Since its modest beginnings as a three-table Arcadia eatery, Starlight Express Chinese Food has expanded into an Old Town Monrovia venue packed with a large dining area, a steam table of quick-serve Chinese favorites, and an array of cooked-to-order specialties. Inside the kitchen, chefs prepare shrimp with black-bean sauce alongside plates of spicy kung pao scallops and sweet-and-sour chicken. The chefs' healthier steamed-veggie dishes fill niches in low-sodium diets. Blue pendant lamps light dining-room tables, and red paper fans and framed Chinese characters adorn the walls, with translations meaning "luck," "dragon," and "remember to buy eggs."
The chefs at R2 Restaurant cook up a menu of East-meets-West fusion fare paired with hot and cold specialty drinks. Dining duos can assuage hunger pangs or attempt to teach other the true meaning of Christmas by sharing starters such as the paper-wrapped chicken or fried tofu. West-leaning appetites are sated with entrees including a seafood alfredo pasta or hot panini, while Eastbound palates can opt for pork fried rice or a curry rice dish. The customizable meals let diners express themselves via choices of rice or pasta, buttered corn or mixed vegetables, a trio of three savory meats, and drizzlings of black pepper, mushroom, or garlic sauce. A generous 24-ounce glass of 1 of 14 different types of iced tea pairs the intricately spiced entrees with exotic flavors such as lychee and plum, and the green boba milk tea lets diners take swift midmeal sips of dairy-infused liquid without toting along their own zip-locked bags of nacho cheese.
The first Kee Wah Bakery appeared in Hong Kong in 1938, where its moon cakes, bridal cakes, and other pastries gradually generated a loyal clientele. In 1985, when much of that clientele had migrated to the United States, Kee Wah set down new roots in LA to offer its signature floury goods to Californians. Patrons pick from egg tarts, crispy squares, and pineapple crust buns using a self-serve bakery system, which is refilled with fresh breads baked three times a day. During the autumn, when the Chinese Lunar Festival is in full swing, the bakery churns out moon cakes filled with lotus seed and red-bean paste. The shop's three locations in the San Gabriel Valley—Monterey Park, San Gabriel, and Rowland Heights—help meet the demand for Chinese wedding cakes and almond cookies throughout the valley.
Go China Restaurant's cuisiniers cook up a menu of traditional Mandarin and Szechuan dishes. Shredded pork in hoisin sauce ($9.25) or sautéed spinach ($6.95) each arrive backed up by steamed rice ready to play starchy host to ladled-up flavors or shout warnings of incoming shuriken during tabletop street fights. Knock back a brew or glass of fermented grape juice and mingle taste buds with the sapid company of tea-smoked duck ($9.25) or sweet-and-sour chicken ($7.55), which pays playful compliments before tastefully pouting. Go China's 15 single combo dinners such as the three-flavor chop suey ($7.95) or fish fillet with mushrooms ($9.95) are chaperoned by accompaniments that include the soup de jour, fried cheese wonton, egg roll, and fried or steamed rice. Meals unfold across the white tablecloths spread throughout Go China's colorful interior, allowing diners a refined evening of sparkling conversation and calm observation of the restaurant's terra-cotta waiters.