I've recently moved to the SFV, and am now ready to venture over to the SGV for the fine Asian cuisine there. I know that there is no end of information on this site, but could somebody be so good as to briefly summarize the different regional cuisines represented, with some recommendations for each region? This would be most appreciated.
I'll try and get you started on a complex but glorious road. Hopefully others who are more informed than I will help you, and correct me. Enjoy.
Dim Sum Day: Cantonese Nite- Sea Harbor, Elite, Lunasia, King Hua, Shanghai No 1 Seafood
Sichuan/Hunan/Yunaan: - Lucky Noodle King, Hunan Chili King, Hunan Seafood, Hunan Restaurant, Yunaan Garden , Chung King
Northern/Dumplings/Shaanxi: Northern Restaurant, Beijing Pie House, Mama's Lu, Dean Sin World, Luscious Dumplings, Shaanxi Gourmet, Omar's, Michelle's Pancake
Shanghai: Mei Long Villiage, Gian Nan, Din Tai Fung, Shanghai No 1 Seafood (at night)
The SGV has a wide range and number of restaurants, so it might be better if you would provide some background information to help you get started:
1. What have been your past experiences with Asian restaurants? Chinese? Vietnamese?
2. What are you willing to spend?
3. Do you care about service levels, ambiance, etc.
4. Do you speak, read, or write Chinese of any dialect or Vietnamese?
5. Do you have any expectations regarding Chinese or Vietnamese food or any dishes?
6. Are you looking for any dishes or any types of dishes in particular?
7. How far are you willing to drive? The SGV is pretty big, and it makes a big difference if you want to go to the west SGV or the east SGV.
8. Will you be eating primarily by yourself, with a small group, or a large group?
1. Grew up on "Mandarin" Chinese food - kung pao and moo shoo. Have broadened my knowledge since then, but by no means an expert.
2. Price not an object
3. No, like Alton Brown said, I'm here for the food.
5. Not really. Tend to prefer spicy food.
7. All things being equal, I'd prefer the west SGV, since it's closer, but in the spirit of adventure, am willing to drive further if necessary.
8. Will probably be doing most eating with a fellow chowhound.
I think you should try some Vietnamese restaurants in the SGV. While I think Vietnamese restaurants are better in Little Saigon, you can get some pretty good ones in the SGV:
* Nem Nuong Ninh Hoa in Rosemead--Central Vietnamese cooking. No pho here. Their spring rolls with grilled meat (nem nuong) are fantastic.
* Golden Deli in San Gabriel is very popular, and many people like their egg rolls (cha gio).
* Thien Tam serves exceptionally good vegetarian/vegan food in El Monte. I've been told that there are a lot of good pho places in South El Monte, but I've yet to try them.
* There are a number of bahn mi (Vietnamese sandwich) restaurants in the area.
In addition to the restaurants already mentioned, I'd recommend the following Chinese restaurants for both the food and eating experience:
* Tasty Garden in Arcadia for Hong Kong food
* JYTH in Rosemead for Shanxi food
* Seafood Village in Temple City for their Chiu Chow food (related to Cantonese)
* Jin Jian in San Gabriel for Shanghai food and the "hole-in-the-wall" ambiance
* Cloverleaf Bakery in Temple City--some very creative and tasty fusion of East-West baked goods
* Supreme Vegetarian in Arcadia for Chinese vegetarian. If you haven't already had Chinese vegetarian meals, you should definitely check out a place like this.
* Kee Wah Bakery in Monterey Park for Hong Kong-style baked goods. The "pineapple bun" is absolutely unhealthy, but it's heavenly when fresh out of the oven (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pineappl...
)*Sam Woo in Alhambra for a classic Cantonese noodle, roast pork and roast duck restaurant. Be advised that if your shoe sticks to the floor, you may not be able to remove it.
Some places may be cash-only, so bring some just in case.
You can start by visiting the strip mall that houses J&J, Mei long village, happy kitchen and dumpling master. All 4 of those places are very good and easier on someone starting to explore chinese food. You should add Chang's Garden in Arcadia. Similar to mei long village but a tad more refined. Both excellent in their own right. Don't be intimidated by the language barrier, point at pictures or point at someone's table, it's standard operating procedure at asian places.
Omar's in San Gabriel for best hand-made/pulled noodles in SGV. Xin Jiang cuisine, not typical Chinese. Priced significantly higher than other places but the food quality justifies costs. If you appreciate chewy noodles, you won't find any better.