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Nov 7, 2010 10:23 AM

Canton Gourmet and Bakery ... serving, of all things, Northern Chinese specialties, incl. Xian Bing (餡餅)

I searched the archives and found only veiled references to Canton Gourmet, so here goes with my prelim review of this place.

Canton Gourmet specializes in Xian Bing (餡餅), which are basically Chinese meat pies. A round empanada, if you will, or perhaps a quesadilla.

About the size of a large hamburger patty, Xian Bing is typically filled with some sort of meat, wrapped in unrisen dough. It's first pan-fried and then finished off by covering the pan and steaming it for a little bit. The optimal result should be a crunchy, yet subtly chewy skin. There should be a nice crust, but the middle of the wrapper should still be a tad white (or al dente, if you will). Oh, and for those XLB devotees, there's soup inside these things!

At Canton Gourmet they have an assortment of Xian Bing, although there other Northern dishes like noodles, incl. a rather pedestrian looking beef noodle soup and a lamb noodle dish. Also on tap are XLB and wontons of different varieties.

But the raison d'etre to come to Canton Gourmet is for the Xian Bing. There's beef, pork, lamb and 3 flavors (shrimp, pork and beef, as well as eggs), and quite a few others I'm forgetting. There's 12 total.

Overall these are very good, probably some of the better ones I've had recently. It's a very rich dough, you can taste the oil, but it isn't exactly greasy -- at least not greasy in a manner that you might find offensive in any way. The beef and lamb (the two we tried) could've used a bit more seasoning, but that's sort of nitpicking. The fillings overall were nice and juicy (I'm guessing a good bit of shank and perhaps even oxtail went into the beef filling).

Some of the cold and pickled dishes were noteworthy, incl. the seaweed as well as the duck tongue and daikon (where they get the daikon nowadays?).

(As an aside, the owner related to me a rather interesting anecdote of how he finally finagled his fortuitous phone number. For those who appreciate Chinese numerology, you'll appreciate his efforts.)

846 East Garvey Ave
Monterey ParK
(626) 288-3818

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  1. Holy Feng Shui, Batman! That's one lucky phone number!

    Maybe the numbers things worked... It's now on the Chowhound radar.

    3 Replies
    1. re: J.L.

      Hehehe ipse... I was Chow-touring on Garvey in Rosemead just yesterday. We must lead parallel lives.

      1. re: J.L.

        You have my mom to thank for this. I wanted to go to Bahooka last night for some reason ...

      2. re: J.L.

        They were lamenting the loss of the 818 area code for the San Gabriel Valley ... I told he wasn't alone ...

      3. >> Also on tap are XLB and wontons of different varieties.<<

        Darn! My heart started racing when I read the first three words here! "Ummm - meat pies and beer - d'oh!"

        Did you happen to catch their hours?

        7 Replies
        1. re: bulavinaka

          I think it's something like 11 to 9 or 10? They're open pretty late I think.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            Thanks - I might be headed out in your general direction next weekend - time for some great grub...

            1. re: bulavinaka

              You can always BYOB at Mei Long Village. No corkage (but, y'know, just be "gracious" about it).

              Tsingtoa + XLB = pretty good living.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Big smile on my face and rubbing my belly!

          2. re: bulavinaka

            Yeah, "Also on tap..." got my imagination going for a micro second. With all of it's abundance of great chow opportunities, craft beer and good Chinese grub is absent. How do you say 'gastropub' in mandarin?

            1. re: sel

              Closest you'll find to a gastropub is probably Indian in San Gabriel.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Been driving by ie for years, always chuckle when I see the sign but have never stopped.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              Thanks for the link. It clears up a bunch of stuff, like why didn't I see any of those goodies when I went there, which was a year and a half ago when they just opened and it really was Canton Bakery and Gourmet

              1. re: Chandavkl

                Technically it is still, of course, "Canton Bakery and Gourmet" per LA Public Health.

                Better to just go by it's Chinese name, perhaps ... 大餡餅

            2. ipsedixit, I noticed you said Canton Bakery / Beijing Pie House had one of the "better" xian bing you've lad lately - what is the best xian bing you've eaten in socal to date?

              1 Reply
              1. re: eatingculture

                Tianjian Bistro
                Northern Chinese Restaurant
                Mandarin Noodle Deli (closed)
                Kang Kang Food Court.

                New Mandarin Noodle Deli
                9537 Las Tunas Dr, Temple City, CA 91780

                Kang Kang Food Court
                27 E Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91801

                Northern Chinese Restaurant
                8450 Valley Blvd Ste 108, Rosemead, CA 91770

              2. I think it's worth mentioning that I had two truly awesome bowls of beef noodle soup here.

                The noodles were thick, unevenly cut, beautiful.

                The chunks of beef were beautiful, soft, meaty chunks with not a hint of gristle.

                The broth itself was rich and deeply flavored.

                But on my third visit? The beef was a bit sinewy. Disappointing after two phenomenal experiences.

                But still, go for the beef noodle soup and cross your fingers that it'll be a good bowl.

                Mr Taster

                3 Replies
                1. re: Mr Taster

                  But the beef gristle & tendons are exactly why I love Chinese nio ro mien (beef noodle soup)!!

                  1. re: J.L.

                    I like tendon if it's well cooked, smooth & creamy, with just a hint of crunch, and if it doesn't overwhelm the beef. Same with fat... Proportion is key. But, there's certainly nothing wrong with soft, luscious chunks of beef standing on their own!

                    Mr Taster

                  2. re: Mr Taster

                    I ordered the beef noodle soup solely based on your rec.

                    I found it decent but not among the best I've had in the area. The high point were the noodles but I found that if you didn't scarf it down fast enough, they became unappealingly soggy. The broth was likable but ultimately one dimensional (I thought much the same of the same dish across the plaza at Kam Hong). Good beef though; not at all hard or tough.

                    As for the other goods: the xian bing was great though all that oil inside was a bit off-putting (man, I've gotten overly conscious ever since I found out my cholesterol was high. Bummer). I enjoyed the homeland meat cake too but the sweetness threw me off. Needs more saltiness and a hit of vinegar to balance it all out.

                    I'd definitely go back again but you really need a group of 4+ of possible. That way, everything gets eaten quickly and the crispy skin on the pies and cake won't have time to get soggy