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Some time ago, a friend had been telling me for months about how good this  “hot and sour soup noodle” was at some restaurant I have never heard of in Monterey Park. Inside my brain, I tried to visualize adding some noodles inside a bowl of “hot ‘n sour” soup, and then tried to imagine how that would taste. Yeah, it would taste good, but since I can already imagine how it would taste, I didn’t need to try it.

When the LA Magazine published a list of top ten Chinese restaurants in Los Angeles quite a while back, I realized that one of the them was this “hot ‘n sour soup noodle” restaurant that my friend had been relating to me. Now I was interested. We arrived at the restaurant on a weekday around noon, the restaurant was relatively empty. The restaurant is small with about eight tables; the appearance of the place, both inside and out, is so nondescript that I would probably never go inside if not because of the recommendations.

We ordered, of course, the hot-and-sour soup noodle, the pan fried bun(Sheng jian bao), the boiled dumplings with pork and leek(Shui jiao). The soup noodle was every bit as good as my friend had depicted; the soup had the most appropriate balance of sour and spicy, without either one being stronger than the other. The liquid was not overly thickened with corn starch. For most of the noodle dishes, one can choose from the homemade hand-kneaded, knife cut, or hand-pulled varieties. I had the hand-kneaded one, not too thick, not too thin. I probably should try the knife cut version one of these days, since I like my noodle more chewy.

The pan fried buns were perfect. The bottom of the bun had the exact light, crisp, golden crust that I totally adore. I think the mark of great pan fried dumplings(guo tie), and the pan fried buns lies in the outer crust not being burned, or overly charred. The pork inside was juicy, and the flavor was not overpowering. The boiled dumplings come in different varieties of meat. The pork and leek dumpling tasted exactly how I wanted it to taste, light and delicate.

On subsequent visits, I tried the beef pancakes, and different versions of boiled dumplings; all were good, but my favorites still were the original three dishes I tried that very first time.

Thoughts of the Day:  I find that Chinese food is such a good value for the money when compared to other cuisines. One is able to get such wide varieties of tasty, well-made dishes for sometimes a fraction of what one has to pay for other types of cuisines. My friends and I often comment on how it is cheaper to eat or buy Chinese food from outside than to cook.

Kam Hong Garden: 848 E. Garvey Ave. Monterey Park, CA 91755  Phone: (626) 280-9318