Chinese Food: The Essentials

Dumplings, hot pots, and pancakes



Puff Balls
A sweet treat in a steel steamer, red bean buns are loaded with a rich ruby paste. 
Where: Din Tai Fung, 1108 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia. 

Bottoms Up
Baked buns are finished with sesame seeds, but the best part is the crunchy bottom. 
Where: Dean Sin World, 306 N. Garfield Ave., Ste. 2, Monterey Park. 

Saucy Bundle
Steamed or baked, BBQ pork buns hold a fire-engine-red mixture that’s become a Chinese American staple. Where: Elite Restaurant, 700 S. Atlantic Blvd., Monterey Park. 

Liquid Center
Be careful biting into a Shanghai soup dumpling. Along with the ground pork filling is some steamy broth. 
Where: Mei Long Village, 301 W. Valley Blvd., Ste. 112, San Gabriel. 


Hot Pots

Lunch Aquatic
The briny essence of seaweed infuses the spicy kelp hot pot, a Japanese-inspired broth for cooking the accompaniments. At Jazz Cat, ask for it T. Rex style: extra meat. 
Where: Jazz Cat Restaurant, 121 E. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel. 

Heat Wave
Also known as mala huo guo, the Szechuan hot pot is for the capsaicin lover, with its bubbling orange tongue-numbing brew. 
Where: New Chong Qing, 120 N. San Gabriel Blvd.,Ste. J, San Gabriel. 

Whether the Mongolian hot pot hails from the central Asian region is debatable. But there’s no question that cooking raw meats and veggies in boiling liquid is as much entertainment as it is a meal. 
Where: Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot, 1655 S. Azusa Ave., Hacienda Heights. 

On the Nose
Taiwan’s stinking tofu hot pot (Boiling Point’s house special) gets its stench from the fermented vegetable brine.
Where: Boiling Point, 153 W. Garvey Ave., Monterey Park. 



Veggie Delight
Green onion flecks scallion pancakes, which come with a garlic sauce for dipping.
Where: Michelle’s Pancake House, 706 W. Las Tunas Dr., Stes. B3 and B4, San Gabriel.

Rockin’ Roll
Thin strips of flank steak join scallion and a smear of hoisin sauce for the beef roll, a cold appetizer that resembles a burrito.
Where: Michelle’s Pancake House.

Rise and Shine
The Taiwanese breakfast treats shao bing are best with a yuo tiao (like a doughnut) and sweet soy milk. 
Where: Huge Tree Bakery, 423 N. Atlantic Blvd., Monterey Park. 

Upper Crust
The pielike xian bing  ranges in size from hockey puck to small Frisbee. Grab a napkin—juices burst from the meat-stuffed versions. 
Where: Beijing Pie House, 846A E. Garvey Ave., Monterey Park.

Photographs by Alex Farnum