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Jul 23, 2013 11:42 PM

Rowland Heights - NON-Chinese

I'm looking for a restaurant recommendation in Rowland Heights (or an immediately neighboring town) that is NOT Chinese or Taiwanese. I know this immediately rules out like 80% of all restaurants in the area. Korean and Japanese would work well - and open to other cuisines if the food is good.

This is going to be for lunch for a party of ~10 (mostly adults and 2 kids). It's a birthday celebration, but we don't want anything fancy or expensive. Just good food.


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  1. Are you okay with spicy food? It's been a *long* while, but the last time I was in that neighborhood - I was visiting from Singapore - I found *better* Thai food in Banana Bay and Indonesian food in Java Spice than back home in Singapore! Incredulous as that may sound - since Thailand and Indonesia are virtually next door neighbours to Singapore.

    I guess the presence of large Thai and Indon communities in Rowland Heights contributed to the *authenticity of the cooking* there - I hope that's been maintained.

    Address details
    Banana Bay Restaurant
    18230 Colima Rd
    Rowland Heights, CA 91748
    Tel: (626) 839-5511

    Java Spice
    1743 Fullerton Rd
    Rowland Heights, CA 91748
    Tel: (626) 810-1366

    12 Replies
    1. re: klyeoh

      " I found *better* Thai food in Banana Bay and Indonesian food in Java Spice than back home in Singapore!"

      To be fair, java spice is quite good and indonesian food in singapore is meh..

      1. re: blimpbinge

        Correction: Indonesian food in Singapore is *bad*. Too localised to suit local Malay/Singaporean tastes. Authenticity thrown out the window.

        When I stepped into Java Spice, it was like dining in Jakarta or Surabaya. I particularly liked the stir-fried "pete" (stink-beans) with chilis there.

        1. re: klyeoh

          Agree with you and blimpbinge. I found both Thai and Indonesian cuisines to be very poor in Singapore - Thai more so than Indonesian. It's a shame because all the needed elements are there - particularly the humidity. The oppressive mugginess envelopes everything with a deep passionate kiss.

          Has anyone tried the seemingly multitudes of Korean eateries on and around Colima?

          1. re: bulavinaka

            It's been too long since I was through Singapore (several stop overs in the early 80's on the way to and from Bali/Australia) but a friend who just came back raved about an "Indonesian fine dining" experience he had at a place called "The Moluccas Room" in Marina Bay Sands.

            1. re: Servorg

              Good sign - probably to keep the big spenders from Indonesia in the house.

              1. re: bulavinaka

                We're veering off-topic here, but, yes, Moluccas Room is an *exception* to the rule where Indonesian food is concerned in Singapore - authentic flavours using the highest quality ingredients by a talented Indonesian chef, Alicia Tivey; deluxe setting with a view at Marina Bay Sands casino-resort; and French-style plating/serving. There's nothing like that even in Indonesia.

                An old thread I started:

      2. re: klyeoh

        thanks for the suggestions. our party has some taiwanese folks and a korean kid ... so they can handle some spice but authentic thai is going to be way too spicy. i'm assuming since these places are in rowland heights, you can adjust the spice levels down to "normal" levels?

        1. re: thadj

          Most definitely - our waiter at Banana Bay did ask for our preferred spice level.

        2. re: klyeoh

          quick question - why are the yelp reviews for these places so mediocre? ignorant masses?

          1. re: thadj

            Not sure. But the food I had were authentic, i.e. *not* localised - so that probably could be the reason. In contrast, I'd not been able to find similarly authentic Thai or Indonesian flavours in San Francisco, where the cooking's largely been tweaked to cater to non-Thai and non-Indonesians who form the bulk of the clientele. LA has much larger ethnic populace to support their own indigenous cuisine.

            But I'm also not sure if Banana Bay and Java Spice also tweak their cooking for non-Asian customers. Since I'm familiar with their languages, I spoke in Thai to the waiter at Banana Bay, and in Indonesian to the waiter at Java Spice, and after getting to know them, emphasized that I wanted "real", authentic flavours. They seemed very happy to oblige - the food was explosively hot at both places!!

            1. re: klyeoh

              Java spice is well known by my indonesian and chinese indonesian friends. They all go there sometime.

              Similar story for banana bay, I have friends that have worked there before and wouldn't hesitate to take me there to eat. Not saying it's the best, but there's a reason they've been around for so long.

              I don't think (some of) the local ABC's and non-asians know what's going on really, that's why i dislike yelp.

              1. re: blimpbinge

                That's good to know, blimpbinge. I like both places myself :-)

        3. Birthday parties for pan-Asians fall to 2 Asian joints in RowHts these days:

          1. Moo Dae Po AYCE BBQ,
          2. Banana Bay

          Thankfully, both have liquor license (Banana Bay, full, MDP, soju, natch), in case you don't like fellow partyers.

          And really, RowHts/Hacienda/DB is just about 50/50 Chinese/Korean split these days. The Korean food is simply not being reported because, well, it's Korean food, and much of it is replicated from K-town.

          1. so we're going to go to banana bay. any recommendations for specific dishes?

            none of us are thai or speak the language, and we're going to be asking for most things either non-spicy or mild, medium (by thai standards) at most. I'm hoping we get their "authentic" cooking and not a catered-to-non-thais version (although perhaps asking for less heat is just that).

            3 Replies
            1. re: thadj

              Definitely Kaeng Keaw Wan Kai (แกงเขียวหวานไก่) - green curry chicken, with eggplants:

              We had Pla Sam Rod (ปลาสามรส) - crisp-fried fish with spicy-sweet-sour sauce the last time:

              Or else, if they happen to have Yam Pla Dook Foo (ยำปลาดุกฟู) - crisp-fried catfish, topped with green mango salad, that's worth a try:

              Try their beef or chicken "sates" (pronounced: sah-tay):

              Hope you have a good meal there :-)

              1. re: klyeoh

                thanks klyeoh!

                we had our birthday lunch today at banana bay, and everything turned out great. It was big and open with plenty of room, felt nice enough for a low key birthday party but wasn't expensive.

                the food was very good. not the best thai i've ever had but solid (not that i'm an expert on thai food).

                since not everyone in our party can handle heat, they they adjusted the heat for us but gave us some chillies on the side.

                our top dishes were the green chicken curry and fried squid legs, which is apparently a new item on the menu. i've eaten a lot of squid, and this was one of the best fried versions i've ever had. so crispy and not greasy.

                satay and papaya salad were solid. seafood salad wasn't bad. the only dish i was disappointed in was the banana bay pad thai. i usually don't order pad thai unlessthe place is known for it, but i wasnt sure what noodle dish to get and the waiter recommended it.

                all in all great food, good location - and everyone left happy

                thanks chow hound!

                1. re: thadj

                  Good to hear! Thanks for reporting back :-)