Triumphal Disguise: Recast as Lunasia, the Suckling Pig Still Crackles
Triumphal Palace burst onto the dim sum scene with unprecedented vengeance several years ago, a take-no-prisoners noncart operation that instantly drew both Alhambra locals and bao-seeking Westsiders for its giant siu mai, its tiny baked pork buns, its salt-and-pepper fried chicken wings — and its roast suckling pig, especially the crackling, sweet, golden wisps of skin. Then the restaurant became ordinary for a while, although the pig endured, and a lot of the customers drifted over to Sea Harbour or Elite or back to 888: Triumphal Palace had become another one of those places that would probably be considered transcendent in New York or London but was just part of the crowd here. Then, toward the end of last year, the restaurant closed, redecorated in a minor way, and reopened as Lunasia, which serves similar dim sum at somewhat lower prices, and which is attracting the kind of crowds Triumphal Palace hadn’t seen in years. The skin on the har gow, (steamed shrimp dumplings) is properly gooey; and the turnip cakes pan-fried in XO sauce are as compelling as spicy Chinese French fries; the steamed chicken feet are luscious; and the fried wings with spicy salt are 93 percent crunch. Is Lunasia better than Sea Harbour, Capital or Elite at their best? Probably not. But the lure of the roast suckling pig is strong.
Lunasia Chinese Cuisine, 500 W. Main St., Alhambra, (626) 308-3222.
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