Dumpling day in Monterey Park

We have done several dumpling walks in NYC and deemed it appropriate to end our last weekend in LA with a dumpling drive.  Our friend came in from NYC to join in the fun.  He was a great addition.  Here was the Foursquare List I put together for the journey.

I did the homework before going but many of these places don’t have much information such as the real time that they open.  We eventually got into our groove.  All these places are roughly a 5 minute drive from each other.  This entire area of LA is heavily Asian.  Even the Italian Restaurant is subtitled in Chinese and that includes the dentist, the grocery store, the nail salon and every single store front in the plethora of strip malls.

plasticmenuOur first stop was Elite Restaurant.  We got there at 915 and waited for our friend.  In the 15 minutes we waited the parking lot really started to fill up.  This might have been the best dumplings we had.  I would go back here for dim sum in a heartbeat.  Every restaurant has a plastic menu with photos of their food.

eliteporkAt Elite we went with the pork shu mai.  This was a killer dumpling.  Lots of flavor, didn’t fall apart, was the right balance of pork and veggies.

eliteshrimpWe also had the crystal shrimp.  Simple as a dumpling can be.

simplysplendidbakeryOur next stop was a bit of a mess.  Ends up none of these places open until 11am and sometimes 1130am.  So we hunt and pecked around until we landed on Flavor Garden that opens at 11am.  We got there around 1045 so hit up the bakery next door called Simply Splendid Bakery.  This was like a super soft Parker House roll stuffed with a savory purple yam.  It was strange but really delicious.

flavorgardenporkFlavor Garden opened and we were the first customers.  With in 20 minutes the place was filled with mostly older Chinese people.  We were the youngest one in the place.  We had a shrimp pork and cucumber dumpling.  It was good but not as good as the one at Elite.  This felt and tasted more like something you would make at home.

chivedumplingWe also had the Chinese leek dumpling.  This was really good and unique.  Lots of chopped leeks mixed with bits of scrambled eggs stuffed into a dumpling.   We all gave this one a thumbs up.

lingsoupsNext stop was Long Xing Ji.  This one is top on all the lists.  We had two types of soup dumplings.  The pork/crab dumplings that you ate in one bite.

shoppThis was the nicest of all the restaurants.  The second floor of a really large sprawling outdoor shopping mall that you only experience in LA.

kitNice open kitchen to watch the dumplings being made.

bigdumplingWe also had the pork/crab buns that were the size of your fist.  Essentially a huge soup dumpling.  They give you a straw to suck out the juice.  These were incredible.  The broth inside the dumpling is layered, rich and buttery.  The crab and pork is super fine not chunky and packs a punch.  You could take the insides and put it on a cracker, a piece of bread or anything.  It is delicious.

lucious and huiWe then drove over to Lucious Dumplings that had a sign on it that they were closed for Spring vacation.  Literally right next door is Hui Tong Xiang Noodles House.  A small line.  You place you order outside and then they come take it right before they seat you.  Nice call on how to turn your tables quickly.  These dumplings are more like Chinese blintzes.  It tastes the same but it is a different experience.  We had the pork and the beef.  The pork was the winner.

lambsuqashOur friend had to think about getting to the airport so one more stop is all we had in us.  Also we were getting a tad full.  Our last stop was Beijing Pie House.  We had a lamb squash pie.  This was a thick dough wrapped around the meat and juice inside like a soup dumpling.  It was ok.  A little too doughy.

meatpieThe other thing we had was the meat pie.  I really liked this.  Thin layers of dumpling type bread with meat stuffed inside and layered a few times.  Kind of like a Chinese lasagna or a panini.  Crispy buttery bread out of a dumpling dough and pan fried pieces of meat and vegetables inside.

kitchenI took a pic of the kitchen.  It was the real deal back there.

It was really fun.  Going back to a few of them next year could easily be in our future.