Noodle House: Dumplings in the SGV
Eating one's way through the San Gabriel Valley is the task of a lifetime. For anyone with the intestinal fortitude, it's a worthy quest. I have taken up that challenge - most recently at Noodle House in Monterey Park, which has gotten a lot of internet buzz recently. Here's what's special about Noodle House: their dumplings, of the northern Chinese variety, are made to order, while you wait, and they are worth waiting for. Dumplings can be boiled, steamed, or pan-fried ("Pot stick" on the menu); steamed buns are also available. Best of all, Noodle House adds no MSG.
While waiting for our order, I tried the chili pepper sauce on the table with the pickled cabbage and beef tendon we had ordered. The chili sauce at Noodle House was hot, spicy, and biting, but its peppery essence shone through the heat. The Hot and Sour Soup is enough for 2 or 3, and its mild spice was easily customized with the vinegar and soy sauce on the table, not to mention the transcendent hot peppers.
Finally, the main event: The steamed pork and scallop dumplings were wonderfully juicy, not brothy like soup dumplings, but subtly tasty. The pan-fried double mushroom pork dumplings had the right balance between marinated pork and shiitake mushrooms. Another revelation: This is the first time I've had pot stickers that were browned beautifully yet not at all greasy.
There were only two of us, so we didn't try any more varieties, although I am still kicking myself for not getting an order of the beautiful-looking steamed buns (round, with symmetrically twisted tops) to take home. And Noodle House also makes their own rolled and cut noodles.
As elsewhere in the SGV, Noodle House is not glamorous - it's a storefront, although very clean (yes, it is rated B, but I don't know that I'd trust a Chinese restaurant with an A). The prices are modest; our order totalled just over $20. Tea is included, and there is no alcohol. Noodle House is not a great place for a vegetarian, since there didn't appear to be any mushroom or vegetable offerings; however, there are shrimp and pumpkin dumplings that are supposed to be terrific.
958 E Garvey Avenue (between New and North Garfield Avenues)
Monterey Park CA