For a century, Chinese restaurants in America were marked by simple, slightly "exotic" names. Iconic Chinese restaurants in Los Angeles were called Golden Pagoda, Grandview Gardens, General Lee’s, New Moon, Man Fook Low. It was thought that non-threatening restaurant names were a way to make peace with the outside community. This strategy proved to be quite successful, as Chinese restaurants became quite popular in the U.S. beginning early in the 20th century, even though the Chinese-Americans running these restaurants were treated as second-class citizens in all facets of life. More recently, however, some Chinese restaurant names in the U.S. have turned 180 degrees, from simple and perhaps even a little boring, to some real head scratchers.
This is because many Chinese restaurants have started targeting primarily, if not exclusively Chinese-speaking clientele, in which case the English language names of some of these restaurants have become an afterthought. Consequently we see the San Gabriel Valley peppered with Chinese restaurants with off-the-wall monikers such as Why Thirsty?, Smelly Pot, Garage Restaurant, Suit Ur Buds, Whatever and Chongqing Dezhuan Morals Village.
The latest addition to the list of oddly named Chinese restaurants is the newly opened 1987 Beedle House in Walnut. And in some respects, the quirkiness continues once you get into the restaurant. 1987 Beedle House adopts the fast casual approach where you order and pay for your food at the counter, then have the food delivered to your table. Except that you can’t see the counter when you walk into the restaurant, since it’s in the back and to the side. And then there’s the menu from which you order, which runs just two items deep — stewed beef noodle soup, made with their “secrect” beef broth, and the "mo," a flatbread pork belly sandwich. Indeed, if you know the system, you don’t even have to say anything to place your order, since there are baskets full of markers the size of a large, thick credit card. Put the noodle and/or bread marker on your tray, and they’ll know what you want.
There are actually more than two items available to eat, as there is also a small adjacent self-serve area full of Tianjin-leaning cold items (or as the menu says, “clod dish”), like pickled vegetables, which you pile on a small plate for $3.95. Also there is fried chicken for 95 cents per piece.
Of course, quirkiness aside, the only thing that matters is the food, and in this regard, 1987 Beedle House delivers. The stewed beef noodle soup is a superior product, which the owners attribute to extreme care in crafting both the broth and the beef. The recipe for the broth is said to have been handed down from generation to generation, with hundreds of ingredients tested and winnowed down to 30 seasonings. While many Asian noodle soup broths are flavorful thanks to an unhealthy combination of salt and fat, this beef bone broth is light. The beef itself is stewed for more than 20 hours to be flavorful, but not greasy, and is very tender. The handmade egg noodles have just the right amount of "Q."
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The pork belly mo was also excellent, not being the typical slab of pork belly meat and fat that you may be used to, but rather a hash including other ingredients, highlighted by a flavorful Chinese flatbread bun. And the fried chicken turned out to be boneless cutlets, crispy and tasty.
And what exactly does “Beedle” mean? An internet search of “beedle” and “noodle” does pull up a large number of hits, but they all go back both in English and Chinese to 1987 Beedle House. It's a portmanteau of “beef” and “noodle.” Mystery solved.
358 N. Lemon Ave., Walnut.(909) 468-1666, facebook.com/1987beedlehouse.