Category Archives: San Gabriel Valley

Kim Chuy – Alhambra

Sometimes all you want is a piping hot bowl of liquid and protein nourishment. And Kim Chuy Restaurant, one of my favorite Teochew noodle soup shops in the San Gabriel Valley, offers just that. It’s become my go-to place for a hearty bowl of noodles and soup.

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BlackBall Taiwanese Dessert – San Gabriel

Given the blistering temperatures of late, I decided to give BlackBall Taiwanese Dessert a try, despite the tepid reviews on Yelp. BlackBall is a Taiwanese dessert chain that markets itself as an ‘healthy’ dessert alternative, with an emphasis on grass jelly desserts and the Taiwanese penchant for QQ, i.e., chewy.

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M Juicery & Creamery – Alhambra

After grabbing lunch at Izakaya Akatora, I walked over to M Juicery & Creamery, a new ice cream shop on Garfield Ave, practically steps away from Borneo Kalimantan Cuisine, an Indonesian restaurant that I’ve reviewed before.

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Izakaya Akatora – Alhambra

Izakaya Akatora’s entrance off Main Street

Izakaya Akatora recently opened up by one of Alhambra’s most prominent intersections, Main Street and Garfield Avenue. Established by Michael Cardenas, a prominent LA restaurateur who has other Japanese-inspired ventures sprinkled throughout LA, this is a Japanese pub-themed restaurant with a good selection of quintessential Japanese dishes alongside more modern dishes.

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Nano Cafe – Monrovia, CA

Nano cafe is one of those things I’d like to call a hidden gem. Now I’ve never really been a brunch type of person, but Nano Cafe made me into a believer. Located in Monrovia, this cafe currently has Chinese owners that definitely stayed true to the All American breakfast. Always busy with a staff that treats you like family, you can find yourself either sitting indoors, or at the counter, or even outside on the patio.

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Caffe Bene – City of Industry, CA

Caffe Bene is a cute Korean cafe 26 miles east of Korea town in the City of Industry. It’s located in the same plaza as Jazz Cat and has been gaining some popularity on instagram due to their large pat bing soo desserts and more. Just like their other store in Korea town, this location also sports the beautiful wooden furniture and quiet, mellow feel.

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Benten Ramen – San Gabriel, CA

Benten has become Golden Deli’s new neighbor! Located in the same plaza as the original Golden Deli, this new ramen shop opened up within the past year and has gained some popularity. It’s a quaint little restaurant with a menu to match. I have never seen a ramen shop that boasts only four different types of ramen on their menu, along with a few appetizers and complementary roobois tea.

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Fujin Ramen – West Covina, CA

Fujin Ramen is always busy no matter when I go. I frequent this restaurant whenever I’m in the area and also recommend it to friends when they’re in the area as well. It’s located in the same plaza as the HK market, where a small Indonesian food court exists adjacent to it. I’ve never had to wait too long for a table, however, the service there can sometimes be hit or miss.

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Ramen Yukinoya – Arcadia, CA

Ramen Yukinoya in Arcadia is one of three of Ramen Yukinoya stores located all around Los Angeles. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve driven past this place on the way to the 99 Ranch Market in Arcadia. It never really caught my eye, due to its humble appearance from the outside. But I finally gave this place a chance.

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MJ Cafe & Teahouse – Rowland Heights

MJ Cafe and Teahouse is one of San Gabriel Valley’s many Taiwanese style cafes, known for its dizzying variety of tea-infused drinks and its confusing 17 page menu. The chain since expanded, opening up branches as far south as Irvine and as far west as Sawtelle.

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YOUnique Cafe – Monterey Park

Younique Cafe is an uninspiring pun on words but does serve pretty good Chinese cafe food. Back in the 90s, I recall it being a Cantonese-style seafood restaurant. In any case, its menu looks a lot like the typical Hong Kong Western-style cafe’s (akin to American diners), consisting of both more traditional Chinese options and Hong Kong-style Western food. There are a plethora of options to be found.

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Black & White – West Covina

Black & White, like many San Gabriel Valley tea shops, is housed in a suburban strip mall off the corner of Nogales and Amar Roads in the leafier part of West Covina. Parking tends to be difficult throughout the day, as the strip mall is also home to a diverse medley of Southeast Asian places, ranging from Filipino to Thai to Indonesian.

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Little Malaysia – El Monte

Socal suffers from a paucity of good Malaysian places. My parents love insular Southeast Asian food, so we decided to revisit one of the few left in the San Gabriel Valley. Little Malaysia is in a strip mall off Peck Road, anchored by a now defunct Asian supermarket, and perhaps its 2nd most well known occupant, Ocean Bo (海寶點心外賣快餐), a dim sum cafe and take-out joint. Dishes range from $8 to $12.

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Penang – West Covina

Penang is one of a handful of Malaysian restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley. It’s located off Glendora Ave, in Hong Kong Plaza, an ostentatious strip mall anchored by a big supermarket. Word has it that Penang was first opened and run by a Burmese film actress, Soe Myat Thuzar. Upon divorcing her American husband, she sold the business. Since then, the restaurant has changed hands several times.

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Litz – Monterey Park

Litz is an old haunt, a Hong Kong style cafe that primarily serves Chinese-adapted Southeast Asian fare. And by Chinese, I mean less intense and pungent than the original, but still just as tasty. Hey, subtlety has its own charms, no?

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