Sunday, September 26, 2004

mini reviews: Mei Long Village and The Wild Hare

It's funny about Chinese food -- once you get used to going with a group of people, you feel slightly cheated if you only get to try three things. Such was the case last night at Mei Long Village in San Gabriel, where we nonetheless had a nice light-ish and savory supper. I've been wanting to try their Shanghai dumplings for a while. We actually chose the crab and pork dumplings instead, but these too ejaculated a brothy mouthful as you slurp down the minced filling and slighty chewy wrapper. It's nearly the same thing as a potsticker or shu mai, but with a juicier finish. The fresh ginger slivered on top of the dipping sauce adds another good flavor note. Matt requested something with slivered pork, so we had slivered pork with bean sheets and chile. I was thinking it would be more of a red chile sauce, but instead slices of fresh green and red jalapenos livened up a hearty mound of shredded pork and tofu sheets. Our third choice was diced fish with pine nuts, which was so white and mashed-potatoey looking that that I thought it might be too bland. Although the predominant flavor was just salt or soy, the pine nuts and a little added chile paste proved to be suitable complements to the soft fish. Although tricky to pick up with chopsticks, I was happy I tried it. Next time I'd like to try an interesting looking dish of Chinese okra, which comes stuffed with various things. On the way out, we noticed people polishing off giant red pork pumps -- a Shanghai specialty which will have to wait until we return with more people.
Mei Long Village
301 W. Valley Blvd. #112
San Gabriel
(626) 284-4769

After a trip to the Chinese DVD store for Matt to pick up "The Grudge II," we took back roads home and stopped at The Wild Hare on the border of Highland Park and Eagle Rock for a nightcap. It was hard to spot at first on York Blvd., but eventually the scruffy white smoking guys out front gave away the presence of a trendish spot. (No trucker hats, thank god -- Eagle Rock is more working class chic -- mohawks, androgenous tatooed girls, and a wonderfully beehived Chicana lady. The Hare is trying hard to please, with several good beers and Belgian ales on tap, a decent wine selection, full bar and plenty of bar snacks. We were too full to taste anything but every other table bore a huge pile of well-cooked pub fries, and there's also fried calamari, sausage, pate, salad and dessert available. It was a promising place with an interesting crowd in a satisfyingly mysterious neighborhood -- but whoever compiled the jukebox didn't share my taste very closely. Lots of Beck, Radiohead, Led Zeppelin, Steve Miller and Peaches, but other than a lone Clash record, no '80s punk or new wave at all, and nothing of the Interpol/Strokes/Pavement/Pixies /Sonic Youth persuasion.
The Wild Hare
York Ave. between ae. 50 & 51
Highland Park

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The calamari at the Wild Hare is excellent (sometimes overcooked but they overcook it better than most places!) and the service there is even better.
-rjk

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