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.
A few months ago, our good friend Janet flew back to Socal from Chicago. We picked her up at LAX around noon and immediately proceeded to do what we know best: eat (barring karaoke, of course).
I can’t begin to express how often I’ve heard the phrase, “I’ve never had Indonesian food.” As a kid, it was hard for me to describe Indonesian food and to have people actually understand my description of it. No matter how hard I tried to describe it, it always came back to “is it just like Chinese food?”
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?
I’ve been getting a number of suggestions from different people in terms of restaurants in the area that I have yet to try. I don’t know why I’ve never tried Mama Lu’s Dumpling House until recently. However, Nelson from noonieandcoonie.com suggested that I try it, specifically for their beef rolls. Normally, I think, I feel reluctant to go to dumpling houses because I don’t usually go out of my way to eat dumplings in a restaurant. It’s one of those things where I’ll either buy a frozen bag of dumplings from the supermarket and make it at home or make homemade dumplings myself. But, I’m a big fan of beef rolls and wanted to know what all of the rave was about.
The restaurant itself is located in the plaza where Cocary used to be located on Garvey. I’ll be honest and say that I actually got lost looking for this place when I went to eat with my friend Calvin. We always have a tendency of getting lost when we try and find a restaurant we’ve never been to before, but we made our way there.
We ordered about 3 dishes which included: beef noodle soup, xiao long bao, and beef rolls. The beef noodle soup was a hefty portion for such a small price. We shared it between the two of us. I thought the beef noodle soup was decent. The meat was well cooked and was falling apart (I really hate it when the meat is tough). The broth was a little salty for my taste, but I tend to eat a little blander than most people when it comes to the salt department. I liked that the noodles weren’t overcooked (pet peeve). Overall, the beef noodle soup was just like any other beef noodle soup I’ve had so far. I know it’s considered a national Taiwanese dish despite its mainland Chinese origins, but I have yet to have a beef noodle soup that really stood out from the rest. It’s just really good comfort food for me.
When it came to the xiao long bao, I was really excited. I don’t normally eat xiao long bao that often, so I feel it’s a treat whenever I do eat it. When I first took a bite of the xiao long bao, I usually let the broth run into my spoon to see how much is inside. I like to compare the contents of the xiao long bao between different establishments. I must say, I was actually disappointed. Why? This xiao long bao was on the drier side. The broth itself was flavorful and the xiao long bao had a nice soft consistency to it, but not overcooked. However, the main characteristic of a good xiao long bao is the broth inside of it. The lack of broth inside the xiao long bao made it overall dry and when it began to cool down, it was almost like eating dumplings. I was really sad. I like a xiao long bao which has so much broth inside it bursts in your mouth. Sadly, I have yet to find good places for this.
So far, this place isn’t looking too hot, but luckily the beef rolls are here to save the day! When Nelson told me that Mama Lu’s was great for their beef rolls, he was not kidding. I was really excited to have beef rolls because I also don’t eat them too often, perhaps even less than xiao long bao. And let me say I was pleasantly surprised. The beef rolls had so much flavor and so many textures, it was like a party in my mouth. The beef was perfectly cooked and was a nice contrast to the pan fried wrap. I was actually really surprised to see that this beef roll was pan fried, and I think that is what made all of the difference.
Sure, the beef roll was a bit on the oily side because it was pan fried, but it made such an impact on the dish, I don’t think I can eat beef rolls the same way ever again. Right when you bite into it, you get a nice crunch before you sink your teeth into the soft beef that melts in your mouth and combines with the sweet flavor of the hoison sauce. I think that pan frying the beef roll also helped keep the roll itself together. Often times, I find that the beef roll will fall apart because of the sheer weight of the contents of the dish. However, I think that with the fried wrap, it helps give some structure to the dish, which made it easier to eat as well.
So what do I think about Mama Lu’s Dumpling House? Awesome beef rolls! It was my favorite thing out of the 3 dishes we ordered. I think the only reason I would go out of my way to eat here is to have the beef rolls. Other than that, you can find similar dishes elsewhere for around the same price and probably similar quality. Would I make this a regular place to go to?
Um…maybe not? As much as I loved the beef rolls, I think that I would need more than that to justify driving 30 minutes away to eat at this restaurant, when there’s a similar restaurant in a closer vicinity. However, if you are ever in the Monterey Park area, it is definitely worth a try!
153 E Garvey Ave
Monterey Park, CA 91755
Sorry for the hiatus. I’ve been a bit busy prepping for the new school year and have officially started my Welcome Week this week at Western University. I’ve been meaning to report back to you all about the 626 Night Market, a bit earlier, however, things have been a bit hectic. Anyhoo, moving on!
The 2nd round of 626 Night Market was held on Saturday, July 28th at the Centennial square in Pasadena. A group of friends joined Justin and me on our food adventure and we made a night out of it. A good friend of ours moved to Korea this week, and so the 626 Night Market doubled as a goodbye to our dear friend. To celebrate, we played some food games (not as successful as we would have liked) and tried a lot of different things.
Before I get into the food, I just want to comment on the venue and the event as a whole. The event was really great! There was so much more open space, a lot of different vendors and a lot more crowd control! It definitely was a lot safer than the last event, and it was easier to access different types of foods. There were volunteers at the more popular booths, controlling the lines while ensuring the safety of the vendors. Some vendors had a ticket system where you could pay for your meal in one line, grab a ticket, then pick up your meal in another. This seemed to work in favor of the vendors. It didn’t take too long to wait for the food for pick up either. There was also a LOT more accessibility to parking structures. I noticed a vast improvement in terms of traffic coming to the event. Definitely did not take me 2 hours this time to find parking or to event exit to the venue. I just want to congratulate the 626 Night Market staff for making this event so successful. I really do hope there will be another one in the future.
One of the things that we got to try were some yummy lamb kabobs. To be honest they were a bit on the dry side and not as heavily seasoned as lamb usually is. However, it had a nice spicy kick to it, which I loved.
Since we had a fairly large group, we split off to line up for different booths and returned to one central location to share the food. We tried Indonesian sate (which of course isn’t new for me, but it was for some), deep fried stinky tofu with pickled vegetables, spicy stinky tofu in a soup, fried fish skin chips, egg waffles, ginger juice rice pudding, fish balls, candy covered strawberries, and different types of teas.
I think my favorite thing of the night was surprisingly the stinky tofu. Why? Oh dear, I made such a terrible face when I first tried it. I was just so shocked by how it actually tasted “stinky,” but it was weird! I actually enjoyed it. There’s something about it that is just really addicting. I don’t get it at all.
If you have never tried stinky tofu, I suggest just trying it at least once! The smell is hard to handle, but you get used to it after a while. Trust me, it was surrounding the whole event for miles.
So I communicated with Aileen, the marketing coordinator, after the event and had her answer a few questions I had in regards to the night market and plans for future events.
Did the event live up to the coordinators’ expectations?
Aileen: I definitely think that everyone is incredibly happy about the event—the event lived up to our expectations and MORE because it was surprisingly smooth. There was minimal parking/traffic issues, and the crowd was manageable. We’ve heard great reviews so far so that is what makes it all worth while.
How was the turn out this time around in comparison to last time in terms of numbers?
Aileen: Jonny spoke to the city and about 40,000 people came out this time. Last time was hard to gauge but there were probably about 35,000 who actually made it to the event.
Are there plans for another 626 Night Market?
Aileen: I can’t give you anything concrete, but we definitely hope to host another 626 Night Market. I want to say sometime in the Fall, maybe Sept/Oct. Hopefully if the demand is there, we can have a monthly or bi-monthly 626 Night Market!
Thanks Aileen for that feedback! Overall, I think it was a successful event. It was a lot of fun and we ate a lot of great food! I hope there will be another 626 Night Market event coming soon!
p.s Calvin from plaidbag.org tweeted a picture of me during the night market, which actually won him a pretty nifty t-shirt. Yay! Glad I could help someone win free stuff 🙂
It has been quite a while, but I have finally returned to the States! 🙂 Since I’ve returned, I’ve been sorting through my hundreds of pictures I took while in Asia, so as promised, I will definitely post pictures of my food adventures in the following weeks.
A couple of days ago, I decided to check our ohmyfoodcoma gmail account and was surprised to find an invitation from 626 Night Market‘s Marketing Coordinator, Aileen, in our inbox. The 626 Night Market coordinators were planning on having a press conference at the Asia Pacific Museum in Pasadena.
I attended this press conference yesterday morning, and was pleasantly greeted by the founder of the event, Johnny Hwang. During the press conference, several Chinese news stations were present. Questions were answered in regards to how the 626 Night Market team were planning on improving the next 626 Night Market, this coming July 28th.
After the press conference, I had the opportunity to speak to David Fung from Fungbroscomedy and also to meet Aileen in person. At this time, I was able to get some insightful information regarding the event, and some of the questions I’ve been wondering about answered.
Me: So why did you guys decide on Pasadena as the location for this event, as opposed to someplace more centrally in the 626?
Aileen: We could have done it in the 626, but Johnny chose Pasadena for a number of reasons. By having it in Pasadena, it’s sort of this gateway between the 626 and mainstream. It allows more exposure of 626’s cuisine and culture to surrounding areas. Also, Pasadena is well known for hosting events such as the Rose Parade, in which they are able to control traffic and large amounts of people. We could’ve held this event in places like the Rose Bowl or a large arena of some sort, but that would make it more of a festival as opposed to a night market. We wanted to keep the night market essence, so people are able to just stumble upon the event like they would in Asia.
Me: I know that last time there were just way too many people, and it was really dangerous. Safety is a big concern.
Aileen: To be honest, we didn’t even do any publicity for the last event. It just sort of happened on its own. We anticipated about 8000 people to show up based off of the facebook likes, but instead it was close to 30,000.
The 626 Night Market staff have definitely taken the negative feedback from the last event into consideration. They’ve been working very hard in improving this next event. They contacted several more parking structures to make about 10,000 parking spots available. They are also contacting other lots to open up. At the last event, they only had about 3000 spots available, but again, it was probably due to the numbers they estimated based off of their facebook fan page.
Aside from improving parking, the new location of the event is now a block away from the metro exit. So if you want to avoid the hassle of parking, you can always take the metro and walk your way to the event.
The staff have also been working on providing alternative driving routes to alleviate traffic. So you can see, the staff is definitely taking everyone’s suggestion to heart.
I also asked Aileen some questions about the vendors that are selling at the 626 Night Market.
Me: Are all of the vendors business owners, where they have actual restaurants or established businesses?
Aileen: Actually, no. There are a number of people who don’t do this for a living. For example, there were these two brothers who had this kebab stand at the last event. They’ve been cooking for about 10 years, but just for friends and family. After the last 626 event, they were invited by a restaurant to have a place in their menu. So it’s really cool to see that this event is helping small entrepreneurs with their business. I mean, anyone could have their own stand. You could open up a stand if you wanted to.
It was really great being able to get some insight on the event and the people who are organizing it. I found out that at the first 626 Night Market, it was only 3 people who were the main coordinators of the event. It was Johnny Hwang, his wife, and their friend Brian Gi. This time around, they have more staff consisting of more or less 10 people, who are going to help make sure that this next event runs smoothly.
David Fung also had a lot of encouraging words for the event.
David: The 626 Night Market is an event that brings together the 1st generation with the 2nd and 3rd generation of Asian American immigrants in the 626.
His statement reminded me of a facebook status I read on the day of the last event. It said, “all of 626 and their mothers are at the night market.” It’s true! This event definitely bridged the gap between generations.
I really wish a lot of success for the 626 Night Market and will definitely be there to support.
Like I mentioned in a previous post, they’ve moved their location and also expanded the area of which the event will be held. So definitely consider coming out and supporting this event!
Lots of thanks to Aileen for inviting me to the press conference.
Yes, you read that correctly. Round 2!
The infamous 626 Night Market emailedOhMyFoodComa today, before they make their official announcement tomorrow of the next event date.
Initially, I received a forwarded e-mail from Calvin (plaidbag.org) and was wondering why we hadn’t gotten an email. Well, we did, I just haven’t been checking our emails in a while, so my bad.
The event will be held in Pasadena on Saturday, July 28th, 2012 from 4PM to 11:30PM at the picturesque Centennial Square in front of Pasadena City Hall. Admission is, once again, free to the public.
The 626 Night Market organizers stated that the event will now be held in a bigger location with more accessibility to parking.
The first 626 Night Market in April attracted an enormously overwhelming crowd that far exceeded expectations and provided several challenges that will be addressed in this second event. The organizers have considered the public’s feedback and are improving all aspects of operations and the overall experience. This time, the City Hall venue is four times larger with an area of 250,000 square feet across six blocks. To accommodate attendees, public and private parking lots usually closed on Saturdays will be opened. There will be over 10,000 parking spaces available in the nearby vicinity. Prepaid parking will also be available online through the event website.
It’s good to see that the event coordinators have taken the public’s feedback and has reconsidered their location. However, I am still skeptical about the event being held in Pasadena. When I initially heard of the event, I wrote a blog post about my concerns in regards to Pasadena. Pasadena is one of those places where it’s busy all the time, no matter what time of day or day of the week. It’s really difficult as it is, for people to get to where they want to go in Pasadena without it being crowded.
I have major concerns about the 2nd round of this night market. My main concerns target the safety issue of the whole event. Although I am not too sure how successful this event will be, considering that people have already experienced the chaos from the 1st one and may be reluctant to return for the second one. There was definitely a lack of safety in the first event. I can say first hand that I came out of that night market, hungry, upset, and bruised up.
It’s a 50:50 chance with this event. It might not draw in as big of a crowd as before, due to such bad reviews and how dangerous the first event was altogether. However, there is the intrigue factor that may draw in the same crowd to see how successful this second event could be.
I feel like the 626 Night Market is like this underdog. It has SO much potential to be a great, regular event. However, without changes in safety regulations, it may not live to see another event. They need to figure out how to handle crowd control. I mean, really control the crowd! I remember the takoyaki stand calling security for help, since people were shoving like crazy, but even security couldn’t do anything about it. No one could move, unless they were forcibly shoved by someone else. They need to also figure out how to space out their booths and create discernible lines.
Anyhow, I really want to wish 626 Night Market a lot of luck! I am still debating whether I’ll come out to this event or not. I don’t know if I can handle getting thrown around like in a mosh pit, again.
Do you think you would go to the 2nd round of the 626 Night Market?
P.S I want to thank Aileen Xu from the 626NightMarket for giving us the heads up about the next event. Wishing you guys lots of luck!
Went to eat at Noodle House in Rowland Heights, part of a growing trend of Mainland restaurants serving Northern Chinese cuisine. Although the signage uses the an ambiguous name: ‘Noodle House’, it’s called Fu Fang Yuan (福方園) in Chinese. It’s listed as Noodle House on Yelp too. The restaurant is located in a strip mall, wedged in between a Thai restaurant and Cocary, a Chinese hot pot restaurant.
The restaurant is pretty spacious. The entire kitchen is lit and visible through a glass window, a la Din Tai Fung. There are plenty of seats, making this a good place for bigger parties. For Christmas, there was a nicely decorated tree on display, a rarity for Chinese places.
The chairs are also customized, with a bowl of noodles etched on the backs. I thought it was a cute touch.
We ordered the ambiguously listed Sichuan-style noodles (but oddly enough, 擔擔麵 or dan dan mian in Chinese), so I personally expected a fiery hot red chili soup of noodles and minced meat. To my surprise, a very subdued version arrived on the table, filled with chopped vegetables and bean sprouts covering a heapful of boiled noodles. On the bottom of the bowl was a semi-thick sesame sauce to be mixed in with the veggies and noodles. Then it hit me, these were not Sichuan-style dan dan mian, more of a Taiwanese style cold noodle salad than a noodle soup. It was pleasant tasting, fresh and crisp. I especially liked the sauce, which was light and spiced, not buttery tasting and heavy.
We also ordered green onion pancakes, which were generously portioned. I was surprised at how thick they were. In all honesty though, I found it a bit bland and a bit too oily.
The last order were 10 boiled pork and leek dumplings. Not much to write home about: just your run-of-the-mill dumplings, with average dumpling skins and a generous meat filling.
FFY Noodle House (福方園)
18219 Gale Ave.
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
Onionhead is a new pan-Asian restaurant that opened up in the poorly named STC Plaza (one letter away from a D imho. -_-“) off the 60 Freeway. My friends and I had a pretty late lunch, after doing Black Friday shopping in the desert.
This was despite knowing that we had a Thanksgiving dinner attend < 2 hours later, at a French restaurant in Rosemead. Ah well, what else are the holidays about except excess and gluttony?
Some of us ordered from tea time special menu (3-6 pm), so everyone ended up capitalizing on their unlimited free refills policy, being the freeloaders we are. The milk tea is super sweet and a surprisingly strong diuretic that left me bloated afterward and needing to use the restroom throughout the rest of the night.
Baked pork chop and rice (焗豬扒飯) – A classic Cantonese dish found at every cafe. The best dish out of the 5 we ordered. The pork was cooked really well: juicy, tender and flavorful.
Laksa – Malaysian noodle soup with coconut milk. It was pleasantly spicy, filled with mussels and other seafood critters, but the soup was really watery (the chef skimped on coconut milk). I really disliked the noodles though: underboiled, hard to chew and totally bland. I’m still convinced that they just used spaghetti noodles. I like laksa with flat rice noodles (河粉), which soak in the flavors well.
Hainan chicken rice (海南雞飯) – Janet ordered this classic Singaporean dish, chicken breast slices, served with 3 sauces: ginger, sambal and soy sauce and special rice that’s been cooked in broth. The chicken was good.
Chicken noodles in garlic sauce – stir-fried noodles with chicken drenched in a flavorless garlic sauce. This dish reminded me of the low sodium foods served at retirement homes. I ended up putting the leftovers in the laksa soup.
Spaghetti bolognese – I didn’t try this dish, because it had beef in it. But it was apparently decent.
I can’t comment much on the service. We were the only folks inside for tea time, so the waitress was attentive and responsive.
18508 E Gale Ave Ste A
Industry, CA 91748
Class 302 is pretty well known among Asians in the LA area, especially for its shaved snow (a dessert similar to shaved ice, except the “snow” has a really fine consistency) and its kitschy school lunch box meals. The place has wooden school desks and a blackboard, reminiscent of old school classrooms. This was my first time coming to Class 302 with my DSLR, so I decided to snap pics and make the most of it.
While waiting for my high school friends to arrive, I ordered an appetizer of sweet potato fries (with plum spices) to prevent them from kicking me out (it was a rather busy Sunday). To my surprise, the fries were hearty and thick, and made just right: crispy and flavorful batter that retained the sweet potato’s juicier innards)
When my friends arrived, we ordered, after a bit of thinking. One of my pet peeves, as I’ve mentioned, are poorly designed menus. Class 302’s is no exception. It was pretty difficult to navigate through bulky binders with sheet protectors and too many pages.
I ordered the railroad pork chop noodles, a fried slab of pork chop over a noodle soup. The soup was bland, but the portions were pretty big. Likewise, I thought the railroad pork chop wasn’t seasoned enough.
My friends got combo biandang (便當) meals instead: Rosemary salmon with Taiwanese sausages, and Basil chicken with preserved vegetables （鹹菜）. I sampled a bit of their meals, which were pretty bite-sized and came in metal lunch boxes. Nothing special imho. I thought the chicken was a bit greasy and the salmon was bland.
For dessert, we split a green tea flavored shaved snow, with red beans and mochi, along with a heapful of condensed milk, even though it was raining that day. They make pretty damn good shaved snow. Everything melted in my mouth like I wanted to, but I still think Pa Pa Walk’s shaved snow trumps Class 302.
Check out Josie’s review of Class 302 before.
P.S. The parking can be maddening, especially on the weekends, because that plaza is anchored by a 99 Ranch Market and Class 302 is surrounded by a medley of Chinese restaurants.
Class 302 (三年2班)
1015 Nogales St # 125
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
Cơm tấm, or ‘broken rice’, is literally made out of broken rice grains, served with a variety of Vietnamese entrees.
At Com Tam Thuan Kieu, very popular among Vietnamese folks in the San Gabriel area, you can choose your sides. My sister and I opted for grilled pork and 7 sides (a fried egg roll, steamed egg, shrimp cakes, pickled vegetables), for only $7.99.
The dish came with 2 bowls of meaty soup and was enough to feed the both of us.
Com Tam Thuan Kieu
120 E Valley Blvd Ste I & J
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Yi Mei Deli (義美豆漿點心) is a pretty popular deli in Rowland Heights, next to the HK Food Market. It’s along a string of businesses that include a Taiwanese stinky tofu joint. Five of my friends and I came in on a Sunday morning, not realizing how cramped and busy this place gets.
Orders are taken at the counter and then delivered to each table. We had to keep a sharp eye out to find an open table to swoop in on. This is not the place to go for larger groups.
Chinese donut / 油條 ($1.45): I can’t get myself to Chinese donuts youtiao, because Hokkien and Burmese folks call it yo chia kway/yi kya kway (油炸粿). Rant aside, this was crispy and freshly fried, not hard, stale or extra oily (the usual problems).
Hot soy milk ($1.60): Delicious and fresh-tasting. It comes in a bowl with a soup spoon and has a crisp, light and very slight and sweet taste. There’s also the option of getting the soy milk salty for a few cents more.
Mushroom and egg tamale / 香菇蛋黃粽 ($2.95): Nothing special. It tasted like the frozen zongzi was simply microwaved. The sticky rice was dry too (not enough pork lard, perhaps), as was the filling, which was mostly mushrooms. Underwhelming at best.
Leek pancake / 韭菜盒子 ($4): Literally “leek box” in Chinese, this is a savory dish, with vermicelli and chopped leeks inside. Not worth it at all imo. The “pancake” was the size of my palm and had nothing extravagant inside: just vermicelli, chopped leeks and dried shrimp. It tasted very plain. I felt gypped.
No frills service. All the waitresses were reasonably friendly and attentive though. A lot of them didn’t speak English though. They were pretty nice about it when I accidentally took a frozen zongzi from the fridge and attempted to eat the frozen thing (wondering to myself why Taiwanese folks eat these frozen), because the cashier told me to grab one.
Sort of pricey given the food portions, but suffices for a so-called authentic Taiwanese breakfast experience. I’d come again for the FRESH soy milk.
Address: 18414 Colima Rd, Rowland Heights, CA 91748 | Yelp
Pretty spacious restaurant with plenty of tables, in the crowded 99 Ranch Market plaza. Parking is really hard to find on weekends, especially in the sea of confused Asian drivers who should not be operating 4-wheeled vehicles. Food was cooked and served pretty quickly too.
Hunan-style twice-cooked pork: Thin slivers of pork and bean curd cooked with overly generous amounts of diced peppers, chili and garlic dices. Still greasy, but the better of the two dishes, because the pork was well-cooked and juicy, while the bean curd slices were perfect in firmness.
Diced chicken with chili and garlic: Dices of boned chicken, in a slew of garlic, chili oil, chilis, ginger and other garnishes like coriander (cilantro). We ordered it medium spicy, which was too much for me to handle. My tastebuds were numb after eating this. And it was annoying to eat the chicken dices, because the bones were so small. The chicken was too salty.
Service is okay, but the waitresses speak only Mandarin. Our waitress started using her phone in the middle of taking our order. But then again, wait staff at Asian restos obviously have a different understanding of what good service means.
Very liberal use of oil and seasonings (especially salt) in dishes and on the pricier side for Chinese food in the 626 (dishes range from ~$8 to $12).
Address: 1015 S Nogales St # 131, Rowland Heights, CA 91748 | Yelp