The amount of attention paid to the boom of Sichuan-style cuisine in the San Gabriel Valley over the past two years has left other Chinese regional cuisines out of the conversation. A stellar example of a non-Sichuan regional restaurant worth visiting is Bamboo Creek, which has a deep menu of dishes not commonly found in L.A., hailing from Shanghai and its neighboring provinces.
Bamboo Creek opened in March 2014 and is hidden in the back of a mini-mall perpendicular to Garvey Avenue, making it easy to miss even when you're specifically looking for it. Seek it out, though, and you’ll be rewarded with dishes beyond the ordinary.
The owner, who used to operate an Americanized Chinese restaurant near USC, is from Shanghai, as is the chef. While there are plenty of Shanghainese restaurants in the SGV, what sets Bamboo Creek apart are its dishes from Jiangsu and Zhejiang, the provinces located respectively to the north and south of Shanghai. With their proximity and inevitable crossover, it can make it difficult to ascertain exactly which dishes originated in which province.
While some familiar Shanghainese dishes are on the menu, Bamboo Creek omits xiao long bao and all but one dumpling entry in favor of more chef-driven fare. Among these are fish and vegetables with gluten puffs, which is a fish broth with bok choy and airy, fluffy egg-white puffs. It's a dish perfect for chilly weather.
Another, pine nuts and fish beads, features pine nuts and corn with small bits of fish. You’re probably familiar with Peking Duck and the process of taking duck meat and wrapping it in a small bun. Perhaps you're aware of the similar dish using pork, but at Bamboo Creek, stir-fried eel is wrapped in buns to make “eel burgers” (it appears on the menu as H29, stir-fried eel). Another signature dish is a large, whole grilled fish served with a choice of sauces, suitable for groups.
Bamboo Creek also serves a nice rendition of honey-smoked fish, a cold appetizer found at some Shanghainese places as well as the lone SGV restaurant serving food from Wuxi, a Jiangsu Province city about an hour from Shanghai. Another Jiangsu item on the menu, honey-sweetened dried tofu, hails from the city of Suzhou. All of the dishes are nicely presented with a chef’s touch.
Bamboo Creek (CLOSED), 331 W. Garvey Ave., Monterey Park; (626) 569-9919.