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Mar 9, 2013 06:30 PM

10 Best Eats In Monterey Park

JThur01 did this top ten for L.A. Weekly. But really with all of the good restaurants there, we should also add honorable mentions. I'll start with Qingdao Bread Food, Seafood Village and Mama's Lu Dumpling.

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  1. Dorados and Bollini's are glaring omissions.

    Not worthy of honorable mention. Should be in Top 10.

    14 Replies
        1. re: sel

          Dorados Ceviche Bar is in the former space where Fleur De Lys Patisserie was located (440 S. Atlantic Blvd., MP)

        2. re: ipsedixit

          No point, Dorados is going out of business March 31st.

          1. re: Johnny L

            Bummer. We usually grab three or four large containers of ceviches for an easy and tasty dinner at home. I'm going to miss their pulpo ceviche.

            Fleur de Lys did a nice job on that little building but that location and lay of the land are a little odd. Seems the "something unique to the area" concept doesn't work in that space.

            1. re: Johnny L

              Well that stinks. I'll have to go there one more time before it closes.

              1. re: Johnny L

                Not to resurrect an old thread, but John's Kabobs is now in the Dorado space and is excellent for Mediterranean food in the area. Fattoush salad with chicken.

              2. re: ipsedixit

                driven by numerous times but never stopped by. What's a "must have" @ Dorados?


                n/m, I see it's closing...

                1. re: ns1

                  Well, if you go before month's end, get the ceviche, but bring your own bag of corn chips.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Yeah, the tostada shells score, "Lack of Effort" to me. I stop by Whole Foods and get their tortilla chips made in-house. They're pretty studly chips that hold up well to any dipping or scooping imaginable.

                    1. re: bulavinaka

                      Smart move.

                      Too bad the nearest Whole Foods is like ~5 miles away, which means it's like 30 minutes of drive time.

                  2. re: ns1

                    The pulpo and aguachile are tops in my book. The shrimp is pretty good as well.

                    1. re: ns1

                      If it's not too far for you, it's still a nice place to get some ceviche if the mood ever strikes you. I think the only things worth getting are the ceviches... They usually have 4-5 in the window, and you can just sample all of them before you purchase.

                      1. re: ns1

                        My personal favorite is the ecuadorian. Also their fish tacos aren't bad at all.

                    2. I haven't had good (food) experiences at #3 and #6. Maybe I went on their off days. Will try again.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: blimpbinge

                        I loathe the term, but Yoma has the "b"est commercially available Burmese food in California, if not the United States. Besides the danpauk (biriyani) of course; that's almost inedible.

                        1. re: TonyC

                          for some reason i thought #3 was daw yee.. nvm.

                          1. re: TonyC

                            Went to Yoma for lunch today. Place was mostly empty, but the hostess was very warm, and we will go back.

                            I had the Thai Iced Tea to start.

                            We started with the tea leaves salad, which was very good. It had a great deal of crunchy texture from the nuts, nicely tart from the lime juice, and while the tea leaves provided a different texture, I could not get much of a "tea" flavor - but perhaps that is to be expected since the tea flavor comes from the fermentation and drying process. This was a hit.

                            We ordered the fried shrimp dish, which was very good. When ordering she mentioned that the shrimp had its shell to provide some crunch, and this was not a problem. It came in a nicely spicy sauce with a touch of sweetness. Great dish.

                            The Mohinga - fish soup with rice noodles - was slightly disappointing. She ladled it out into two bowls with a sprinkling of the dried chilli and asked us to squeeze lime juice before we ate. This was my first time tasting Mohinga, which I was curious about seeing it on Luke Nguyen's Greater Mekong TV program. The soup is very thick, almost like a pureed lentil soup, and it was not very spicy.

                            Since I wanted to change the taste, we later ordered another dish - I was looking at the beef curry, but she suggested a chicken with vegetables - I did not look at the menu to now report what specific dish. It was also OK - somewhat blander, though with a hint of sourness.

                            Since I am originally from Calcutta, we got to talk about some shared aspects (from my friends who grew up in Rangoon when it was part of undivided India). The woman in the front is Kachin - and last time she visited Myanmar was 10 years ago! Now she says she has no time to go while running the restaurant.

                            I am looking forward to going back and trying their other dishes. Thanks for the tip!

                            1. re: suvro

                              suvro, you made me weep with joy.

                              If every reader of Chow/LA hits Yoma, I'd stop mouthing off on the board, forever.

                              Instead of going to Spice Table looking for Asian food, or Night Market looking for authenticity (with that wine pairing, natch), people should really just go to Yoma and/or Cancoon Thai.

                              1. re: TonyC

                                are there people who go to spice table looking for asian food? or night market looking for authenticity?
                                isn't it possible they just want something good to eat without having to drive to freakin' bellflower?

                                1. re: TonyC

                                  Tony - no likee Night Market? I think it is quite good.
                                  I do wish they would broaden the palate/menu a bit (how many sour pork bits and pieces with fishy sauces can one eat at the same time?) but what it does, I think it does well.

                                  1. re: TonyC

                                    i finally did my part and went with a party of 5 for lunch. it was all great and the best part was that no two dishes were alike.

                                    had to try the tea leaf salad, which was great, but since there's such a diverse menu, we passed on the mohinga.

                                    enjoyed the fried chickpea tofu served with a dipping sauce.

                                    the garlic noodles were good, as was the fishcake curry, but the winner was the spicy fried beef, sliced thin and with the consistency of a south african jerky but crispy on the outside.

                                    the combination and contrasts of all the flavors and textures was remarkable.

                                    and they gave us a complimentary agar with coconut cream dessert.

                                    if you haven't been, get thee there with all due haste.

                            2. Again, please don't take "Top 10"s so literally. They're highly, highly subjective.

                              Qingdao Bread Food and Mama's Lu are definitely right in there, and would fit a Chinese only Monterey Park Top 10, except I was going for variety. I went with the matriarch over the daughter for dumplings. For the same reason, Cook's over Dorados and Elite over Seafood Village. YMMV.

                              I mentioned several more that could have been on the list, trying to give a full portrait of what all is available in Monterey Park, but that got cut for length. Bollini's was foremost of those and sushi and ramen options were mentioned as well.

                              I also tried to come up with a few "out of the norm" to go with the "norm". I don't know how successful I was on that point. How many of you were aware of Wok BBQ or Yoma? (I have to thank and credit TonyC for making me aware of them).

                              I truly dislike doing "Top" 10s, but it's about the only option available right now. Thanks for at least being gentle with me :)

                              50 Replies
                              1. re: JThur01

                                Having been pounded mercilessly over penning a Top 10 list (9 or 10 pages of brickbats and insults on another message board) I know how difficult it is.

                                1. re: JThur01

                                  We had a very enjoyable meal at Easy Earthen last night. This was my first dinner in the Eastern portion of the San Gabriel Valley area. Looks like there's a ton of places to eat out there. Any chance you'll be doing "recon" work out that way?

                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                    I seem to recall a fair amount of commentary from him out of Rowland Heights. And he travels so far just to get to Monterey Park that the incremental distance to Rowland Heights is relatively short.

                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                      I've made several recon trips in the RH/HH area, and managed a few pieces out of them, including Earthen/Easy Earthen and 85 Degrees opening. That area is under reported, but the high points seem to emerge (Silk Road Garden, Earthen, Chuan Ma, etc.). It's an extra 30-40 minutes for me, but I've always enjoyed what I've found in the area.

                                      At the moment, I'm just hoping to be writing about something...somewhere.

                                      1. re: JThur01

                                        "How many of you were aware of Wok BBQ or Yoma?"

                                        Being from the area, I was aware :D

                                        I also have not been to the RH/HH/DB area enough... new places seem to open there more often than i'm actually present over there. One of the reasons is that I find the traffic/parking situations to be even worse than the 626

                                        1. re: blimpbinge

                                          "How many of you were aware of Wok BBQ or Yoma?"

                                          Oops...didn't think about the room on that one :D

                                          Until Gale becomes a full-fledged Garvey to Colima's Valley, the traffic and parking in RH/HH/CoI will likely continue to be very concentrated. Strangely, I haven't had much of an issue with parking there.

                                          1. re: JThur01

                                            I believe there was actually a Chow LA meetup at Yoma a while back.

                                            I think just because a place isn't mentioned on the boards doesn't mean that the 'Hounds aren't aware of it. Sometimes, there's just no real need to mention another boba place hawking Taiwanese street food, right?

                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              Yeah, I plead fatigue in just plain forgetting where I was replying to. Know your room! Usually I do...this time, not so much.

                                              Yes, CH is great at sorting through the non-descript or those that aren't unique. Also for spotting standout versions of common dishes.

                                        2. re: JThur01

                                          JThur01 and Chandavkl,

                                          Thanks - I will search for these past pieces. That East Valley area looks like an untapped gold mine from my perspective as an outsider.

                                          And as an outsider, viable lists like yours are a very helpful guide in sorting out the wealth of food options in any given eatery-dense neighborhood like Monterey Park. Chow is a very detail-oriented site with loads of great input from many legit contributors, but it's awful when seeking out quick concise info - which is exactly what your list has - when venturing into a neighborhood. I personally appreciate them as I'm sure many do.

                                          >>At the moment, I'm just hoping to be writing about something...somewhere.<<

                                          It saddens me to see statements like this. Good honest journalism has been in flux for a number of years now, and the cutbacks have often been in areas that I found most interesting. Every paper and news site will be reporting the same stuff on Afghanistan, the political scenes, the weather, etc. What really sets apart a paper worth buying versus a clone rag are the sections, columns and features that the others aren't doing. Truly talented folks with passion and curiosity like you are treasures in my eyes. Without the contributions from folks like you, I am forced to look elsewhere for those pieces of interest. I have to think that I'm not the only one with this perspective. What the business side of the media sees as cutting back at the edges is really nixing the spice of life.

                                          I don't know if you've seen the HBO series, "The Wire," the best series I've ever had a chance to watch. The fifth season focuses a fair amount on the issues facing newspapers and good solid journalism. If you haven't, it's worth a look. Thanks again.

                                          1. re: bulavinaka

                                            The news room depictions in that season were universally hated by every working journalist I know (myself included). There are ways to dramatize the tensions happening in many newspapers today but that was just insanely over-the-top, stocked with caricatures rather than characters and clearly seemed like Simon was on the vendetta trail. I have several friends at the LA Times - a clusterf--- of a newspaper right now - but their internal problems are a lot more mundane and hardly the stuff that "The Wire" focused on. But seriously, please don't use that sorry excuse for a plotline as any kind of depiction of what a contemporary news room looks like!

                                            As for the LA Weekly, I sympathize with the author. I know enough about the internals there to understand the kinds of compromises that most of the writers there have to undergo, both in terms of pay and editorial pressures.

                                            1. re: odub

                                              "The Wire," was a DRAMA series - never said it was 100% gospel. Season Five was an interesting take on the changing culture and status of a city's paper that seems to be emblematic of so much of the media in the US. You might find this NPR interview of David Folkenflik who worked at The Sun with David Simon:


                                                1. re: TonyC

                                                  Sorry - I usually order a quick noodle dish at Kam Hong while waiting for my to-go order at Beijing Pie House.

                                        3. re: bulavinaka

                                          Give Jim some slack.

                                          He's barely touched WSGV, as this is only the Top 10 for Monterey Park. He still has Alhambra, Arcadia, San Gabriel, etc. to recon before he gets to ESGV ...

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            Sorry, but what did I say that dissed Jim?

                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              Thanks bulavinaka, I try...

                                              ipse, it's been successful enough on those terms. Clarissa did Arcadia. I dunno about doing the others. That's a lot of recon (even if I have eaten extensively in each of those).

                                              You left out Temple City :D

                                              1. re: JThur01

                                                If you did a Top 10 of Temple City, you might top out at 8.

                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  Eh, close enough and keeps the overhead lower :-)

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    Maybe that's intentional--8 is a lucky number, after all. :-)

                                                    1. re: raytamsgv

                                                      Ok, let's give it a whirl.

                                                      My modest proposal at a Top 10 in Temple City (in no particular order):

                                                      Dai Ho
                                                      New Mandarin Noodle Deli
                                                      Seafood Village
                                                      Golden Deli
                                                      Banana Leaf
                                                      Mama Petrillo's
                                                      Cloverleaf (yes, it's a coffee shop, but still ...)
                                                      Old Country Cafe

                                                      Some explanatory notes before the furor starts:
                                                      -No chains (ergo no The Hat and no In N Out)
                                                      -The omission of Happy Noodle and House of Mandarin Noodle were intentional as I think New Mandarin Noodle Deli is better than both.
                                                      - Eden Thai and Casa Del Rey are disgusting, even by Temple City standards.

                                                      There, have at it ...

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        Cloverleaf might be a coffee shop, but they are a very good one that does coffee justice. The baked goods are worthy as well. O always get plenty extra to take home.

                                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                                          Nowadays, with the (over)expansion of 85C, I think Cloverleaf has nosed out 85C as best Chinese bakery.

                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                            Oh My Pan in San Gabriel is top tier too - they make a serious effort in making the drinks.

                                                            Have you tried Flour and Tea in Pasadena? Their baked goods are great IMHO, but they only do tea drinks that are more or less somewhat traditional - focusing on quality. Not a bad thing - just not typical Taiwanese boba milk tea stuff.

                                                          2. re: bulavinaka

                                                            Cloverleaf stopped using Intelligentsia, and could not/would not tell me what beans they're pulling.

                                                            de Cafe Baristas is the only 3rd wavey joint (pulling Herkimer, or Intelligentsia) in the entire WSGV now, Pasadena not withstanding. Macchiato is also using branded beans, but the baristas are really more about sketched latte art than the espresso itself.

                                                            1. re: TonyC

                                                              Been meaning to try Macchiato. How's their baked goods?

                                                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                N/A. Macchiato bakes nothing in-house except "waffles". You can get savory waffle sandwiches ala Bruxie.

                                                                So, +1 on Oh My Pan. Jonathan Chen is a Cordon Bleu grad, did a bunch of stints at Beverly Hills hotels, as well as Jin Patisserie. Him + Mrs. produce everything on premise and make 85c/kiki's look soulless.

                                                                1. re: TonyC

                                                                  Their (Oh My Pan) green tea is also one of the best tasting and most consistent in the area. On the bold side, just enough sweetener yet retaining decent tea flavor.

                                                                  It's not as fragrant as AU79's (sg branch) honey green tea, but they're really going for a different taste.

                                                              2. re: TonyC

                                                                I just went to Taza on Santa Anita and Huntington and had a pretty good experience. They carry Handsome, Intelligentsia, Blue Bottle, among others, and also have Semi-Sweet pastries. Dunno if you've tried it, but may be worth a shot if you're in that neck of the woods.

                                                            2. re: ipsedixit

                                                              Has New Mandarin Noodle Deli experienced any changes since the swap 2 years or so ago? I ask because I went after it was sold, and I haven't been back since, preferring House of Mandarin Noodle.

                                                              1. re: andytseng

                                                                Yes, it's changed. Not as good as before. But I still prefer it over House of Mandarin Noodle (even though the latter was the OG Mandarin Noodle Deli at the location).

                                                              2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                You missed Olympic Bakery for their glorious mango cake. Glorious.

                                                                1. re: J.L.

                                                                  Yeah but they're a one trick pony. It's an awfully good trick, but it's still only one trick.

                                                                  Even Langers - the godfather of such ponies - makes a pretty good egg cream and a memorable basket of fries.

                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                    Actually, I go to Olympic not as much as others for their mango cake, but rather for their crustless Taiwanese egg, ham & mayo sandwiches - I could eat that thing all day.

                                                                    1. re: J.L.

                                                                      I've never had it but I don't doubt you. I bet they use Kewpie.

                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                  Just curious how they rated in the too-many-choices Monterey Park and the tops-out-at-eight Temple City scale.

                                                                  1. re: PeterCC

                                                                    I think Rosemead is probably two or three steps above Temple City.

                                                                    I mean just off the top of my head, you have Sea Harbour, 888, JTYH, China Islamic, VK Foods, Phong Dinh, Shanxxi Gourmet, Mien Ngha, as well as Banh Mi Che Cali and Banh Mi My Tho. Shit, that's probably 10 right there.

                                                                    El Monte is certainly stretching the notion of Chinese + SGV. What's the best Chinese place in El Monte? HO HO Kitchen? For that matter, what's the best restaurant in El Monte, period? Bueller? Bueller?

                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                      Great, now I can't do Temple City or I'm plagiarizing you :D

                                                                      Rosemead is very rich. El Monte would throw in some Mexican eateries as well. Any good pizza places in El Monte?

                                                                      MPK Top 10 was a rousing success...but, I chalk that up to neighboring Los Angeles. The further out one goes, the more the response would likely be: "Meh, too far"

                                                                      1. re: JThur01

                                                                        Jim, my friend, you are welcome to crib off of me anytime.

                                                      2. re: JThur01

                                                        People need to realize all internet "lists" are meant to drive clicks. That's it. EOM.

                                                        1. re: TonyC

                                                          Yes. that's why most best Chinese restaurant in the US lists will include restaurants from Utah, Oregon and Vermont. And why I was skewered when mine didn't. But the website was happy because the outrage (almost entirely from New York) drove up their traffic.

                                                          1. re: Chandavkl

                                                            You mean lists like this one?

                                                            Which is merely an annual pay-to-play game that serves to sell Chinese Restaurant News.

                                                            1. re: scoopG

                                                              No, not like that "list". That's just pay-for-play.

                                                              Like this:

                                                              Or, basically, ANYTHING published online by T+L, which should really just stop aggregating crap into a big clickable pile.

                                                              1. re: TonyC

                                                                Speaking of "pay for play" I talked to a restaurant owner not too long ago. I said I wanted to write about the restaurant. His reply: "How much will it cost us?" When I explained it would be free, he was both surprised and overjoyed.

                                                              2. re: scoopG

                                                                That is hilarious. Every time I pass by one of the places with one of those Top 100 signs I'm thinking "100 Worst Chinese restaurants." It is stunning to see Congresswoman Chu so heavily involved in that endeavor. While I seldom agree with her politically, I always considered her a person of integrity.

                                                              3. re: Chandavkl

                                                                The best Chinese restaurant in Oregon would be interesting though, no ?

                                                              4. re: TonyC

                                                                ^ This! Which I guess is why that seems to be the impetus behind having so many at SI of late.

                                                            2. Yoma really is a gem. The fact that it's on there at #3 makes this list credited IMO.

                                                              1. Instead of having a top 10 list, why not just a "Best Of..." which does not limit nor exclude/include worthy places.

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: A5 KOBE

                                                                  But I think the masses love top 10 lists. Its the nature of the beast.

                                                                  1. re: kevin

                                                                    So if due diligence and journalistic integrity mean nothing. Might as well write about bbq and hamburgers ten times a week.

                                                                    1. re: A5 KOBE

                                                                      You have a point there though.

                                                                    2. re: kevin

                                                                      I think it's all dependent on the source. I look forward to lists like Jim's - great source. They're very handy for areas and cuisines that I need to learn more about (which is many for me).