Wu Han Cuisine at Tasty Dining

Now that the weather is getting cooler, it’s okay to eat hot pots placed on open fires. One place for hot pots on open fires that recently opened up is Tasty Dining, located in the plaza across the street from a shady looking Chinese bar where women in short skirts and men with fancy cars frequent.


Will ordered the “Wuhan Hot Noodles with Sesame Paste” which apparently is a Wu Han speciality. It translates to “warm, dry noodles” which is pretty descriptive of what comes to you in a bowl. The noodles are slightly sauced with sesame paste, a little soy sauce, pickled vegetables and ground meat. Order it without the meat if you want a vegetarian version. It goes pretty well with the fried, spicy, peanuts that were brought to our table.

Shown on the walls next to our table were large steel bowls of assorted things and chili peppers. These are what the menu calls “Griddled Cooked Foods.” I ordered a “Griddled Cooked Cat Fish” which was catfish, not cat and fish. The waitress asked what spice level I wanted it and I told her “medium.” Unfortunately, the small size of the dish is not available at dinner, so either come with a friend and a big appetite, or come for lunch if you want a small. The medium size is going to last me a whole week.


The waitress brought out a chafing dish and placed the already hot steel bowl of food on top. The “Griddled Cooked Foods” is known in Chinese as a “dry hot pot.” Not to say it’s completely dry, because it’s too oily to be considered actually dry, but it’s not soupy like hot pot places like Fat Little Sheep. My bowl contained chopped pieces of tender, flavorful catfish, cauliflower, celery, plenty of garlic cloves, and thick slices of potato. The potatoes were the best vegetables in there because the hot, spicy, oil cooked them into a melt-in-your-mouth consistency with plenty of flavor.

From what I’ve read of these dishes, they’re supposed to be a little numbing, but I found mine to be mainly spicy. Maybe I didn’t get to the numbing part yet, since I was the only one tackling a pretty large bowl of catfish, but it was definitely not the most mala dry hotpot I’ve had. The medium spice level was perfect for me, but for people who aren’t used to spicy foods, there’s a “small spicy” level available as well as a “no spicy” option.

We were there during some grand opening promotion where they were offering free glasses of cold chrysanthemum tea. I strongly suggest people take advantage of this since the cooling beverage will come in handy after eating too many bites of chili pepper.


Vegetarian Options

The menu doesn’t boast too many vegetarian things, but a few dishes could be made vegetarian with modifications. The wuhan hot noodles with sesame paste can be made sans ground pork. I tried both versions and they tasted fairly similar, other than missing ground pork.


There’s also a dessert-type pastry called “Pumpkin Cake” on the menu. These are chewy flat discs of pumpkin and sticky rice that are deep fried and covered with sesame seeds. They’re best eaten while still hot.

Although it’s not on the menu, the restaurant can also make a vegetarian dry hot pot. Just ask for it and specify what ingredients you want from the “Side Dishes” part of the menu. Also make sure to ask them to leave off the chicken-flavored MSG since that’s in the seasoning by default. There’s so much fresh chili, ground chili, garlic, and ginger in the oil that a vegetable-based hot pot will probably be as flavorful as a meat based one.

Tasty Dining (一品香)
301 W Valley Blvd
Ste 101
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 570-1234

Emperor Noodle

When a new “coming soon” sign came up at the bad feng shui spot on the corner of Las Tunas and Mission, I thought nothing of it. When I learned it was going to have Shanghainese food, I became intrigued enough to go there for lunch today.

Emperor Noodle

The appetizer of vegetarian chicken we ordered was tender, soft, and surprisingly flavorful. It even tasted a little bit like pork. But supposedly it’s vegetarian, amazing!

Emperor Noodle

The Shanghai fried rice cake (sans pork) was typical.  It had a good wok qi taste, but could have been a little more salty. Maybe because Will ordered it without chicken-msg, but it was a little bland.

Emperor Noodle

The standout at lunch was the shen jian bao. These come four to an order, but don’t dispair because they’re not your typical bite-sized bao‘s.  Judging from appearance, it gets a 10 because of the golden fried bottom adorned with white sesame seeds, and the pillowy white top decorated by a sprinkling of black sesame seeds and green onion. The texture of the bao was spot on: crispy and fried on the bottom, soft and airy at the top.

As for the filling, judge for yourself in this picture:

Emperor Noodle

The lava-hot broth was plentiful and rich and the meat filling was flavorful and savory.  I liked that the ground meat was more roughly chopped and still retained some texture instead of being like a smooth round ball of meat paste. Dipped in a little bit of vinegar, slurped up with some soup, and then chased by a bite of the bun, it was perfect.

The menu at Emperor Noodle contained a wide range of noodle soups that I didn’t get a chance to try, but next time, offal-filled noodle soups, you are mine!  The neighboring table’s yellow fish noodles looked pretty good too.

Emperor Noodle
800 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91775

Hui Tou Xiang Part 2: The Self-Titled Dumpling

Part 1 of Hui Tou Xiang can be found here

I went back to Hui Tou Xiang for lunch today to try their self-titled dumpling. You could say that I hui tou-ed before even trying their hui tou dumpling. Was it worth the return trip? Yes, yes it was.


These pan fried rectangular pork dumplings, known as hui tou zhu rou, came out innocently, not steaming, not sizzling, and with no hint of the inferno inside.  Yes boys and girls, the filling is hot. It’s hot and juicy and will likely squirt an oily broth down your shirt.  Better double-up that napkin bib.  The filling was tender and flavorful with a savory pork taste complimented by a slight crunch of onion. It took me a while to put my finger on it, but the filling tastes like a refined version of a White Castle hamburger with its grilled onions cooked directly in the patty.


My fearless (unless in the face of meat) dining companion ordered a special that was advertised in a plastic stand on the table: cold sesame noodles.  Cold sesame noodles never excite me, but these were pretty good.  The noodles were the flat wheat noodle kind and cooked perfectly.  The sauce came out separately: a dish of soy sauce, a dish of soy & garlic sauce, and a dish of sesame paste.  You were free to mix them in any ratio you wanted. The lao ban niang even offered white vinegar to make the dish more vinegary if you so choose.

While I was eating lunch, I mentally laughed at the line of people outside waiting for a table at Luscious Dumplings.  Then I felt bad because here I was eating dumplings that were just as good, if not better, and these poor ignorant people didn’t know any better. I saw a few potential customers looking at the menu pasted outside, but none came in.  Oh well, their loss.


Hui Tou Xiang Noodle House
704 W Las Tunas Dr
Ste 5
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 281-9888