A day in the San Gabriel Valley
Last year at this time we went with Ben Leventhal, the founder of Resy among many other things, down to the San Gabriel Valley for a full on day of eating. This year our friend Jeff, aka Chef Jeff who is the founder of Love Yoga among many other things, joined in on the fun. We hit the wall after 6 stops but the conversation continues throughout the day and not only did we find ourselves well-fed but we definitely left with a lot of food for thought…no pun intended.
Our first stop this year was at Delicious Food Corner. They are one of the few places that open early and serve a Hong Kong style Chinese breakfast. Before we go on this journey I do the research on what is the thing to eat at each stop so we pace ourselves. Here we had two things. Pineapple buns that are soft yet crispy on top with a pineapple tasting sugary sweetness with a tab of butter stuffed inside that melts the second they serve the dish. It is pretty damn good.
The other is congee which is similar to porridge but savory. You can order congee with chicken, fish or meat. We went with the meatballs that are tiny and flavorful. It was the good start to the day.
Second stop was Elite Restaurant. This was a return from last year and we would all go back again. Elite is elite. We had three things. These shrimp dumplings are perfect. Poached flavorful shrimps wrapped in a translucent covering and steamed served with mustard and chili oil.
The other is the pork shumai. Dense flavorful and juicy at the same time. These are amazing.
Last was the crispy shrimp noodle dumpling. Crispy noodles wrapped around shrimp that are deep fried and then lightly wrapped in a dumpling dough. They come out whole and then the server takes a pair of scissors and cuts them into pieces and poured a vinegar soy mixture over the plate. Wow wow wow.
Sam Woo BBQ was next. This is a place we would definitely not return to. We got a BBQ duck. It is served cold and it was very greasy. Tastes good but just not up to par.
Next stop was Mian. This place is incredible. It is a little more upscale than the other places we have been. Perhaps the next generation of spots in the area. The thing to get here is probably anything but we went with the popular dish of Chengdu zhajiangmian. A bowl of spicy thin spaghetti noodles topped with ground pork, scallions and a fried egg. The chili sauce in this just packs the right punch.
On the side they serve a cup of cold murky bean broth that is to be sipped with the noodles. Think of the right pairing of wine with a dish. This really works.
The placemat is definitely a next generation. They explain the concept with the first thing at the top which is take a picture. Gotta love that. In the parking lot we started talking to a guy who noted that we were on a food journey. He had been doing it for years. Gave us some great input which confirmed we were hitting the high notes.
Our next stop was Din Tai Fung Dumpling House #2. There was a slight line so we got our ticket and went across the parking lot to the J.J. Bakery. The bakery is filled with savory and sweet pastries. Nothing is more than a few dollars. We tasted a few things but nothing to rave about.
Our number came up and we sat down. Great service and a nice spot. You know you are somewhere legit when the kitchen looks like this. They closed the original one and opened up this chic new one in the summer of 2016.
The soup dumplings is the key here. We had the pork crab soup dumplings. So good.
We also had the pork soup dumplings.
Our server recommended the spicy wontons. Also incredibly good. Everything was excellent.
Our last stop was Savoy Restaurant. Not a fancy place but a fashionable high end Asian crowd. Its a funky place. They serve pizza and pasta dishes including the “house” speciality Hainan chicken. The presentation is not great but the taste is delicious. Poached chicken served along side simple rice made with chicken broth and butter. I am definitely going to try and make this at home.
On the way back to the west side we hit up Amoeba. One of the most incredible records stores I have ever been to. It gives you this sense of stepping back in time but also this feeling of glee that people are still buying albums.
At the front there is a bucket to give to the ACLU.
And in the back there was a mixture of t-shirts. This one describes the place.
What an awesome day. Already thinking about next year…