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."
A line wrapped around a corner often designates a tourist trap, but Din Tai Fung’s queue attracts locals, too. Steamed consommé-filled dumplings—a specialty from Shanghai—tempt with pork, crab, veggies, or fish. They led the Asia Society to name Din Tai Fung a top Chinese restaurant in America.
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.
At Golden China Restaurant, the chefs manage to fit seemingly hundreds of Mandarin, Cantonese, and Szechuan dishes on one menu. Of their 20 specialty items, highlights include the pan-seared sea bass with ginger sauce and the shrimp and walnuts glazed with honey sauce. Other eats include steamed dumplings, chop suey, fried rice, and mushu, which are pancakes filled with stir-fried green onions, bamboo shoots, scrambled eggs, and meat, veggies, or tofu.
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 crispy egg tarts, red-bean swirls, 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.