Lucky Peach recently launched an online edition, and I’ve been following along as the merry band of writers explores essential topics in food, like dumplings, pizza, and obsession. It’s good reading, all of it.
A charming piece by Chef David Chang (See: Momofuku Noodle Bar, Momofuku Ssam Bar, Momofuku Milk Bar) led me to Alhambra’s Kang Kang Food Court. An expertly curated one stop shop for China’s greatest culinary hits? Yes, please.
While neighboring Chinese restaurants specialize in region-specific cooking, the thrill of Kang Kang lies in the diversity of its offerings. In addition to breakfast staples like soy milk and deep-fried crullers, the expansive menu includes “Taiwanese Food,” “Food in Northern China,” “Food in Eastern China,” and “Food in Southern China, Hong Kong & Asia.”
Per Mr. Chang’s recommendations, my lunch date and I stuck to Taiwanese and Shanghainese dishes on this visit.
After placing our orders at the front counter, we grabbed a seat in the large dining room. Soon enough, food began to hit the table…
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There’s a lot to love about my new job. Somewhere near the top of the list, along with benefits and stock options, is its location in the heart of the San Gabriel Valley—home to some of the finest Chinese food outside of China. Every lunchtime excursion is an event, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
Alhambra’s Szechuan Impression has been the talk of the foodie town these past couple of weeks. Upon reading Tony’s initial “Dining On A Dime” write up on Eater, followed by Jonathan’s “First Look” for the Times, the restaurant quickly shot up my To Eat List. As you know, I simply adore Sichuanese cuisine.
Since Szechuan Impression’s dinnertime waits are rivaling those of rival Sichuan restaurant Chengdu Taste, I took advantage of my new employment situation and made my way here for lunch… on back-to-back days! On both visits I was able to snag a table for two without any trouble.
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Chengdu Taste was immediately added to my ever-growing spreadsheet of places to eat the moment Jonathan Gold mentioned it on his weekly chat this past Wednesday. The Astronomer and I absolutely adore Sichuan cuisine and seek it out whenever possible; there’s something about the numbing burn that comes with each bite, coupled with an avalanche of flavor, that never fails to get us giddy.
The restaurant, by the way, is named after the city of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province and a USESCO-designated “City of Gastronomy.”
Whereas most dining spots in this neighborhood are fairly dumpy when it comes to decor, Chengdu Taste boasts a fresh coat of paint and plush red booths. The Astronomer, who I never realized noticed and cared about such things, was quite impressed with the surroundings.
“Just order something that you like at Chung King or Yun Chuan and you’ll get something different, but equally delicious,” advised Mr. Gold during the lunchtime Q&A session.
We started with the “Cold Noodle with Garlic Sauce” ($5.99), a dish that we hadn’t ever tried before but sounded perfect on this warm evening. The sauce, a mixture of crushed garlic, vinegar, and chili oil, was potent yet well-balanced. The toothsome strands soaked up the flavors just so. This seemingly simple preparation was one of tonight’s highlights.
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It is a tradition among my food blogging friends, especially those dining in and around the San Gabriel Valley, to sip milk tea following late night meals. Chewy tapioca balls are a common add on, but usually my company prefers their drinks straight up and fully caffeinated. While a post-dinner milk tea is perfectly lovely, I’d like to propose a new ritual that’s equally sweet, social, and local: hot fudge sundaes at Twohey’s Restaurant in Alhambra.
Twohey’s (pronounced “2EE’s”) has been around the San Gabriel Valley since 1943. The restaurant’s symbol, a gentleman with a clothes pin pinching his nose and tears running down his cheeks, is known as “The Little Stinko-O.” It was trademarked by the restaurant’s founder Jack Twohey upon overhearing a woman exclaim, “Oh, Stink-O,” when a patron seated next to her was served a hamburger garnished generously with onions and pickles. True story.
The Astronomer and I have driven past Twohey’s florescent-lit “Little Stinko-O” sign hundreds of times over the years, but it wasn’t until Jonathan Gold mentioned the restaurant’s famous hot fudge sundaes in an old column that I had any desire to check it out. Following last Friday night’s pho feast at Noodle Guy, it was finally time to put my curiosities to rest.
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