Exciting Taiwanese Breakfast, Brunch And Lunch

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One of the less explored meals is breakfast and for those interested in delving deep into Taiwanese morning meals, we recommend starting at Huge Tree Pastry in Monterey Park.

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The small dining room is usually full and may require a short wait to be seated. Simply add you name to the list and you will find the turnover quick and efficient.

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Besides what’s on the menu there are also pastries lined up on the counter to choose from.

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Trays of green onion stuffed puff pastry and curried pork crescents beacon and if chosen are heated before being brought to the table.

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We found gua bao, sitting on the counter. The famous pork belly stuffed buns are accented with pickled vegetable, cilantro and crushed peanuts. Served hot, the pork is a layered combination of melt in the mouth fat and meat. Be sure to eat it as soon as possible to get the full effect of the melted fat before it cools down. We hit ours with some chili sauce to add a little zing.Be sure to remove the thin paper stuck to the bottom as soon as it arrives.

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Another Taiwanese breakfast delicacy is fan tuan. A sticky rice outer layer wrapped around a variety of ingredients. We chose the purple jasmine rice which adds a sweet, sticky component. Filled with egg and pickled vegetables, it creates a sweet and savory Asian style burrito that satisfies on every level with its mix of flavors and textures.

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Fan tuan is served in Saran Wrap which is slowly peeled away as one picks up this big boy and feasts on it one delectable bite at a time.

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As the name Huge Tree Pastry implies, there are quite a few pastries on the menu. We chose the sesame seed crusted, beef pastry with pickled greens which melts in the mouth like a meaty, flakey cloud.

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Condiments on the table include soy sauce, vinegar, chili oil, chili sauce and an onion sauce.

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We also indulged in the green onion pastry which is full of greens and glass noodles.

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The cong you bing omelet is also known as a pan fried green onion pancake with egg.

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As we lift up the top layer, we are delighted to find a savory pancake inside which we splashed with chili sauce to add yet another layer of complexity to the egg dish.

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The crowd is primarily Asian and beyond adorable from the youngest patrons,

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to the most seasoned of customers.

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For authentic Taiwanese specializes, especially breakfast dishes, Huge Tree Pastry is a fantastic addition to any brunch rotation.

Huge Tree Pastry, 423 North Atlantic Boulevard, Suite 106, Monterey Park, CA 91754         Phone – 626-458-8689

Vegan and Vegetarian “Meats” Galore

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In our search for healthful living and eating we are exploring the options and found quite the unique market in Vege USA.  The cafe that used to provide meals closed down a year ago, but sales of frozen and dry vegan and vegetarian products are still going strong at this animal free alternative shop.

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Signage on the wall specifies what is vegan or vegetarian, and which products contain eggs or milk. We greatly appreciate clear labeling so customers can be assured that their purchases conform to whatever lifestyle choices they have made.

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Products are from Taiwan and there is a definitely Asian feel to what is offered.

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Seafood soy product are heavily represented and of course vegetables are also a part of the mix.

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The frozen food section carries “meats” that only need to be heated and added to your favorite dishes.

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Large frozen packages make pulling dinner together a snap.

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There is also a dry goods section hosting such exotic offerings as vegetarian shark fin,

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and the famous XO sauce found on many Asian menus.

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For the holidays, vegan turkeys and ham are on offer for those wanting to keep tradition in appearance, if not in actual meats.

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For those looking to explore vegan and vegetarian diets or already dedicated to the path, Vege USA is a shop committed to an animal free recreating of meat, chicken and fish and a great place to dive deep into the philosophy.

Vege USA, 1425 South Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia, CA 91016
Phone – 626-386-0800          web site – vegetarian-plus.com

Asian Secrets Down Every Aisle

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While in Arcadia we stumbled upon Arcadia Supermarket. The brightly lit broad space is a treasure trove of Taiwanese products, produce, frozen items, fresh meats, fish, chicken and everything we could imagine an Asian market offering.

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Upon entering, an array of kitchenware and colorful household goods entice.

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The produce section carries hard to find fruit and vegetables at great prices.  We picked up a case of nine young coconuts for $9.99 and found the water inside insanely sweet and the meat we scraped out now has a date with our new dehydrator.

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Bananas are .39 cents a pound and Asian greens galore inspire us to include these healthy vegetables on our dinner plate.

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Great prices abound on sake, where giant bottles hover between $6 and $10.

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Looking for salted duck eggs? They’ve got it.

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Or maybe fresh duck eggs are more your style, look no further than next to the chicken eggs.

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Fresh Taiwanese noodles call us to create soups and noodle dishes with the freshest of ingredients.

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Main lobster, Dungeness crab, you name it, they have super fresh as well as live seafood, all but guaranteeing a perfect meal.

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We were impressed with the prices and color of the meat.

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And we know where we’re going next time we need a slab of pork ribs.

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The sale corner caught our eye, we can’t resist a bargain.

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For an adventure down every aisle while exploring Asian secrets for the kitchen, home and dinning room, a trip to Arcadia Supermarket fits the bill.

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Arcadia Supermarket, 645 West Duarte Road, Arcadia, CA 91007
Phone – 626-447-6282

Sinbala Brings Taiwanese Snacks to Arcadia

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Taiwanese food was our goal, and we dove into the menu at Sinbala in Arcadia.  We are just learning the differences between Taiwanese and Chinese food and found Taiwanese food at Sinbala focuses on small plates of deli or snack food, is sweeter than Chinese food and has the most delightful sausages and shave ice drinks.

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Casual dining at Sinbala is available both indoors and out, and the crowd rolled in and filled up the restaurant at around 7:30 PM on Saturday evening.

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The extensive menu requires some time to browse though, with 93 dishes from entrees, to snacks, sausages, soups, noodles, vegetables and Taiwanese drinks.

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We were informed that everyone orders #1, the Sinbala Sausage rice, so we followed suit. The sweet, almost candied slices of pork sausage were piled high next to super fluffy, seasoned scrambled eggs. A side of sweet corn and cabbage finished off the plate which sat atop a bed of rice.  We can see why they have an entire menu section devoted to Taiwanese sausage, we loved it.

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We will definitely return to try some of the unbelievable pairings from the sausage menu including sausage with ground garlic, or spicy sauce, peanut powder, lemon sauce, grape jam and even chocolate.  When in Rome………….

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The duck vermicelli rice noodle soup, is in a mild broth loaded with angel hair rice noodles, green onion and juicy, super smokey roast duck on the bone.  We could eat that duck all day long and never tire of it.  Preferring things a bit spicy, we requested some chili oil which was delivered post haste and added a nice kick to the simple soup.

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Taiwanese snacks are varied and easily sharable.

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We stared with the fried green onion pancake, a crisp edged savory bread that goes well with all the dishes. The menu offers others including an oyster, a shrimp and a mushroom pancake, each an integral part of the Taiwanese dinner menu.

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Steamed vegetable with minced meat sauce turned out to be heavily garlic doused and delightfully crunchy green that we had not tried before, but will definitely be back for.  This was one of the best dishes of the night.

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Oddly enough the chicken roll has no chicken in it whatsoever, but is instead a pork filled, thick egg roll served with a sweet sauce that was once again enhanced by our addition of chili oil.

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The spicy won ton were exactly as described, a bowl full of juicy pork wonton covered in chili oil, green onion, chili flakes and crushed peanuts.

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After mixing in the toppings what we had left was a hot and spicy mouthful of meat and noodles that makes the savory spice lover in us so very happy.

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For an introduction or an immersion into Taiwanese cuisine, Sinbala Restaurant in Arcadia offers more than enough to keep a party busy sampling entrees, snacks, noodles, soups, vegetable dishes and shaved ice for weeks to come, but what a way to explore a cuisine.  Enjoy.

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Sinbala Restaurant, 651 West Duarte Road, Ste F, Arcadia, CA 91007
Phone – 626-446-0886          web site – sinbalanet.com