unless they’ve improved in the last 6 months, respectfully disagree with grand harbor if we’re talking dim sum. they’re a step up from the recently departed shi hai, but to quote another FTC-er:
“At this point, the food is more interesting than good, with nothing on this visit standing out and some of the stuff downright bland.”
but if you have to go, order the fried chicken knees: golden, brown crunchy from the cartilage inside and completely delicious
hole in the wall ahgoo’s kitchen in elmonte is fairly new.
fried fish in seaweed
fish dumplings might be as good qing dao bread food’s
make it worth a visit.
there aren’t too many laotian places, AJ Asian Kitchen might be worth trying (also elmonte IIRC) opened in 2015. i liked the nam kao tod, crispy fried rice similar in texture to korean dolsot
the original menu was more south asian lao/thai mix, but the owner told me he intended to add more authentic laotian items to the menu.
lao xi noodle house in arcadia, legit authentic shaanxi cuisine. a few items on the menu not available anywhere else. look for ‘house special’ on the menu.
noodles w/pork belly fried minced pork could be overly salty/fatty, but the vinegar (common in shaanxi cuisine) brings it all together.
some interesting cold appetizers as well, like the marinated raw potato strings. shaanxi takes noodles to ingredients and techniques found nowhere else in china. the potato is marinated just enough to remove the ‘rawness’ out of the potato creating a “crisp” noodle with a vinegar based marinade.
and if it’s reasonably chilly out, try the lamb soup with mao er duo. they also add potato to make this a really filling bowl of soup from a carb standpoint
i don’t remember what this is, but i do remember seeing it on almost everyone else’s table and being glad that i ordered it.
liang’s kitchen briefly changed their name to shang jie, then changed their minds and back to liang’s kitchen also upgraded their menu a little bit. noodles are still among the best in the SGV plus the thick ones are also typically about a yard long.
speaking of upgrading menus, the then fairly new by the time you left old shanghai kitchen had a problem balancing maintaining fresh ingredients vs shelf life. so they revised their approach to more of a bistro type approach and changed their name accordingly to shanghai bistro.
most of their better items such as their cold dishes are prepared beforehand so the main effort in prep comes before you order it.
this smoked pork belly over bean curd sheets was quick to prepare, the heavy lifting occurred when they delicately smoked the pork belly to be ready to cook.
the price of banh mi’s jumped 50% while you were gone. a BMMT banh mi was still about $2.75 no tax, now they’re about $4.20 incl. tax. they’re still a bargain, but 50% is 50%.
a few shaved ice places cropped up. one such is the korean hooshik cafe on atlantic in MP just north of garvey
if you like lamb, happy table’s lamb riblets with four dipping sauces for about $20 might be worth rounding up a few friends to join you.
jasmine house in alhambra might be worth a visit. they claim to make HK quality food, i wouldn’t go that far, but the chef back there knows what he’s doing. they might make the best pork chop in spicy salt i’ve ever had. pounded thin, lightly dusted with corn starch and fried crispy yet still tasty in the middle.
the mongolian beef might be the first dish i’ve had where the abundance of scallion wasn’t filler; the scallion was cooked perfectly through to eliminate the rawness and sweeten them, yet still contributing to the overall texture profile with substantial mouth feel. we polished off the entire plate leaving nothing.
mian is about noodles, but try the spicy wontons; there’s a touch of star anise or five spice powder that completely changes the flavor profile.
don’t bother with flavor garden - they moved out to chino hills and the replacement mgmt is not up to the task. in that same mall, recently opened new noodle guy serves up a decent bowl of pho which is 20% if you go between 3-6pm.
xi’an tasty above the HK supermarket near garvey on garfield in MP is a relatively new shaanxi place with some tasty if slightly pricy and undersized (for the SGV) dishes.
if you like dongbei cuisine, i believe chef geng’s is fairly new and has some good dishes. their noodles with five items(?) is reminiscent of a japanese hiyashi chuka better suited for hot weather.
china tasty which took over mama’s kitchen near 101 noodle express (which expanded and jacked up their prices a bit) in alhambra also has some long honkin’ noodles, but the the Q just isn’t up to snuff compared to liang’s or kam hong garden (which enjoyed a fairly recent renaissance though it may have started before you left)
was shanghai dunpling house already on the radar before you left? their XLB are awfully good in their own way and a lot cheaper than DTF.
and includes a spicy rendition
overall portions are small but well prepared.
the fairly new yao’s kitchen in the same mall as flavor garden serves corn noodles
and a decent northern korean version of sweet & sour pork
but that’s about it.