The San Gabriel Valley is a Chinese food wonderland, with a broad range of regional, even municipal, cuisines spotlighted. Located across from a lavish Shanghainese eatery on the upstairs level of a spacious plaza, Beijing Restaurant features a menu loaded with specialties from China's capital city. The awkwardly translated menu can make it a challenge to deciphering entries such as “Fried With Meat,” “Chinese Pizza” and “Peguler Noodle.” Fortunately, reading or speaking Mandarin isn't required, thanks to photos of many of the items. “Fried with meat” is lamb meat that has been stewed, then pan-fried, served on a split whole-wheat bun; the “pizza” is a cornmeal base covered with scallions, egg and dried shrimp; and the peguler noodles are reminiscent of orecchiette pasta. Two whole fishes topped with dried peppers (Beijing Spicy Rose Fish) and a pork sandwich are among other standouts. Surrounded by folks speaking the distinctive Beijing dialect, it's hard to believe you're not actually in China but instead 20 minutes from downtown Los Angeles. 250 W. Valley Blvd., Suite B2, San Gabriel. (626) 570-8598.

—Jim Thurman

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