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.
GOLDEN SPOON RESTAURANT
18347 Colima Road
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
To read what the Yelp-ers say about all this Shanghai/Szechuan sumptuousness, click here.