Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Beau's Three Favorite Words

It's not, "I love you."

Nor is it, "I adore you."

It isn't even, "You da' man."

Rather, it is "Monterey Park Food," which can be found at a three-word restaurant, "Mandarin Noodle House."

For those of you unfamiliar with Monterey Park, it is home to one of the largest ethnic Taiwanese enclaves in the United States. My beau (a Taiwanese man) calls Monterey Park the "promised land" because of its authentic and affordable Chinese/Taiwanese food. Therefore, for a friend's recent wedding (after the back-to-back scheduled events of the rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, and wedding) we snuck away to Mandarin Noodle House, a typical Monterey Park establishment, right before zooming off to LAX for the long trek back home.

There are several classic "must have" items at Mandarin Noodle House.

First, their Chinese beef noodle soup, or niu row mein, is one such "must have." The soup is made with thick and gummy handmade fettuccine-like noodles, and enlivened with bright and zesty cilantro sprigs and coarsely chopped scallions. The warm soup is powered by a rich broth and the cutting flavors of star anise and cinnamon. And the slow-cooked beef is fall-off-the-bone tender--even though there is no bone for it to fall off from.

Look at these handmade noodles!

And their potstickers are almost as good as how my mom makes them.

The key word in that sentence: "almost."

The doughy skins of Mandarin Noodle House's potstickers gingerly hold together the pork filling, and the bottoms of the potstickers are seared in a hot skillet, until the bottom portion of the dough forms a thin, crisp crust.

I recommend for you to try those two dishes, but if you are trying out a Chinese/Taiwanese restaurant, you should also explore other options, such as these beef-filled rolls with sweet hoisin sauce, cilantro, and scallions. Let me warn you, you won't find any items like "chop suey," "General Tso's Chicken," or "sweet and sour pork" on the menus of restaurants like these.

Hey, I'm on a roll (pun not intended), so I might as well add a few words about another restaurant to which my beau and Short Exact introduced me a while back, "
Shanghai Dumpling King." Shanghai Dumpling King, which is conveniently also three words, serves classic Chinese/Taiwanese-style dishes. You can also get potstickers, pan-fried scallion flatbreads (awkwardly translated in Chinese restaurants as green onion pancakes), and great beef noodle soup there too. However, the only thing is that Shanghai Dumpling King is in the Bay Area, not in Monterey Park! I just wanted to mention it, to point out another critical item to order at a good Chinese/Taiwanese restaurant: shao loeng baos, which are steamed dumplings with ground pork and hot pork broth precariously sealed inside of them.

If looks could kill, I would be D.O.A. at these restaurants.

Unfortunately, after my own cursory hunting, I was unable to find any authentic Chinese/Taiwanese restaurants in the Greater New Orleans area, but if you know of any off the beaten path, please share the love!

I hope that this post opened your eyes about Chinese/Taiwanese food, and has encouraged you to try some in your area, in the near future!


  1. Oh my, all of your pictures look so great. I love the idea of the broth with anise and cinnamon! I am going to try and find some of this for myself!

  2. You were in my neck of the woods and you didn't call? Hmph! I would have taken you out for xiao long bao. I wonder if Mandarin Noodle House is related to Mandarin Noodle Deli? Looks like all the same dishes, including the homemade noodles.

  3. I'm a Taiwanese man and Monterey Park isn't just the promised land. It's Heaven. Gastronomic Heaven.

  4. PE, your post certainly made me crave noodles and dumplings, especially that beefy brothy soup!

  5. I am so glad that you were inspired Sophia, I can't wait to hear about what you thought!

    Wandering Chopsticks, my profuse apologies! Originally, I wanted to write up you, CP, EDNBM, and the other Southern California folks, but I had a lot of wedding responsibilities that consumed my time. Next time, I will call you first! :)

    Haha, Chubbypanda, my beau read your comment and laughed up a storm! He wanted to send you a virtual high-five!

    You must try out Shanghai Dumpling King or Shanghai Dumpling Shop FoodHoe, to satisfy your urges!

  6. Hi PE - You've made me severely "homesick" for the SGV.....

  7. I haven't tried it but I believe Monterey Park probably has the best Northern style Chinese food in California. I haven't had anything good in the Bay Area. And your close up shots made those potstickers look gargantuan!

  8. Ah yes, the San Gabriel Valley does have the best Northern Chinese and Taiwanese food KirkK and Chef Ben!

  9. It's not Taiwanese by any means, but the local Chinese population in New Orleans (and to a lesser extent, all of Louisiana) frequent Imperial Garden. It's on Williams Blvd in Kenner; make sure to ask for their 'authentic' Cantonese dishes (fresh seafood esp.) and not just the more generic Americanized ones on the basic menu.

  10. Wonderful. You really need to have your beau take you to Taiwan and sample the winner of the Taipei Beef Noodle soup contest they hold their every year. Even the 2nd and 3rd place winners are great and it will change the way you rate beef noodle soup forever. Take it from me. I married my Taiwan girl and I always thought beef noodle soups were awesome here.

  11. man, i'm IN taipei and this looks good... i'm hoping to make it to the beef noodle soup festival today or tomorrow.. i miss it every year!

  12. This is the best time of year to be in Taiwan other than the spring time. Enjoy!


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