Day two of my weeklong staycation/tasting tour found us in Rowland Heights, which happened to be the halfway point between two local breweries I was visiting for an upcoming article. We thought of trying Seafood Village, but it looked cavernous and empty, and didn't even manage a "C" rating, so we ended up at the closest place that looked busy and popular, Ding's Garden. I'm sure you folks will correct me if I'm wrong, but Ding's appears to be a Szechwan/Shanghai deli/noodle house type of cafe, which is a delightful idea. We had a cold appetizer plate with cucumbers, bean curd and seaweed knots, all doused in a bright-red Szechwan-peppercorn infused oil. I insisted on trying the Shanghai rice cakes, but the oval noodlish shapes were a bit gummy, and could have used more vegetables to perk them up. The soup dumplings were our favorite dish -- I haven't been to every single place that has xiaolongbao, so I'm not the expert, but they were certainly as good as at Mei Long Village. Most people were having beef noodle soup, but it was over 100 degrees, and we just couldn't handle it. The server was very friendly and helpful and the place was clean and busy -- just what you want in a lunch place. I'm not sure if the food is the same at the Alhambra and San Gabriel locations, which seem to be under different management, but I think I'll have to check them out for the dan dan noodles, beef noodle soup and maybe pork chop fried rice for my son.
18922 E. Gale #A