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Nov 18, 2013 10:48 AM

Sham Tseng BBQ Restaurant in Monterey Park

We went there on Sunday night. It's a small, cramped, hole-in-the-wall Cantonese BBQ joint. It was packed even though we got there before 6 PM. Frankly, I don't understand why it was so popular because the food wasn't all that memorable.

The walls are plastered with various menu specials, although they are a step up from the usual. Instead of taping hand-written Chinese characters on sheets of paper, they taped professionally-produced pictures and Chinese characters on the wall. That way, if you don't read Chinese, you can feel good about yourself because you were defeated by glossy wallpaper instead of cheap wallpaper.

The exterior signage and interior wall paper indicated that it has many Chiu Chou dishes. We didn't order any of them. Here's what we ordered:

Suckling Pork with Pickled Vegetables: Skiin was nice and crispy. Pork was very flavorful but too salty. Pickled veggies were good.

Yang Chow Fried Rice with Lobster: An absolute disaster. The rice was poor quality. There were tiny bits of shell throughout the rice. The wallpaper indicated in English that you'd get a free drink with it. The Chinese indicated that it would be Lemon Tea. It wasn't a very good version--too sweet.

Stir-Fried Rock Cod with Vegetables: Rock cod was decent, but it was mostly vegetables. The sauce was generic cornstarch thickened sauce.

Peking Duck: Not a true Peking duck but a Cantonese roast duck with the skin removed. The usual buns and scallions were provided. This was merely adequate. The skin was not crispy enough. It was served with deep-fried shrimp chips, but they were a bit stale.

Stir-Fried Pea Sprouts with Garlic: Wonderful dish.

Overall, this place was quite a disappointment.

On the bright side, I did witness a funny exchange that you would almost never see in a non-Cantonese restaurant (even Chinese ones):

A customer wanted to add an order, but the waitress had walked away and started walking behind a wall. He yelled from across the room to the waitress that he wanted a rice dish. The waitress yelled back and asked what specific type of rice dish. The customer promptly yelled his reply.

One minute later, the waitress returned to the room and yelled out, "Who ordered the rice dish?" The customer yelled back, "I did".

Cantonese people are certainly a vocal bunch.

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  1. Pretty much my experience too. Place is packed and the food is meh.

    1. Sham Tseng is the Cantonese Chinese restaurant equivalent of Cheers.

      No one really goes there for the food, but just cuz "everyone knows your name".

      1. When I go there, I usually get one or a few of the following:
        -bbq duck
        -"tea king chicken" - like soy sauce chicken but less salty and generic tasting
        -roast goose

        everything else I've tried there is meh

        When you go in, there's a sign that says "king of lo shui" (in chinese), but when I tried their lo shui goose, it was mediocre.

        1. One minute later, the waitress returned to the room and yelled out, "Who ordered the rice dish?" The customer yelled back, "I did".
          At 11PM, would you rather have this, or JJ/KT? I'd also rather eat here than Phillipe's/Coles/Pantry -- all inexplicably popular -- any day.

          1. It was decent and moments of goodness in the beginning. But it went downhill pretty fast, and food as you stated was not memorable, mediocre at best I would say. We ordered on 2 occasions their whole roast pig, but family decided after that to go back on our usual fare of lechon on my mom's bday. The food you have tried is an indication why the demise of its Alhambra location. I am so also baffled why it is still around.