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Suggestions for SGV Chinese Restaurant, No Shellfish

Greetings from Boston - Coming to the LA area next month and desperately looking forward to having really great Chinese food such that we just do not have in Boston. I have been reading though a number of threads here as well as reading LA Eater for ideas of where to go in SGV, but I am finding myself overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices and it makes it difficult as I do not know the area at all. Also, the kicker is that I have a shellfish allergy and this is sometimes a challenge in Chinese restaurants, where so many of the dishes seem to contain shrimp or another shellfish.

I would greatly appreciate if someone could suggest a couple good meat-centric restaurants where shellfish does not star on the menu. Spouse loves oxtail and is a nose to tail eater. Thanks!

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  1. 101 Noodle Express - Beef Roll & Lamb Skewers

    Beijing Pie House - Meat Pies & Homeland Meat Cake

    1. You should be safe at Chendu Taste http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/chengd... (as long as you "like it hot" that is).

      LACH reviews/thread here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9078...

      1. I haven't been in a couple of years but adored Elite Restaurant in Monterey Park for dim sum. Esp. the duck tongues. Mmm.

        I always caution people with shellfish allergies that Chinese food period may not be a great choice and there are dried shrimp in many things that you'd never guess. But if you've been successful eating it in other cities, you must be alright.

        4 Replies
        1. re: c oliver

          +1 Elite - have been there a few times over the past month for dim sum and they continue to be great. I love their baked buns - chicken, pork, snow, etc.

          You check off what you want from a menu (no carts) and they make it for you. You can easily tell that it hasn't been sitting on the cart, making the rounds. I usually have to be careful since it's steaming hot.

          1. re: condementia

            Thanks for elaborating. That was the first place that had menus only and it was a revelation for me.

          2. re: c oliver

            Dim sum in general may be a problem for people with shell fish allergies.

            1. re: PeterL

              Yes, I can't do dim sum anymore. Shrimp here, there and everywhere. It was a minefield.

          3. Feng Mao mutton kebab. Nothing says legit like grilled bull penis.

            7 Replies
            1. re: ns1

              hold the bull penis, er....let's just say minus one

              1. re: jessejames

                "...hold the bull penis..."

                An udder phallacy...but mooving.

                1. re: Servorg

                  The penis indeed mightier than the sword...

                  1. re: J.L.

                    Quoting Sean Connery on Celebrity Jeopardy! is always fun. Now are we going to start with the Anal Bum Cover? ;-D>

                    1. re: Servorg

                      "I got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell..."

                      1. re: Servorg

                        "Ape Tit" would be more apropos to Chowhound, based on what the catetory name it was derived from.

                2. re: ns1

                  I wasn't joking btw, no shellfish here.

                3. Sorry about Eater LA's SGV being so overwhelming. Such is the nature of the beast.

                  check back in the end of the month for a visitors guide (though, I suspsect, it may still be overwhelming)

                  1. Too many restaurants to name. This is a good thread that i think represents the chaos of the SGV:

                    Some recs anyway:
                    Chengdu Taste for elegant Sichuan food (if such a thing exists), fairly spicy but not overwhelming. hard to get a table so get there at opening times.

                    Hunan Mao if you're into very spicy food

                    101 Noodle Express for beef roll, good dan dan mian

                    Din Tai Fung if you want to feel like you've been to a famous place - their XLB is admittedly well constructed. I personally like Dean Sin World's more, but DSW is also barely a restaurant.

                    Tasty Dining for a dry pot eating experience

                    Flavor Garden for dumplings/noodles/good stuff

                    Omar's/Sweethome Grill/JTYH for Northern lamb dishes, knife-cut noodles at JTYH

                    People here don't really hype Tasty Noodle House but IMHO it serves up some of the best cooking in the SGV - get one of the noodles, the garlic eggplant, the scallion pancakes, the buns, and maybe one of the more adventurous items

                    Also Tasty Noodle House is in a great intersection that includes Golden Deli (Vietnamese spring rolls), Luscious Dumpling and Hui Tou Xiang (dumplings), Kingburg Kitchen (fish dumplings), and Nanjing Kitchen (Nanjing duck). So you could do a little food walk yourself.

                    And if I was from the NE I personally wouldn't try too hard to make it to Elite or Sea Harbour. They're perfectly good, but LA's dim sum scene isn't extraordinary when compared to the other things it has.

                    In order of most likely to be safe:
                    Din Tai Fung
                    Chengdu Taste
                    Tasty Noodle House
                    101 Noodle Express
                    Nanjing Kitchen
                    Tasty Dining
                    everything else

                    4 Replies
                    1. most non-cantonese (or chiu-chow) regional cuisines don't have much shellfish. and most chinese dishes don't feature meat except in appetizer form. if you want things like tendon, chicken feet, tongue pig ears, etc. you might consider a hunan/shechuan place with a large cold table selection, in which case a place like yunnan garden might fit the bill.

                      given the shellfish thing, china islamic should be a safe choice, there's a thread on that place that's had some recent activity, and one of the main reasons to go is for the sesame bread, which prompts me to comment on your meat-centric request.and say that if you're familiar primarily with cantonese cuisine, you may be doing yourself a disservice by not considering some of the bread & noodle dumpling offerings commonly found in the inland regional cuisines. (if you do decide to try shanghai xiao long bao (XLB), be aware that some are made with a combo crab/pork filling - and they may not be overly concerned about the risk of cross contamination when assembling them)

                      also, most places in the SGV are holes in the wall/one trick pony types of establishments that does one or two things well. you might be better served by a food crawl.

                      oh yeah, ox tail. you can find that at just about any HK style cafe which might be the best choice if eating after say, 8-9pm.

                      1. Great suggestions by my fellow L.A. hounds so far.

                        On a side note: Bummer having a shellfish allergy while living in Boston, though... :-(

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: J.L.

                          In general, people with real shellfish allergies should completely avoid Cantonese, Fujainese, Malaysian, Indonesian,, Thai, Burmese, and Lao/Cambodian cuisines. There is shellfish hidden in most dishes. Northern and Western Chinese is fairly safe, but with a severe allergy, the only reasonable choice is to swear off practically all East Asian restaurants other than strictly vegetarian ones.

                          1. re: swannee

                            yeah, you can't be sure what they use to flavor stocks and stuff like that. though it'd be a shame to not go to a place like daw yee and try the chickpea based tofu. but you have to stay away from the tea leaf salad because of the dried shrimp.

                        2. Many thanks for all your replies. They are very helpful and I will be using them. I really like the idea of a food crawl as it will give us a chance to try a few different places in one go.

                          Shellfish allergy sucks. Before it was diagnosed, I ended up in the ER twice after eating shrimp both times. Now I have to be very careful. China Islamic looks interesting; I saw the other thread and that sesame bread sounds delicious.

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: Kat

                            Obviously you have a severe allergy so I'm sure you've read swannee's post carefully.

                            1. re: Kat

                              unless you speak reasonable mandarin, at some places, the people who take orders speak reasonable english and you may be able to impress on them the severity of your shellfish allergy.

                              flavor garden (which is a personal fave) serves shrimp dumplings & (i believe) a crab/pork version of their XLB's, but IMO their staff speaks english well enough that they can confirm with the kitchen if anything else on the menu contains shellfish. and i get the sense they would take steps to avoid cross contamination; flavor garden is IMO one of the few places where most everything on their menu is above average if not outstanding. i've eaten there four times in 2014 already, & i recommend the beef roll, their spicy sweet potato pho, scallion pancake, and their fen zheng pai gu (hard to describe steamed pork with five spice powder, rice flour and sweet potato - i included a pic) very good fish dumplings too (that i THINK are shellfish free)

                              and if you want to be transported to the tianjin/beijing area for a few moments, fortune no 1 for breakfast for the chive pockets (pic 4), and sweet bread (pic 5) that for want of a better way of describing it, is naan with a topping of brown sugar. wash it all down with hot soymilk.

                              the noodles/dumplings/cats ears at heavy noodling II (referred to by everyone else as JYTH) are all wonderfully chewy in a completely unpretentious rustic way. lotsa lamb & the soups are good.

                              and if you're willing to food crawl, go to the kang kang or shau may food court ONLY for the shen jian bao (pic 6); everything else there is more about value/volume than quality.

                              i would suggest omar, but they're a little pricy and not as much fun with only two people - you can try more with a larger group.

                              taiwanese places: my fave is old country cafe for the pork chop fried rice. others will be better qualified for other suggestions for taiwanese, especially in respect to your shellfish thing.

                              1. re: barryc

                                Looks so good (esp. #2!) ! Appreciate the tip about Flavor Garden, I'm going to Google that, English-speaking staff would be helpful Thank you.

                                1. re: barryc

                                  Fortune No 1's chive pockets have tiny dried shrimp. With the Garfield Hospital being known for its death rate, you might be sending this woman into an early demise. Just saying.

                                  1. re: TonyC

                                    are we talking about the ones with just the deep fried dough with the omelet wrapped around it? if those have dried shrimp, then i quickly withdraw the suggestion. but still get the bread and the soymilk.

                                    1. re: barryc

                                      Soybean milk is often flavored with dried shrimp.

                                      1. re: swannee

                                        learn something new every day. i'm glad that you pointed this out.

                                        1. re: swannee

                                          Only the savory kind. Not the sweet iteration.

                                        2. re: barryc

                                          we're talking about these:

                                          "and if you want to be transported to the tianjin/beijing area for a few moments, fortune no 1 for breakfast for the chive pockets (pic 4)"


                                          1. re: TonyC

                                            on the chance i described the wrong thing, i was referring to this in the pic:

                                            essentially an omelet wrapped around some sort of deep fried dough.

                                  2. Anyone with a food allergy should not be eating at local Chinese restaurants. You may want to chance it if it is just a sensitivity.

                                    But an allergy? Especially a serious one? Fuggetaboutit.

                                    Most mom-and-pop places in SGV treat allergy requests like they do health dept inspections. Grin, nod, and feign attention long enough until the person goes away.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      "Grin, nod, and feign attention long enough until the person goes away."

                                      That would be walking out to their car or going out on a gurney to the paramedics rig I take it?

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        i'd agree with that. but as i said before, there are a few places where the seriousness of the concept: "allergic as in if i can sick and die and sue you folks for everything you own" can be perceived based on the fluency of the wait staff. clearly, i wouldn't take that risk at some place like shen yang, but if i went into say a taiwanese place where fluency in english was more common...

                                        to be on the completely safe side, you stay home. everything in life has a measured risk.

                                        1. re: barryc

                                          "allergic as in if i can sick and die and sue you folks for everything you own" can be perceived based on the fluency of the wait staff.

                                          RE: suing. Good luck with that.

                                          RE: fluency. That just means they understand what you're saying. Understanding and caring are not the same.

                                      2. I'm starting to think that I should just content myself with a bowl of white rice while the rest of the family eats, and then I can eat somewhere else later. Of course, I'll look like the white girl loser who's afraid of spicy and won't eat the food, but better that than sick. We'll still use these tips and go, because the rest of the family is really looking forward to it.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: Kat

                                          Would your spouse be open to trying a vegetarian Chinese restaurant? Some of them offer mock meat and while a carnivore likely will notice the difference, they might enjoy the tastes just the same.

                                          1. re: ElsieDee

                                            this is a great rec. as a carnivore, i love chinese veg.

                                            1. re: ElsieDee

                                              I had taken a vegetarian friend to Hot Pot, Hot Pot and he loved it. We stuck to all the vegetables, but it was a great meal.
                                              I don't think the broth has any shellfish in it. We also asked that it not contain any chicken stock, and they agreed - but I am not sure if there was no chicken at all. Perhaps it does not have chicken stock.

                                              There is plenty of meats and vegetable selections that anyone could have a nice meal there.

                                              1. re: ElsieDee

                                                there are a number of places that do a great job of simulating the taste and texture of meat/shellfish. that may help to mitigate the amount of perceived sacrifice on the part of the rest of the family.

                                              2. re: Kat

                                                Uhm. NO. That'd be LAME.

                                                The Chinese aren't trying to kill you. There are just so many of them, that if one poor soul actually died from a constricted airway due to shellfish reaction, they'd have 1.36399999999 billion more people left in the population, so they aren't gonna stress out too much about it. also, most of the country can't afford epi-pens (though, that said, neither can I).

                                                if you need, "someone" on this board can curate a non-shellfish menu at Chengdu Taste. Also, they have Alhambra PD on speed dial (due to eggers) so you'd be able to get paramedics quickly if something does go awry.

                                                carry an epi-pen and eat on. it'll be worth it. you can eat white rice in boston.

                                                1. re: TonyC

                                                  people egg Chengdu Taste? wtf?

                                              3. Ironically I'm writing this from State/Washington St.

                                                here you go:


                                                everything on the list is better than Hei La Moon which even smells rather grotesque.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: TonyC

                                                  Thanks for the link to this excellent list! Much appreciated!