Archive for the 'Taiwanese' Category

Page 2 of 3

Pearl’s Restaurant – Monterey Park

Pearl's Restaurant - Monterey Park

One night not too long ago, my friend Danny stayed up way past his bed time perusing this site’s Chinese food archives. I’m not sure what possessed him to do such a thing, but after spending a solid hour or so with my blog, he concluded that it needed more Taiwanese food representation.

Considering there are only four entries dedicated to Taiwanese food, one of which is distinctly Shanghainese, I couldn’t argue with his assessment. And that is how I found myself at Pearl’s Restaurant in Monterey Park on a recent Friday night.

Pearl's Restaurant - Monterey Park

While I’ve eaten at Sam Woo located a few steps away, I never paid much attention to the shoebox-size restaurant next door. The Astronomer, Danny, and I were seated at a table fit for four in Pearl’s surprisingly stark white dining room.

The menu here, which is divided into dumplings, rice, noodles, and appetizers, is all sorts of homey and priced beyond reasonably. Danny took the lead and ordered an array of dishes highlighting what the restaurant is best known for. By the way, the sign on the door states that the kitchen does not dabble in MSG.

Pearl's Restaurant - Monterey Park

To start, we shared a plate of pork boiled dumplings ($5.25). I slathered mine in the house-made chili paste, while The Astronomer went for a combination of soy sauce and vinegar. The dumpings’ skins were neither too thick nor too thin, while the filling was noticeably lean and well seasoned.

Continue reading ‘Pearl’s Restaurant – Monterey Park’

Old Country Cafe – Alhambra

Old Country Cafe - Alhambra

I’ve mentioned my friend Sharon once or twice on the site, but she deserves more than a brief sentence in passing. You see, she’s my SGV guru. Sharon grew up in Alhambra, one block north of Valley Boulevard to be exact, and has had a lifetime of meals in the area under her belt. Try as I might to learn the lay of the land, I’ve barely made a dent in the scene during my two years of delectable explorations.

Lucky for me, Sharon happily takes me to her favorite haunts whenever she flies in from North Carolina, where she currently resides. On our most recent outing, we headed to Old Country Cafe to satisfy her serious hankering for Taiwanese-style fried chicken.

Old Country Cafe - Alhambra

Old Country Cafe, one of the oldest Taiwanese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley, is a charming hole-in-the-wall tucked inside a not-so-charming office-plex. The tiny space is heavy on the Formica and looks like  it hasn’t been updated since its first day of business—I love places like these! We grabbed two stools along the counter and settled in with sweet drinks: salty plum for me and passion fruit for her.

We started off with a dish of snappy and chilled “flavored cucumber” ($2.25) at Sharon’s urging. She adored the vegetable’s garlicky undertones and salty kick. I admired its jagged edges and irregular shapes; it was as if the cucumber was hacked by a clawed animal.

Old Country Cafe - Alhambra

We may or may not have ordered the bean curd ($2.50) that followed, but we were very happy to eat them nevertheless. Lightly marinated in sesame oil and soy sauce, the bean curd was savory and characteristically toothsome.

Continue reading ‘Old Country Cafe – Alhambra’

Class 302 – Rowland Heights

Class 302 - Rowland Heights

After gorging on the freshest cuts of halibut at Dongbu Live Fish, may I suggest grabbing dessert at Class 302? It’s a little cafe serving Taiwanese snacks and sweets, most notably shaved snow. Danny, my friend and Chinese food guru, introduced me to this spot a few weeks ago, and I’ve since been back twice. If Rowland Heights weren’t such a drive, Class 302 would certainly be a bi-weekly habit. The shaved snow is really wonderful, especially on scorching summer days like these.

Class 302 - Rowland Heights

Modeled after a traditional Taiwanese classroom, the ambiance here is strangely appealing. Diners eat at desk clusters, waitresses don school girl uniforms, and notebooks are tucked into little cubbies. The combination of kitsch, fun, and food attracts droves of Taiwanese teens and nostalgic elders. Who knew playing school offered such popular appeal? The model minority stereotype lives on…

Class 302 - Rowland Heights

Shaved snow is a very distant cousin of Hawaiian shaved ice. Its unique ribbon-like texture is achieved by freezing huge chunks of flavored water and milk, and then shaving it using a special machine. The resulting sheets of snow are gloriously creamy and dissolve ever so quickly on the tongue. It’s been years since I’ve tasted freshly fallen snow, but if memory serves me right, it tasted just like this (minus the infusions).

Continue reading ‘Class 302 – Rowland Heights’

Boiling Point – Monterey Park

It was supposed to be a quiet night at home with The Astronomer and a big bowl of pasta. However, a knock at the door changed the evening’s course for the stinkier.

I had invited Danny and Fiona over for a slice of the double-decker monstrosity that was The Astronomer’s birthday cake. They came, they ate, and before departing, they extended a dinner invite to Boiling Point.

I was quick to flash my “I haven’t gone for my daily run” card that I keep in my back pocket, but the Gourmet Pigs’ and the Kung Food Panda’s powers of persuasion were far too great. Before I knew it, The Astronomer and I were sitting in Fiona’s backseat on our way to Monterey Park to try stinky tofu for the very first time.

Boiling Point serves up Taiwanese-style individual hot pots in seven different varieties, including beef, lamb, Korean kimchi, curry fish ball, tomato and veggie, seafood and tofu, and “House Special.” Danny, Fiona, and I ordered the House Special hot pot, while The Astronomer went with the seafood and tofu. The spiciness of each hot pot can be adjusted according to preference. The Astronomer and I asked for “extra spicy,” which was one notch below the maddeningly spicy option. Clearly, we were feeling brave this evening.

As we waited for our pots of hotness to arrive, we meandered over to the condiments cart to dish up some sauces—from left to right—garlic soy, spicy oil, and spicy bean. The Astronomer liked the salty garlic number best, while I preferred the chunky and fermented spicy bean.

The broth that fills each hot pot isn’t very complex, it’s mostly just boiling hot and as spicy as specified. These three sauces are essential for boosting the flavor of the broth and the individual ingredients inside it.

My House Special hot pot arrived bubbling, steaming, and brimming with pork intestines, meatballs, quail eggs, green nira (Chinese chives), cilantro, hotdogs, enoki mushrooms, kamaboko (Japanese seafood loaf), pork, Napa cabbage, tomatoes, and of course, stinky tofu. I quickly plopped a small tangle of vermicelli noodles that arrived on the side into the hot broth to soften up.

I approached this hot pot in the same way as a communal one. Using a small bowl, I dished out a portion that included a bit of this and a bit of that. Hovering over the steaming pot would’ve provided an excellent facial, but sweating uncontrollably at the dinner table isn’t very attractive. From the noodles to the intestines, everything that passed through my lips was dipped or doused in spicy bean sauce.

At the bottom of the hot pot lay four triangular slabs of the infamous stinky tofu. The unpleasant odor emanating from the tofu was the result of marinating in a brine made from fermented milk, vegetables, and meat for several months. Although I was pleased to find the tofu’s flavor less intense than its smell, I wasn’t thrilled at all with the taste. I usually embrace the funky and the fermented, but in the case of stinky tofu, I wasn’t loving it. In fact, I was downright hating it. Ditto for The Astronomer.

It wasn’t love at first bite for stinky tofu and me, but I’m open to trying it again and again until we find common ground.

The Astronomer’s seafood and tofu hot pot was piled high with imitation crab meat, clams, bean curd, enoki mushrooms, green onions, tofu, pork, eggs, Taiwanese bok choy, shrimp, and octopus. The broth was identical to mine.

As we fished up the last bits from our hot pots, The Astronomer and I agreed that there’s a certain charm to individual hot pots, but a well-composed bowl of Vietnamese bo kho or Chinese beef noodle soup is less work and more satisfying.

Boiling Point
153 West Garvey Avenue
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Phone: 626-288-9876

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...