Tuesday, May 8, 2007 5comments No tags Permalink 0

This afternoon I was looking at all the food pictures I have saved on my computer. I planned to start anew after I came back to Hawaii – and leave untold all the places I’ve eaten at but never found the time to blog about. It was a brief but sad moment when I was about to delete the pictures off my hard drive and save them to a CD. But then something inside me went, “wait! Such a waste! How could you not blog about all these wonderful (though some of them were quite awful) restaurants!” So I quickly hit the ‘cancel’ button…and now I hope you will bear with me for about two dozen more San Gabriel/Rowland/Claremont posts before we make our rounds on the island!

I’ve huo guo-ed around quite a bit. To tell you the truth, I’m not a huge fan of restaurant huo guo-ing. With all the good deals you can find for high quality Asian food in Rowland Heights and San Gabriel Valley, I doubt I ever will understand some people’s obsession with huo guo. It’s not just one of my friends, but a good three or four who are absolutely fixated on huo guo. I come along for such dinners every once in a while, but I cannot help but think how the money spent on huo guo-ing could be better allocated to other types of dining. Each huo guo meal usually amounts too $20-30/person. That goes a very long way at other Chinese or Vietnamese restaurants…and especially at bakeries!

The place we frequent most is this nameless restaurant in the Valley & New Center (in Alhambra). I don’t recall seeing a sign indicating the name of the restaurant, so we affectionately nicknamed it “stomachache” – we’d all invariably end up with stomachaches after eating here because we simply never learn to stop till we’ve completely filled out bellies and then some. After a few visits, Cindy said, “I think it’s called Lugi,” so that’s what we called the place from then on. I’m not sure if it really is called Lugi, or where she even got the name from, but is known to us as “Lugi’s.”

We’re big time lamb eaters, so we always make sure to allocate at least two orders of lamb per person, hehe. Right behind that is the lotus root.

There’s really no rhyme or reason to our orderings, variety and quantity just depends on what we crave at that moment. From front to back are winter melon slices, enoki mushrooms, and long noodles.

Some marinated pig ears to snack on, and right behind that is the coolest meat/fish ball I’ve had in a while. The outside is fishball, but when you bite it, juice squirts out, xiao long bao style and you find a little mini meatball hiding inside!

Visits to Lugi are always followed by a requisite stop to Mr. Baguette

for either a durian

or avocado smoothie, any one of which never fails to leave me very content. After going back and forth between the two, I think I prefer the avocado smoothie – so thick and creamy, man! They use a whole avocado and just enough condensed milk to taste. I would eat it EVERYDAY for breakfast if I could. There’s surely more than enough calories in one to account for a meal or two.

After we pick up the smoothies, we drive backwards a bit to Au 79 just to “hang out” for a bit before we have to head back to the Claremont and face accounting homework. Condensed milk seems to be the theme for desserts, and we usually try to share an order of milk toast, though it never works and we always end up having to order another one or two. Toast, as far as I’m concerned, is not meant to be shared :)

The fried taro balls are innocent looking enough, it’s only taro after all, but don’t say you haven’t been warned that while it goes down quite nicely, once it hits the pit of your stomach it will turn into a LEAD BALL. A FRIED LEAD BALL. They’re similar to the taro balls at dim sum, only these don’t have any savory minced pork packed inside, so you’re just faced an extremely dense mound of whipped taro, slightly sweetened. But what the heck, just eat a couple, it takes too much effort to refuse fried sweets in my world.

When we don’t want to make the long drive to Alhambra, we go to Shufeng Garden in Rowland Heights. The huo guo here is mediocre at the best, but also one of the cheapest in town.

Clockwise from the top left is tripe, tofu, bean sprouts and noodles. Perhaps it’s just me, but I don’t find huo guo very exciting. It seems like something you could cook everyday at home, and isn’t the point of eating out to eat something different, something exciting, something you don’t usually make? Or maybe I just haven’t found the thrill in cooking raw meats in a communal pot.

Here’s a few orders of cabbage, meatballs, thinly sliced lotus root, and the name of the last escapes me for the moment, grrr, I know what it is, I just can’t think of the name now! (maybe I should go to sleep, hehe). We also got lots of sliced lamb, cause no huo guo outing is complete without it.

Along with the huo guo, we sometimes get dan dan mein. We alternate between ordering spicy and non-spicy versions due to taste differences. But the noodles here are always a hit or miss. Sometimes you get the perfect ratio between the spicy blend of peanuts and sesame with slippery warm noodles. Other times it seems as if they’re running short on sauce and decided to redeem themselves by doubling up on the noodles.

Their niu rou mein is a big nono. ‘Nono’ as in don’t ever order it here unless you want to drink salty soup with an aftertaste reminiscent of poo. I’m not kidding! This particular order came lukewarm with an insane quantity of noodles and meat more tough and chewy than you’d ever dream in your worst culinary nightmare.

I’ll post on Mandarin Chef and Little Sheep’s huo guo tomorrow, cause my family’s about to leave to the movies without me if I don’t turn off the computer now! ;)

  • anonymous
    May 8, 2007

    I’m so glad that you didn’t delete your pics and decided to write about them instead! I always learn something new when I check in here! Huo guo? Never heard…and those marinated pig ears? the squirting meat/fishball thingies? Heck yeah! I want to hear and see it all!I agree with you on one point though…30 bucks can go a long way when you know where to find all the goodies!

  • Robyn
    May 8, 2007

    DUUUDE, I DON’T GET HOT POT EITHER! We shall never eat it together. ;D The last (and only) time i went out for hot pot with some friends, I felt like it was $25 that could’ve been spent on something much more delicious and less labor intensive, not that putting meats in a pot of boiling water is laborious, but…I dunno, I eat out to not cook. Usually. Hot pot was fun when I was little and doing it with my family..I too am glad you didn’t delete your photos. That would’ve been saad.I want a cado smoothie!

  • anonymous
    May 9, 2007

    The meat in fishball thingies are called ” Fook Chou Yu Dan” ( Fook Chou is a province in China and Yu Dan stands for fishball ) hehe… We get to eat lots of different type of food in my country =P

  • Kathy YL Chan
    May 9, 2007

    Hey Rowena!hehe, I’m glad you always find new stuff on my posts – it makes me feel like I am accomplishing something! Huo guo is a fun interative dining experience, but it hurts to think of all the bread, cheese, and dessert I could get for that money! Different people different priorities I guess, hehe ;)Hey Robyn!Deal! No hot potting for us either, we’ll eat more fun stuff! Like crazy dessert tastings (I can’t wait to visit Tailor when it opens!)and lobster rolls, and lets find some really good spatzle, and I need a falafel. badly! ;) *Cheers* to graduation – we’re are DONE!!! :)Hey Anon!Thanks for clarifying that up – I was so amazed when I bit into it! To think of everything that I’ve been missing out on…sheesh! :)

  • David
    January 30, 2008

    I’m hosting a big dinner with friends. I work in the music industry and I’d like to bring my people to a place that’s a little classier than Grand Sichuan by the Manhattan bridge. What if money was no object. Where would you go for great hot pot in Manhattan??

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