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Nov 17, 2013 02:12 PM
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Shen Yang in San Gabriel

I finally managed to convince a few people to go with me. The decor was plain--nothing spectacular. Parking was a mess because many people were shopping at the Hong Kong Supermarket next door. Judging by the accents I heard inside, there were quite a few patrons who were Northerners.

This is what we ate:

Sauteed Beef with Scallion: decent, not outstanding.

Corn and Red Bean Flower Buns: pretty good, but it's hard to compare because I've never seen anything like this in my life. It comes with a heaping of sugar, and I surmised that one should coat the outside with sugar before eating. It's a mild and quite chewy dish.

Jing Dong Meat Pie: excellent combination of meat and a flaky crust. It looks like a scallion pancake with meat inside. It's about a half-inch thick.

Home Style Pancakes with Pork Stew and Scallion: It's not actually a pork stew. Instead, it consists of quarter inch think slices of pork (that may or may not have been stewed) and a plate with scallions and what appears to be a fermented bean paste of some sort. Four large pancakes (again, similar in appearance to scallion pancakes) accompany this. I'm not an expert on how to eat this, so I placed the pork slices in the pancake, topped with some scallions and a touch of the paste, folded it like a taco, and ate it. I imagined it to be a poor man's version of Beijing duck. It was delicious

Shredded Potato with Sour Sauce: This was a cold dish. This wasn't bad, but I think it would have been much tastier if we had ordered a hot, spicy dish to balance the flavor and temperature. The potatoes were not cooked to the point of collapse. You could pick them up like noodles.

Fish Potstickers: Okay. I'm biased because I like pork pot stickers so much more. The celery was a bit too pronounced in this dish. If it had been pork instead, the balance would have been better.

Northern Style Noodle with Soup. This was a bit hit amongst the noodle eaters in our group. It's like hot and sour noodle soup without the spiciness or sourness. The flavor is complex.

I'm very happy I was able to dissuade other members of my party from ordering fried rice and chow mein.

Overall, it was worth the money. Entrees range mostly from $7 to $12. It is cash only. At least one of the waitresses spoke decent enough English but they never seem to let me speak English in these places unless I drag along someone who doesn't look Chinese.

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  1. "I'm very happy I was able to dissuade other members of my party from ordering fried rice and chow mein."

    it took me about 2 months of weekly lunches to get my regular crowd to desist

    "they never seem to let me speak English in these places unless I drag along someone who doesn't look Chinese."

    i have noticed the same thing.at certain places. non-asians get bonus points for merely making the attempt while chinese-looking clientele get dinged for not speaking well, my usual excuse is: "shuo guan dong hua!". it doesn't help much but it makes me feel better.

    1. I enjoyed a meal at Shen Yang in San Gabriel this past weekend.

      I've found it challenging to compose a meal at Dongbei restaurants in the Bay Area, so relied partly on http://beta.chowhound.com/post/jthur0... , nixed any items that we can get good versions of in the Bay Area http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/990749 , and supplemented it with an item or two that had "Shen Yang" in the Chinese names.

      Shenyang "Chinese doughnut roll" : really good! Braided and breadier than the standard doughnut sticks (you tiao).

      The Shen Yang "house special salad" was a mix of cold items, including shredded potato, bean curd shreds, cilantro, and peanuts. The versions of this dish in SF have a higher amount of vinegar and/or chili oil than Shen Yang used. I feel a more potent sauce gives life to the potatoes, provides a contrast to hearty dishes, and keeps up with bold dishes.

      The corn flour red bean flower buns turned into a sticky tough mess as they cooled, but I liked them when they came out. There's a hill of granulated sugar on the plate, and that seemed to work best on the outside of the bun, where it gave a sweet gritty contrast to the mashed beans inside. The server told me the leaves on the bottoms were meant to be eaten, but I wasn't a fan of their strong, medicinal flavor. She said they were millet leaves (粟子, sùzi). Is that accurate? I can't place it, but I recognized their flavor from something I've eaten before.

      Shenyang "marinated pork bone" : tasty meat hidden in bone crevices. It's light on the seasonings and mellow overall, so I'd want at least another meat dish for a full meal.

      Chicken rack in cumin sauce. : These were killer. The flaps of skin, fat, and thin pieces of meat offered lots of surface area for browning. That, and MSG (or a high glutamate sauce), built savory flavors that stood up to the cumin.

       
       
       
       
       
       
      8 Replies
      1. re: hyperbowler

        i'm glad you appreciated the recommendation. i love those cumin chicken bones myself.

        1. re: barryc

          Hi Barry,

          you see, i have zero idea why people love paying a lot of money to eat... bones? It's not like you're getting delectable bone marrow or something. these are like leftover chicken bones with no meat on them?!!! it's absurd imho.

          1. re: chowseeker1999

            Yeah, calling these chicken bones matched my first impression when the plate came down, but there's plenty of meat and skin on the chicken carcass. My last photo shows a piece with lots of edible bits. There's a lot of sodium, so it's probably enough for 4 people to split as an appetizer.

            Think of it like yakitori, only with bones instead of skewers :-)

            1. re: hyperbowler

              Or chicken feet.

              Except they're not feet.

              1. re: hyperbowler

                beer food or bar food. any bar that uses whole chickens could get some serious bang for the buck either as appetizers or freebies that make you drink more beer.

              2. re: chowseeker1999

                the japanese do the same kind of thing with fish skeletons after fileting them. it's just easier to debone a chicken so there's less meat. for the region, the calcium is probably welcome. but overall, there's just something satisfying about having to work just to get a few tasty morsels. and of course, any meat coated with cumin & garlic is pretty much a winner.

                1. re: barryc

                  hey hyper, ipse, barry,

                  true. i guess at least something like chicken feet has more substance to it than just gnawing on bones. just felt really underwhelmed by the whole experience. :<

                  and one place we had it at in the SGV, they were charging prices as if that dish was one full of chicken meat (i think like $10 or something!), except it was bones.

                  1. re: chowseeker1999

                    if you've ever had a deep fried fish skeleton after the meat was removed for sashimi or sushi, it's not that different. if you've never had there, i can't think of any other analogs.

                    À chacun son goût