Some weeks it seems as if a new, way-northern Chinese restaurant is opening every 20 minutes in the San Gabriel Valley — places notable for their lamb, their extensive use of cumin and their cumin lamb. Mei Jia Deli, shoehorned between a Taiwanese porridge-specialty restaurant and one of the less refined Hunan places in town, serves plenty of cumin lamb but specializes in the dumpling-intensive cooking of Tianjin, the huge port city a couple of hours from Beijing. There are steamed buns stuffed with pork and meat, fried turnovers stuffed with leeks and wonderful dumplings stuffed with fennel. But best of all is probably the house special: a wokful of braised whole anchovies surrounded by crisp-edged griddled corn cakes. Cornbread and collards never had it so good. Mei Jia Deli, 534 E. Valley Blvd., #8, San Gabriel, (626) 288-9966.

—Jonathan Gold

LA Weekly