Aug 2016

Yang Chow Restaurant – Pasadena

Yang Chow - Pasadena

When the family’s in the mood for Chinese food, we head south to San Gabriel, Alhambra, or Monterey Park to feast. But when the family’s in the mood for American Chinese food, we stay close to home and dine at Yang Chow Restaurant (or Panda Express, of course). There’s enough gastro real estate for the best of both woks.

Yang Chow - Pasadena

The Yang Family opened the first Yang Chow upon arriving in Los Angeles from Hong Kong in 1976. Today there are three locations in Pasadena, Chinatown, and Canoga Park.

Yang Chow - Pasadena

Even though there are well over 100 items on the menu, every customer that comes through the doors orders the same thing: Slippery Shrimp ($17.50). An ocean-dwelling cousin of General Tso, Slippery Shrimp is lightly coated in cornstarch and wok’d to perfection before being doused in a sticky sauce made of ginger, garlic, chilies, and plenty of the refined white stuff. It’s sweet as all hell, but also addictively crunchy.

Yang Chow - Pasadena

Moo Shu Pork ($13.25) is my all-time favorite American Chinese dish, and I’ve been deprived of it since leaving the East Coast. Here at Yang Chow, the wok-kissed mixture of pork, cabbage, wood ear mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and soy sauce is tucked into thin pancakes slathered with hoisin sauce.

Prepared table-side, the mini Chinese burritos were as satisfying as I remembered.

Yang Chow - Pasadena

I was hoping to round out the mains with Mongolian Beef, but alas, Yang Chow didn’t have it on the menu. Our waiter suggested that Sliced Beef with Scallions ($14.95) was similar. He was right—tender beef in a light and savory sauce with bamboo shoots and plenty of green onions. Simple and good.

Yang Chow - Pasadena

And finally, a platter of Yang Chow Fried Rice ($11.75) with pork, shrimp, and chicken.

Yang Chow - Pasadena

Delivered with the bill were the requisite fortune cookies and orange wedges.

Yang Chow - Pasadena

Dinner at Yang Chow was solid, and definitely different from the kind of Chinese fare that we usually eat. American Chinese food doesn’t get a lot of respect and affection, especially from Asian foodie-types. It might not be shiny, new, locally-sourced, or chef-driven, but man, it’s so damn tasty!

Fun fact: I had the honor of being the only Asian diner in Yang Chow, which was pretty novel considering we were in the 626.

Yang Chow Restaurant
3777 East Colorado Boulevard
Pasadena, CA 91107
Phone: 626-432-4538

Palatable Pasadena!

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5 thoughts on “Yang Chow Restaurant – Pasadena

  1. I’ve been going there for 20 years and once upon a time it was one of my three favorite restaurants in Pasadena, but I feel like it’s gone way downhill in the last couple of years. They’ve cut several corners (for example, the chicken salad no longer contains pickled red ginger, which made the salad but is an expensive item), the portions are smaller, and the food is overloaded with sugar, even by Americanized Chinese standards.

    On my last visit, not only were there no Asians, there were no other customers, period. As I was leaving, a group of three elderly people walked in, all of them using walkers, two of them with oxygen tanks. It was a sad yet apt metaphor.

  2. Sorry to hear that your one-time fave has gone down hill, Justin! That’s the saddest! I didn’t dine at Yang Chow in its heyday but it was solid on my visit, and the dining room was impressively packed! I guess super-sweet American Chinese is as appealing as ever.

  3. Odd there is one of those here in Woodland Hills. Not sure if it’s the same franchise.

  4. It took me more than two years but I finally returned last week. (With Fu Shing closing and Grandview Palace changing ownership and going downhill, my standbys for American Chinese have been reduced in the last couple of years.)

    Happily, it was much better than my previous dinners back in 2015-16. While the salad is still a pale imitation of what it once was a decade ago, everything else was really good. (Moo shu pork was great, Slippery Shrimp were very good, and fried wontons were not bad, which I guess is all you can ask of fried wontons.) Yang Chow will probably never again be a mainstay like it was for me at the beginning of the century, but it was good to learn that it can still turn out a satisfying meal.

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