Lao Bian Dumpling On Las Tunas--Not Just Dumplings But Dongbei Food Too
This previously noted dumpling restaurant has now opened on the SW corner of Las Tunas and Mission in San Gabriel, giving that intersection dumpling restaurants on three of its corners. And on the NW corner, Tasty Noodle does offer a variety of dumplings, too, undoubtedly making Las Tunas and Mission the Chinese dumpling capital of the Western Hemisphere. When I opened the Lao Bian Dumpling menu I locked on immediately to the dumpling section and varieties such as fish, lamb and chicken dumplings, as well as Shanghai fried buns and XLB. It was only after ordering and waiting for my dumplings that I perused the rest of the menu and noticed dishes such as sour cabbage, corn with pine nuts and cold sliced potatoes. "Dongbei?" I asked the waitress? "Dongbei" she replied. The fish dumplings were better than those at Kingburg Kitchen across the street, and equal in quality (with a more fish like filling) to Qingdao, though at $8 for an order it was a little pricey. Street address is 800 W. Las Tunas Dr., #300.
I do wonder about the restaurant's ability to survive as the restaurant is not particularly conspicuous from the street. When I walked in, it was like all the workers were waiting for me to come into the restaurant. as there were no other customers. Hopefully it's because they just opened, and the restaurant's name, which appears to be taken from a famous restaurant in Shenyang, will draw people in.
715 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776
Las Tunas Restaurant
3603 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90020
Have been there twice, the last time as recently as Monday, when I had ma po tofu and cold cucumber in garlic sauce. I've eaten spicier ma po, but the cukes were absolutely first rate,and what was left over, I brought home, where they were even better the 2nd and 3rd eating, having marinated in the fridge.
On my previous visit, I had the lamb (they're not chops, they are riblets) with cumin in a bowl of hundreds of red chiles, along with their flash-fried green beans. Both outstanding.
It was J. Gold who pointed me to Lao Bian.
Thanks Toitoi - I'll have to check those cukes and the other stuff out. Yeah, seems all of the Sichuan places use the term "lamb chops" when they mean riblet, or tiny meat/bone bits. Noticed this usage in Queens (NY) too. I have a feeling this kitchen has a long bench, looking forward to more visits.
Bumping this again. As Chandavki rightly notes, this is no longer even a dumpling place. HOWEVER, I was just in today and had a very, very good soup. Called "Szicguan beef noodle" or some sort, this is a variation on the ubiquitous beef noodle soup served everywhere, but had the addition of dried red peppers, whole garlic cloves, and what may have been sliced whole ginseng. Maybe someone knows what this was liked sliced ginger but rather than a whitish peel, the peel was dark brown and wrinkly - waitress kept repeating "sen-sei". She even queried the other table, launching a debate that was still raging when I left. (this is why I still love the SGV!!). Soup was an incredible bargain at $6.95 - probably had a half pound of stew meat, richly seasoned broth.
Staff spoke zero English, so basically just eagerly repeated everything I asked in the affirmative. Other items on the menu look pretty much along the Schezuan vein that is still going strong in this part of town, incl. the standard hot pots, boiled meats/fish, spicy this and that, four identical stirfry lamb dishes.
Didn't note most of the items above - no shredded potatoes, and (of course) just a couple token dumplings. The cold dish section was long on offal, so I didn't partake. Other specialties incl. "white nuts chicken" (maybe pine nuts? it was a yellowish soup with boiled cut up chicken therein). She recommended spicy lamb chop and "tea duck" (look like maybe a roast duck that had been steamed and cut up), and "steamed pork", which, as I write here today, bore a strong resemblance to...to...pork pump!!!
As TonyC pointed out in Eater LA, Lao Bian Dumplings recently changed hands and no longer serves Dongbei food. Rather they apparently have gone to a Sichuan style menu. And even though the name still is Lao Bian Dumplings, it seems that they don't have dumplings, either, though since there's only a Chinese menu I can't say for sure.
Bumpin' Lao Bian TTT.
Bottom line, the Tianjin (chef/co-worker, the spicy Mamasan, etc.) food here is compelling. While I wasn't the fan of the fish dumplings ala Chandavkl, the 狗不理 baozi were very likable, and the dumpling wrappers were very rustic, "toothsome", ad nausea.
There are some gems in both the cold and the appetizer sections. The chilled chicken thigh stuffed with 1000YO egg and the stir fried sour la pi were both unique. This is worthy of a quick lunch visit for sure, and the kitchen's effort in producing labor intensive items is noteworthy. Mamasan straight walked away when I questioned her re: stir fried la pi. She came back later only to say she wanted the oddly prepared dish to speak on its own.
Sadly, the restaurants is already pushing other regional dishes: Taiwanese style niu rou mian is touted on 1 written sign. Also, officially, the restaurant is in its "soft opening" phase, with grand opening date to come. Not sure what makes it "official", but I presume a newspaper/TV ad would do the trick?
This is where Tasty Aroma Garden used to be, and they didn't last long. The kitchen setup appears to be the same, but the staff / chef seems to be different. It's definitely Dongbei food, though I don't see a lot of familiar dishes from other northeastern Chinese restaurants in the area.
In case any other vegetarians happen to go there, despite the insistance of the waitress, the steamed vegetable dumplings are not vegetarian or eggless - they contain both small shrimp (xia mi) and egg. A sizzling tofu platter (with a bed of onions under the tofu) and stir-fried A cai were just fine; the former maybe a bit sweet. The radish and carrot pickles served ahead of time were a bit on the sweet side. The rest of our party was pretty happy with their food (a pickled veg and pork strip noodle soup, and 3 flavor pork dumplings (san xian zhu rou dumplings). The noodles in the soup looked fresh, but are not made in house.