Yunnan & Sichuan Dishes at Yunnan Restaurant 雲南過橋園 in Monterey Park, CA

Yunnan & Sichuan Dishes at Yunnan Restaurant 雲南過橋園 in Monterey Park, CA

When eating Chinese food in the San Gabriel Valley of Greater Los Angeles, there are only a few Chinese restaurants that specialize Yunnan cuisine.  It’s probably not easy to offer considering it’s province of China that features over dozens and dozens of minority ethnic groups, such as the Miao, Dai and Bai peoples, and many of the dishes are made with regional ingredients we most likely don’t have in the U.S.

From what little research I have done, I found that Yunnan Restaurant offer at least a half dozen of dishes that are popular within that region of China, such as the every so popular Yunnan House Special (Crossing Bridges) Rice Noodle Soup with boned-in Chicken, and square slices of sandwich ham meat.   This dish was served table side, where a server will bring out all the ingredients on a compartmental tray and then start mixing them into the broth, followed by the long thick strands of rice noodles.  It was hearty but a light dish as well.

The Cured Pork with Leeks was tasty, but was too salty.  The same can be said for the Yunnan Dried Beef, which was a little salty and chewy.

We supplemented the rest of dinner by ordering some of the more Sichuan dishes such as the Kung Pao Chicken and the Chungking Style Spicy Shrimp (it’s normally whole shrimps with shells deep fried, but they offered to prepare a version with shelled shrimps.  I wonder if that was suggested to us since our table was half non-Chinese.  We opted for the shelled version).  These 2 dishes were stand outs for me.   We enjoyed the slight sweetness in the Kung Pao Chicken.  So much so, that we finished the dish in minutes.

Though the rest of the dishes ordered were good, they didn’t have enough Sichuan peppercorns nor the ma-la flavor profile to make the dishes sing.  Nevertheless, price-wise, you get ample amounts of food for your money, and that Cold Appetizers Bar at the front of the restaurant is a much try.

 

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Dim Sum at Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant 海港大酒樓 in Rosemead, CA

Dim Sum at Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant 海港大酒樓 in Rosemead, CA

Sea Harbour was always considered as one of the best places to go for dim sum in the Greater Los Angeles area since it opened.  However, I did not like the dim sum I had during my last visit in December 2016.

Today, a long time friend wanted good dim sum, and I decided to Sea Harbour another chance, and this visit changed my mind again about them.  The dim sum was well prepared and tasted delicious.  A far cry from my last visit.

Only issues I was with the specialty dim sum dishes they offered (Shrimp Dumpling with Gold Leaf, and Steamed Salted Egg Yolk Bun with Gold Foil).  Though they tasted good, one may not be able to held and wonder if that’s enough to justify spending the extra money on dim sum.

Click on the thumbnail to enlarge the photo.

 

酸菜魚 Dinner at Tai 2 太二 Chinese Sauerkraut Fish in City of Industry

酸菜魚 Dinner at Tai 2 太二 Chinese Sauerkraut Fish in City of Industry

Sichuan style restaurant that specializes in spicy whole fish cooked in a spicy broth made with sour pickled vegetables (aka Chinese sauerkraut), dried red chiles, and Sichuan peppercorns.  The dish is can be quite spicy depending on the level of heat you choose.  We went with Medium Spice level, and it was quite spicy for our table.   The Sichuan peppercorns gave that nice numbing effect that somewhat neutralizes the burn from the chiles.  Unfortunately, the dish was quite salty.  In fact, almost all of their dishes were over-seasoned.

The fish used was tilapia.  In our Extra Large sized order, the used 2 loosely filleted tilapia.  I say “loosely filleted” because the skin is not remove, and you would definitely encounter bones that are still inside each chunk of fish meat.  So, eat with care.

Pricing here seemed rather high for the quality of the dishes, and their sizes.  Even a bowl of steamed white rice costs $2 per bowl.

Service here is typical of restaurant from Mainland China.  The staff is nice, but other than serving you your dishes, and provide you with the basics, they don’t do anything extra, such as refilling water glasses.

The best dishes of the night were the chicken feet and the vegetable dishes as well.

We did enjoy quirky English names given for their dishes, almost literal translations from the quirky Chinese names.

Another Sichuan Feast at Hop Woo 合和 in West LA

Another Sichuan Feast at Hop Woo 合和 in West LA

Came back for a hedonistic feast with a group of about 22.  This time, we wanted to sample more dishes on their Sichuan menu, as well as offering a couple of familiar Cantonese dishes to give our palates a rest from the barrage of spicy, mouth numbing food.  And in this meal we got quite a bit of that numbing quality from the Sichuan peppercorns used in the Boiled Fish with Rattan Peppers, and Rock Cod Fish.

Food was excellent as before, but many in our group enjoyed the shrimp, cauliflower and eggplant dishes a lot.

So glad that the former owner of Meet in Chengdu in Monterey Park sold off the restaurant in order to join forces at Hop Woo, bringing with him one of his better chefs.

Cantonese Banquet Style Dinner at Xiang Yuan Gourmet 湘緣美食 in Temple City, CA

Cantonese Banquet Style Dinner at Xiang Yuan Gourmet 湘緣美食 in Temple City, CA

In celebrating a good friend’s 60th birthday, we ordered the $388 set banquet menu which includes 10 courses, much of them being nice seafood dishes.  And with one vegetarian at the table, we supplemented the dinner with a couple of extra courses of vegetable dishes.

We decided to give Xiang Yuan a try for dinner since we enjoyed their dim sum, and their dinner items, though tasty and solid, were unfortunately not mind-blowing.

The service was excellent, and corkage was waived for our party of 20 that had one of their private rooms reserved.  These two factors helped made the dinner more enjoyable.

If anything can easily be improved, it would be their lobster entree.  For these banquet menus, they should have on hand 2 to 3 lb lobsters to serve.  Instead, we seemed to have gotten two and a half 1-pound lobsters arranged on the plate.  And with the lobsters chopped into tiny pieces, it made it a bit challenging to find the pieces that contain lobster meat.

Another thing that can be improved up would be to balance the menu a bit better.  Outside of the soup and appetizer course, there was no other meat (beef or pork) nor poultry dish on the menu.

Beijing  Duck Lunch at Duck House 鹿鼎記 in Monterey Park, CA

Beijing Duck Lunch at Duck House 鹿鼎記 in Monterey Park, CA

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For me, there are only a handful of places in the Greater Los Angeles Area that serves up really good Beijing Duck (aka Peking Duck), and Duck House is one of them.  They have been a staple here for over 15 years, and the quality of their food hasn’t diminished since.  In fact, they’re reaching out to foodies from around the city by participating in their very first DineLA Restaurant Week, which runs from July 13th through July 27th.  In addition, you can now make reservations through Open Table.

After checking out their $25 lunch and $49 dinner menus for DineLA, I thought one can get a better deal buy ordering off their regular menu.  So, for a party of 16 (8 per table), I ordered for each table the $268 set menu for 6 people, an extra half Beijing Duck, and 2 vegetable dishes for each table.  The total for lunch unfortunately came out to be about $20 more per person, tax and gratuity included.

However, for the majority, the food was delicious, and everyone was able to get ample amount of duck.  Shiny, crispy skinned duck, where some pieces had a nice layer of rendered fat on them, giving you more flavor with every bite.  Duck meat is sliced nicely and evenly, making them easy to roll up into a wrap with the raw scallions, cucumbers and a drizzle of hoisin sauce.  Each bite into the wrap was a mouthful of savory, ducky goodness.

The other dishes were solid, and the Baked Truffled Lobster was meaty and juicy, doused in a tasty garlicky and peppery sauce that just screams for a steamed white rice so you can use it to soak up those juices and savor the flavor.

Lunch ended with a plate of Passionfruit Konnyaku Jello, made in molds in the shape of Hello Kitty’s face.  Konnyaku is made from the Amorphophallus konjac and is sometimes referred to as yam, yam cake or yam flour.  It has a firmer texture than agar agar or regular gelatin.  It’s not very flavorful, so you can easily taste the passionfruit flavor.

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Calamari with a spicy and garlicky dipping sauce
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Smoked Flavored Pork
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Beijing Duck with all the fixings
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1 1/2 Orders of Beijing Duck
Shredded Scallions and Cucumbers and Hoisin Sauce
Shredded Scallions and Cucumbers and Hoisin Sauce that accompany the duck
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The Perfect Bite
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Duck Soup with Napa Cabbage and Tofu
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Filet Mignon Cubes with Black Pepper
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Baby Bok Choy with Dried Scallops and Crab Meat
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BBQ Eel with Glutenous Rice
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Sauteed A Choy
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Sizzling Tofu with Basil in Pot
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Baked Truffled Lobster in Black Pepper Sauce
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Passionfruit Konnyaku Jelly

 

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They were made in a Hello Kitty mode!
在金都吃點心, Eating Dim Sum at Capital Seafood Restaurant in Arcadia, CA

在金都吃點心, Eating Dim Sum at Capital Seafood Restaurant in Arcadia, CA

Small chain of restaurants with 2 locations in Irvine, and one location in Arcadia that provides a higher end style of dining.  Though this location has been here for years, today’s brunch was the very first here at Capital Seafood.  Prices here are moderate, especially when compared to the other dim sum palaces, with prices starting at $3.98 per plate and up.

At the Irvine Spectrum location, I discovered their delicious shrimp egg rolls which were deep fried to a golden brown and absolutely crunchy and delicious.  Here, it was almost the same, except that their shrimp egg rolls are now prepared in Taiwanese style: long, thin cigar like egg rolls filled with only pieces of shrimp, with the ends twisted closed and deep fried.  They are then cut in half before being served with a sweet brown sauce. That and the mixed mushroom egg rolls were delicious.

Other stand outs were the Baked Pineapple Bun filled with salted egg yolk custard, Hong Kong style egg custard tarts, and Shrimp Dumplings in Supreme Broth.

The only item that I found disappointing was the Rice Noodle Wraps/Crepes filled with ground beef.  The beef was minced and then marinated with too much corn starch that the filling did not taste like beef at all, and the texture was somewhat off putting, like a paste.

While they’re trying to provide you with a higher end dining experience, it can be difficult to flag down a wait person to take your order sheet, or to assist you with any other needs you have.

As always, click over a thumbnail in order to enlarge.