Jet Tila Kills It With 101 Asian Dishes You Need To Cook Before You Die

We have definitely been to our share of cookbook releases and have to say, as far as creative, fun, talented chefs and teachers go, Jet Tila shines brightly at the top of our favorites list. His straight forward, easy going, down to earth generosity is not only engaging, it’s infectious. Jet makes us want to be not only better cooks, but better people. Needless to say, the time flew by as he demoed some dishes from his newly released, first book, 101 Asian Dishes You Need To Cook Before You Die.

Jet is a passionate artisan lit up by studying and cooking the authentic classics that have profoundly defined Asian cuisine. 101 Asian Dishes simplifies the culmination of his deep exploration into the origins of these gems and the spark that makes each cuisine so deliciously seductive to people all over the planet.

Vibrant photography and one page recipes are all Tila needs to explain Kung Pao Shrimp, Szechuan-style green beans or Mongolian beef. And that is the spot on amount of instruction we need to feel “in control” of a new recipe.

He also goes off on some creative tangents in surprises such as Cinnamon and Five-Spice Easy Donuts, where he again simplifies while crafting a mouthwatering dessert. Yet another win win for our hunger to learn and grow in the kitchen.

Already a fan of Jet Tila?  Interested in exploring the best of Asian cuisine from an innovative master? 101 Asian Dishes You Need To Cook Before You Die is the consummate guide for your culinary arsenal.

Katie Chin’s Everyday Chinese and So Much More

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Stunning photos by award-wining photographer Masano Kawana are just the tip of the wonton in Katie Chin’s newly published Everyday Chinese Cookbook, 101 Delicious Recipes from My Mothers Kitchen.  Leeann Chin, Katie’s mother, was a celebrated restauranteur and together they cohosted the PBS cooking series Double Happiness. Katie’s passions for Asian cooking have led to a successful career as a caterer, culinary consultant and writer along with numerous TV appearances, a gig at the White House, and many articles featured in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, O, the Oprach magazine and Cooking Light.

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The visually stunning book highlights not only the mastery of Chin family recipes, but also explains Chinese ingredients, cooking techniques and tools. All the dishes we know and love are present and accounted for with simple, easy to replicate instructions.

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The Chinese Chicken Salad, Katie explains, was invented in Los Angeles, and her version on page 56 is as invigorating and enjoyable as any we’ve tried.  We will be making this one to impress friends and family for many years to come.  It’s a winner and practically effortless to pull together.

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The Starters and Dim Sum section is loaded with dumplings, lettuce cups, summer rolls and an assortment of mouth-watering singed meats on a stick.  For those like us who adore appetizers, this section is worthy of some serious exploration.

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We also received an education on Chinese fusion desserts.  If you didn’t know, and we certainly didn’t,  five spice powder and chocolate cake make an unbelievably exhilarating pairing. This is our new go to when we want to deliver a unique cake that both surprises and delights.

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While Nutella-Raspberry Wontons are as much a treat for the eyes as they are for the tongue.

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Katie Chin’s Everyday Chinese Cookbook is just that, a compilation of recipes easy enough for everyday cooking, that is also punctuated with creative inspiration keeping things fresh. Thank you Katie for rekindling childhood favorites and crafting inspired new meldings.  It all works beautifully.

Chinese Emporium Adventure

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We love the variety of department stores and every country has there own interpretation. In Monterey Park we happened upon T S Emporium and found an amazing world of Asian and Chinese goods.

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Aisles of household products designed especially for the Asian kitchen were priced exceptionally well and beautifully displayed. We purchased the tea tin below for under $7.00 and couldn’t be more pleased with the way it looks on our countertop.

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Joss paper and other ceremonial accessories line one colorful wall.

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Fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables have a small section at competitive prices.

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We found our favorite chili oil loaded with peanuts and sesame seeds on the shelves and paid just a few dollars a bottle.

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Other imported and locally produced sauces, oils, vinegars and condiments are all inexpensive at this well stocked shop.

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Asian cooking pots and dishes of all types demanded our attention and inspection.

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Rice cookers, casseroles, double boilers, you name it and T S Emporium has it.

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Asian good luck and feng shui sculptures to protect the home abound.

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As do a profusion of plates, bowls, soup spoons and chopsticks.

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Shoppers lacking stamina are sometimes seen sleeping in carts.

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A second space on the premises is dedicated to Chinese herbs, where drawer upon drawer conceal ingredients destined for prescribed tea and tincture mixes to cure what ails customers.

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We saw some mighty pricy ginseng root which is revered for its regenerative powers.

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While less expensive medicinal and health oriented packages are offered in the main emporium.

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T S Emporium is a fantastic spot to explore Chinese culture, cuisine and healing practices and partake if the mood strikes. We definitely enjoyed the adventure and have added to the beauty, health and deliciousness going on in our home.

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T S Emporium: Tak Shing Hong, 122 West Garvey Avenue, Monterey Park, CA 91754
Phone – 626-288-8788           web site – etsemporium.com

Imports, Selection And Live Seafood Abound In Asian Markets

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Asian Markets are a joy to shop. We find so many exciting items that pique our curiosity and encourage us to dive right in. Shun Fat Market in Monterey Park is a prime example of what we love best about foreign supermarkets.

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First and foremost the seafood section has a fantastic selection of live, fresh and frozen fish.

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Clean tanks display live fish and shellfish, including oysters and clams.

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Prices are very reasonable on a wide variety of seafood.

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We love the expansion of unusual offerings, including frozen durian, the king of fruit.

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A butchers counter offers meat at minuscule prices.

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While coffee and tea lovers have long aisles full of options, sometimes with coffee, milk and tea all in the same package.

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And what is a great coffee or tea break without an extensive selection of exotic cookies to serve alongside.

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We can always find our birds nest drink, a health supplement according to ancient Chinese medicine.

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And tons of noodles,

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to complete any cuisine or recipe.

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The produce section offers choices we simply cannot find in traditional markets, including cases of sweet young coconut at $9.99 for a case of 9.

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Rice bagged for serious consumption is the standard.

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Small shops offering jewelry, sweets, snacks, clothes, sunglasses and household goods make a final attempt to fulfill customers needs as they make their way to the parking lot.

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We appreciate Asian markets for carrying everything we need and want. They also extend what is accessible to us to include imported Asian goods that expand our palate, kitchen ware and view of our small planet in exciting and interactive ways.

Shun Fat Supermarket, 421 North Atlantic Boulevard, Monterey Park, CA 91754
Phone – 626-308-3998          web site – shunfatsupermarket.com

 

Impressive Asian Cuisine In West LA

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We returned to Asian Fusion to delve deeper into their Asian cuisine mix.  The Vietnamese owners have a way with not only Vietnamese food but also Chinese, Korean and Thai, no small feat.

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The dining room is pleasant with steaming soup bowls carved into the seat backs.

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The menu expresses the diversity available and we were beyond pleasantly surprised by the proficiency they have with all of it.

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We began with the Japanese favorite edamame, these lightly salted soy beans were tender and warm, getting us off to a great start.

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We couldn’t resist the hybrid cheese wonton appetizer of fried wonton wrappers stuffed with a dollop of herb infused cream cheese. Crispy skins erupt with creamy flavor that can be dipped in the sweet and sour sauce served alongside.

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The flakey egg rolls come 2 or 4 to an order depending on what is requested.

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Tender poultry mixed with greens fill the chicken dumplings that come with a ginger packed sweet chili sauce enhancing the mild crescents.

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We love their banh mi and again had to heed the call of soft French baguettes cradling grilled meats with pickled and fresh herbs and vegetables.

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The caramelized marinade is singed onto the edges of super tender chicken for a flavor pop that along with tangy radish and carrots, fresh cilantro and hit of jalapeño, meld in perfect unison inside freshly baked bread.

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The pork version is also warm, moist, juicy savory goodness against the cool vegetable toppings.

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The extensive menu covers 125 Asian dishes in all, plus sides and drinks.

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Pan fried noodles are crisped brown under a riot of sautéed vegetables and protein of customers choosing.

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While beef udon are extra thick, well cooked al dente soft noodles that can be served with succulent slices of beef and a flavor-filled array of onion and peppers.

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Large portions and lunch specials make Asian Fusion an affordable and honestly one of the best Asian/Chinese/Vietnamese restaurants we have on the westside of Los Angeles.  We will be visiting his hidden treasure often for a delightful taste of some of the most well loved Asian cuisines available in Los Angeles.

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Asian Fusion, 1710 South Robertson Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone – 424-298-8247          web site – asianfusionla.com

Shanghai Dumpling Delight

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We love soup dumplings and are thrilled to find them all over the San Gabriel Valley.  These soup filled wonders require finesse to eat, but the reward of warm, soup and juicy meat found inside make them way too much fun to pass over.

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Shau May Restaurant in Monterey Park features Shanghai cuisine with a line up of specialties from the region laid out in warming trays for guests to look, pick and choose whatever calls.

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Pricing is beyond reasonable starting at $3.90 for one item, up to $6.38 for the four item combo. We saw one couple order a four item combination assortment of meat which was piled so high they had a difficult time maneuvering the tray.

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The bustling fast food spot is constantly replenishing the warming trays with food turn over so active that dishes are practically made to order.

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We chose the famous Shanghai pan fried bao, which are bread encased soup dumplings.

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After placing our number on the table, we were first brought hot tea to relax and enjoy while waiting for our crisp bottomed, doughy packages to arrive. There are a number of items at Shau May that are individually prepared and these dumplings are one of those specialties.

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The table is supplied with soy sauce, black vinegar and a back bean chili paste to season and spice up dishes.

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A dipping sauce reminiscent of tempura sauce is delivered that can be spiced up with the table condiments if preferred spicy, tangy or salty.

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After about 15 minutes the puffed balls arrive. Glistening and covered in green onion and black sesame, they are quiet hot straight from the frying pan so we give them a minute to settle before digging in.

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The trick is the same procedure one would employ for xiao long bao, Shanghai-style soup dumplings, except instead of a wonton style wrapper we take a nibble out of the side of the thick flour based pouches. After carefully “opening” the package we tilt and suck out the soup inside. The rich porky broth is warm and comforting, reflecting the essence of the spiced meatball inside.

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After we have drained the dumpling of all liquid, we then dip it into the provided sauce and hit it with a touch of vinegar and chili paste finally devouring the meat and bread just like a hamburger, dipping after each bite.

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We spoke with customers who inform us Shau May makes authentic dishes reminiscent of what they eat in Shanghai with a wide variety of pork, beef, chicken, fish and vegetable options to select from. Made to order specialties not to miss include the pan fried pork buns, xiao long bao, humongous beef noodle soup bowls, beef rolls and shave ice desserts. Enjoy.

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Shau May Restaurant, 104 North Garfield Avenue, Monterey Park, CA 91754
Phone – 626-571-2727

Luscious Dumplings Are All That

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The epitome of Mom and Pop, homespun, delicious dumplings is a straight up description of Luscious Dumplings.

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Two locations, one in San Gabriel and the other in Monrovia, house small dining rooms with a handful of tables and a smattering of stuffed dumplings, snacks, vegetables and soups on their menu.

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You can’t go wrong with anything you order, but there are a few stand outs that reside on every table. The angus stewed beef noodle soup is an oil bubble topped, clear, well seasoned broth. The star of the bowl is the meaty, super tender chunks of beef that melt under the slightest pressure.  The greens and noodles are outstanding supporting players.

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Luscious Dumplings crafts their own chili oil which is heavily laden with sesame seeds, sesame oil and chili flakes, all combining to form an exemplary spicy condiment appropriate for every item on the menu.

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We spoon heaping mounds of it into our soup, turning our comforting bowl into a whirlwind of heat, spice, texture and homestyle goodness.

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The pan fried chive pockets are loaded with green herbs offering a mellow onion flavor under the crunch of crisp skins.

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Everyone raves about the pan fried pork dumplings and for good reason.

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The ten plumped packages are sautéed in unison and come attached to one another at the corners.  Customers simply snap one off the pile, wait a moment for them to cool and dig in.

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A condiment tray offers not only the in-house made chili sauce but also black vinegar and soy sauce which combined make the perfect dip for the juicy parcels.

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We give ours a good dousing after each bite to saturate the flavorful meat filling with even more punch.

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These dumplings are so famous they sell them frozen to be prepared at home.  A great addition to any party, assuring tasty treats for guests.

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For some of the best dumplings in the southland, Luscious Dumplings is a must try that reminds us to add a trip to China to our bucket list.

Luscious Dumplings, 919 West Duarte Road, Monrovia, CA 91016
Phone – 626-821-0518          web site – lusciousdumplings.com

or

Luscious Dumplings, 704 West Las Tunas Drive, Ste 4, San Gabriel, CA 91776
Phone – 626-282-8695

Dim Sum From 8 AM to 8 PM

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We have always wondered why dim sum, Chinese small plates or snacks, are only available until 3 PM, when we would be most happy eating the tiny treasures around the clock.

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We have found a small shop where dim sum is served from 8 AM to 8 PM, which satisfies our hunger and makes us feel secure in the knowledge that a dim sum craving can be dealt with during those extended hours.

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Roasted meats, pig and duck are also on full display should the need arise.

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This little dim sum chain keeps prices competitive, with servings starting at $1.39 and climbing to a high of $1.79. Served in steamers of 2 to 3 pieces, we found a two-for-one special on the day of our visit on chicken bao. We left the restaurant with 6 well sized bao for $1.79.  Not too shabby.

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The big fluffy powder puffs are stuffed with beautifully seasoned chicken and green onion which make for an exceptional afternoon or late night snack.

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Signage as well as the staff happily explain what is inside each dumpling, pastry or bun.

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The pork and vegetable packed pouches are meaty, mouthwatering bites that we couldn’t stop eating.

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We dip them in a mixture of seasoned vinegar, chili oil and soy sauce for a flavor explosion of splendid proportions.

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Drinks, noodles, soups and BBQ are also on the menu at prices that bring a smile to the lips.

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They are happy to pack everything to go or a small, simple dining room awaits if needed.

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For dim sum conveniently available all day and evening up to closing at 8 PM, Yum Cha Cafe with her 4 locations is our one stop shop.

Yum Cha Cafe, 421 North Atlantic Boulevard, Monterey Park, CA 91754
Phone – 626-289-6287

or

Yum Cha Cafe, 1635 South San Gabriel Boulevard, San Gabriel, CA 91776
Phone – 626-280-0978

or

Yum Cha Cafe, 2650 Rosemead Boulevard, South El Monte, CA 91733
Phone – 626-579-2388

or

Yum Cha Cafe, 987 South Glendora Avenue, Unit D, West Covina, CA 91790
Phone – 626-338-8868

 

 

Chinese Korean Magic

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Korea town is a huge expanse of business’ and restaurants reflecting Korean culture, traditional and melded cuisines.

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Zzamong is one spot that combines Korean soup and noodles dishes with Chinese food.

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Upon arriving hot tea and a smattering of banchan were presented.

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Sweet, pickled daikon radish are addicting and crunchy.

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Spicy radish cubes offer a hot contrast to the other dishes.

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A small saucer of black bean sauce is a salty dip for the freshly chopped onion served alongside.

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There specialities include a black bean jjaljanqnyun and spicy seafood jjampong.  The spicy seafood jjampong is a complex, spicy soup bowl loaded with muscles, shrimp, calamari, clams and vegetables that we immediately fell in love with. If spicy speaks to you, a warm, comforting bowl of this soup will make your day.

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Appetizers and lunch  specials make the reasonably priced offerings even more enticing.

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We ordered a combination which pulls together four of their most famous dishes and serves them up for a price of just under $24.

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The freshly fried beef dumplings are crisp and juicy.

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While the black beans and onion laden noodle dish caries a savory homestyle feel.

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The long noodles are tossed and cut to make eating them an easier endeavor.

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We informed them we love spicy and a container of seriously hot chili powder arrived that we doused over our noodles liberally.  The addition of vinegar from the table also kicked these comforting noodles into another realm of satisfaction.

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Our combination came with a thick, crispy battered sweet and sour pork, providing enough food for four people.

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And we must mention that we were regaled with magic all through dinner, that’s a chicken he pulled together in just seconds from a dish rag.

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Between the spicy seafood soup that we fell in love with, the abundance of freshly made food, great prices and the magic show that went on at intervals throughout dinner we were amazed, amused and well fed, all things we love about exploring Korea Town.

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Zzamong, 4255 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90004
Phone – 213-739-2747      web site – zzamongrestaurant.com

 

 

 

 

 

Hidden Santa Monica Chinese Hole-In-The-Wall

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Chinese food has many incarnations in Los Angeles. There is exceptional regional cuisine available in the San Gabriel Valley, smatterings of the more well known Chinese dishes in the San Fernando Valley and Westside Chinese restaurants that run the gamut from old school to hipster interpretations of mostly Mandarin and Cantonese food.

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Dragon Palace in Santa Monica is old school California Chinese from top to bottom.  A fish tank with sparkly goldfish welcome guests at the front door.

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Past the aquarium is the most basic of dining rooms with pink formica tables, green carpet, floral wallpaper and a mirrored wall to reflect all the dated color right back into the room. But we don’t eat out for the decor, we go for the food and Dragon Palace reminds us of the Mandarin cuisine we experienced in the 70’s.

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Dragon Palace embraces the concept of the lunch special fully, with prices reflecting back 20 years.  Eighteen options on the daily lunch special menu all run $5.50, include rice and fortune cookies and keep the dining room full during midday hours.

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We quenched our thirst with the special Chinese iced tea.  A cold metal teapot and a glass full of ice with lemon were presented. We love the pour your own option, which avoids having to call the waiter over repeatedly for refills.  Nice touch.

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The assorted appetizer plater reminds us of the pupu platters of our youth.

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Paper wrapped chicken, bar-b-que spareribs, egg roll and fried wonton have the flavors we remember all too well.  The only thing missing was the rumaki, a bacon wrapper liver and water chestnut of the Trader Vic’s era that is hard to find on the menus of today.

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Paper wrapped chicken is super soft dark meat marinated in a slightly sweet and teriyaki flavored sauce with a nice pop of ginger.

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Crisp fried egg roll wrappers burst with cabbage and vegetables.

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Guests are provided with spicy mustard, chili sauce and sweet and sour dipping  sauces to enhance the appetizer plate with heat and sweetness.

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Along with great prices on lunch specials the most expensive seafood on the menu tops out at $11.50, prices we can definitely live with.

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We kept with the old school theme and went with the moo shu pork.  The soft wheat flour wrappers are served with rich, sweet hoisin sauce to add as needed.

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The crunchy, flash cooked vegetables are a delightful contrast to the tender flavorful pork. They were nice enough to offer to make it spicy, an inspired addition from this menu which also includes the hot flavors of foods from the Szechwan school of cooking.

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For a trip down memory lane with prices that match the time period, Dragon Palace in Santa Monica, is a homey, sweet spot to savor old time Chinese food.

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Dragon Palace, 2832 Santa Monica Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90404
Phone – 310-828-7744