Aug 2009

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Eat. Run. Repeat.

It’s 9:30 AM on Saturday morning. I’m driving to a little dumpling shack called Dean Sin World in the city of Monterey Park—the first stop on an epic Food Marathon that will crisscross Los Angeles’ San Gabriel Valley in search of greatness in the form of Chinese food. The thermometer in my car reads 91 degrees, which is a bit harsh even for August in Southern California, but not surprising considering the week’s heatwave. I’m shaking in my sneakers and imagining the worst, but really, there’s no turning back.

My seven friends and I will Eat, Run, and Repeat, all in the name of good food, good health, and good fun. Indigestion and poor air quality be damned. By the end of our journey, we will have clocked in five miles and five meals. It’s the glory we’re after, for there will be no medals or cash prizes at the finish line. My comrades include, from left to right, The Astronomer, H.C. of L.A. and O.C. Foodventures and Foodie Fitness, gas•tron•o•my readers Andy and Hanh, Matthew of Mattatouille, Neil of Food Marathon, and Sook of Yutjangsah. I’m the gal with the neon orange headband and shorts.

And the gun goes off!

Meal #1: Dean Sin World – Monterey Park

The San Gabriel Valley, which is home to the largest population of Chinese people outside of mainland China, is a carbo-loading paradise. The boulevards that stretch along the cities of San Gabriel, Alhambra, and Monterey Park are dotted with amazingly authentic eateries specializing in steamed meat-filled dumplings, crisply fried pancakes, and heaps of noodles. As every runner knows, carbohydrates and running go hand in hand.

At Dean Sin World, we were treated to a cold appetizer of sliced beef tendon while the ladies in the kitchen whipped up our spread. The first dish to arrive was the sweet and soupy “Wine Brew,” which consists of soft egg curds, sticky tubes of tapioca, and cooked rice in a bath of rice wine. Next to arrive was our order of xiao long bao, also known as soup dumplings. It’s hard to go wrong with juicy and savory pork wrapped in deliciously pliable wrappers.

It wasn’t exactly soup weather outside, but Ms. Lu’s Lion’s Head Soup with Napa cabbage and glass noodles hit the spot perfectly. The name of the dish refers to the soup’s soft and plump meatballs, which seem to be bound together by the lightest touch. From Dean Sin World, we ran .2 miles to Mama’s Lu.

Meal #2: Mama’s Lu – Monterey Park

At Mama’s Lu, we dug into a most excellent Green Onion Cake that was crisp, slightly chewy, flaky, and not bogged down by too much oil. The chopped scallions provided a splash of color and flavor. I tried to convince my teammates to order another plate, but they were far too reasonable to agree. Mama’s Lu’s fried pork dumplings was everyone’s least favorite item of the day. The outer skin was overly bread-y, while the innards were mushy and lacked integrity.

The Shanghai Rice Cakes were a hit and one of my favorite dishes of the day. The smooth discs of joy were sauteed with pork, mushrooms, carrots, scallions, and cabbage in a soy-based sauce. The rice cakes’ quick fry in the wok imparted an overall smoky quality to the dish.

After our second meal, The Astronomer and I strolled down Mama’s Lu‘s corridor, while Mr. Food Marathon took off like a champ. For a self-proclaimed non-runner, Neil sure did have a bad-ass stride.

From Mama’s Lu, we pounded the pavement for 1.8 miles to 101 Noodle Express in Alhambra. We averaged 9 minutes and 15 seconds per mile.

Meal #3: 101 Noodle Express – Alhambra

At 101 Noodle Express, we gorged on steamed pumpkin and shrimp dumplings and cold Dan Dan noodles. Even after eating two meals prior and cranking out 2 miles, each and every one of us was thankfully able to appreciate the dishes. Sweat just adds a bit of savoriness, right?

101 Noodle Express‘ specialty is the Shandong beef roll, which is comprised of a fried wheat pancake smeared with a hoisin-like bean paste and stuffed with fresh cilantro and thin cuts of beef. Oh goodness, this was fantastically tasty.

Meal #4: Bamboodles Restaurant – San Gabriel

From 101 Noodle Express, we jammed over to Bamboodles Restaurant, which was only 489 feet away. Bamboodles Restaurant is the first American outlet of a small chain originating in Guangdong Xinhui. Here, noodles are made the old-fashioned way by an unselfconscious man bouncing up and down on a long bamboo rod.

We started off with pleasantly bouncy fried fish balls smothered in chili oil. Then, we moved on to perfectly refreshing spinach and pork noodles served over crushed ice.

Based on H.C.’s recommendation, we also ordered the spicy wontons. They tasted so good going in, but I’ve gotta admit, during the next leg of my run, they didn’t taste so hot. Burp!

Meal #5: Kingburg Kitchen – San Gabriel

From Bamboodles Restaurant, we ran 1.7 miles to Kingburg Kitchen in San Gabriel. The temperature was well over 100 degrees at this point in the day, but everyone made it safely and soundly to our final savory destination. We drank a lot of water when we arrived.

At Kingburg Kitchen, we enjoyed two cold appetizers—beef tendon with bean curd and a salad of tofu strands. We also went for an order of their house special fried pork and leek dumplings. Unlike the disappointing ones at Mama’s Lu, these had an ideal ratio of filling to wrapper, and were much better in texture.

The scallion flecked Kingburg Pancake was just what I wanted to nosh on after running in the brutal heat. Refined flours go down so easily.

Meal #6: Blue Cherry – Alhambra

For the final leg of the food marathon, we ran 1.2 miles to Blue Cherry Yogurt Bar, where we cooled off with Beijing-style yogurt. Served in a paper-topped clay jar, the cold, creamy, and tart yogurt coated our stomachs with its smooth goodness, providing the perfect conclusion to the day.

Thank you very much to Foodbuzz for footing the bill, and my brave friends for agreeing to this crazy endeavor. We finished 5.1 miles at just under 10-minute pace—48 minutes and 7 seconds. It was a treat, a real treat, but a different kind of treat altogether.

And a very special thank you to Matthew of Mattatouille for beautifully photographing the event and putting together this excellent video.

[Check out the course map here and click below for a full list of restaurants. For more shenanigans, follow me @GastronomyBlog.]

Dean Sin World
306 N. Garfield Avenue
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Phone: 626-571-0636

Mama’s Lu
153 East Garvey Avenue
Monterey Park, CA 91755
Phone: 626-307-5700

101 Noodle Express
1408 East Valley Boulevard
Alhambra, CA 91801
Phone: 626-300-8654

Bamboodles Restaurant
535 West Valley Boulevard
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Phone: 626-281-1226

Bamboodles on Urbanspoon

Bamboodles in Los Angeles

Kingburg Kitchen
715 W. Las Tunas Drive
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Phone: 626-282-2386

Blue Cherry Yogurt Bar
137 West Main Street
Alhambra, CA 91801
Phone: 626-281-8568

Blue Cherry Yogurt Bar on Urbanspoon

Blue Cherry in Los Angeles

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31 thoughts on “Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Eat. Run. Repeat.

  1. What a great idea … love it! But, how did you eat all that great food and still manage to run, I would have been in a food coma!

  2. Oh, how fun! However, I would not run with you since I’m a slow 10 minute mile runner (on a not-too-full-stomach!). I think you should have a 5 km wedding run!

  3. Great!! That looks like fun… and I have to admit now, that I think I’ll have to try beef tendon… I’m a little concerned, but looked good.

    And the rice cakes and dandan noodles are a must!

    Thanks y’all. 😀

  4. You ran all around my neighborhood! Way to make me homesick, man. BTW. I’ll be around the weekend of Oct 3. Wanna eat?

  5. I’m taking notes on all this for our January visit. My son needs to try those rice cakes.

    In other news: you Swat kids are wackadoodle! Hilarious idea. I agree with the Miss. A wedding run might be necessary. Or perhaps a Bachelor/ette run and feast?

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  7. Great idea for a 24, 24, 24 meal, Cathy! I too am in awe of your ability to run and eat in a heat wave without passing out. I kind of feel like passing out just thinking about it….

  8. OMG Cathy you guys are CRAZY! (but in a good way) I think I know why y’all had so much stamina–do your numbers represent your birth years? This old lady would have thrown up right after the first stop! hahaha. Great post!

  9. Cathy, you rock the Monterey Park/Alhambra yesterday! Good times girl! And I retract my statement, I would do it again. The video is hilarious. Thanks for inviting me along for the fun and food. ; )

  10. you forgot the part about ALL the servers looking confused/semi-pissed that we ordered so little food at each stop (and me having to explain in Canto-darin the running food marathon idea, also an absurd idea to them…) Haha

    But glad to taste all these wonderful joints (some of them for the 1st time for me, and SGV IS MY ‘HOOD!) Too bad you can’t make the next running marathon… but maybe we should make it a monthly ordeal, I mean… celebration.

  11. Okay I read it. I’m still insanely jealous, but I am also hella proud too. 🙂 Good work, Miss Gastronomer.

    Next time you get yourself to 101 Noodle Express for those beef rolls, I’m coming with you!!! We can even go run first so that we get the sweaty taste in there with it. 😉

  12. Kevin, I was the driver (like in real marathons!) who shuttled around water, cameras, bags, etc. I also filmed them during the runs in between restaurants.

  13. I wish I could have joined your guys but happy to see you all alive at the finish line. Thank you for including me in the celebratory frozen yogurt when I didn’t run. I never thought watermelon could be such a delicious topping! We went back to Dean Sin World and got the xiao long bao. yuuummm! Can’t wait to try the other places. In an air-conditioned car of course… 🙂 Hope to see you next month at HC’s!

  14. Holy cow…you guys are my heroes. I thought I would melt just STANDING outside in this blazing LA weather. I bow to you, truly, oh gastronomical gods.

    p.s.Any recommendations for such good Chinese dimsum-style food in the downtown LA area?

  15. Great post, and great idea. That must have been intense with the brutal heat and lousy air quality, even in mile bursts. Nice restaurant selection too. If you have another dine-and-dash, count me in. Looks like a lot of fun.

  16. Looks like fun! A whole new way of food touring, but cant imagine running with full stomach =)

    The San Gabriel Valley cant be “the largest population of Chinese people outside of mainland China”, maybe in USA?

  17. So great to see your profile up on Squid Ink. I really enjoyed meeting you at the Food Blogger Prom and am happy to finally reconnect with you via your blog!

    I really enjoyed this post. I love to run but could never cover half that distance if I had full stomach. That must have been quite a physical challenge! Congrats on completing your course, eating all those dishes, and looking so good regardless.

    I really enjoyed Matt’s video footage. What a great bonus!

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