A Chinese scallion pancake bears little resemblance to the American breakfast classic that shares a part of its name: It's a savory pancake shaped from a water-based dough rather than a batter. The decision to eat one, pan-fried in no moderate amount of oil, is a tacit agreement to set aside any reservations about your calorie intake. A substantial part of what makes a scallion pancake so satisfying is the liberal use of fat, which will caramelize the outside to a crackerlike crisp that gives into a chewy interior flecked with fragrant, chopped green onions.
You'll more likely find scallion pancakes at Chinese restaurants with a mianshi, or dough-oriented delicacies, menu. This means you probably won't find a scallion pancake at, say, a Cantonese seafood restaurant. What separates a great pancake from a decent one can often be determined from how it's pan-fried, so that the taste of oil doesn't overwhelm the flavor. The pancakes generally are fried to order and meant to be eaten piping hot on the spot. We chose three of our favorite versions in the San Gabriel Valley.
When you think of sausage, Chinese cuisine is probably not what immediately comes to mind. Germany, obviously, then probably Italy. But China has an incredibly rich history of sausage-making. Chinese sausages tend to be much sweeter than sausages familiar to American palates and, as you might expect from a country so large and diverse, there are many regional variations. Here's a breakdown of where to find some regionally-specific sausages in San Gabriel Valley restaurants, listed alphabetically by province.
With a chill in the air, it's the perfect time of year for some soup. In the San Gabriel Valley, a steaming bowl of lamb soup with noodles is perfect for brisk days and nippy nights. A common item at restaurants featuring food from northwestern China, here are three great versions of lamb noodle soup around the SGV, all of which can be found along a less than two mile section of Valley Boulevard.
Xiao long bao, or soup dumplings, are sort of like tacos: There's really never a time when you're not in a mood for one, or five. Which begs the question of where you ought to go when the mood strikes, a decision that depends somewhat equally on the vicissitudes of traffic and, as you may have discovered the hard way, which soup dumpling restaurants happen to be open when your craving hits. Thus, a flowchart.
Among the many options you have for this year's Thanksgiving turkey is heading to the San Gabriel Valley, where you can enjoy a Chinese take on the most American of holidays by ordering a Chinese-style turkey. Imagine roast duck or soy sauced chicken, only done with a turkey. The turkey first goes into a soy sauce–based brine and is then roasted. Instead of stuffing, sticky rice is served on the side. Depending on where one goes, the rice may have some combination of dried shrimp, Chinese sausage, mushrooms, egg or cilantro mixed in. Some feature a sweetened oyster sauce–based gravy.
We've compiled a list of places where you might get one. Might, because some have limited numbers of turkeys available and they're going fast. Most places require orders to be placed at least a day in advance and some do not take orders over the phone. We suggest phoning, paying a visit and placing your order as soon as you can.
As you probably know, Din Tai Fung, the glorious dumpling palace that specializes in soup dumplings, or xiao long bao, recently opened in Glendale. And not just anywhere in Glendale but in the über-mall of the Americana at Brand. It's the third branch of Din Tai Fung to open in Los Angeles -- the other two are both on Baldwin Avenue in Arcadia -- and the fourth in America. If you're counting, that fourth Din Tai Fung is in Bellevue, Wash., and there's a fifth outpost opening soon in Seattle's university district and plans for yet another branch of the restaurant in South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa. As if you needed more reasons to live on the West Coast.
What you think about the new Din Tai Fung depends a lot upon your view of malls, specifically the enormous upscale versions of them, with Apple genius bars and Kate Spade shops and actual concierges, where this time of year fake snow falls miraculously from the sky while Frank Sinatra sings his specific mall repertoire.
You may not be a mall person. Or, more accurately, the kinds of malls you like may be the grungy strip malls of the San Gabriel Valley, in which you can park yourself right outside, slide into a booth without a wait and eat your dumplings about 10 minutes later, your tea poured by the same person who poured it last week. We won't argue with that, but we thought we'd come up with five solid reasons why you might want to give the new Din Tai Fung a try.