Emperor Noodles Finally Opens
- Chandavkl Sep 11, 2012 01:35 PM
After months of preparation, Emperor Noodles has finally opened up in San Gabriel, and it seems like it might have been worth the wait. They make their own noodles in house and serve a variety of noodle soup, thought mostly with strange piggy parts. However most noteworthy are a couple of Shanghai specialties. Wild yellowfish egg rolls are something I haven't seen before and are quite tasty, though a little fishy. And while shen jen bao are commonly available, I haven't see any like this before. To borrow a phrase from Jonathan Gold, these babies are weapons grade. They're the size of a small cupcake and toasted with sesame seeds probably a third of the way up. Pork filling is conventional size, though. Address is 800 W. Las Tunas Dr., #300.
So me and my dad rolled through today for lunch. We ordered:
*Pork kidney noodle soup
*Shanghai fried rice cake
The SJB was well-cooked - it looked "right" and the skin, I thought, was quite good in terms of being strong enough to hold the dumpling together but not a pain to bite through (see Kang Kang's version of this dish to see what i mean). The problem was that the meat inside was kind of bland. I know there's a tendency for SJB's to be sugared up so I'm glad they didn't go overboard there but man, it needed some more savory seasoning or something. Just was kind of 'meh' in my mouth, you know?
Pork kidney noodle soup was actually pretty good. I'm not a big fan of pork kidney but my dad likes it so I just let him order whatever he wanted. The broth was nicely balanced on the salt/spicy tip and the noodles looked and felt freshly made and were cooked right. I'd be curious to try a different noodle soup on their menu (they have quite a lot) and see how much better the bowl would be with meat I actually liked.
The fried rice cake = generic. Honestly, the only reason we ordered it is because I'm trying to avoid wheat but rice is fine so this was a stop-gap measure of sorts. That said, I wouldn't order it again.
Business for lunch on a Thursday was pretty chill. Maybe 4 tables full, including ours?
I went for lunch today and was pleasantly surprised. I had low hopes for it just because that spot has such bad luck, but the food was decent.
I had the vegetarian chicken, which was flavorful and tender. The Shanghai fried rice cakes, which was nice and chewy if not a little bland, but probably because it was ordered without pork or MSG for my husband.
The shen jian bao was one of the best I've had in LA so far. The bottom was nice and crispy while the top was pillowy and soft and not at all soggy. The filling was quite savory and wasn't bland at all, nor sweet. And I thought there was a decent amount of broth in it (see picture in this post: http://www.runawaysquirrels.com/2012/...).
I didn't get a chance to try all their delicious-sounding offal dishes, but maybe next time. The table next to us got the yellow fish noodle soup which looked good. Did anyone try that one out yet?
I went back for lunch on Friday and ordered the yellow fish noodles since the man working there was boasting about them to another Chinese customer.
They were really good! Not sure what type of fish it was, but the meat was tender and tasted fresh. They might have been fried beforehand and then added to the soup because they had some crunchy bits on it. The noodles themselves were tasty. Since they were thin, not as much 'q' as knife-shaved ones, but they still had a great fresh-noodle texture. The soup was also nice and savory thanks to the pickled vegetables.
Went today and was disappointed. The SJB were okay, but I was at Shanghai #1 on Sunday and those were far superior - much soupier and a lighter dough that somehow didn't get soaked with the soup - as the dough did at Emperor. Also had XLB and they weren't very good at all - pretty much no soup to be found and very chewy dough. The person I was with wanted a green vegetable and there wasn't much to choose from. We ended up with choy sum that was drenched in a really glutinous oyster sauce. Some of the bowls of noodles that other people were having looked pretty good. I might be willing to go back and try a bowl of noodles, but for SJB and XLB I will go elsewhere.
Finally went to try after driving by numerous times. It appears that this is the same restaurant space that housed numerous other restaurants that closed or shuttered quickly (whats up with the location?). I actually really liked noodle island, but after awhile, they opened intermittently and finally closed. Slightly off topic: Does anyone have contact information for noodle island, ace kitchen, or anyone that is related to those restaurants?
Anyways, I got the SJB, they were good, but like others have said, the outer size vs the filling doesn't seem to match. Maybe that's their local style? Anyways, the outer portion ws better than the filling, but I'd much rather just get a box of it from Kang Kang food court. It sat in my car for a little bit so it wasn't as soupy, I'll sit in next time.
I asked them to recommend a noodle dish....... and they put in an order of beef noodle...... Not sure if that's a specialty but I have a feeling they just gave me a commonly ordered item. While I was waiting for it, I saw plates of what looked to be pork ribs going by.. probably should have ordered that.
Because I got it to go, the food had to sit for a little bit. They do not pack soupy noodles correctly. Everything was put into a styrofoam container and I have a feeling that the noodles cooked during transport. As a result, the beef noodle probably did not taste as good as it would have been if it were fresh. The noodles were severely overcooked and the broth and cuts of beef were very salty. The beef pieces themselves were tender, but at this point I was just thinking about what I should have ordered, vs what they ordered for me. Not sure I'll be back unless it's to try that pork rib thing.
The XLB also suffered from severe salting, especially because there was no vinegar/ginger to cut the salt. After one, I was done, which was a shame because the wrapper was delightful.
The SJB was good, but was also rather salty. The filling was just one dimensional. But for $4, I'd do it again just for the shell.
Don't know if it's due to the ABC San Gabriel/Temple City crowd, but no Chinese could be heard during the dinner except in the kitchen. Sorta like when one visits Pho 79 / Golden Deli. Maybe it's the Reviewed-By-JGold syndrome? It was odd as heck.
Best part of the meal? Smelling the rosemary bushes up front as one exits.
Las Tunas is clearly where all these house of carbs go to DIE. Michelle's, Hui Tou Xiang, Liao Ban, Tasty Noodle, now this. One bad, pointless noodle restaurant opens after another because flour and pork is so incredibly cheap in America and beef bouillon is now all imported from China. It's rather a grotesque scene, yet (Chow) LA keeps latching onto these damned dumplings (and baos.)
Want a new Chinese restaurant serving something a bit interesting? Try Curry and BBQ Plu$, the new roasterie/curry house on Garvey in S. El Monte. http://www.facebook.com/CurryBbqPlus