Glad you had a solid meal but sucks for the wasted gas/time. Did you at least hit up a bakery or dessert place afterwards??
Re:Pork Belly Dish.
You got fooled. They label it “Dong Po” style but from the pics and the pickled greens it looks like a Hakka preparation (Mei Cai Kou Rou)
If I was dining I would call them out on that.
That dish is supposed to be fatty, best eaten over rice with the sauce and pickled greens.
Thanks @JeetKuneBao. Yah, we were already in the area on the first visit, so might as well try it. Thanks for the note on the labeling on the Pork Belly dish. It was just not executed very well.
Yah we had versions that were more like 50/50 lean to fatty and the flavors and pickled greens had better, deeper flavors.
Century City menu is a little different from Arcadia, with more dishes friendlier to people who can’t stand the extreme heat. I’ve been to Century City so often that I actually prefer it. And note that at dinnertime Century City is packed with Chinese diners, unlike the mixed lunchtime crowd, which tells you something.
Thanks for the report! I’ve shied away from the Westside location (even though it’s fairly close to where I live) b/c the menu was extensive and seemed quite expensive. With your report, I think partner and I will be able to find enough dishes to fill us up w/o blowing the budget.
Thanks. I hope you found it helpful and useful. Let me know how your visit goes.
Great report! I believe their La Zi Ji is tossed on cornstarch and dry fried, instead of breaded and deep fried. It really shouldn’t be sweet though. Maybe someone was a little too liberal with the rice wine vinegar? I’ve had that happen with kung pao chicken at places in the SGV (though never La Zi Ji).
I’m glad you enjoyed the Mapo Tofu. That’s one of my favorite dishes at the CC location. Someone mentioned the cubes are oversized but I’ve been taking note of the preparation at other Sichuan places and see no discernible difference.
Thanks @Bigmouth. Yah perhaps. I’ll definitely try the CC location and see how that compares.
Finally made it to the Arcadia location on a fluke–HaiDiLao had too long of a wait, so we went next door and were seated immediately!
First impressions of the decor were really favorable. My dining companion and I also both appreciated that the lighting was good so we could take our photos and Boomerang videos for Instagram.
Wok Fried Brussels Sprouts (seasonal Winter special)
Serrano Pepper Beef
Brined Crispy Duck
Individual serving of the Dongpo Pork Hock
For myself; my dining companion gets squeamish over the idea of eating pig trotters.
The Brussels Sprouts and the Serrano Pepper Beef were far and away our favorite dishes. So much flavor! Everything had what I would call a moderate heat to it: not overly assertive, not too spicy, but definitely present and very much contributing to the flavor. In other words, a refined spiciness. I do wonder, though, if my Dongpo Pork Hock was made mild due to an assumption on the waiter’s part (menu says it can be made mild or spicy; I was not asked and forgot to specify), as that dish was the least spicy of those that were intended to be spicy.
Almost everything was delicious. Unfortunately, the highly-recommended Brined Crispy Duck came out over-fried and a bit charred, as you can see from the picture. The majority of the dish was edible, but very, very dry; however the last few pieces (closest to the vinegar dipping sauce) were thankfully spared the fate of the rest of the duck, and were quite tasty. I would only order this dish again based on the juiciness of the last 20% of our bites–80% was either inedible or forgettable.
We let our waiter know that the duck had been over-fried and ended up dried-out, and while his initial response was to reiterate that it was deep-fried and to remind us that he had actually recommended the Meizhou Roast Duck Special to us, after we had realized that the last few bites were actually quite good, we flagged him down again and explained that it was simply over-cooked, that the last few bites were actually quite good, he apologized, told the chef, and brought us each out complimentary dessert:
While aesthetic, it was just adequate for what it was. My dining companion and I, however, did spend about 5-10 minutes making Boomerang videos of it shaking gloriously after we bumped the table. Really, it’s the little things in life, no?
We both decided we would definitely be back to try some more of the menu. Had more attention been paid to the frying of our duck, this could have easily been a 5-star meal; as such, however, I can give Meizhou Dongpo at the Westfield Santa Anita Mall a solid 1/2
I know I can just Google this, but I rather just ask what a Boomerang video is?
Great report and thoughts. I agree with you, that for many of the dishes it’s more of a refined spiciness as you put it. Yah that Serrano Beef is pretty tasty!
The Brined Crispy Duck, bummer! Sorry to hear. I hope it was just an off-night and that it was more like our visit (where it was fried / crispy Duck skin, but the inside juiciness and meatiness were spot-on (like your “20% portion”). We didn’t have any dried out parts.
Thanks for the tip on the Brussels Sprouts! That wasn’t on the menu when we last went. I’ll keep an eye out for that.
They’re short reversing videos you can make through Instagram’s Boomerang app; like a boomerang, they play forward 2 seconds, then reverse back on a loop. It’s just a minor amusement.
EDIT: Here’s a link for more info.
Thanks, @Chowseeker1999! There’s also a seasonal Avocado w/ Chilis dish that sounded quite good, too, but we had to forgo ordering that, the Eggplant with Garlic Sauce and the Minced Chicken Pudding in Soup because two people simply cannot eat all of the things!
Ah, so that is what those videos are called. I have seen them being posted on IG all the time. Thanks for the response.
Made it back to the Arcadia location, this time with my parents. I was pleasantly surprised we were seated immediately at 7:20 on a Friday night, but our party of 3 was accommodated at one of the handful of unoccupied 4-person tables.
My parents are a bit old school, and while my mother is more adventurous than my father, her first interjection is always, “Just make sure it’s not going to be TOO SPICY!”.
Our food order:
Avocado w/ Chili (Seasonal Winter Menu)
Dongpo Pork Hock (Full Serving)
Dongpo Pork Hock (Full Serving, after Tableside Preparation)
Duck Egg Rolls
Chicken Pudding Soup (Individual Serving)
Serrano Pepper Beef
Wok-Fried String Beans
Wok-Fried Brussels Sprouts (Seasonal Winter Menu)
We thoroughly enjoyed the meal. The avocado was universally praised, even the pickled chili peppers that lent a subtle heat to an otherwise heavy soy flavor.
Despite some initial trepidation about ordering the pork hock “spicy,” it again wasn’t what I would consider spicy, but rather well-seasoned, and in turn, was the universal favorite entrée dish. There is a strong ginger component, and maybe that’s from where the printed “spicy chili rating” on the menu is derived? I don’t know. We all loved it.
The duck eggrolls were entirely forgettable, and were only ordered because my father equates Chinese food with eggrolls–he hasn’t yet let it sink in that there are different kinds of Chinese food, and each restaurant may be more or less partial to a particular regional style, which may or may not include good eggrolls. Adding insult to injury, at an extra $1 premium for ordering the duck eggrolls vs. vegetable, I didn’t taste any duck; it could have been there, but it would have been so subtle and measly to have been pointless.
I was the only diner ordering the soup, and while I enjoyed it for the novelty factor, I would again look to try some of their other soup offerings to see if there were one I would find more memorable. I think it’s possible some of the flavors of the soup may have been too delicate and subtle after the more piquant profiles of the other dishes.
The Serrano Pepper Beef was quite tasty to my palate, though I think the Sichuan peppercorns may have been a bit stronger or more concentrated in the broth this time. My parents didn’t really care for it, claiming it was a little too spicy. I didn’t detect much “heat,” but the numbing was a little on the excessive side. My mother also complained of an “herbal”/sour flavor she didn’t really like, and while neither she nor I could identify it, I think it may have been a by-product of excessive Sichuan peppercorns in the broth preparation. Again, I still liked it, and I still found it quite tasty, but I enjoy a bit of heat or numbing; I do think, however, that this dish was a bit out of balance compared to the last time I had it here.
The string beans were okay; I’d probably try another vegetable in the future because they were simply unremarkable–nothing wrong, just not particularly memorable.
The Brussels Sprouts were also well-liked, but nobody’s favorite dish.* My father apparently isn’t a fan of Brussels sprouts in general, though he said he’d be happy eating them like this in the future. I advised my mother to learn properly how to stir-fry from the Hong Konger wife of a family friend before attempting.
We also attempted to order wine with our meal, first the Riesling (they were out) and then the Chardonnay (maybe they were out, didn’t really get a clear answer from our waitress) before settling on the Rosé. The Rosé was actually a superior compliment to the meal than the Riesling or Chardonnay would have been, and the bottle arrived chilled and was later put in an ice bucket. One quirk, though, was that towards the end of the meal service our waitress took it upon herself to lift the bottle out of the ice bucket, shake it vigorously, and then place it back in the ice bucket. When asked, she said something nonsensical about too much water being in the bottle. Was she referring to condensation on the outside of the bottle? Was she unaware that the ice water inside the bucket would make the outside of the bottle wet again? All of this was quite unclear to us, but who knows. Whatever it was she was trying to accomplish, she provided service throughout the meal that was more attentive than I would have expected at a Chinese restaurant.
Overall, Meizhou Dongpo was a hit, and I think with some slight modifications to the order, my parents would have enjoyed it even more! Unfortunately, they were not as fond of their dessert over at Meet Fresh, though they appreciated that new cultural experience.
*EDIT: Apparently my father has been quite effusive about the Brussels sprouts since the meal, to the extent that these may have been his second-favorite dish, and this coming from a man who generally “hates” Brussels sprouts.
Thanks for the report @strongoxman.
I’m going to have to try that Avocado dish next time (something I wouldn’t have thought would be a good dish at a Chinese restaurant). Thanks.
You know what? I thought it was intriguing in an unexpected way when I saw it on the seasonal menu during my first visit, and while I would have ordered it (YOLO), my dining companion nixed it. Afterwards, I saw someone on yelp recommend it, so I had to try it last night.
Honestly, though? It’s pretty hard to fuck up avocado.
Do you think the ginger overpowered the dish? Might be nice to find some good pork hock close to home (Century City location)…
I thought the ginger was really nice with the Pork Hock and didn’t really overpower it. This was an enjoyable dish for sure.
It was strong, but I don’t think it overpowered anything. I guess I’d describe the dish as “zesty” by way of ginger? It was the favorite dish of the table.
Oh, and as an update, I found out that despite being somewhat reserved, though positive, about the Brussels sprouts during dinner, my father has been raving about them to everyone to whom he’s spoken since. Coming from a man who generally “hates” Brussels sprouts.