Another day, another restaurant with a funny name to try—life is very good in the San Gabriel Valley. The Astronomer and I first caught a glimpse of Qing Dao Bread Food while dining at Yunchuan Garden next door. Even though we were clueless as to what “bread food” meant, in our heart of hearts we knew that we’d love it because “bread” and “food” are two things we adore.
Qing Dao Bread Food is a small operation serving specialties from the Shangdong region of China, which is famous for producing the country’s finest vinegars. For the sake of convenience, diners are presented with a carbon copy paper menu to order from. The menu is divided into four sections: Dumpling, Stuffed, Noodle, and Cold Dishes. There’s also a picture menu plastered on the wall, which may or may not be helpful depending on where one’s party is seated.
The Astronomer and I kicked off our Bread Food tour with a cold appetizer—dry bean curd ($3), which tasted far more delicious than its name suggested. If I were running the show, I’d rewrite the menu to read, “firm bean curd strips with scallions and red bell peppers marinated in sesame oil and soy.” Much more appetizing, right?
After we polished off our appetizer, it was time for dumplings! The dumplings were accompanied by a small dish of garlicky vinegar. This stuff is really potent, so a light, corner dip will do just nicely. Unless of course you’re a garlic-fiend—then I suggest you eat it with a spoon.
The first dumplings to arrive were the sole fish with parsley ($6.95), which can be found under the “Dumpling” menu heading. The dumplings were boiled to order and were super-hot upon arrival. I’m glad that these arrived before our second set of fried dumplings because their delicate and mild flavors would’ve been overpowered. A light dip in the garlic vinegar really made the flavors pop.
From the “Stuffed” portion of the menu, we ordered the pork and napa cabbage dumplings ($5.95), which arrived at our table upside down and looking very much like a chunky pinwheel.
This is what the dumplings looked like turned right side up. As we bit into the pork and napa stuffed pockets, we finally understood what the heck “bread food” meant. The wrapper isn’t thin and pliable like those used in xiao long bao; in fact, they’re down right bread-y and thick. Because the outside is so substantial, it’s hard to gorge on more than a couple in one sitting. The Astronomer and I really wanted to try some noodle soups during our visit, but after downing eight of these “bread food” items, we were toast.
And last, but not least—innards! The top photo is the sole and parsley, while the bottom photo is the napa and pork.
Qing Dao Bread Food
301 N Garfield Ave, Ste. G
Monterey Park, CA 91754