Have you ever woken up with a killer craving for dumplings? I swear this happens to me every other weekend, and thankfully, I live minutes away from the best dumplings around. Though not particularly known for its dining options, Pasadena is the gateway to Chinese food heaven. I’d snag a summer home here if I were you.
To satisfy the beast this Sunday morning, The Astronomer and I passed over our beloved haunts (Mama’s Lu, Dean Sin World, Din Tai Fung, etc.) and headed to Hui Tou Xiang Noodles House. This newish spot in town came recommended by Louise and Jonathan—two very trusty bellies.
We were seated straightaway and treated to a dish of kimchi. Mostly sweet and a little spicy, the fermented cabbage offered a fine diversion as we perused the menu and placed our orders.
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Dining at a single restaurant on five different occassions in the span of two months has got to be some sort of record for me. While this type of behavior is generally considered quite normal, it’s really very notable in my world because food blogging tends to discourage restaurant monogamy—there’s always something newer, more exciting, or tastier just around the corner.
Hà Tiên Quán in San Gabriel has reeled in my promiscuous dining ways with its tremendous Vietnamese cooking. The restaurant’s lineup of regional noodle soups never fails to warm and satisfy, while the vegetarian fare packs a wallop of flavor.
With nearly every Vietnamese restaurant in town serving up the usual pho, vermicelli rice noodles, and and banh mi, it’s been a breath of fresh air diving head first into Hà Tiên’s anything-but-predictable menu. Best of all, I’m constantly tasting new dishes that I didn’t grow up with or encounter while living in Vietnam. This place is my edible playground.
The family behind the restaurant is comprised of Larry Ta, his wife Thu Trang, and their daughter Carolyn. Thu heads up the kitchen, while Carolyn and Larry greet, seat, and tend to customers. Both Larry and Thu are from Ha Tien, a city on the western end of the Mekong Delta near the Cambodian border. Hà Tiên Quán opened its doors last October.
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One of my favorite close-to-home discoveries while researching the Food Lovers’ Guide to Los Angeles was Omar’s Xinjiang Halal Restaurant in San Gabriel. The Islamic Uyghur cooking found here was seriously musky, a touch greasy, and undoubtedly satisfying. Jonathan Gold’s 2010 write up, “You’d Better Like Lamb,” informed our fantastic feast.
The food of Northwest China, which is predominantly Halal due to the Islamic population, draws influences from neighboring cuisines in every direction. Nearly half of the 22 items on the menu boasted lamb, so yes, you’d better like lamb if you’re knocking on Omar’s door. The Astronomer and I dined here with our friend Diep and proceeded to order up a musky storm.
We began with the “Xinjiang Homemade Yogurt” ($3), which is listed under the beverages section of the menu. The yogurt’s luscious texture and tangy profile was most excellent, but more fitting of a light dessert than an actual drink.
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A drool-inducing roundup of the “Best Handmade Chinese Noodle Restaurants in Los Angeles” inspired me to gather a group of friends to check out Sweethome Grill, the top ranked restaurant on the list. Barely open for three months, Sweethome was packed when we came in for dinner on a Friday night—an auspicious sign in these here parts.
In addition to handmade noodles, Sweethome specializes in grilled meats on a stick with a Northern Chinese bent. Think: cumin and chilies. We ordered a slew of sticks to start at roughly a dollar piece. Considering the price point, we were mostly pleased with our selections.
The first stick to arrive was the chewy-as-heck beef backstrap. The Astronomer Google’d “backstrap” just as soon as we arrived home from dinner and discovered that this unusual cut is usually made into chewy nibbles for dogs. Oh, great.
While I was hesitant to order seafood at a Northern Chinese restaurant, my friends insisted on some squid. I’m glad they took a gamble because the tender and spicy squid was one of the best items of the night.
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For the third year running, the Eat My Blog crew went out for a soul satisfying ramen dinner following our annual bake sale. After standing on our feet the entire day hawking sweets for charity, all we wanted to do was sit down, relax, and slurp our hearts out.
Located next door to the perpetually packed Golden Deli, Ton Chan is considered by some to be the San Gabriel Valley’s strongest ramenya. Here, the tonkotsu broth is made fresh daily with konbu seaweed and pork bones. The broth is boiled for nearly a full day to achieve the desired rich and milky consistency.
We shared a few appetizers before the the noodles arrived. The spicy tuna roll, which consisted of twelve impressively plump pieces, was well constructed and legitimately spicy. I often think about picking up a to-go order of these when I’m dining next door at Golden Deli.
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