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Sep 1, 2014 10:00 AM

SGV: MaMa's Kitchen returns...

Long-time dumpling, noodle, wonton & snack house, MaMa's Kitchen, recently closed in the Alhambra plaza that's home to 101 Noodle House and the bowling alley. Cruising around yesterday, I spotted this sign. I walked in, but apparently everyone was in back. It used to be a steam table joint called Quick Meal and the laminated menus still say Quick Meal while the grease stained menus only list some of MaMa's former menu, but included beef rolls. It's located in a small mini mall at 153 E. Duarte in Arcadia, just west of 2nd and next to a Carl's Jr. Further recon is needed to see if they have all of MaMa's wide variety of dumplings or if they still make a beef roll worthy of TonyC's recommendation.

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  1. thanks for the update!!

      1. wow. i actually recognized ma ma jia before i read the english.

        rather unfortunate that they neglected to proof read the new sign before installing

        1. i'm not driving up to Duarte Rd for a beef roll just like i'm not waiting an hour for XLB.

          it is hilarious they just turned the old "U" upside down though.

          2 Replies
          1. re: TonyC

            That's actually Arcadia on Duarte Rd. Which puts it near the Race Track and Mall. Still too far?

            1. re: Ogawak


              sorry, I've become rather afraid of SGV traffic as I age. Arcadia might as well be Oxnard.

              some richer, closer, Taiwanese Arcadian will have to tell me if Mama's is still as big of an eggy gut bomb.

          2. I went there today with some fellow adventurers. We had some boiled dumplings: pork with leek, pork with fennel, and lamb with carrots. Every dumpling was right on the mark. I especially liked the lamb with carrots dumpling.

            The beef noodle soup wasn't that popular because the beef was too tough. I did not personally try it.

            I tried their beef roll for the first time. They are each about the size of a 1 pint/0.5 liter water bottle. The seasonings were good. The wrapper was thin and fairly crispy. The egg flavor was very noticeable. Like all other beef rolls, it was heavy on the stomach. We thought it was good, but we generally preferred the ones offered at 101 Noodle Express.

            They have a steam table there, so you can order stuff for a quick lunch. They also have lunch specials. As before, you can order bags of frozen dumplings, including what appeared to be potstickers the size of a small calzone. The freezer is next to the door in the dining area (you can see it in the picture)

            Parking is a pain. From the street, it looks like one long strip mall. In reality, it's a few small strip malls put together. The lots are physically separate, so you need to make sure you enter the right one.

            Seating is cramped. I think it can fit about 18 people if everyone was skinny. Decor is about average.

            There was no AC, so on a hot day (100F today), it can get quite uncomfortable.

            Finally, they fixed the sign. It says "Quick" instead of "Qnick".

            10 Replies
            1. re: raytamsgv

              Thanks for the report. Wonder if the steam table is why Quick Meal is still on the markee.

              1. re: raytamsgv

                i have to ask: did they actually replace the sign, or put an obvious patch over the 'n'?

                no A/C? UGH.

                1. re: barryc

                  Either they actually replaced the sign, or it's the best repair job I've ever seen.

                  1. re: raytamsgv

                    in which case i assume that whoever did the sign screwed up and was forced to replace it free of charge. good for 'mama'!

                    1. re: raytamsgv

                      they flipped the u upside down.

                      happy to hear the eggy beef roll remains the same gut-bomb. awesome, but p.p. pop is 30 minutes closer so... eeeenh.

                  2. re: raytamsgv

                    Thanks for the report ray. Sounds like they pretty much maintain the wide variety of dumplings? Yeah, it is hot in there (low 90s the day I tripped over it) and I should have mentioned the multi-mini mall lot puzzle. Maybe they swapped the sign with the one on the side of the building, which read "Quick"?

                    1. re: JThur01

                      They have pretty much the same menu from their old location on Valley Blvd. in Alhambra.

                      Both signs on the front and the side are correct.

                      1. re: raytamsgv

                        had some business in arcadia so i stopped in to get a beef roll.

                        today's lunch clientele was dominated by people going for the 2 item $4.25 lunch special. mama did take some time to serve a couple of gwei lo patrons who had some problems with their noodle dish, much to the consternation of people waiting for the buffet lunch, and eventually me, when it dawned on me that she was the one who assembled the beef roll, and not the help in back; i waited about 20 minutes for my beef roll after she handled the people eating in and the folks getting takeout.

                        to the beef roll: actually one of the smallest i've seen. the inclusion of egg is unique, but apparently they smear it on one side of the scallion pancake as they fry it. this resulted in a pancake that was IMO insufficiently crisp. i would rather drive over to 101 noodle express and shell out an extra $.50 for their rendition. but if i were near the 101 noodle express alhambra location, i'd go across the street to flavor garden especially when their's is $1 cheaper at $7.

                        after the snafu with the sign, i checked out the new menu placing the over/under on incorrectly spelled words at about 10. to my amazement, the menu passed muster - until the last category: Tzung Tzu, described as 'stricky rice wrap in lotus leaf.' so close and yet so far.

                        i noticed that they offered a salted duck. i inquired as to whether it was similar to nanjing style, to which she replied "i don't know." has anyone had their duck and the duck at nanjing kitchen and comment on the similiarities/differences?

                        1. re: barryc

                          thanx for the fyi barry!

                          i remember my friends taking me to the old mama's kitchen years ago.

                          do you think their other menu items are worth trying? they make their own dumplings in house right?

                          1. re: chowseeker1999

                            i'd been to mama's kitchen before they closed. someone in our group was apparently from near where 'mama' is from, and she kept bringing out little specialties from the kitchen for us. IIRC, they did assemble their dunplings there, and they still have some frozen available to sell. i would assume quality has been retained. but then submitted for your approval, a MLK beef roll circa march 2014. note how the pancake itself appears to be a darker shade of brown, suggesting that it had received a little more time in the pan. also note the inclusion what looks like cucumber which was missing from the beef roll i had earlier this week (was it really only yesterday?).

                            if mama is doing the prep & cooking, you might be better off trying at dinner time since she's apparently dedicated to serving the lunch specials. but this is all conjecture.