Food critic Jonathan Gold advises approaching Wang Xing Ji’s crab and pork buns “cautiously, as if an undiffused bomb.” Seasoned patrons will understand and heed his advice––though the dumplings’ steaming contents are tasty, it’s best not to bite until the near-boiling juices cool.
The specialty pho at Pho Island Express spoons helpings of beef, filet, mignon, or chicken into steaming, aromatic noodle broths, which guests are encouraged to loudly slurp to best taste the flavors or irritate fellow diners. They also cover the colder end of the spectrum, pouring green tea with lychee jelly and frosty milk drink with honey boba, pudding, and caramel. But that's not to say they don't touch on more solid fare—their vermicelli salad bowl hosts a choice of grilled beef, chicken, pork, or shrimp seasoned with lemongrass.
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.
A long, dark bar with deep red napkins and neon blue lighting entices diners at R2 Kazoku to take a seat and see what might come next. From there, a counter full of fresh seafood encased in lit glass reveals diners' sushi selections before a chef readies them into edible art. A quick glance and the menu reveals an exponential number of options for the fish, including sashimi and special rolls such as the black dragon roll with eel. Chefs also pluck yakitori selections of pacific saury or pork belly straight from the grill, amazing everyone at their fingers' resistance to extreme heat.
Assisting everything from relaxation to energy boosts, Muse Tea House's tea gurus blend black, green, and oolong leaves with flavors that range from blueberry and passionfruit to lavender and rose. Chewy boba and aloe pearls nestle at the bottom of almond and taro milk teas, and royal sparkling sodas—started with San Pellegrino mineral water—tickle tongues with bubbly flavors of peach and pomegranate. For something more filling, patrons can opt for a fruity, syrup-free yogurt drink made with organic ingredients from France and Japan or toss back items from the kitchen, such as macarons, squid balls, and sliced barbecue pork on dry noodles.
Muse Tea House cultivates an intimate, hushed atmosphere with a row of low-set tables and cozy booths shaded by patterned gossamer curtains. Thick, burgundy drapes frame each sun-drenched front window, which cast natural light on a smooth, stone floor so that customers can draw perfect hopscotch courses in chalk.
The cooks at A&J Hot Point Hot Pot lay the foundation of a delicious, belly-warming meal—the broth—at your table. The rest of the work, they leave to you. The soup remains at a simmer while you submerge the ingredients of your choice, ranging from meats to a variety of veggies. As you dip these morsels into the stew, it simultaneously cooks and flavors them in traditional Chinese dining style.
The broth menu itself is international in scope. Choices range from a Mongolian herbal mix to soups tinged with Korean kimchi and Japanese coconut curry. Some, such as the hot and spicy or spicy chicken broth, add additional fire. Guests dunk unlimited bites into the hot pot during all-you-can-eat lunches and dinners, then balance out the heat with a dessert of ice cream or a nice bowl of cold broth.