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!