Not long after paying a visit to the hot pots at Element, I went to essentially the opposite sort of hot pot at Lu Gi. Now when I say opposite, I don’t mean in terms of the food itself, but the general setting. Here, the stoves weren’t built into the tables, but were portable and brought out to each table after ordering. It felt like eating hot pot in someone’s home, except for the whole paying of money and whatnot.
It’s really hard to get enough of hot pot, especially when you live in a place with a ton of hot pot options. Element is a shiny and semi-new spot in Alhambra that offers all-you-can-eat and the divided hot pot that almost always seems necessary when I am eating with people who can’t handle heat.
Hotels aren’t exactly known for their food. Yet, there has been a trend to try to get better restaurants into hotels and I give those hotels major props for trying. In Pasadena the dusitD2 Constance Hotel has a spot called Constance Perry’s. It’s kind of Asian, kind of American, but definitely not fusion because those dishes kind of stand out on their own.
The world of hot pot is a divided place. I am not simply referring to the fact that most hot pot spots support the idea of dividing the pot into two broths, but also to the fact that some offer all-you-can-eat and some go a la carte. Hot Pot Hot Pot, a ridiculously named restaurant in Monterey Park, is on the a la carte side of the pot, but I did not let this get in the way of checking the place out.
It’s a good thing most people in LA don’t realize that the word “mian” simply means “noodle(s)” in Mandarin, or else they might just write off the restaurant Mian in San Gabriel as some sort of Noodle World or Noodle and Company knockoff. Fortunately, Mian is anything but. Like Chengdu Taste before it, Mian represents the Sichuan (or Szechuan or Szechwan) region of Chinese cuisine.
There is a saying attributed to Jonathan Gold that goes something like “‘A’ is for ‘American’ Chinese food, ‘B’ is for ‘Better’ Chinese food and ‘C’ is for ‘Chinese’ Chinese food.” The letters, of course, are in reference to the health code and if you’ve ever been to China, you would know this to be true. Thus, when I heard great things about the dumplings at Emperor Noodles in San Gabriel and then found out it had a “B” rating, I got pretty excited to try it out.
What’s in a name? A xiaolongbao by any other name would be just as soupy. Well, at least that’s what Long Xing Ji is banking on. You see, Long Xing Ji was once called Wang Xing Ji and was an incredibly popular dumpling spot in San Gabriel. Typically a wildly successful place would stick with a name that works, but for some reason that was not the case with Wang Xing Ji. Nonetheless, if the dumplings were as good as I had heard, I wasn’t going to complain about the name.
In my latest sojourn into the San Gabriel Valley, I made my way to Shanghai Dumpling House in the city of San Gabriel. I had heard this was one of the better spots to get authentic Shanghai-style dumplings a while ago and wanted to see if it could deliver. Of course, I went with a crew to ensure that I could try more than just that. The only hard part was ensuring they didn’t walk into Shandong Dumpling House, which is house in the same mini mall.
When it comes to Chinese food, I typically seek out Szechwan (or Sichuan or Szechuan), Shanghainese or Cantonese, so when I heard about a great newish place called Szechuan Impression in Alhambra I knew I had to get there – and fast! Thus I found myself at the place just before 6:00 pm on a Saturday. The earlybird risk paid off and we were seated nearly immediately.
What do you call a restaurant called Abricott? Do you pronounce it like apricot? Do you slow it down and enunciate everything? Or do you just refer to it as “that Asian place down on Lake”? I prefer the latter option, because at the end of the day that’s really what it is. Abricott is loaded with a variety of different Asian offerings, like Korean, Chinese, Thai, and all that jazz. On this day, though, it was the Thai that struck me.