So sometimes you find great food by a good tip, and sometimes you luck out. This is a story of me lucking out.
My stories starts, not surprisingly, on-line. If you haven't checked out the food blog My Culinary Adventures by Silverlaker Bon Vivant, you must. Her taste runs similar to mine...cheap, ethnic eats in the mid-LA area. Most of all, the food photography is amazing; I read and a I salivate and I must eat.
Now, as you all know, I have no photographic talent and I'm too shy to whip out the camera during a meal. My original intention was not to include any pix on this blog, but I came to see that the regular blog background is somewhat monotonous and pictures really do help break it up. So now, I include the occasional really bad picture of some piece of food I eat at home or a bottle of booze, complete with glare, smudges, blurriness, etc. Because of my poor skills, I am deeply respectful of those, like Bon Vivant, who can pull off food photography that makes you wish you were pulling up to the table.
So, I'm reading BV's report on Luscious Dumpling in San Gabriel. As a dumpling maven and a lover of San Gabriel Valley restaurants, I'd always intended to try LD, but Bon Vivant's pix sealed the deal.
My dining party and I headed out to San Gabriel last Saturday hoping for an awesome dumpling experience. We found LD with a full restaurant, a large line and a Closed sign hanging in the window, which we assumed someone had just forgotten to flip to Open that morning.
We went out to the line and asked the people in the front what we do to sign up for a table. They told us the restaurant was closed (despite the people eating) and they were just waiting for take-out. The people behind them in line, shocked to hear this, had thought it was open and they were going to be served. Now, this was about 1 pm on a Saturday, which seems an odd time to close, but I certainly have experienced my share of rather odd operating hours in the SG Valley, so we shrugged it off. Disappointed and not a little forlorn from our dumpling mishap, we moved on.
Lucky for us, the San Gabriel Valley is extremely forgiving of the hungry traveler. In the very same strip mall, we found the excellent Vietnam House. This busy place is apparently owned by the purveyors of the famous Golden Deli. We had beautifully fried cha gio (spring rolls), a lovely Vietnamese crepe, and (my favorite) the vermicelli noodle dish known as bun, topped with a smoky charbroiled pork. The pork chop on rice was also excellent, less smoky than the char but amazingly tender. Next time I will try the seven courses of beef, the famous Vietnamese beef sampler which is also on their menu.
Vietnam House started for me as a fallback, but I think it will now be a destination of its own...of course, if it's too crowded, I can always go to Luscious Dumpling.
710 W Las Tunas Dr
(From Alhambra, head East on Maine from Garfield, and it becomes Las Tunas, strip mall is right past Mission)
San Gabriel, CA 91776-1156
Phone: (626) 282-6327