Beijing Pie House
Fast food never tasted as good as the xian bing, finger-scorchingly hot dough disks, stuffed with ground lamb and served four to a plate.
WHERE: 846 E. Garvery #3A, Monterey Park
Come here for the cooking of Hangzhou in eastern China, including pork ribs steamed in lotus leaves; dong po pork, braised pork belly; candied lotus root stuffed with sticky rice; and the seaweed-fried fish.
WHERE: 627 W. Durate Road, Arcadia
Come for Chengdu-style dishes featuring the heat and spice of fresh, dried, pickled and ground chiles, as well as fragrant, numbing Sichuan peppercorns in dishes ranging from the beloved hot pot and the chile-accented dan dan mian noodles to sliced beef in chile oil (fu qi fei pian), mapo tofu and more.
WHERE: 828 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra
Din Tai Fung
This famous Taiwan-based soup-dumpling chain has drawn hordes of xiao long bao fans since the first one opened a decade or so ago. The hand-made dumplings are consistently juicy, soupy and delicate.
WHERE: 177 Caruso Ave., Glendale
The neighborhood drop-in place for favorites like scallion pancakes, Shandong-style chicken with raw garlic, and cold noodles.
WHERE: 1639 S. Azusa Ave., Hacienda Heights
Discover authentic dishes from Chairman Mao’s hometown. Hunan Mao’s spicy steamed fish-head casserole is the stuff of urban lore, and not to be missed are the herbal and spicy DIY hot pots, available with the usual fixings.
WHERE: 8728 Valley Blvd. #101, Rosemead
If you have never encountered Shanxi knife-cut noodles, here’s your chance. These thick, irregular knife-cut noodles, frilled on one edge like the gills of an oyster to pick up flavor from sauce or soup, can be found slippery, dense and plump in lamb broth; or chewier pan-fried with seafood, tossed with bean paste and cucumber.
WHERE: 9425 Valley Blvd., Rosemead
Long Xing Ji
If you’re at this Shanghainese restaurant, it could be because you’ve heard about the large crab-and-pork xiao long bao, which comes with a straw to sip the soup. The regulars know to order the spare ribs, Wuxi-style cold smoked fish, the cold noodles in sesame sauce and sautéed string beans.
WHERE: 140 W. Valley Blvd. #211, San Gabriel
A large menu brims with offerings such as mapo tofu, which comes sizzling with chile in its crock; salty string beans; eggplant wedges with garlic and chile; and pork hock stewed with chile. The la zi ji – beautifully crunchy slightly glazed chicken, sprinkled with sesame seeds and a numbing blast of Sichuan peppercorn, buried under a mound of dried chiles – is a must.
WHERE: 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Ste 200A, Los Angeles
You visit Mian for one thing and one thing alone: the noodles. The choice covers the top Chinese noodle hits, including the Chengdu zhajiangmian (ground pork and scallions with a distinct, chewy noodle and a generous slick of hot chile and oil), hot-sour noodles, beef pickle noodles, Huaxing noodles and more.
WHERE: 301 W. Valley Blvd. #114, San Gabriel
While the menu is Southeast Asian-inflected Cantonese at its core, there are also Thai, Cambodian and Vietnamese influences. Just order what everybody else is having: Vietnamese-style sautéed beef, fried pea leaves with garlic, salt-and-pepper squid, and, for a big-affair meal, the house-special lobster fried with chiles, black pepper and scallions.
WHERE: 518 W. Las Tunas Drive, San Gabriel
Omar’s Xinjiang Halal, Shaanxi Gourmet
This is Islamic Uyghur cooking, in the manner of Xinjiang, which is the northwestern corner of China bordering Mongolia and about a half-dozen other mountainous countries. Bring friends so you can share lots of dishes. The Big Plate Chicken comes with fantastic hand-pulled noodles, and the many variations of lamb are not to be missed.
WHERE: 1718 N. New Ave., San Gabriel
The Cantonese equivalent of a Michelin two-star restaurant that marries ingredients and technique in unlikely – and satisfying – ways. Think duck kidneys fried with shiso; XO-encrusted radish cubes in pastry cups and fried chicken winglets dusted in pepper salt.
WHERE: 3939 Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead
For authentic Shanghai food and soups fill, a special squab soup or stew chicken and dried abalone soup are warming classics while the dong po rou and pork dumplings with hints of ginger and scallion remain favorites amongst the Shanghainese.
WHERE: 1600 N. Ivar Ave., Los Angeles
Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village
A gilded, cosmopolitan restaurant with a vast menu that promises to sate those after authentic – even exotic – offerings from Shanghai woks (think red-cooked squid, and dishes featuring ingredients such as jellyfish and abalone), and well-loved classics such as the deeply flavorful soup dumplings and crunchy-bottomed pan-fried pork buns.
WHERE: 250 Valley Blvd., San Gabriel
The home of modern Sichuan cuisine, offering classics such as cumin-crusted toothpick lamb, boiled fish in chile sauce and lamb steamed in ground sticky rice. The chicken fried with immense mounds of chiles is unmissable.
WHERE: 1900 Valley Blvd., Alhambra
Wuhan is well-known for braised fish; crisp, stuffed bean curd sheets; herbal clay pot soups; and a kind of pumpkin pancake that Chairman Mao was partial to. But you are here for the humble re gan mian: noodles slicked with sesame oil and served with a smear of sesame paste, diced pickles and fried ground pork.
WHERE: 301 W. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel
Tasty Noodle House
Tasty Noodle House specializes in the clean, subtle seafood preparations of the northern port city Dalian. Choose from home-style dishes such as vinegar-marinated pork, braised jellyfish, whole fish with tofu or old favorites of super-crisp scallion pancakes and beef stew noodles.
WHERE: 827 W. Las Tunas Drive, San Gabriel
Yunnan Garden’s cooking leans toward Sichuan classics (chile-laced tripe, pork stomach, beef shank, tofu and yam jello), but dig deeper and you will locate Yunnan dishes such as an intensely herbal chicken soup cooked in a claypot, and a dried-beef dish fried with fragrant dried chiles. Crossing-the-bridge noodles, a broth kept boiling hot under a sheen of oil, into which the waitress pushes vegetables, sliced poultry and rice noodles, is simple, sustaining culinary magic.
WHERE: 545 Las Tunas Drive, San Gabriel
101 Noodle Express
Besides the noodles and dumplings that keep the customers returning, a meal at 101 Noodle without a beef roll is well nigh unthinkable. Others vouch for the oxtail noodles, the gamy, innard-intensive lamb noodles, Shandong chicken and the reddish spicy-beef noodles.
WHERE: 1408 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra