Friday, September 25, 2009
Chang's Garden: Chinese beginners and pros can enjoy
Despite the wealth of delicious dumpling, dim sum and noodle spots in the San Gabriel Valley, it's not always easy to figure out where to get a full-service dinner. Chung King is great if your group is fairly adventurous, but for those looking for a good and accessible selection of dishes, I present Chang's Garden. It's in Arcadia in the same plaza as Din Tai Fung, so not the closest to central L.A., but it's worth a few more miles to taste their version of fried croaker with seaweed (known here as seaweed flavored fried fish). This dish, a beloved staple at the old Green Village, doesn't have a particularly Chinese flavor profile -- it's basically the same as the fried fish in a better fish 'n chips joint, with a salty inner layer and a bit of sea moss woven through the batter. At $14, it's not the cheapest dish in town, but it can easily feed three or four people. There's plenty of other dishes on the Shanghai-style menu to explore -- spareribs wrapped in lotus leaf is a favorite, chicken with chestnuts, scallion pancakes and more. Eggplant with ground pork was fine and garlicky, but I also particularly liked Snow Cabbage with Peas and Bean Sheet. It feels healthy, yet there's something perfect about the contrast of greens and bean sheets that makes it hard to stop eating. You can go exotic with lamb with sour cabbage warm pot, or get the old favorite pineapple shrimp with mayonaise, which most tables seem to order. Every toddler in Arcadia is eating here with his or her extended family, and it can get crowded, but there's actually an outdoor patio they might let you eat on if you ask nicely.
627 W. Duarte Rd.