probably a few others I'm forgetting right now on a Tue morning after a long weekend ...

        2. K K RE: ipsedixit Sep 8, 2009 03:19 PM

          Rice rolls as in 飯團, made with sticky rice 糯米?

          Damn I wish we had this place in NorCal. I also miss the purple rice versions I've had in Yung Ho (Taipei, Taiwan that is).

          1 Reply
          1. re: K K
            ipsedixit RE: K K Sep 8, 2009 03:33 PM

            Yes, although I'm still trying to figure out if the entire thing is made with glutinous rice (or whether they mix in some regular rice ...)

          2. j
            jotfoodie RE: ipsedixit Sep 9, 2009 10:19 AM

            Thank you for starting the thread. I first went there 2 or 3 months ago after my co-worker who lives in the area told me about it. I have tried 4 times since. By the way, it is 四海一家 (Four Seas One Family) and not related to 四海豆漿 in Taiwan (I asked). I was hoping it would be 四海豆漿, because I ate there every morning for a whole week when I stayed in Taipei, it was just next to the hotel I was staying.

            I have to agree that the rice roll is huge, what I like about it, is they gave you the option of adding 酸菜 (sour vegetable) to it. That added condiment made it so tasty. I also like the rice roll of JJ Bakery (Arcadia), the plain version, the quality of the rice is better and more compacted. If I have to pick one dish, I enjoyed the most, it has to be the 豬肉燒 餅 (Pork Sao Ping), they also have the beef version. I was hoping the egg dish (蛋 餅), be the one I tried in Taipei. Their version is more like an omelette. I have bought their frozen Pork dumplings and Pork Bao home as well. The wrapper or skin of the dumplings are thick for my taste. The baos are ok, not bad and not great. I also tried their Gua Bao (割包), I think they just heated it up in the microwave. The chinese crullers (you tiao -油條) are not too oily and the soy milk (plain) I did enjoy. I suggest people should go in groups to try a little of everything. It is very easy to over order.

            Anyway, a good alternative to Yung Ho.

            12 Replies
            1. re: jotfoodie
              t
              taiwanesesmalleats RE: jotfoodie Sep 9, 2009 11:01 AM

              I like Four Seas more than Yung Ho, especially with the change in ownership for Yung Ho. If you go early, the gua bao is fresher. I find their shao bing a big on the dry side, but still tasty.

              1. re: jotfoodie
                ipsedixit RE: jotfoodie Sep 9, 2009 11:23 AM

                Thanks for the further insight.

                I did not like their soymilk -- I'm still looking for a good place for savory soymilk, it just goes so well with the 燒 餅. And by the way, I think the 燒 餅 at Si Hai is not very good. Ding's used to make a kick ass 燒 餅, but alas no more. Long long time ago there used to a small joint next to the now shuttered DiHo Market in Monterey Park that used to make the best 燒 餅 -- it was like heaven wrapped in wheat and sesame seeds ... Oh, and I prefer my 燒 餅 vegetarian style, with just -油條. It's like carb overload with a big wallop of grease!

                1. re: ipsedixit
                  J.L. RE: ipsedixit Sep 10, 2009 12:51 AM

                  The fact that we are now using 中文 so much on the SGV threads indicates a new step in the evolution of Chowhound.

                  ... But I'm afraid it might intimidate some non-Chinese-fluent 'Hounds.

                  BTW, anyone know who the King of 豆漿 is, currently?

                  1. re: J.L.
                    ipsedixit RE: J.L. Sep 10, 2009 09:53 AM

                    "BTW, anyone know who the King of 豆漿 is, currently?"

                    ___________________________________________________

                    Do you mean literally? If so, then 豆漿 大王in Arcadia is the answer! :-)

                    For you native speakers, the restaurant's name in English is Doe Jon ...

                    豆漿 大王 (aka Doe Jon)
                    46 Las Tunas Drive, Arcadia

                    1. re: ipsedixit
                      Chandavkl RE: ipsedixit Sep 10, 2009 10:45 AM

                      Speaking of 46 Las Tunas Drive, does anybody know if the owners of the old Arcadia Noodle House at that location ever re-opened somewhere else?

                      1. re: ipsedixit
                        t
                        taiwanesesmalleats RE: ipsedixit Sep 10, 2009 10:58 AM

                        While that may be the literal answer, is it actually any good? :) I have yet to check the place out since it opened.

                        1. re: taiwanesesmalleats
                          ipsedixit RE: taiwanesesmalleats Sep 10, 2009 11:37 AM

                          I think the best 豆漿 is at Yi Mei in Rowland Heights on Colima.

                          The savory iteration is quite good, nice strong flavor without being musty. I've never found much of a difference in the sweet versions between restaurants and rarely order it because it doesn't really go well with 燒 餅 (and when I do, I just end up dumping a bunch of sugar into it anyway ... so what do I know).

                          Yi Mei
                          18414 Colima Rd
                          Rowland Heights

                          1. re: ipsedixit
                            t
                            taiwanesesmalleats RE: ipsedixit Sep 10, 2009 01:44 PM

                            Yeah I definitely prefer the savory version. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll check it out the next time I get a chance and my dad doesn't make his homemade version...

                      2. re: J.L.
                        Thi N. RE: J.L. Sep 10, 2009 07:16 PM

                        I have to note that, as a loving reader of these threads, once you switch to the Chinese characters, I always have * no idea of what's going on* and lose any and all data.

                        The above post read to me in the following way:

                        "I did not like their soymilk -- I'm still looking for a good place for savory soymilk, it just goes so well with the $%%#^&&#. And by the way, I think the ((*$$&#$@ at Si Hai is not very good. Ding's used to make a kick ass $$^#%%# but alas no more. Long long time ago there used to a small joint next to the now shuttered DiHo Market in Monterey Park that used to make the best %%*#@@! -- it was like heaven wrapped in wheat and sesame seeds."

                        Have pity on the rest of us - we don't parse and can't remember these characters.

                        I suggest, for fidelity and accessibility, that you give us non-Chinese speaker a parenthetical pinyin.

                        Also, please recall: for those non-Chinese speakers, *we don't even know how to Google these characters*.

                        I mourn for the lost food knowledge.

                        1. re: Thi N.
                          J.L. RE: Thi N. Sep 10, 2009 09:53 PM

                          Agree with Thi - Neither our language proficiency nor our street cred were ever in question.

                          If you must use Chinese characters, please add a parentheses at the end with the English translation. Let's keep this board accessible to all.

                          1. re: J.L.
                            J.L. RE: J.L. Sep 10, 2009 11:27 PM

                            By the way:

                            translate.google.com

                            is the greatest invention since the rosetta stone.

                          2. re: Thi N.
                            ipsedixit RE: Thi N. Sep 10, 2009 10:53 PM

                            Apologies Thi. Duly noted for future posts ...

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