Lunch at Chang’s Garden (Arcadia, CA)

Chang’s Garden is a popular Chinese restaurant in Arcadia, enough so that you could wind up waiting to get seated. We got there early enough that we got seated right away. Within a half hour, the place was packed and customers waiting outside.
A small dish of boiled peanuts was given to every table. Interesting but not relishing, soft in texture (like legumes). The Dong Po (Tung Po on the menu) pork was everything that it was touted to be. The pork belly is about 7 inches square. The waitress cut it into 9 pieces. The pork fat literally melts in your mouth, and the tasty and tender meaty portion shreds nicely. If you have an aversion to melted fat infusing your whole mouth, then you’d probably not appreciate this dish. But friends and I enjoyed it immensely.

Dong po pork

Eggplant in Hot Garlic Sauce was a very good dish, vinegary, spicy, slightly sweet and lusciously silky. Some yelpers complained that this dish was too sweet, but I thought it was in perfect balance, definitely not cloyingly sweet.

Eggplant in hot garlic sauce

The Green Beans with Ground Pork was an adequate version, the beans cooked perfectly.

Green beans with ground pork

Finally, the Seaweed Fried Fish was extraordinary, the batter, laced with thin ribbons of seaweed, delicate and crispy, and the fish very fresh.

Seaweed fried fish

This restaurant deserves a return visit to try other dishes.

Chang’s Garden
627 West Duarte Road
Arcadia, CA 91007

Lunch at Daikokuya (Los Angeles, CA)

We could have eaten at Daikokuya in Little Tokyo on our last trip to Southern California, but the line outside was too long. Since we weren’t in any hurry today, we put our name on the list and waited over an hour to get seated. There are branches throughout the southland. Ramen addicts seem to love it. Food critic Jonathan Gold also chimed in with his praises.

Their ramen is truly special. The broth was wonderfully rich and the noodles had a nice chew that together make the Daikoku ramen a contender for best ramen anywhere. Some of us ordered the regular ramen; a kotteri version is available that will appeal to aficionados of extra porky and fatty broth.

Regular ramen

I noticed a paper menu on the walls that advertised the kichimen ramen, which is basically the regular ramen broth with added spiciness and tartness. This, I ordered. In addition, the noodles and condiments are served on the side, which means that you can choose to dip the noodles in the broth instead of combining it. I’m not a dipper (the dipper vs. soaker preference battle rages in our family when eating soba), so I dumped everything into the broth. Herein lies the problem because by doing this, the ramen gets cooled down considerably. While the broth is really delicious, I’d prefer my ramen piping hot. Halved barely hard-cooked eggs, whose slightly darkened egg whites hint at a soy sauce bath, tons of minced green onions, bean sprouts, sliced, almost slivered kurobuta and sour bamboo shoots complete the condiment ingredients. (The regular ramen has everything mixed together and the pork is sliced in larger pieces.)

Kichimen ramen

I noticed several people eating what looked like sausages, so when we left, I looked at their menu (posted outside) and saw “sausages” listed under appetizers. These too are made with kurobuta. I might have to try these the next time.

327 E 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012