This past Saturday I had the pleasure of attending #SGVDinnerCrawl, a food crawl event organized by our friend Marc Liu, alongside about thirty people hailing from OC and LA. The purpose of the food crawl? To taste the wide range of Chinese cuisine that the San Gabriel Valley has to offer. I can honestly say that as a Chinese person who has lived in SGV all of her life, I had not tried half of the foods that we had at the crawl—that just goes to show how diverse Chinese food really is! If you think you know Chinese food, think again. Venture outside of your usual provinces and discover what lies beyond.
Now let’s explore Chinese cuisine in the SGV! Photos by Collins Chang.
Stop #1: Chengdu Taste—Sichuan (Chuan)
Lion Fish, Toothpick Lamb, Mung Bean Noodles, Garlic Cold Noodles
I actually missed out on this first stop, but take it from the photos (and the unbelievable hype over this place) that the food was amazing and satisfyingly spicy. The Lion Fish is a must (so I’ve heard)—it’s actually a Tilapia that has been carefully sliced by a skilled hand and then fried upside down so that the strips looks like a lion’s mane. Oh you fancy, Lion Fish. You fancy.
Stop #2: Wang Xing Ji—Shanghai (Zhe)
Soup Dumplings, Wuxi Spare Ribs
I dropped into the #SGVDinnerCrawl mid-meal at this second stop, and boy was I happy to make this one (Shanghai cuisine is my favorite)! I went for the ribs first, and they were perfectly sweet and tasty. Then I noticed the giant soup dumpling they had saved for me to try. My eyes widened. It’s huge!
“You’re supposed to poke it with a straw and drink the juice inside.”
“Yeah just put the straw in.”
That was a first. Excuse my language but we called it the boob. Boob dumpling. But let’s be politically correct here: this giant soup dumpling is called tang bao (湯包) and the smaller soup dumplings are called xiao long bao（小籠包). The soup in the tang bao was more curry-like. But both soup dumplings were equally delicious.
Here we have Akufuncture’s Sam Wang sipping his tang bao romantically with our friend Mick. What a date!
Stop #3: Hui Tou Xiang—Shandong (Lu)
Hui Tou Panfriend Dumplings, Leek Pancakes
Onto some panfried dumplings! What isn’t pictured is the kimchi that they also served, which was really good. Because Shangdong is near Korea, we see the crossing of cultures in this area through the cuisine. Interesting, right?
Stop #4: Northern Chinese Restaurant—Dongbei (Lu)
Pork & Cabbage Stew, Twice-Cooked Pork, Ba Si Di Gua (Pull-Out Silk Sweet Potatoes)
You can imagine we’re getting pretty stuffed up to this point. The Pork & Cabbage Stew was sour in a way that opens up your appetite—kai wei (開胃) would be the Chinese term to describe it. The Twice-Cooked Pork was good, but at this point I’ve had enough savory treats and I’m ready to move onto my sweets. The Ba Si Di Gua sticky sweet potato dish was really satisfying for that.
Honorary Mention: Harlam’s Kitchen—Cantonese (Yue)
Wonton Noodle Soup, Fried Cruller Rice Rolls
This was scheduled to be our next stop, but the group decided to skip it because our tummies were begging us to. Sorry, we’ll have to save Cantonese food for another day!
Stop #5: Fluff Ice—Taiwanese
Ah, so refreshing. Yes, we were stuffed. But you know there’s always room for dessert. Ending the #SGVDinnerCrawl at Fluff Ice at Atlantic Times Square was really nice—we all got to cool down with fresh shaved show and just hang out outside. What was awesome about the food crawl was that it brought together so many different people—friends of friends of friends—that made for a great vibe. When do you get to hit up this many spots with this many people in one evening? Not often. So I really appreciated the opportunity to do this—and now I appreciate Chinese food & the SGV much more. Thanks Marc for organizing!
That concludes the #SGVDinnerCrawl! I’d like to know: Which of these have you tried & which are you dying to try? What restaurants would you add to the list if you were to host your own SGV dinner crawl? Please share your thoughts with us!