Where to Eat in SoCal – GOLDEN SPOON

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Who knew the city of Rowland Heights, CA was another bastion of incredible Asian eats? Apparently, it’s known as Little Taipei in the San Gabriel Valley, and from the looks of things, Chinese restaurants are as plentiful as automobiles in this part of the world.

When Mary Shao — partner/founder of our very own China MaMa — asked us to stop by last month on our way to San Diego, we discovered her four month old restaurant was but a five minute detour off the main highway. We also discovered Chinese food of a sort that trumps the versions we’re used to in this neck of the woods.

As we’ve said many times, Chinese food (like Italian, Greek and Mexican) is done so badly so often (and sells anyway), that it’s a revelation to eat authentic renditions of the recipes that made it famous in the first place. We’ve been lucky enough over the past few years to have had an influx of great Chinese food (the real enchilada, not sweet and sour slop for the Asian buffet crowd), at places like J & J Szechuan, Yunnan Garden, Asian BBQ & Noodle et al, but we also know that Southern California is where the densest  collection of Asian emigrés resides — meaning: that’s where you’re most likely to find the most good stuff.

And so we went and so we did. Mary’s menu is similar to China MaMa’s,  but the oddly-named squirrel fish was an even better version than we’ve had in Vegas, and the Zhang Fei sliced beef, a thing of beauty that tops even Beijing Noodle #9’s take on this slowly braised, cold beef classic. Chinese chefs have told us it is the world’s best hangover food, and we’ll take their word for it, but its dense-yet-tender, five-spice savoriness is what kept us digging for bite after bite.

As with China MaMa, the presentations alone will have you dropping your chopsticks in appreciation, and if you want to taste perfectly blanched and stir-fried bok choy, incendiary ma po dofu, or pork-stuffed eggplant from another planet, this is the place.

Take it from ELV’s staff, a meal here makes the drive to San Diego all the more fun…and much tastier than the Asian food you’ll find down there.


18347 Colima Road

Rowland Heights, CA 91748

(626) 581-8951


To read what the Yelp-ers say about all this Shanghai/Szechuan sumptuousness, click here.

7 thoughts on “Where to Eat in SoCal – GOLDEN SPOON

  1. Shanghai to Szechuan–all in a “little Taipei” restaurant–quite a range. May I suggest on your next visit to the San Gabriel Valley, you seek out other dedicated hubs of Jiangsu province focused cuisine as well.

  2. I agree with your comment, John regarding badly executed Chinese food. I often wonder why but sanity returns and I think why wouldn’t it happen. 7 years of my life spent living with an oriental princess (using the word in the best possible way – which in her case meant hair like ebony and skin like porcelain) I developed a lifelong love with the great diversity this wonderful cuisine.

  3. When Mary owned China MaMa the food was great. I disagree with your prior review that the food is still good. I ate there dozens of times while she owned it and dozens of times afterwards. It’s still good, but definitely not the same as prior to her selling it. The overall quality of the product used has dropped considerably. Take for instance, the old photos of the Kung Pao Shrimp on this website and their wall and compare it to your current plate there. Now taste them.

  4. After seeing John Curtas’s review on T.V. (News Channel 3) regarding the top five chinese rest. in Las Vegas–we decided to check his top recommendation “China Mama” located at S. Jones/W. Spring Mountain… Yeah..its good–I wouldn’t say GREAT!

    Mr. Curtas–you really need to stop by Baidu China Bistro located at S. Rainbow and W. Robindale. We were hoping to find a chinese rest. closer to our home at S.Rainbow/W.Spring Mountain area…so we tried China Mama…and we’ll continue to drive over 5 miles to China Bistro. You really should check it out—very good chinese cuisine!!!! They deliver too–but we’re out of their 5 mile range. The food is so good, I don’t mind the drive. Here is Baidu China Bistro’s website http://baidubistro.com/

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