Hsi Lai Temple. Photograph courtesy hsilai.org
Beijing Pie House
No pecan or pumpkin here. These pies are flattened bao dumplings that have been stuffed with ground lamb, ground beef, or a mix of pork, garlic chives, and black tree fungus, then pan fried to a golden brown. For a true taste of northern China, order a plateful with handmade Beijing-style noodles. » 846 E. Garvey Ave., Monterey Park, 626-288-3818.
888 Seafood Restaurant
Dim sum can be expensive, but 888 serves a parade of excitement-packed steamer baskets that start as low as two bucks. Standard fare includes shrimp har gow, pork siu mai, and the perennial favorite, the BBQ pork bun. For the adventurous (or those who love to chew), there’s the garlicky chicken cartilage house special. » 8450 Valley Blvd., Rosemead, 626-573-1888.
Foo Chow Restaurant
The signage outside that reads Rush Hour Was Shot Here might suggest a tourist trap, but the menu at this Chinatown landmark authentically represents regional Chinese cooking. Chicken, pork, and conch dishes are prepared with “red wine sauce,” which is made from a rosy variety of rice wine. Foo Chow’s claim to fame (aside from Jackie Chan) is its crispy eel coated with a rice wine and flour batter. » 949 N. Hill St., Chinatown, 213-485-1294.
At this sharp Asian-fusion café, such Hong Kong-style standards as black pork belly and a hot pot of salted fish are cooked and served in the same clay dish; the crunchy browned rice bits stuck to the bottom qualify as a separate course. Eel fried rice is the house special, ceremoniously prepared tableside. » 500 N. Atlantic Blvd., Monterey Park, 626-289-7788.
Hsi Lai Temple
A Buddhist monastery contains a spare dining hall, which prepares a daily lunch buffet for monks, nuns, and laymen. A $7 donation entitles you to prime versions of chow fun, braised tofu, and sweet-and-sour pork. Buddhist clergy eating pork? Of course not, but these house-made imitation meats taste like the real thing. » 3456 S. Glenmark Dr., Hacienda Heights, 626-961-9697.
Wontons, as big as golf balls and crammed with fat shrimp, are the ticket at this tidy Cantonese noodle house. Order them plain in soup, paired with egg noodles in broth, or mixed with dry egg noodles in oyster sauce. At these prices you can splurge on extra toppings, such as sliced beef and handmade pearly white cuttlefish balls. » 8518 E. Valley Blvd., Rosemead, 626-280-8963.
This busy corner café is the place for Hainan chicken rice, tender pieces of boneless boiled chicken served on a mound of broth-soaked grains. Deceptively simple? Yes. Incredibly comforting? You have no idea. Sweet soy, ginger-scallion, and lime-chili dipping sauces take the flavor to new heights. » 138 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra, 626-308-9535.
Home of the terra-cotta warriors, the Shaanxi province is also known for its flatbread, or mo. Surrounding stewed pork, it makes an excellent sandwich. Big Plate Chicken lives up to its name with a fragrant jumble of peppers, potatoes, and chicken simmered with cassia and cardamom and spooned over hand-pulled noodles. It could feed any army, terra-cotta or otherwise. » 8518 E. Valley Blvd., Rosemead, 626-283-5188.