Each year, more than a hundred restaurants open in the San Gabriel Valley, many with little to distinguish them from the pack. We've chosen three restaurants that opened in the past six months that stand out from this crowded landscape — two of them for featuring styles of cuisine rarely found in this area and the third for being the most interesting representative of an under-reported style. Turn the page for three new restaurants, listed both chronologically and alphabetically.
3. Beijing Pavilion:
A rarity on two counts — it's a southern branch of a Bay Area restaurant; and it features Beijing-style cuisine — Beijing Pavilion replaced a Shanghai-style eatery in a Rowland Heights strip mall. Think fancy and lavish: nice décor, plush chairs and tablecloths. Prices are definitely higher than the average SGV Chinese restaurant, with some big ticket Beijing-style banquet items, such as the entire head of an ox (ngau tau) or lamb, although there are plenty of less expensive options as well. As one might expect, the menu has several lamb items — lamb spine hot pot, sheep ribs, boiled sheep liver — though there's a surprisingly large selection of vegetable dishes. 1390 Fullerton Road Rowland Heights; 888-553-1888.
Burmese cuisine is one of the most interesting, overlooked and — in terms of restaurants — under-represented. Easy to miss on a side street just north of Garvey Avenue, Daw Yee doubles the number of Burmese restaurants in Monterey Park. We've written before about the fascinating tea leaf salad and with good reason, as the blend of fermented tea leaves, spices, peanuts, toasted seeds and fried garlic with diced chiles, cabbage and tomatoes is a rush of distinctive flavors (baby shrimp are also in this version). Other notables on the menu are kimi platha — a flatbread stuffed with seasoned, minced chicken — curries, noodle dishes and Myanmar-style tofu, made from chickpeas and completely unlike the tofu most are familiar with. 111 N. Rural Drive Monterey Park; 626-573-8080.
Turn the page…
Named for a large city in northeastern China near the Korean peninsula, Shen Yang replaced an outpost of Sichuan favorite Shufeng Garden — a restaurant that was often unnoticed thanks to misleading signage. Unaffiliated with the San Gabriel restaurant of the same name, this restaurant features Dongbei-style items, skewers and house-made noodles. A great version of cold noodles, naengmyeon, in either a sweet and tangy soup or a “salty” broth will be refreshing on upcoming SGV summer days. Consider adding the thick, rich chile paste served on the side to bring the heat level up impressively. Stick with the cold noodles and Dongbei specialties: braised sauerkraut pots and chicken bones — think of them as an extreme version of wings — which are served cumin-laced and, in the near future, smoked. Beers on tap are a pretty great accompaniment to the bones and skewers. 639 W. Garvey Ave.; Monterey Park.
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