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More Bings For Your Bucks--Flavor Garden Opens In Original A&J Location

It was about 25 years ago that I encountered the first of many branches of A&J Restaurant in the then new shopping center just west of the Von's market on the northeast corner of Valley and New Ave. in Alhambra. For some reason, that branch of A&J changed its name last year to A&E though keeping the identical menu. However, the link to the past has been cut with the opening of Flavor Garden in that space. Flavor Garden has a compact menu with three major categories--dumplings, Chinese pies and noodles. Nine varieties of dumplings, but sorry no chicken. Five varieties of xian bing--beef, vegetarian, and three pork combinations. The pies are large, priced at four for $6.50 (beef or vegetable), 50 cents cheaper for pork varieties. I like these better than the ones from Beijing Pie House. Frozen dumplings sold in bags of 50--wrappers are on the thinner side (compared to, say, Qingdao or Kingburg). Street address for Flavor Garden is 1269 E. Valley Blvd.

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Beijing Pie House
846 E Garvey Ave, Monterey Park, CA 91755

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  1. This place may have some of the best fish dumplings in SGV.

     
    51 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      man, i love dumplings and noodles and stuff, but as somebody said, the sgv is getting a little carborrific.

      1. re: linus

        Only if you keep eating shitty dumplings?

        Current menu via facebook:
        https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphoto...

        The "special sauce" meat baos are #12: http://sinosoul.com/wp-content/upload... The rice powder steamed pork (spicy) PeterCC requested is #35, $3.75. If I want dessert, and usually I'm too full, I end with wine brew #38/39 $3.50

        That's $14 for a 3-course dinner, then? Undoubtedly some will consider this exorbitant for Valley, but 6 baos are enough for 2 skinny people, and they're so, so much better than similar items coming out of Garage/Wang Xiang Ji. People keep asking why the dislike for Luscious? Cause Flavor Garden, bish. Just skip the rather horrendous XLB here.

        1. re: TonyC

          Thanks Tony, will have to check it out.

          Edit: Found your post on this place (http://sinosoul.com/2013/01/sgvs-hott...). That picture of the rice powder steamed pork is exactly what I was looking for!

          So this place calls it "fen zheng pai gu", which is the prevalent name that I found (I also asked my dad what the dish was called after I made that post, and he said it was just called "fen zheng rou").

          1. re: PeterCC

            hey u found it! your quest to find it made me curious so I will try it soon as well!

            1. re: PeterCC

              Indeed it's exactly what you were looking for... can't link to my own posts here, but i mentioned to google: "rice steamed ribs sgv" in the original response: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9083... =

              )

              It's a fave of mine, but I really do not know why. Back in '07-08, a fine version full of yams was offered at Szechwan Best: http://www.laweekly.com/2008-09-11/ea... . Alas, that place is now a vegan global chain... *blech*

              1. re: TonyC

                I did Google those terms at that time but I only saw very generic or irrelevant search results. I didn't remember seeing your post in the results, as I would have clicked on it, but as I just tried it again your post was the second result.

                Even if you couldnt link to your own post, You could have just told me the name of the place, but that would have been making it too easy, wouldn't it? ;-)

                Regardless, I appreciate the info and it looks like we might have possibly hooked someone else on it (blimpbinge).

                1. re: barryc

                  No, haven't made it past the 110 in a while... :-(

              2. re: TonyC

                Scallion pancakes are good too.

                And wrap them with some of their marinated pork stomach and you've got yourself a ghetto "beef roll" in the same vein of a Starbucks ghetto latte.

                1. re: TonyC

                  well, yes, hon, nobody's making me eat all those carbs. thanks for watching out for me.
                  heavy sigh.

                  1. re: linus

                    Actually, dumplings aren't as carboriffic as one might think.

                    It certainly isn't any more carborrific than, say, a hamburger or a hotdog.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      i wonder how 1 order of 8-10 dumplings compares to a single gourmet burger/hotdog?

                      1. re: blimpbinge

                        If we're talking fish or shrimp (both of which are on the menu as 10/order), I think they are definitely less carborrific than a gourmet burger/hotdog, and less caloric as well.

                        The fish dumplings are basically just ground up flounder and some celery and leeks, and the dumpling skins are on the thin side, which usu. is not my preference but these were nonetheless very passable.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          speaking of fish dumplings, where should I be going for that?

                          also when you say shrimp dumplings, you mean pork dumplings that also have shrimp? or pure shrimp dumplings that aren't har gow? (if the latter, i'd also like to know where to go) thank you!

                          1. re: blimpbinge

                            Well, *this* place (y'know, Flavor Garden the joint that's the center of this thread?) has pretty good fish dumplings.

                            And Flavor Garden also has "pure" shrimp dumplings that are not har gow (i.e., boiled, not steamed).

                            There are other places I would go for fish dumplings but cannot mention for conflicts reasons, but the board tends to like Qing Dao quite a bit. JTYH and 101 Noodle both do pescatarian dumplings.

                              1. re: narcissisticnonsense

                                Ok, which for frozen bag o' fish dumplings to steam up @ home...Kingburg or Flavor Garden?

                                1. re: JThur01

                                  do some of both and compare them side by side?

                                  1. re: barryc

                                    I probably will try both, I just wanted a rec as to favorite between the two for a frozen bag. If it came down to "one", which would folks here go with?

                                    1. re: JThur01

                                      can't speak for kingburg. IIRC you are a fan of QBF. there's value in getting what you expected.

                                  2. re: JThur01

                                    Update: waiter at Flavor Garden told me they no longer sell frozen dumplings + Qingdao Bread Food is no longer open late, closing at 9 or 10PM.

                                2. re: ipsedixit

                                  <<conflicts reasons>>
                                  Huh? Can you elaborate?

                                  1. re: Ciao Bob

                                    I assume ipse is acquainted with staff/owner at those restaurants and and would run afoul of the board's friend-of-restaurant rule for recommending places...

                                    1. re: PeterCC

                                      Either that or there is a vested business interest or relationship in them (e.g. restaurant consulting business client), but having this intimate knowledge and thus knowing how ass kicking a place's fish dumpling is that agrees to one's standards is noteworthy indeed, although a shame that it can't be shared without consequence.

                                      1. re: PeterCC

                                        Yes, Ipse is the man who knows too much.

                                        1. re: Chandavkl

                                          Better than being the man who knows too little. (Me.) ;-)

                                          1. re: Chandavkl

                                            "Yes, Ipse is the man who knows too much."

                                            Says the man who has probably eaten at more Chinese restaurants than the rest of us....

                                      2. re: ipsedixit

                                        +1 qing dao fish dumplings. but about to head back to FG for lunch in a half hour or so.

                                        1. re: barryc

                                          See if they still have the fen zheng pai gu...

                                            1. re: barryc

                                              Awesome, thanks for reporting back!

                                              1. re: barryc

                                                the meal also included the fish dumplings (which i neglected to photograph), leek pancakes, sweet potato noodle soup, pork cold noodles, and one not-yet-on-the-menu dunplings that were actually more XLB-like than their XLB's.

                                                 
                                                 
                                                 
                                                 
                                                1. re: barryc

                                                  What was the filling in the off-menu non-XLB dumplings?

                                                  1. re: PeterCC

                                                    they were recommended by the waitress and my mandarin is limited to things like "hai mei you" & bing shui" so the description of the filling escaped me. they were the most popular item ordered at lunch.

                                                    a lot of soup/broth in the filling, but to tell you the truth, i really wasn't quite sure of the components of the filling except there seemed to be a hint of soy marinade.

                                              2. re: PeterCC

                                                Unsure why you keep asking to see if the FZPG is still on the FG's menu.

                                                It has never left; it's a banging bargain, and one of the most popular dishes outside of the dumplings.

                                                1. re: TonyC

                                                  Sorry TonyC. I seem to be stuck in a rut on that. I keep forgetting that the person who I thought mentioned the item being removed from the menu was actually taking about a different place.

                                                  1. re: TonyC

                                                    i like it, but FWIW none of my caucasian companions cared much for it. the fish dumplings could actually be slightly better than the ones at qing dao.

                                                    the beef roll had a slightly more refined taste and texture compared to the ones across the street at 101 noodle express. might have been when seemed to be a hint of plum sauce and the crispier pancake - which is also one of the better ones to be found. crispy yet not soaked with oil/grease like cruder renditions.

                                                    1. re: barryc

                                                      slightly off topic, have you tried pork rolls before?

                                                      Some tw places do it, they just replace the (usually dry) beef with juicy pork belly slices.

                                                      1. re: blimpbinge

                                                        if i saw one i'd try one. with something that fatty i'd expect the inclusion of something spicy for balance.

                                                        1. re: blimpbinge

                                                          had one at the liang's kitchen in MP earlier this year. they added pickled vegetable which offset the fattiness.

                                                        2. re: barryc

                                                          1. no comment on le gringoes.
                                                          2. i can't stand QDDump.
                                                          3. agree on the beef rolls. I enjoy the cholesterol gaudiness of egg/beef roll at Mama's Kitchen, but Flavor Garden's beef roll is très sophistiqué and is unbeatable at the moment.

                                                          4. since we're talking about carbs, fortune no. 1's chive pockets are glorious (and also a banging bargain). they're more sealed stuffed crepes than the typical doughy chive pockets, and with Mrs. Lu still absent, i've retreated to FN1 for all forms of Chinese flour eats.

                                                          1. re: TonyC

                                                            i have yet to try fortune no1. i've heard it's pretty small.

                                                            QDBF' signature buns are a bit doughy for my tastes, plus they tasted a little burnt. i still think it's worth it for the fish dumplings.

                                                            and their weapons grade garlic sauce.

                                                            then you can go across the street to yunkun yunchuan/whatever garden for their cold table (which i know you despise).

                                                            (off topic: when were you in ann arbor? i did undergrad there.)

                                                            1. re: barryc

                                                              LSA, Bursley (ick). Was there during the Moeller/Carr transition.

                                                              Blimpy Burger closed last month: http://www.michigandaily.com/news/bli... . I hope you poured a lil liquor on that day.

                                                              Obligatory LA chow content: FN1 has over a dozen types of pork, beef, lamb and vegetarian buns (ie, shanzhai 石頭門砍, uber Tianjin dish, kinda disgusting), and an order of 8 is $7, enough for 2 for lunch. I'm afraid to try the XLB, but as far as the restaurants being "small", it's certainly bigger than DSW and about the same size as Mama's Lu #1.

                                                              1. re: TonyC

                                                                bursley... aka north quad. mainly music majors and engineering students by your time.

                                                                ditto LSA, bo was still coach, four years in the MMB. south quad & the forum apts on state street (close to revelli hall & band practice). also played club volleyball for a couple of years. have to admit that i never went to blimpy burger. most of my non-quad meals were cottage inn pizza. spent a lot of time putting up high scores at mickey rat's to get my free sandwich from pizza bob's.

                                                                as for FN1, i heard "two tables" and envisioned something smaller than DSW. it's a potential spot for lunch on friday.

                                                                1. re: barryc

                                                                  <<have to admit that i never went to blimpy burger.>>
                                                                  What is this? I don't even...

                                                                  What about Zingerman? At least Zingerman? And Spots for ass-burning wings + waffle fries? Pizza Bob's calzone + thousand island stuff was stuff of drunken nightmares, as were Touchdown Cafe's wing nights.

                                                                  Dated a waitress @ China Gate for a long bit, but mostly loved Dinersty for both the portmanteau and the "b"estest General Tso's in the country. Baked pizza at Hungry Howie's so Cottage Inn is immortal enemy.

                                                                  FWIW (and oblig LA chow content), there are Hungry Howies in Glendora and Ventura now.

                                                                  1. re: TonyC

                                                                    listen, zingerman's is cool and all that, but really, if you want to be down, i mean really down,
                                                                    it was all about going across the street and getting a hot trout sandwich from delong's.

                                                                    1. re: TonyC

                                                                      what can i say? i was on a limited budget. that's not quite true; i spent a lot of my dispoable income at absolute sound on state street. i still have a linn turntable. spots didn't exist yet. cottage inn was proximal to s. quad.

                                                                      when i wanted chinese food, i'd persuade someone to drive me to windsor when they did a molson's run.

                                                                      chow content: i got nuthin', except to ponder on the existance of a fragel in los angeles. i knew one of the owners of bagel factory and he'd bring home leftover fragels.

                                              3. re: ipsedixit

                                                i guess what i meant was, someone a while back mentioned the preponderance of noodle and dumpling joints that keep opening.
                                                love those, love knowing the best places to go. sometimes, a change is nice, too.

                                                1. re: linus

                                                  Well, if you haven't been here, it's worth a visit..

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    Flavor Garden's Fish ball soup is excellent. It is comparable to that of FFY Noodle House in Rowland Heights which is my favorite. FG's Fish balls are very light and delicate without any fishy smell at all.
                                                    Really worth a return visit.

                                      3. Re: A&Js....this is interesting because our sole Northern California branch of A&Js (in Cupertino village) recently shuttered/sold to new owners operating as Ai Noodle. And it is even stranger that there is only one location in Taiwan (flagship Taipei) and it's not really a destination stop for dumplings or beef noodles. I'm sure A&J won't be missed in SGV since there are so many better choices and alternatives.

                                        Loving all these Chinese food posts and discussions. Keep em up!

                                        9 Replies
                                        1. re: K K

                                          Were they even connected? A&J Irvine is terrible. Big step down from A&J Cupertino Village. I liked that Cupertino branch (6-7 years ago).

                                          1. re: Porthos

                                            http://www.aj-restaurant.com/main.html (click locations

                                            )

                                            and the China based version of the website lists more or less the same overseas branches

                                            http://www.banmuyuan.com.cn/myhome/my...

                                            海外分店[美国]


                                            Alhambra 地址:1269 E.Valley Blvd.Alhambra,CA91801
                                            电话:626-284-3549

                                            Annandale 地址:4316 Markham St.#B Annandale,VA22003
                                            电话:703-813-8181

                                            Cupertino 地址:10893 Wolfe Rd.#C 160 Cupertino,CA95014
                                            电话:408-873-8298

                                            Irvine 地址:14805 Jeffrey Rd.#D Irvine,CA927720
                                            电话:949-786-3585

                                            Rockville 地址:1319-C Rockville Pike Rockville, St.#MD 20852
                                            电话:301-251-7878

                                            Diamond Bar 地址:2769 Diamond Bar Blvd,Diamond Bar, CA 91765

                                            1. re: K K

                                              I would never have guessed. The broth and dumplings were so wildly different in quality and taste.

                                              Like you said, no big loss.

                                              1. re: Porthos

                                                As you know Porthos, making dumplings and even noodle soup is not so mechanical as, say, grilling up a precooked hotdog and slapping a bun on it.

                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  101 Noodle Express is pretty consistent no?

                                                  1. re: Porthos

                                                    Based on the thread comparing 101 Noodle Express locations, who knows?

                                                    1. re: Porthos

                                                      hi porthos, actually i felt the 101 Noodle in Fox Hills Mall (West LA) was nothing like the 101 original location. i also thought the arcadia branch wasn't as good as the original location.

                                                      1. re: chowseeker1999

                                                        That new location in MP was horrible where I find Alhambra & Irvine to be continuously excellent.

                                                        1. re: JAB

                                                          I think this is right. And I'll throw in the Arcadia branch as "consistent".

                                          2. Do you happen to know the hours? No one's mentioned it on Yelp and neither did SinoSoul or Squid Ink...

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: TripleAxel

                                              11 am to 9:30 pm. Closed Wednesdays.

                                            2. Tried Flavor garden for the 1st time today. I didn't care for the fish dumpling as the wrapper was thin and not al dente like I prefer. The filling seemed to have some type of filler as it was spongy and didn't have much flavor. I liked the flavor of the beef roll quite a bit but, the beef was cold which was off putting.