Our Critics' Picks


Dong Ting Spring

140 W. Valley Blvd.
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Dong Ting Spring +



  • Daily, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
  • $$
  • Lunch, Dinner
  • Beer/Wine
  • Family Style, Takeout
  • Parking Lot Available
  • Reservations Not Necessary
True Hunanese cooking is rough, peasanty stuff, inflected with feral fragrances and fresh-chile heat, strong pickles and fermented everything, a dozen different intensities of smokiness. Dong Ting Chun may be the most accessible local Hunanese restaurant since Charming Garden closed a few years ago, although it still isn’t quite set up for those of us illiterate in Chinese. Every meal at Dong Ting Chun is an adventure: Will fried mudfish be great or a murky disappointment? (The latter.) Is the sunny-side-up egg with hot pepper really what it sounds like? The egg is pretty much fried over, hard, but the fried hot peppers are for real. (Some of us couldn’t stop eating it.) The famous dish at the Shanghai Dong Ting Chun (which may or may not be related to this one) is a steamed fish head plastered with fresh and fermented chilies, and here you will find fish heads on two tables out of three, enormous things, painted Santa Claus red with a solid quarter-inch layer of chiles. There are a few obvious nuggets of meat at the base of the beast’s skull, but the rest of the meal will probably see you probing the animal with your chopsticks like a surgeon, trying to discover hidden pockets of flesh. At Dong Ting Chun, it always pays to get a head.

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    Dear Mr. Gold: Boiling versus roasting. I’m too embarrassed to ask this out loud ... but technically, they’re not opposites, right? That’s like saying frying is the opposite of boiling. And why would one be quicker...

  • All Too Hunan
    Wednesday, December 27, 2006 at 3 p.m. by Jonathan Gold

    Like a lot of Angelenos, I learned to eat Hunanese food at Charming Garden, an elegant dining room that was part of the churning second wave of Monterey Park Chinese restaurants, strategically positioned across the atrium from Empre...


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