Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Goodbye to Los Angeles Tour: Best of LA Eats #1 at Flavor Garden 嘴香园

The Hungry Kat is leaving Los Angeles. 

I was born and raised in El Monte (aka San Gabriel Valley for those who don't know all the little cities that dot the SGV) and have lived on the Westside of LA for the last sixteen years. It is time to leave and start a new adventure!

I will be joining the City of Roses also known as Portlandia. Yep, Dan and I look forward to walking and biking everywhere, doing yoga daily and having a house to raise chickens (already have names: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner) and planting a vegetable and herb garden. 

I will miss my family, my friends and the wonderful diverse cultures and food in LA. However, I'm happy to say goodbye to the traffic, the expensive real estate and general high-level of stress associated with living in a big city.

I am moving in mid-April. From now until I leave, I will attempt to eat at all of my favorite LA spots and take you on this tour so you can go enjoy it too!

Best Eats #1
Flavor Garden (aka New Flavour Garden or its Chinese name 嘴香园)

This mom-and-pop in Alhambra is currently my favorite shop for Chinese beef noodle soups, dumplings and other fried goodies. Everything I've tried so far is made in-house, fresh and has great balance in rich flavors and texture. The restaurant is small - mostly small tables with two 6-tops - and it gets really busy on the weekends so if you don't want to wait, try to arrive before 11:30am. And as usual per mom-and-pop Chinese restaurants, decor is minimal to none but service is efficient and food is delicious.

Green Onion Pancake (蔥油餅)
Hands down best green onion pancake I've had in a loooong time. Lots of green onions, layers of seasoned flour dough pan-fried to crispy perfection. Sprinkle a little salt and enjoy.

 Beef Noodle Soup (牛肉面)
You have many choices to enjoy this giant bowl of noodles. It's big enough to share with another person especially if you're ordering all this other food. You can get this spicy or not spicy. Beef only or beef with pieces of tender, jelly-like beef tendon. Wide, chewy hand-pulled noodles or softer, thin-cut noodles. You can also get it with clear beef broth which is doesn't have all the herbs and spices that makes the soup heavier and darker as seen here. The clear broth is delicious too and has intense meat sweetness from all the bones used in the broth.

Pan-fried Pork Dumplings (鍋貼)
Get these pan-fried or steamed and dip it in a little soy, vinegar and/or hot sauce. They come in various fillings with pork, shrimp and/or veggies. Just be careful when you bite into them. They're hot and full of meat juice. The first time I had these, I hit Dan in the face...amusing but let's try not to scald our loved ones faces. 

Chili Wontons (红油炒手)
 Pork wontons steeped in fragrant chili oil and topped with crushed peanuts and green onions. It was surprisingly not super spicy. The chili oil was heavier on the fragrance than heat. Again, really good and I loved the delicate wonton skins. I don't encounter good versions of this dish very often.

Leek Dumplings (韭菜盒子)
Vegetarian-friendly...if you eat eggs. These pan-fried dumplings are filled with Asian leeks/chives, eggs and vermicelli noodles. I love it with a dash of soy and black vinegar and you can really taste the sweetness of the leeks. 

View inside Leek Dumpling

And not pictured here is also there Beef Pancake Roll (牛肉卷). My god that pancake roll is delicious (rivals the one at 101 Noodle House) and its essentially similar to a green onion pancake but the pancake is thinner and its rolled up with stewed shredded beef, hoisin sauce and a mix of cilantro and green onions. It's the perfect Chinese burrito.

I'm sad that we can't try everything at Flavor Garden because every time Dan and I visit, we are tempted to order our favorites.  If I have time to visit again, I will definitely order a plate of steamed meat buns, spicy dan dan noodles and steamed pork spareribs. Check out Yelp for other folks' photos. 

  • Flavor Garden (嘴香园)
    1269 E Valley Blvd
  • Alhambra, CA 91801
  • (626) 284-3549


Troy said...

how will we know what to eat without you?

Hungry Kat said...

I'll tell you what to eat when you visit Portland. My house is <10 mins walk to some of the best restaurants in the city. :)