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San Gabriel

Drive a few miles east of Downtown on the 10 Freeway and you’ll hit the south San Gabriel Valley, which Taiwanese and Hong Kong venture capital has turned into the largest, splashiest suburban Chinatown in North America. Monterey Park was the first enclave, but as the Chinese population has escalated, this new-era Chinatown has spread like peanut butter into Alhambra, San Gabriel, Arcadia and Rowland Heights and with the spread the larges agglomeration of Regional Chinese Restaurants outside the motherland.

How to find your way around? Simply imagine a grid. The two main drags run east and west, parallel to the 10 Freeway, Valley Boulevard to its north and Garvey Avenue to the south. Several north-south commercial streets intersect these thoroughfares. Moving from west to east there’s Atlantic Boulevard, then Garfield Avenue and then San Gabriel and Rosemead boulevards.  The multi-level Focus Plaza at Valley and Del Mar Avenue in San Gabriel, nicknamed the Great Mall of China, is a microcosm of the San Gabriel Valley’s bounty of regional Chinese restaurants along with the lavish  99 Ranch supermarket. The collection of eateries includes  a branch of the regional Guilin Rice Noodles and Ay-Chung,  serving Taiwanese snacks, fruit slushies, milk teas  and juices. NEW CAPITAL SEAFOOD, on the 4th floor, is a favorite for its reasonably priced traditional dim sum. Its neighbor DONG TING SPRING, an excellent Hunanese spot, serves dishes incorporating grand quantities of chiles and funky condiments. Must haves: Wild chile stir-fried  with beef and the Hunan style stir-fried frog. At the north end of the complex,  GOURMET VEGETARIAN may have the most sophisticated  food of all, with dishes like fried rice noodles tossed with shredded pumpkin, Sichuan tofu, radish and egg pancake, or eggplant with basil. And finally there’s the northern-style LITTLE SHEEP, where a hot-pot meal will reveal just how diverse Chinese cuisine can be. Shabu shabu–style dining is taken to new and extraordinarily spicy heights. Lamb comes in many styles: dumplings, pancakes, meatballs and slices for the pot.

Savoy's Hainan chicken

Savoy's Hainan chicken

Further west on Valley Boulevard in Alhambra is SAVOY KITCHEN, a tiny corner cafe with a sidewalk patio and a constant crowd of people waiting for a chance to order the Malaysian-style Hainan chicken. It doesn’t look like much—plain-looking poached chicken with stock-infused rice and a trio of sauces—but it’s richly flavorful and rewarding; cough up the extra two bucks for the dark meat. A little further west, at 101 NOODLE EXPRESS, it’s the Shandong-style beef roll, miraculously spiced beef wrapped in lightly crisped Chinese pancakes, that people drive across town to eat.

Now head south on Atlantic Boulevard, and you’ll find a row of restaurant-laden malls. In the Mar Center is OCEAN STAR, one of the best traditional live seafood and dim sum halls. The cavernous room with ladies steering burnished dumpling carts is preferable after noon, when they roll out the more exotic items. Further south is Kathryn Fang’s DUCK HOUSE, considered to have the best Peking duck in the Valley. For fancier, more au courant dim sum ordered from a menu, ELITE RESTAURANT further south will serve you Thai-style papaya salad garnished with goose tendons, and luscious steamed live shrimp with their roe.

Traveling east on Garvey you come to SEAFOOD VILLAGE, a Chiu Chow spot serving ethereally flavored dishes like duck soup with pickled lemon. Meals can be made of the appetizer plates: crisp-fried shrimp balls, oyster omelet, whole cold crab. Keep heading east to MAMA’S LU dumpling house, where the xiao long bao—dumplings with soup inside—and the won tons are as good as anything you will find in Hong Kong. Still further east is the not-to-be-missed CHINA ISLAMIC restaurant, with its multi-layered sesame breads, spectacular lamb hot pots and hand-shaved noodle dishes of the north.

The name of this Chung King dish translates as "spicy on spicy" — and it is.

Continue east to Del Mar Ave. and go north to Las Tunas, a once-sleepy street that’s starting to rival Valley Blvd. The famous lobster specialty palace, NEWPORT SEAFOOD, is there, and don’t miss LUSCIOUS DUMPLINGS. After Las Tunas becomes Main Street, you’ll find KING HUA, a new contender for some of the best dim sum in the San Gabriel Valley.

—Linda Burum

101 Noodle Express
1408 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra, 626.300.8654

China Islamic Restaurant
7727 E. Garvey Ave., Rosemead, 626.288.2426

Chung King
1000 S. San Gabriel Blvd., San Gabriel, 626.286.0298

Dong Ting Spring Hunan Restaurant
Focus Plaza, 140 W. Valley Blvd., 2nd floor, San Gabriel, 626.288.5918

Elite Restaurant
700 S. Atlantic Blvd., Monterey Park, 626.282.9998

Gourmet Vegetarian
140 W. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel, 626.280.5998

King Hua
2000 W. Main St., Alhambra, 626.282.8833

Little Sheep
140 W. Valley Blvd., Ste. 213, San Gabriel, 626.307.1901

Luscious Dumplings
704 W. Las Tunas Dr., San Gabriel, 626.282.8695

Mama’s Lu Dumpling House
153 E. Garvey Ave., Monterey Park, 626.307.5700

New Capital Seafood
Focus Plaza, 140 W. Valley Blvd., 4th floor, San Gabriel, 626.288.1899

Ocean Star
145 N. Atlantic Blvd., Monterey Park, 626.308.2128

Savoy Kitchen
138 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra, 626.308.9535

Seafood Village
684 W. Garvey Ave., Monterey Park, 626.289.0088

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7 Responses for “San Gabriel”

  1. SinoSoul says:

    goodness gracious this post is a MONSTER. Yay for Mama’s Lu. (That’s correct Mama’s Lu, not Mama Lu’s), but I still prefer the “ambience” of Tastio

  2. Jim Gettman says:

    OK, This is a lot like gourmet theft – Tawa Supermarket, AKA 168 Supermarket, at 1421 E. Valley Blvd, sells live lobsters at about the lowest price in LA, and they will STEAM THEM FOR FREE. Take your tools and condiments, order, (I last paid under $7/pound,) and go next door to Lee’s (http://www.leessandwiches.com/Stores/LSAlhambra.php) for fresh baked baguettes. (They bake them every hour!) Now eat. I suppose you could find someplace nice like a park, but this is just too good to wait.

  3. BB says:

    Nestled amongst some of the finest Asian restaurants and markets this side of the Pacific Ocean is a San Gabriel Valley classic, Petrillo’s. Some of the best pizza and spaghetti I had in a long time. The pizza and spaghetti sauce has a very rich, deep tomato taste that I haven’t quite found in other Italian restaurants.

  4. Marcia Foodie says:

    Be careful with the cheap seafood. Where does that come from? Why is it so cheap? I reported this store to the health department and they went out and found tons of stuff wrong. The meat cutters had 2 month old aprons in use they health dept told me and the baskets were filthy. BE CAREFUL

  5. 626foodie says:

    LITTLE SHEEP is located at 140 W Valley Blvd. The Atlantic location is hot pot hot pot.

    • Linda Burum says:

      Hi:
      Thanks for your comment and correction.
      This info. was composed several years ago before Little Sheep changed its’s name and the one from China (or Taiwan) opened in Focus Plaza (140 Valley ). Unfortunately I have no control over updating the Eat: Los Angeles Site–so the error remains–but I’ll speak to them about changes
      Cheers.
      Linda

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