Mar 2015

Kang Kang Food Court – Alhambra

Kang Kang Food Court - Alhambra

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.

Kang Kang Food Court - Alhambra

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.

Kang Kang Food Court - Alhambra

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…

Kang Kang Food Court - Alhambra

The “Shanghai Pan Fried Small Bao” ($7.29), served eight to an order, was the first and best dish to grace our lips. We were warned by the waitress as she dropped them off to be careful of their scalding innards. Even after letting the sheng jian bao cool for five solid minutes, which greatly tested our will and patience, we still managed to burn the roofs of our mouths. Ouch, but yum.

Kang Kang Food Court - Alhambra

The sheng jian bao, seared golden on the bottom and enrobed in fluffy dough, were delightful inside and out. The porky center, soupy and sweet, really hit the mark. These may very well be my favorite dumplings in the entire San Gabriel Valley.

Kang Kang Food Court - Alhambra

What made the dumplings even tastier was Kang Kang’s house-made chili sauce. Chunky, spicy, and a touch funky, a dab of this stuff went a long way.

Kang Kang Food Court - Alhambra

Also on deck was an order of the “Shanghai Steamed Small Bao” ($6.65), also known as xiao long bao. Though the skins were properly thin and the filling properly juicy, the swirl tips atop each one were disappointingly chewy. But that didn’t stop us from eating every last one.

Kang Kang Food Court - Alhambra

Our final dish was Mr. Chang’s favorite: “Fried Chicken Roll Taiwan Style” ($6.42), consisting of spiced ground pork, onions, and carrots stuffed in tofu skin and fried to a crisp. Served on the side was a sweetish dipping sauce, but I much preferred the chili oil.

There’s still much to taste at Kang Kang, and I’m looking forward to returning again. I don’t think I’ll be able to resist an order of the sheng jian bao when I do. They are magnificent.

Kang Kang Food Court
27 East Valley Boulevard
Alhambra, CA 91801
Phone: 626-308-3898

One year ago: POT at the Line Hotel – Koreatown
Two year ago: 
Hui Tou Xiang Noodles House – San Gabriel
Three years ago: A-Frame – Los Angeles (Culver City)
Four years ago: Bacon Almond Brittle
Five years ago: Dahlia Lounge – Seattle
Six years ago: Taihei Restaurant – Monterey Park
Seven years ago: Augustin – Ho Chi Minh City
Eight years ago: Reading Terminal Market – Philadelphia

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9 thoughts on “Kang Kang Food Court – Alhambra

  1. When I was a teenager, I was always hanging out at the Crepe place and never paid too much attention to Kang Kang; now it’s all I have been thinking about since I found out it is actually amazing. I volunteer as tribute for your return visit! 😀

  2. This place used to be adjacent to a movie theater. The theater is gutted to make the shopping center it is now, and the food court is still there. Wonderful food, very generous portions. And of course, cheap.

  3. I’m so surprised you haven’t been here before! I really love the sheng jian bao here too. I’ve tried other places in LA, but none have been as good.

  4. Kirbie – I’ve driven by Kang Kang a million times, but it took a nudge from D. Chang to make it happen. SO good. And SO glad you <3 them too!

  5. yum! Those pan fried bao are the best. No trip to SGV is complete without an order of those bad boys. We usually will stop by for a to go order of those dumplings and then nosh on them while waiting in line at 888 for dim sum…

  6. I LOVE the Kang Kang court! I usually get the 3-4 item special dinner or lunch box. My favorite choices are the Lions Head meatballs, tofu with pork and bamboo, anything pork belly, and egg custard with pork! The portions are huge and 3 items comes with a large portion of rice and the daily soup for just about $6. Also I like to go next to to Phoenix to get my mixed fruit tapioca

  7. This place has been a staple at that store front for decades, I remember seeing it when I was 4-5 years old, back when there was still a theater there. The menu has changed over time as well. They used to have stinky tofu.

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