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Ask Mr. Gold

QUESTION: A couple of weeks ago, you insinuated, in fact all but asserted, that Wonton Time made the best wonton in the San Gabriel Valley. Obviously, you have never been to Har Lam Kee in Monterey Park. Because if you had tasted Har Lam Kee’s wonton, you would throw rocks at the inferior specimens at Wonton Time.

—Eric, Diamond Bar

ANSWER: I rather like Har Lam Kee, truth be told, mostly for the Hong Kong–style street food for which, until recently, I used to frequent the late noodle shop Luk Yue. Har Lam Kee does an excellent job with tofu, both the fried, stuffed blocks and the tofu formed into loose, herbed, slightly tart patties — the so-called p’i p’a tofu, after the Chinese mandolin whose shape the little ovals resemble — before it is fried. The water spinach sautéed with salty bits of bean curd is exemplary, possibly the best version I’ve had of the Hong Kong standby. I have liked the simple chow mein, the beef brisket stew with turnip, the noodle-wrapped crullers, and even the mild, thick-gravied casserole of goat and bean curd sheets. But the wonton, floppily anemic shrimp-and-pork objects without the presence of Wonton Time’s brawny shrimp-filled beasts, just don’t measure up. 150 E. Garvey Ave., Monterey Park, (626) 288-7299.


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