The Best Places To Eat In The San Gabriel Valley guide image


The Best Places To Eat In The San Gabriel Valley

Our 42 favorite places to eat in the San Gabriel Valley.

The cities of Alhambra, Monterey Park, Arcadia, San Gabriel, Rosemead, and Temple City are home to some of the best Asian food you’ll find in the greater Los Angeles area. Whether you want to branch out from your favorite SGV Chinese spot and try somewhere new, or you’ve always wanted to have an SGV dim sum experience but you don’t know where to start, our guide is here to help. It’s organized by city, and we’ve highlighted our favorite dishes at each spot. The noodle crawl starts now.


Lunasia Dim Sum House

Our Favorite Dishes: Jumbo Pork Siu-Mai, Spinach Shrimp Dumpling, Green Beans With Pork, Jumbo Shrimp Har-Gow

Lunasia is the best dim sum we’ve had in Los Angeles - the kind you try once and wake up every weekend afterwards craving. As with many of the popular SGV dim sum spots, wait times are aggressive every day of the week, but at least at Lunasia, you have all day to eat it. If you time your arrival between the morning and lunch rush just right, you should be able to get in quickly.

Our Favorite Dishes: Dan Dan Noodles, Couple’s Sliced Beef, Mung Bean Jelly Noodles, Toothpick Lamb

Chengdu Taste isn’t just an SGV mainstay, it’s a restaurant every Angeleno needs to go to at least once. The menu is comprised mostly of staples from the Szechuan province of China, which means you should come prepared for a lot of spice and a lot of flavor. Mix the spicier dishes (mung bean jelly noodles, boiled fish) with the less-spicy ones (dan dan noodles, couple’s beef) for the best overall experience. Cash only.

Our Favorite Dishes: Beef Scallion Pancake Wrap, Braised Pork Rice, Beef Noodle Soup

Yang’s is one of the newest restaurants in the SGV, but it’s already earned its place on this list. The order-at-the-counter Taiwanese spot in downtown Alhambra is a casual space where you can actually hang out all afternoon, with tremendous food worth driving across town to eat. Our favorite dishes right now are the beef wrap, which comes served on a giant whole grain scallion pancake and is eaten like a taco, or braised pork rice we’d put against any in the city. No, these aren’t the traditional dishes you can find elsewhere in the neighborhood, but that’s exactly why we think Yang’s is so exciting.

Our Favorite Dishes: Singapore Laksa Mee, Nasi Campur Kalimantan, Roti Prata

Borneo Kalimantan Cuisine is an Indonesian/Singaporean restaurant right in downtown Alhambra and where you’ll find us any time the thermometer drops below 70 degrees. The expansive menu is stacked with tremendous dishes, but it’s the noodle soups that require the majority of your attention. The coconut curry-based Laksa Mee is pure soul-curing indulgence, and if some of your friends are in need of a similar medicine, the large space is great for a big group meal.

Our Favorite Dishes: Shanghai Steamed Small Crab & Pork Bao, Shanghai Fried Pork Bao, Simmered Beef Roll

In reality, this tiny Alhambra spot is much more of a cafeteria-style restaurant than an actual food court, but those details are irrelevant when the food is this good. The menu is large and covers a lot of ground, but your focus should be on the dumplings and beef roll. The fried bao is easily the most popular dish here (it’s on every table), and while it’s very good, we prefer the slightly sweet steamed crab and pork bao even more. Cash only.

Our Favorite Dishes: Hainan Chicken (dark meat)

Hainan chicken - originally from the Hainan province of southern China, and now considered a national dish of Singapore - is fairly straightforward: Just poached chicken served with white rice and dipping sauces on the side. But while Savoy has a large and eclectic menu (there’s a whole pizza section), every person inside this place is eating the Hainan chicken. The space itself feels like a roadside diner, complete with a bar by the kitchen that’s ideal if you’re flying solo. If you get thirsty, the chrysanthemum tea is very good. Cash only.

Our Favorite Dishes: Tea-Smoked Ribs, Wontons in Chili Sauce, QianJiao Beef

Located on Valley Blvd. in Alhambra, Szechuan Impression tends to get passed over for its more famous neighbor, Chengdu Taste, but this casual spot deserves your attention. The giant menu of classic Szechuan dishes is excellent, and while the space isn’t huge, there are long wooden tables ideal for big group dinners. Get the tea-smoked ribs and wontons in chili sauce.

Our Favorite Dishes: Beef Roll

As the name suggests, a meal at Noodles 101 Express isn’t a long affair. Despite being full service, you can easily get in and out of this strip mall spot in under 30 minutes. Your order here should be the beef roll, which is essentially a fried pancake wrapped around slices of beef, cilantro, and a bean sauce. And if this sounds like a little thing that won’t fill you up, know that two people might struggle to take this down. Cash only.


Our Favorite Dishes: Meizhou Roast Duck, Spicy Chicken

The Westfield in Santa Anita houses many of the eating options in Arcadia, and Dongpo Restaurant is far and away the most upscale option in the mall. It’s a giant space with an equally giant Chinese menu, but we’ll help you narrow things down: get the roast duck and the spicy chicken. The extremely crispy duck comes out with super-thin pancakes, plus scallions, cucumber, and hoisin sauce to top your duck with, and the giant mound of fried chicken is covered with chillies, without being overwhelmingly spicy. Dongpo is fairly pricey (the whole duck will set you back $68), but it’s a great option for an occasion.

Our Favorite Dishes: Mushroom Soup Base with Lamb Shoulder Combo

This hot pot place in the Westfield is an import from China, where they’re known for their individual (rather than shared) hot pots, and the fact that you can get a neck massage while you wait for your table. Unfortunately, the neck massage didn’t make it to the US, but they do have little bags to put your phone in (to avoid soup splashes), a make-your-own sauce bar, and a guy who will come and do a dance while he makes you some noodles. There’s a lot going on here, but that shouldn’t distract you from the fact that the broths are great, the produce is high-quality, and that every place should really invest in a noodle dancer.

Our Favorite Dishes: House Fried Noodles, Lamb Soup Noodles

This is one of our favorite noodle spots in all of the SGV. Lao Xi is very low-key - the menu is pretty small and the decor is mostly huge posters of their signature dishes - but also very welcoming. The staff will talk you through the menu, explain that all the noodles are made by hand in-house, and strongly discourage you from ordering too much food. Which you’ll do anyway. Don’t skip the Lamb Soup Noodles, with small, round rolled noodles and a fragrant, herb-filled soup.

Our Favorite Dishes: Pork in Lotus Leaf, Seaweed Fried Fish

Chang’s Garden is a place we’d happily turn into our regular spot. It’s made for groups, with a simple space and plenty of big tables to seat all your friends. You’ll need to bring them, because everything you order here is giant. The pork steamed in lotus leaf is rich, tender, and perfect on a semi-cold Southern California day, and the lightly fried fish that comes in a seaweed-y batter is especially great when you dip it in the spiced salt that comes on the side.

Our Favorite Dishes: Hainan Chicken

If Savoy Kitchen is the queen of Hainan chicken in the SGV, Side Chick is her cool son who everybody wants to hang out with on the weekends. Located in the outdoor food court at the Westfield mall in Arcadia, Side Chick’s tiny counter is seemingly always busy, but the Hainan chicken is worth the wait. A mix of both white and dark meat with seasoned cucumbers and ginger scallion sauce make this a perfect, kind-of-healthy lunch before shopping. The garlic rice on the side is some of the best we’ve ever had.

Monterey Park

Our Favorite Dishes: Golden Cream Bun, Crispy Shrimp Rice Noodle, Steamed Taro Cake, Pork Shu Mai, Macau Egg Custard, BBQ Pork Pastry

The number of dim sum restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley can be overwhelming, but Elite is one of the best - and most consistent - you’ll find. This massive space doesn’t have the traditional food carts whizzing by; all ordering is done from a chit sheet at your table. There are nearly 100 different things on the menu, so we suggest you focus on our favorite dishes, but also get whatever looks good from your neighboring table. Warning: crowds get wild on the weekends.

Our Favorite Dishes: Fan Tuan w/ Eggs and Pickles, Soy Milk, Pan-Fried Omelette, Taiwanese Donut

When it comes to breakfast, don’t make the mistake of limiting your SGV expeditions to dim sum only. Huge Tree Pastry is a true diner, complete with grumpy old men reading the newspaper and Taiwanese breakfast foods you need in your life. Their pan-fried omelette comes out almost as a crepe, the fan tuan is essentially a Taiwanese breakfast burrito wrapped in rice, and their house-made soy milk will make you realize all the other soy milk you drink during the week is not real.

Our Favorite Dishes: Fried Pork With Leeks Dumpling, Boiled Sole With Parsley Dumpling

Qing Dao Bread Food is a family-run spot in Monterey Park where the name of the game is Chinese dumplings. The tiny strip mall space isn’t great for big groups, so just do what we do - head to Qing Dao on those hazy Sunday mornings when everything hurts, pick up a few dozen pan-fried dumplings, then head back to bed ASAP.

Our Favorite Dishes: Pineapple Buns, Congee, Beef Chow Fun

If you’re looking for a big group spot in Monterey Park where everybody will walk away happy, head to Alice’s Kitchen. This crowded Hong Kong-style cafe has a big front patio, long communal tables inside, and a menu with well over 100 different dishes on it. You could eat here every day for two months and not try everything, so for first-timers, we recommend sticking to the congee, hot pot, and fried noodle sections - and always get a few plates of pineapple buns for the table.

Our Favorite Dishes: JinHai Special Chicken, Lamb And Chive Dumplings

Mei Wei Jin Hai is a family-run halal restaurant in Monterey Park that specializes in Chinese Islamic cuisine. They’re a relatively new spot compared to their long-standing neighbors, but the food here shouldn’t be underestimated. Whether it’s a giant platter of spicy JinHai Chicken or lamb and chive dumplings that arrive to the table looking like thick, miniature pancakes, the food at this bright cafe is bold, flavorful, and different from anything else you can get in the neighborhood. Cash only.

Our Favorite Dishes: Lamb and Green Onion Pie

Xian Bing are giant, savory dumplings (or “pies”) filled with different combinations of meat and vegetables, and if that sounds good to you, head to Beijing Pie House. The place looks like any neighborhood fast-casual spot - it’s small and sparsely decorated, and service is fast. There are a lot of things on the menu, but focus on those pies. Just be careful - if you’re like us, you’ll burn yourself biting into one too fast, because you couldn’t wait to eat it.

Our Favorite Dishes: Shrimp Shui Mai, Egg Tart

NBC Seafood is the best dim sum spot out of the three that share names with television networks (the other two being ABC and CBS - and no, we don’t know why it’s a thing). The enormous dining room fills up quickly on weekends, so be prepared to wait an hour or two for your shui mai. This is traditional dim sum, with carts of food rolling around for you to choose from. The food is all solid, especially the dumpling dishes and egg tarts. Just bring a granola bar to snack on while you wait.

Our Favorite Dishes: Pork Fried Dumplings, Beef Wrap

Mama Lu’s is a big restaurant with little in the way of decorations, a crowd of people mostly keeping to themselves, and tables that are just slightly too close to each other. But you’re not here for the atmosphere, you’re here for the best dumplings in SGV. After you’ve waited in line to get seated (there will be a line, no matter when you go), just order fried dumplings and the beef wrap, and wait for some incredibly good Chinese food to arrive at your table. Mama Lu’s does incredible things with flavor and texture - the dumplings have a melt-in-your-mouth filling and a perfectly crisped shell, and they’re super-flavorful without ever getting too salty. The waits here can get brutal, but if you want the best, stick it out.

Our Favorite Dish: Peking Duck (call 30 minutes in advance)

This classic restaurant requires you to call at least 30 minutes in advance to reserve your duck, because they spend hours preparing their birds the night before, and sometimes run out. But at least you know you’re getting the real deal - their duck has an excellent, not-too-gamey flavor, with plenty of crispy skin that basically tastes like duck bacon. Bring a group of friends, reserve a couple of ducks, and go to town building wraps using the rice paper “pancakes” and plum sauce they provide.


Our Favorite Dishes: Salt Egg Yolk Bun, Truffle Shu Mai, BBQ Pork Buns

Sea Harbour sits comfortably in the pantheon of great SGV dim sum spots, but unlike most of its competition, you’re at Sea Harbour for the scene as much as you are for the food. Come any day of the week and be greeted with a ladies-who-lunch crowd all clutching Prada bags, whispering about the latest neighborhood gossip. And yes, the food is great too. Weekend wait times are counted by the hour.

Our Favorite Dishes: Pho Ga, Papaya Salad, Banh Cuon

When we’re looking for Vietnamese in the SGV, Pho Ga District is our go-to every time. This Rosemead spot is great from start to finish - even something as simple as the boiled chicken is moist, flavorful, and great with the accompanying hot chili soy sauce. Our move is to get the pho ga with bone-in chicken - the broth is salty and a bit acidic, the noodles are firm, and it’s all especially good with some fish and chili sauces added. We also love the papaya salad doused in vinegar and crushed peanuts, and the banh cuon, rolls stuffed with chopped mushrooms, shrimp, and pork.

San Gabriel

Our Favorite Dishes: Old Shanghai Pork Dumplings, Stone Hot Pan Fried Rice, Pork Braised In Brown Sauce

Shanghai No. 1 Seafood is on the fancier side - prices are higher and the whole place looks and feels like an upscale Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. While the space is quirky (yes, that’s red velvet covering the walls), the menu is filled with crowd-pleasers like pan fried rice and excellent pork dumplings, and everything is served family-style, making it ideal for big groups.

Our Favorite Dishes: Vermicelli Soup, Pork Chop

San Gabriel’s Golden Leaf serves Taiwanese comfort food that’ll combat any cold - and probably also have you inventing fake illnesses so you have an excuse to go here. Their speciality is vermicelli soup - we like the beef one because it’s rich and has huge, tender pieces of short rib, but not so heavy that you won’t be able to get any work done if you have it for lunch. The sliced pork chop with rice and oyster pancake are also highly worth your time.

Our Favorite Dishes: Butter Chicken Thali, Korma

Located in a neighborhood home to many of SGV’s most famous restaurants (Sea Harbour and everything at Westfield Santa Anita), Bhanu’s could easily get overlooked. But that would be a big mistake, because this family-run grocery store has a small restaurant inside that serves some of the best Indian food this side of downtown. At a hot $11, the thali plate (which comes with an entree, two sides, yogurt, rice, and garlic naan) is the best way to get as much on your table as possible.

Our Favorite Dishes: Eggrolls, Broken Rice Plate (with Beef), Pho

For starters, Golden Deli is not a deli. It’s a Vietnamese restaurant that’s home to one of the strongest lunch rushes in the area. And though you’ll probably have to stand on the sidewalk outside for a half hour, know that the food inside is worth it. Everyone is eating the beef pho, and while it’s fantastic, we get the #89b broken rice plate: shrimp paste, grilled beef, and two egg rolls. And to be clear, you really need those egg rolls.

Our Favorite Dishes: Boston House Special Lobster

Boston Lobster has solid Chinese food across the board. But you’re coming to this San Gabriel strip mall spot for one thing: the house special lobster. This massive dish is stacked with at least a hundred pounds of noodles, green onions, and garlic, and topped an aquarium’s worth of fresh lobster. It comes to the table as a giant pile of all those ingredients, and it tastes incredible. Driving anywhere for just one dish might feel aggressive, but when it comes to Boston Lobster, you and your crew will not be disappointed.

Our Favorite Dishes: Salt & Pepper Shrimp, Chef’s Special Toothpick Lamb With Cumin

Tasty Zone is a spot in San Gabriel turning out great Sichuanese food. The first thing you should order is the salt and pepper shrimp - deep-fried shrimp, skewered and smothered with scallions, sesame, and dried chilies. Close behind the shrimp is the toothpick lamb, similarly covered in dried peppers, and with enough cumin to clear your sinuses for a week. Add on a side of salty, garlicky green beans, and you’ll be set. The portions are huge, so bring a crew, or expect to have some leftovers.

Our Favorite Dishes: Scallion Pancakes, Beef Noodle Soup, Pan Fried Pork Buns

Tasty Noodle House recently expanded into Los Angeles proper, but the original in San Gabriel is far, far better. The strip mall restaurant is tiny - there are seven tables - so unless you’re here at an off-hour, you’ll be putting your name on the list and waiting. The crowd is a very-SGV mix of grandpas slurping noodles (and not really talking), families, and younger people on their cell phones. Whether you’re here with a group or on your own, you need to have three things on your table: the buttery scallion pancakes, the enormous beef noodle soup, and the doughy/juicy pan-fried pork buns.

Our Favorite Dishes: Beef Loc Lac, Newport Special Lobster

Newport Seafood is an SGV classic. It’s an upscale restaurant, popular with families out for a nice (read: expensive) Sunday lunch. And when you’re out for a nice Sunday lunch here, you should be ordering the whole lobster. It’s covered in spring onions, chilli, and ginger, and the smallest one you’ll be offered will be at least four pounds. That doesn’t mean you should ignore the rest of the menu - the peppery, slightly sweet Beef Loc Lac needs to be ordered, too.

Our Favorite Dishes: Roast Duck, Noodle Soup With Roast BBQ Pork

A popular spot for dinner in San Gabriel, Ho Kee Cafe serves Cantonese classics in a super-busy dining room. Duck is the best thing here - and you’ll know it as soon as you walk in and see rows of them hanging in the kitchen window. You’ve got plenty of options (you can get it shredded in porridge or soup, or chopped up with rice), but our favorite is just the roast duck with some house-made duck sauce. It’s sweet, salty, and the skin is perfectly crispy.

Our Favorite Dishes: Hui Tou, Crab & Pork XLB

Next door to the now-closed Luscious Dumplings is Hui Tou Xiang, an underrated place you should stop into on any SGV dumpling crawl. It’s a pretty simple spot - sit down and you’ll get some tea and spicy kimchi, plus a menu and pencil to check off your order. Their namesake Hui Tou Dumplings are the highlight - the rectangular, pan-fried dumplings are juicy and delicious, and not something you see at most places.

Miàn | 滋味小麵

Our Favorite Dishes: House Beef Noodles, Zhiang Jian Noodles

Mian is a modern noodle place from the chef behind Chengdu Taste, and that fact alone gets our attention. But more importantly: Mian lives up to expectations. The Chongqing-style noodles they serve are fantastic and chewy, with a spiciness that creeps up on you. And we love the mung bean drink they pour for you when you arrive, because the sweetness helps to cool the spice down when you need it. Get a plate of dumplings to start - the pork ones are juicy and peppery - and the zhiang jian noodles with a crispy egg, minced pork, and chickpea-like Chongqing peas are a must-order.

Our Favorite Dishes: Million Layer Pancake, Shanghai Style Noodles, Crab “Pao”

In the same strip mall as Mian is Jin Jiang, or what everyone actually calls it, J&J. They’ve been in the same spot for nearly 30 years, and it’s the kind of place where you’ll walk in to see your server cracking crabs at a table in the corner. In other words, it’s glorious. The dumplings and noodles are the things to eat here, especially the thick, soy-sauce covered (but still light) Shanghai Style Noodles.

Our Favorite Dishes: Pork Hamburger, Biang Biang Noodles

The food at Shaanxi Garden is mostly from the northwest of China, and one of that area’s claims to fame is that they invented a kind of hamburger. It involves a crispy fried “bun” that’s really more like dumpling dough, stuffed with delicious shredded pork that you should absolutely cover with the chilli oil on your table. All the better to go with the Chinese talent shows they have playing in the very simple space.

Our Favorite Dish: Saigon Special Banh Mi

Saigon’s Sandwich can be a little overwhelming if you don’t speak Vietnamese. The picture menu above the counter doesn’t entirely explain what’s in the various sandwich options, and it’s unclear whether you should get a small (at $3.95 it seems like it might be very small) or a large. We’ll make it easy for you: Get the Saigon Special, and you definitely only need a small. These are the best banh mi we’ve had in the LA area, with super-crunchy bread, a good ratio of fillings, and just the right amount of pate and spice.

Our Favorite Dishes: Pork Dumplings

When Mama Lu’s has a two-hour wait but you still want dumplings, Long Xing Ji is your spot. This small place on the second floor of a strip mall has a glass-paned kitchen where you can see the chefs making dumplings from scratch. They specialize in soup dumplings, and the pork ones are our favorites here.

Temple City

Our Favorite Dishes: Beef Noodle Soup, Sesame Noodles

Many of the spots on this guide have giant menus - Dai Ho is not one of them. There are only eight things on the menu at this noodle house, but everything we’ve tried is worth your time. The space is small and bustling, and it’s good for a solo lunch (or dinner at home if you order the giant beef noodle soup).

Our Favorite Dishes: Honey Pepper Beef, Crispy Shrimp

If you have an occasion you’re celebrating, or a big group willing to throw down on some excellent Chinese food, make a reservation at Bistro Na’s (they don’t take walk-ins). This is one of very few Imperial Cuisine restaurants in the U.S., which means it serves food that was originally made for royalty. The dining room builds on that theme, with its carved wood paneling, jade everything, and super-attentive staff. And some excellently prepared food. The incredible dishes are worth the price.

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