Authentic Northern Chinese and Sichuan Food in The Valley (San Fernando Valley)

This family-owned restaurant serves some of the best Chinese food in the San Fernando Valley, if you choose the right dishes.  The family is from Henan in Northern China, just east of the Shaanxi province where the ancient capital of China (Xi’an) is located.  The mother’s expertise in making dumplings from scratch as well as hand-pulled noodles is one of the reasons this place’s food is a stand-out.

San Jian Bao (we had the Pan Fried Buns filled with ground pork and napa cabbage), Potstickers (we ordered the Lamb & Zucchini, but she was out of zucchini and created potstickers from ground lamb and Chinese chives), Wontons in Spicy Sauce (the sauce included peanuts, which is different from the Wontons in Chile Oil we see in most other Szechuan restaurants), and of course, Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings).

Her hand-pulled noodles are used in her Spicy & Sour Beef Noodle Soup, according one of my BFFs, is the best he’s ever had, even better than those served in the San Gabriel Valley, and in Flushing Chinatown in Queens, NY.  Her house-made knife cut noodles are used in her Lamb Noodle Soup, and I loved the firmness and chewiness of the noodles.

Add a couple of well made Szechuan dishes, and my group declared this place a winner.

Website:  http://www.tampagardenchinesedelight.com/

Wontons in Spicy Sauce:

Lamb Noodle Soup:

Sauteed Spicy Sour Napa (Cabbage):

Spicy & Sour Beef Noodle Soup:

Xiao Long Bao/Soup Dumplings:

Eggplant, Potato, Green Bell Pepper:

San Jian Bao (Pan Fried Buns filled with ground pork and napa cabbage, lighter and thinner bun wrap than most other places):

Cold Spicy Chicken:

Pan Fried Dumplings/Potstickers:

Szechuan Spicy Fish:

Beef Chow Fun (Dry Style):

The best dishes are hidden within the menu.  Look beyond these popular favorites for a much better culinary experience.

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Dim Sum at King Hua Restaurant in Alhambra

It’s been years since I’ve had dim sum here.  A couple of friends wanted a dim sum brunch over Veterans Day weekend, so I suggest here.  Dim sum was good with some nice variations of traditional dim sum dishes offered, such as the Egg Custard Tarts with Birds Nest (which were lighter and less sweet than the regular or Macanese versions), Deep Fried Glutenous Rice Balls with Egg Yolk Cream, and Deep Fried Lotus Root Puffs.  However, they are a bit pricier than many of their nearby competitors such as Lunasia, Atlantic Seafood & Dim Sum.

Website:  King Hua Restaurant

Egg Custard Tarts with Birds Nest:

Deep Fried Taro Puffs with Ground Pork:
Pan Fried Turnip (Daikon, White Radish) Cakes:
Har Gow (Steamed Shrimp Dumplings):
Siu Mai (Steamed Pork & Shrimp Dumpling):
Blanched Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce:
Lo Sui Op (Braised Duck with Tofu):
Steamed Shrimp & Pea Tips Dumplings:
Chicken Feet in Black Bean Sauce with Peanuts:
Stewed Ox Belly Casserole with Rice Noodle Rolls:
Egg Rolls:

Steamed Rice Noodles with Chicken & Bitter Melon:
Baked BBQ Pork Buns:
Scallop & Shrimp Dumplings with Roe:
Steamed Rice Noodles with Shrimp:
Steamed Beef Meatballs:
Deep Fried Egg Tofu with Spicy Sauce:
Deep Fried Seafood Salad Roll:
Deep Fried Durian Puffs:
Deep Fried Lotus Root Puffs:
Baked BBQ Pork Pastry:
Wolfberry and Chrysanthumum Gelatin:
Steamed Buns with Salty Egg Yolk Cream:

Deep Fried Glutenous Rice Balls with Salty Egg Yolk Cream:

Dim Sum at China Red in Arcadia

China Red is one of the newer dim sum palaces that has opened in the San Gabriel Valley in the last 5 years, where one orders their selection off of a form.  They serve up traditional dim sum items such as Har Gow, Siu Mai, Cheung Fun; as well as Northern Chinese items (xiao long bao/soup dumplings and pan fried buns/san jian bao) and their own creations such as the Purple Yam Balls with Egg Yolk Cream.

Some of the dumplings are huge and well made.  The Purple Yam Balls are filled with a piping hot, molten, savory but sweet egg yolk custard.  Bite into it to expose the center of hot, liquidy goodness.

Negatives about this place for me is parking (much like many other dim sum palaces — they’re not big enough to accommodate the numbers flocking to them for weekend dim sum brunches), pan fried dumplings/potstickers (not crispy on one side, and rather bland), and the heavier use of MSG, as I ended up with a dry mouth and became thirsty for much of the afternoon.  


Siu Mai/Xiao Mai (pork, shrimp, fish roe)
Hom Sui Gok/Fried Glutinous Rice Dumplings (ground pork, shitake mushrooms, dried shrimp)


Har Gow (shrimp dumplings)


Siu Long Bao/Xiao Long Bao/Soup Dumplings (pork)


Shrimp Egg Rolls (Worchestershire sauce for dipping)


Shrimp & Asparagus Cheung Fun/Rice Noodle Wraps (light soy sauce for dipping)

Fung Jao/Braised Chicken Feet


China Red’s Baked BBQ Pork Bun (with a mildly sweet top crust)


Potstickers/Pan Fried Dumplings (pork)


San Jian Bao/Pan Fried Bun (pork, with dark vinegar dipping sauce)


Steamed Leek Dumplings (Chinese leeks, shrimp)


Loh Bok Go/Pan Fried Turnip Cake (turnip/daikon, Chinese sausage/lop cheung)


Steamed Preserved Vegetable Dumplings (with shrimp and fish roe)


Purple Yam Balls with Egg Yolk Cream


Steamed Baos with Egg Yok Cream

New Orleans in Los Angeles: Creole Lunch at Harold & Belle’s in Jefferson Park

I have Harold & Belle’s on my “To Go” list since 2010, and have been putting it aside because it’s meal that’s carb intensive, with lots of deep fried seafoods.  So, I knew this was going to be a heavy meal that I should avoid since my goal for the last couple of years is to try to eat healthier.  

Finally, I caved in and decided to bring one of my foodie groups here for a family style lunch.  We were able to sample a good variety of dishes.  After enjoying bites of gumbo, jambalaya, mac ‘n’ cheese, red beans & rice, fried oysters and fried catfish.  Needless to say, after this delicious meal, it was time to go into a food coma for a couple of hours.


Fried Oysters
Fried Catfish Nuggets
Fried Chicken (Whole $28, as opposed to Half for $24)

Jambalaya
Red Beans and Rice
Macaroni and Cheese
File Gumbo (48 oz pot for $25)
Beignets
Bread Pudding with Jack Daniels Whiskey Sauce
This is the front entrance around the corner from the parking lot.  Enter through Jefferson Blvd.

Spicy Sichuan Goodness at Hip Hot at Atlantic Times Square in Monterey Park

Opened in early 2015, Hip Hot introduced SGV to another popular dish, the Crab Pot.  However, they offer the spicy dishes that many of us have come to love over the years, in addition to some different variations of dishes we normally see at other Sichuan restaurants.  One of them is the Squid with Pickled Chili, which, when ordered as is, comes out super spicy that I was only able to handle one pice of squid, while I was cooling my mouth off with gulps of Sour Plum Juice.

Flavors here make them one of my more favorite Sichuan restaurants in the Los Angeles area.

They also specialize in seafood, offering King Crab, Sea Urchin, and Abalone, to name a few.

Unfortunately, their Szechuan Style Stir-Fry Chicken has been modified to appease the palates of those not in tune with Sichuan cuisine.  End result are more Americanized dishes with toned down heat levels.   However, they may be able to still make the original version of their Szechuan Style Stir-Fry Chicken, if you were to pre-order with at least 1 day’s notice so that they can prep the ingredients and have them ready to fire up as soon as you arrive for your meal.

Payment is either all in cash or all on 1 credit card.  They can’t do multiple credit cards, nor split the bills for both payments by credit card(s) and cash.

Spicy Beef Jerky (Complimentary testing dish)


Black Wood Ear (Fungus) with Chili Pickle
Fuqi Feipian (Cold Braised Beef and Beef Tripe in Chili Oil)
Dongguan Style Green (Mung) Bean Jelly (Noodles)
Szechuan Style Cold Noodle (with Chicken)
 Szechuan Style Fish Pot (Filets with Lotus Root, Young Bamboo Shoots, Wood Ear Fungus)
Dry-Fried French Beans with Minced Pork

Squid with Pickle Chili (Super Spicy)
Stir-Fried Chicken (Boneless) with Serrano Chiles (Off Menu Item)
Stir-Fry Chinese (Mountain) Yam (with Kabocha Squash, Wood Ear Fungus, and Pea Shoots)
Sichuan Crispy Duck (Xiangsu Yazi) (Off Menu Item)
Twice Cooked Pork (Requested to be made spicy)
Stir-Fry Crab with House Pickle Chili (Over Potatoes, Bell Peppers)
Szechuan Sitr-Fry Chicken with Dry Chili (aka La Zi JI, Spicy Chongqing Chicken)
(Their famous) Crab Pot

Shouzhua Mutton Chop


Korean Seafood BBQ at Get Bbul in K-Town

If you like Jae Bu Do, then you may like Get Bbul as well.  Get Bbul is Korean style barbequing/grilling of fresh seafood, and in some instances live.  End result is tasty morsels of shellfish that was seasoned from being cooked in their own juices over a charcoal fire.  

Here, they offer combination platters (Small feeds about 2 people; Medium, 2-3; and Large, 3-4), each filled with clams, shrimp, oysters, scallops, abalone, cuttlefish, baby octopi and giant sea snails.

Included with the combination platters are impressive ban chan dishes including a bowl of sliced lettuce topped with frozen a spicy seafood cocktail mix, which will easily thaw out while you’re grilling your seafood.  By the time some of that seafood is ready, so will this spicy seafood cocktail salad.  Other ban chan offerings include tempura shrimp & squid, pork belly, sliced raw vegetables with bean sauce, steamed egg, leek pancake, pork hock, cheese corn and, of course, kimchi.


Medium Combination Platter

Tempura with Shrimp, Squid and Onions

Pork Hock

Steamed Egg

Cheese Corn

Pork Belly

Leek Pancake

Spicy Seafood Cocktail Salad (unthawed)

Some Instant Noodles with Fish Cake

Spicy Baby Octopus

Servers will help grill, shell and then serve the oysters