Tipped off by an LA Times writeup about the best Asian breakfast restaurants, the BF and I tried Mei Lin Tou Chiang this weekend.
The article claims that it has the best soy milk around, so the first thing we ordered was a savory dou jiang. I don’t know what other places the LA Times journalist tried, but I thought the soy milk at Mei Lin was pretty ordinary. It had none of the creaminess or nuttiness the article claimed. The toppings for the dou jiang, pieces of you tiao and preserved vegetables, were good and salty and as a whole, the bowl of dou jiang was satisfying, but not the best I’ve had. The BF and I both agreed that Four Seas in Hacienda Heights has better dou jiang.
There was a print-out advertising this savory crepe I haven’t seen in many places, so I jumped at the opportunity to try it here. The last time I had it, it was from a street stand across the street from my hotel in Shanghai. It’s an egg and flour crepe wrapped around a you tiao, some sweet and salty paste, and cilantro. You can ask them to put an egg in there too, which I forgot to do here, but makes it tastes fantastic. Mei Lin’s version of this was good, but would have been better if the you tiao had been fresh.
Lastly, we ordered a plate of the vegetarian shui jian bao. They’re buns that are freshly steamed and pan-fried at the same time. They were the highlight of the meal thanks to their pillowy soft, moist, slightly sweet exterior and their savory filling of cabbage, cellophane noodles, and woodear mushrooms. The soft top made a fantastic complement to the crispy pan-fried bottom.
It’s worth mentioning that Mei Lin’s you tiao is different that that of Yi Mei’s and Four Seas’; they have more of a Shanghai-style you tiao where it’s more dense and flaky than airy and crunchy. I like both types, so it’s nice to have the choice.
The owners who were working behind the counter were accommodating and patient with my questions about which items were vegan and which were not. They didn’t even flinch when I asked if the buns could be made vegan. I didn’t get a chance to try out their fan tuan (rice rolls) at Mei Lin, but of the breakfast foods I did try, I prefer the ones at Yi Mei and Four Seas more. What I will come back for though, are the shui jian baos.
Mei Lin Tou Chiang
1257 E Valley Blvd
Alhambra, CA 91801
They’re in the same plaza as Lee’s Sandwiches, but all the way down, almost to the Valley market in the back.
For previous Chinese Breakfast Showdowns: