An early-morning breakfast at Huge Tree Pastry, filled with steaming bowls of soymilk and oversized fried crullers, is about as quintessential as it gets for Monterey Park's Chinese community -- kind of like a San Gabriel Valley version of the plate of ham and eggs at Nick's Cafe downtown.
The Liu family has been serving Taiwanese (or Shanghainese, if your a stickler for provenance) breakfast since the early 80's -- previously as Yi Mei Deli, which suffered a fire in 2007 -- and now at the newish Huge Tree Pastry on Atlantic, a space which is still quite small but remains far larger than the cramped take-out space that was Yi Mei.
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It's not surprising then Huge Tree's rise to prominence has earned itself a cameo on the newest episode of Cooking Channel's Easy Chinese airing this
Sunday Saturday, June 30, which focuses on the "Little Taiwan" section of the Los Angeles. Host Ching-He Huang stopped by to sample gua bao (pillowy buns stuffed with pork belly) and fan tuan (Chinese doughnuts, shredded pork, egg, and mustard greens wrapped in sticky rice), delicate scallion pancakes, and an impeccable warm beverage made from sweet roasted rice and crushed peanuts -- a bit like the thickened Mexican drink champurrado, if the taste of chocolate was swapped for aromatic peanut butter.
But even if you don't get the Cooking Channel, you're probably better off making the trek to Huge Tree yourself (traffic on the 10-east is rather light most mornings). Lillian Liu, the daughter of the original owners, proves an affable guide to non-Chinese patrons and TV hosts alike, acquainting them with the majesty of flaky shao bing rolls or crispy turnip cakes. We, for one, can't imagine a better way to start the day.
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