Saturday, August 25, 2007

Day Trip to L.A.

Today, we took a day trip to L.A. to see family. Two restaurants visited. What resulted was a need for improvement in my photography skills. Can't have much of a food blog if I constantly forget to photograph the food.

The first was Har Lam Kee restaurant.

The food was mediocre, but the service was shockingly good. Located on Garvey Ave. in Monterey Park, it's specialties include wonton noodle soup (and all its variations), rice noodle rolls, and various fried rices and noodles. It's yet another subcatagory under "Chinese comfort food". While Dumpling Inn's food is from northern China, these dishes are from southern China, origin of yours truly. Wonton noodle soup is very popular in Hong Kong. Our menu included:
  • Wonton noodle soup- wontons are a type of dumpling. They're made with a different type of skin than potstickers or boiled dumplings from the north. The skin is wheat based and ironically, I've seen a lot of Italian recipes using wonton wrappers for ravioli. They're filled with prawns and a small amount of pork (if any) and served with gailan, aka Chinese broccoli. The broth is light, clear, and according to Wikipedia, derived from dried flounder. In other words, fish stock.
  • Beef chow fun- A favorite of D.'s, it's rice noodles stir-fried with soy sauce, beef slices, onion, and bean sprouts.
  • Fried rice with diced chicken and diced salted fish
  • Rice noodle rolls- One of my favorite dishes, we had plain noodles filled with dried shrimp and noodles wrapped around "Chinese donuts", which are long strips of fried dough. They're savory, not sweet like American donuts. But, like the donut we see stateside, they're enjoyed as a breakfast treat.
  • Egg noodles fried into a large crispy disk of noodles (like a nest) and topped with chicken in a thick garlic sauce.
  • Egg tarts- these are unusual for this type of restaurant, since they're a dim sum dish, but the family ordered them.
Like I said, the food wasn't excellent, and props to D. for his finely-honed taste for Chinese food. Hehe. I think my mother was very impressed when he offered his critique of this place.

For dinner, we hit one of my favorite places in Arcadia, which happens to be very close to home. Tasty Garden is, very classically, a Hong Kong style restaurant. The service is fast, the food is mainly southern Chinese with a touch of Western influence, and it's all delicious. I stupidly forgot to take pictures, but here's one of my favorite dish all-time. It's Peking-style pork spareribs and these are the leftovers. Even though they're Peking-style, they're done in the Hong Kong way, which is with a thick sauce. True Peking style, as I understand it, would have involved a tomato-based soupy sauce. The sauces taste the same, it's the consistency that's different.

Pork pieces are stir-fried in a sweet tomato-based sauce. It's not sour at all, but it's slightly reminiscent of Chinese-American sweet and sour pork. Onions are added. The pork is tenderized with baking soda, I think.

We also ordered:
  • Salted chicken- brined chicken is boiled and served with a ginger sauce. Simple, but really good.
  • Clay pot rice with Chinese sausage and dried pork (follow this link for a picture... scroll down to "little pot rice", which is about the same thing)
  • Vermicelli with dried shrimp and winter melon
  • French-style beef stir-fry- with onions and thai basil. The beef was tenderized and the sauce soy-based.
Great meal all in all. I will probably go back there soon and will have another report and hopefully more pictures.

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