Michael He

July 27, 2021

Michael's SGV Eating Guide

The San Gabriel Valley (aka 626) in Los Angeles is one hodgepodge of great restaurants. It is one of the best places in America to enjoy all types of Asian food. Below are my recommendations. The restaurants are listed in no particular order, but grouped by cuisines or themes. 

Many thanks to the late Jonathan Gold, whose articles introduced millions of people to great restaurants in Southern California. Also many thanks to Ruby Chan and family, whose generosity made many meals possible.

A quick note on food guides: most writers have no idea what they are talking about, because experienced eaters (e.g uncles and grandmas) don't write for a living. This is why Eater LA doesn't have many 60 year old staff writers. Approach all guides with a grain of salt.

  • Arcadia Garden Cafe - classic Hong Kong style with great portions
  • Bay Island Cafe - cheap but delicious family dishes
  • Kim Ky - the best noodles (mix & match), Teochew style
  • May Mei - great clay pot rice
  • Dim sum places are hard to rank: NBC, Sea Harbor, Capital Seafood, Full House, Lunasia, and half a dozen more (none are great, none are bad)

Chinese noodle
  • 101 Noodle Express (San Gabriel) - hand-torn noodles and beef roll
  • Beijing Pie House - meat pies (jianbing)
  • Hui Tou Xiang - dumplings and stuffed pancakes (called hezi, or huh-tsu)
  • Dai Ho (Temple City) - good noodles, but cold sides are expensive, lunch only
  • Yunnan Garden - good southern Chinese rice noodle, spicy and cold dishes
  • Shaanxi Garden - biangbiang noodle & liangpi are good

Chinese/Taiwanese breakfast
  • Huge Tree Pastry - great Taiwanese fantuan & youtiao
  • Yi Mei or Si Hai Dou Jiang - Taiwanese breakfast
  • JJ Bakery - good variety of Asian pastries
  • 85C Bakery - same as JJ

Shanghai style
  • Dan Modern Chinese - modern take on Chinese classics
  • Longxingji - xiaolongbao (try the sweet one), great wontons
  • Mama Lu's - good portions, a bit greasy
  • 99 Ranch Market (San Gabriel) - fantastic smoked chicken

Spicy Chinese
  • Sichuan Impression - good
  • Chengdu Taste - good

Korean (K-town in separate section)
  • Sun Nong Dan - Korean stews (kalbi-jim) and soups
  • BCD Tofu House - LA tradition, RIP Mrs. Lee (the founder)
  • Big Rice - jajangmyeon is good
  • Yuk Dae Jang - excellent noodles

  • Saigon Eden - great food and service 
  • Pho Ga (El Monte) - cheapest chicken pho
  • Banh Mi My Tho (Alhambra) - fresh banh mi
  • Banana Bay Restaurant (Temple City) - best value, fresh coconut is on point

  • Chi Cha San Chen - best milk tea, pre-order online
  • Sunright Tea Studio - I like their grapefruit green tea, quarter sugar with honey

Special mentions
  • Savoy Kitchen - Hainan chicken rice
  • Zankou Chicken - Armenian, rotisserie chicken is a must
  • Golden Leaf - authentic Taiwanese family dishes
  • Sweet Heart - classic Hong Kong dessert

Michael's favorites outside of 626:
  • Creme (Claremont) - my favorite Bakery in SoCal
  • Tartine Bakery - fantastic sourdough
  • Parks BBQ (in K-Town) - best kbbq in the country 
  • Choson Galbee (in K-Town) - bests cold noodles and great meat
  • Spoon by H - everything is good (but they closed down...)

Random tips:
  • When you tip, round up your bill to the nearest dollar. Many restaurants take a cut of the tips, so 18% is not as much as it seems. Better be generous here, you can be stingy elsewhere.
  • Coffee and tea and smoothies are much better in Asian restaurants than cafes or Jamba Juice. Go to Viet, Thai, and HK places. 

Happy eating!

Sections to be updated:
  • Taiwanese
  • Spicy cuisines (Sichuan/Hunan/Yunnan)
  • More regional Chinese
  • Mexican
  • Japanese
  • Italian
  • Barbecue
  • Vegetarian/Vegan
  • BTS

About Michael He

Trying to get better every single day.