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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Food Find

Yesterday, Jojo, Jules and I were furniture shopping in San Gabriel. In between visits to several local furniture dealers, we had lunch at a Taiwanese restaurant called Lu Din Gee. My brother, who has been there before, was telling us that this place served very good and extremely authentic Chinese food. But the trade off was the place was very typical of Chinese restaurants (aka crowded, noisy, nondescript décor and with rude service). Jojo and I didn’t really mind that since in our minds that’s a small price to pay for good food. The other issue was that the place was really small and since it was a popular place, lines were long and reservations were usually required. We were in luck, though, since when we arrived there was one lone table left.

I would have to say that Jules’ description was correct on all counts – it was crowded, it was noisy, service was bordering on rude, and the food was indeed excellent. Although I would have to give this place a little more credit for actually having some pretty good décor (cherry wood tables and chairs, tasteful Oriental furnishings, and soft piped in music).

We had four dishes for lunch and a rose-infused tea to wash it all down. We started off with a mixed green vegetable dish. The mustard greens were stir fried with garlic and chicken stock along with beans (similar to edamame pods), and long strips of dried tofu (almost like a flat noodle in consistency). The dish was good and really tasted very healthful. The vegetables and beans were very crisp and the tofu strips had an interesting texture.

Our next dish was a stewed pork rib. This was cooked in a clay pot and was very tender and flavorful. It was cooked with a number of Chinese herbs and spices – the only one I recognized was star anise – which I love since it both smells great and gives dishes such an exotic and savory taste.

Next we had a monk fish dish that was breaded with flour, dried coconut, dried chilies and seasoning. It was an interesting dish since there was a definite contrast between the crunch of the coconut batter and the moist and creamy piece of fish inside. This was my favorite dish of the day.

Lastly, we had another clay pot of noodles, pork strips, shrimp, wood ear mushroom, and egg flower. It was slow-cooked so all the distinct tastes really melded well together and the noodles had absorbed all the wonderful flavors of the dish.

For dessert, we debated on ordering mochi balls (which came in red bean or green tea flavors) or konnyaku jelly with fruit. But in the end, we were too stuffed and had to pass. Instead we ordered another pot of tea to end a really good meal.

I have been to many Chinese restaurants in my life -- Manila, Hong Kong and here in the States, plus most Chinatowns in major cities. Some have been so-so, some horrible, and some really good. I’ve even been to my share of “Chinese-American” places and have learned to like this version of Chinese cuisine (PF Changs, China Buffet, and Panda Express to name a few). But, by far, this has got to be my favorite one of all. The place may not be memorable and the service hardly worth mentioning, but it’s all about the food. Believe me, it was definitely worth the hour drive to get there and the hour it took us to get home afterwards.


jol said...

It must really be very good chinese food for you to rank it number one. Will definitely visit this place when I go to the apartment of Jules.

Joanne said...

Dad, we definitely will visit this place when you come over. Jules and I agree that lunch here will be our treat! I am sure that you and mom will like the food - and the twins will enjoy their homemade chili sauce. Can't wait :)

joyeee said...

hey joey!
it amazes me that you remembered each and every dish.... more so you remembered the ingredients!:) well, hope we can all get to eat there too someday soon...:)
i guess the DELICIOUS FOOD truly makes up for the bad service and bad location (it being far).
Continue to write more about your restaurant explorations..I enjoy reading them!

Sareet said...

Is the menu in english? I have the hardest time ordering at authentic Chinese restaurants since I can't read the menu!

Joanne said...

Sareet - Yes, the menu is in English. I don't read or write in Chinese either so we probably would not have had such a good lunch if the menu was in Chinese. :)

marc said...

Sounds really delicious! It really makes me miss Gloria Maris so bad.

Anonymous said...

you and Jules must be such good food critics by now. Should put up your own BEST RESTAURANTS TO EAT GUIDE BOOK. Hope to see you next year. Most likely from June 29 to July 4...... Unc Wash

Anonymous said...

Hi Joanne....Just finish reading your blog (ang dami na). Found it very amusing and narrative on your weekly activities. It would have been GREAT if you and JOJO made it on your dads b-day, but you guys have to work and that was understandable. The new job you're into is also a big challenge, but i'm sure you can overcome this quite easily in no time. Hsieh Wen-An, who has worked for that company 20 so years told me about you in his email and thinks highly of you. Should you need any assistance in the office, Wen-An will be there to help you. He is one of my closest friends back in XAVIER SCHOOL. More power to you and i hope to see you next year sometime end of june 29 to july 5. Is it OK for PIZZA and I to bunk in at your home? This will be my last stop and must do some shopping before flying back home to Manila. By then i would have been gone over 3 months already. My vacation would start March 30 to Las Vegas, Orlando, Naples, Key West, Miami, San francisco.(attending Notsky GRADUATION on MAY 5)....i'm still figuring out where to go after San Francisco from May 13 to June 29. Will be staying a week each place....Unc Wash