At Beijing Pie House, a colorfully decorated diner in Monterey Park, the specialty is a crisp, oversized dumpling stuffed with minced lamb and a ladleful of scalding-hot, pressurized broth. You can attempt to nibble and tease at the outer skin, soft and pliable but lightly browned outside. Inevitably, though, you will take too eager a bite, sending the luscious, gamey liquid squirting across the room or dribbling down to your elbows. Once the pies have cooled sufficiently and the threat of first-degree burns has subsided, the xian bing becomes a heavenly thing. You drizzle on a bit of black vinegar and a dab of chili oil, which cuts the richness of the minced lamb perfectly, then tear through the shell of crispy dough. It might be wise to pack a pair of safety goggles — just in case the guy at the table next to you decides not to heed the server's warnings about hot fluids under pressure. 846 E. Garvey Ave., Ste. 3A, Monterey Park. (626) 288-3818 (no website).

—Garrett Snyder

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