Nothing excites a veteran San Gabriel Valley eater like a cheap-eats ad in the local Chinese papers and a string of red good-luck lanterns hung outside the entrance to a new restaurant — especially the kind of big-budget Cantonese banquet restaurant that promises excellent crab and a wide selection of dim sum. Still, Emperor Taste, in the space formerly occupied by the Goldworld restaurant, failed to ignite crowds when it opened this summer, despite the cavernous dining room, a series of sparkling live-seafood tanks, and a vaguely Chiu Chow menu the length of a Dostoyevsky novel. But something must have happened to the kitchen, because the wait for dim sum breakfast may be among the longest in town at the moment (almost an hour on weekends), and the parade of the usual bao and shiu mai is leavened with great salt-and-pepper tofu, fried chicken wings, tendon-rich beef stew served on gooey rice noodles, spicy chicken feet, coconut buns — all the things that make life worth living on Saturday mornings. And if there was any doubt about the restaurant’s specialty, the path to the dining room takes you past a vast display of crackly roasted pig, hanging from meat hooks like a Francis Bacon tableau. 1039 E. Valley Blvd., No. B201, San Gabriel, (626) 280-6668.

—Jonathan Gold

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