Friday, January 2, 2009

Feel Like a Home Cook Meal @ Qing Dao Bread Food (Monterey Park)

A few months ago, I had encountered a dumpling disaster at the much hyped place on Garvey Avenue that was wrongfully named "Noodle House". I decided a few places around the neighborhood in hoping to rectify that boiling dumpling mishap adventure. Tried out Mama's Lu that was a few street down, Dumpling House up in Arcadia, even the new location of Din Tai Fung across the street from Dumpling House.

I always skipped Qing Dao Bread Food that was across the street from Dim Sum Express on Garfield Ave because I always thought it was a bakery. I stopped in by chance because of the closing of Dean Sin World (another dumpling place that might be closed for good if they do not open this month after closing already for two months due to an unannounced "vacation".) on that particular day.

The first time I had tried here was to order a standard neou rou mein (beef noodle soup) and a boiled pork with leek dumplings. To be quite honest, I didn't really have an appreciation for this place the first time around. Their menu was very limited and I had probably counted about 20 various dishes ranging from small cold dishes to a couple of noodle and two dumplings dishes each. Heck, I conquered half of the noodle menu by ordering the beef noodle soup on just one trip.

Beef Noodle Soup

The noodle was a thicker hand pulled version which I usually liked. I didn't have any qualms about coming here the first time around. It was okay at best with not really anything to stand out. The pork with leeks dumplings were good and I did put in an order of cold dish of bean curd with pepper. That was not bad at all without too much of seasoning or oil. I approved of that dish wholeheartedly.

bean curd with pepper

A few months later, I read somewhere on Chowhound that some users suggested going here for sole fish dumplings. It intrigued me a little bit because I had it at Dumpling 10053 and totally hated it. I swore off from Din Tai Fung also as it was nasty the other night when I ordered it. So with that in mind, I was hoping this place might cured my distaste for the sole fish dumplings.

So on a slow weeknight, I revisited this place for that fish dumplings on their menu. With some decent snooping by peeking over the tall portable wall that was surrounding the kitchen, I do think that they made their own dumplings every day. It's not made when it is ordered, but it was fresh enough when they boiled it in their hot pot. Too bad they don't served pan fried items or steamed their dumplings.

This time around I decided to complete noodle menu by ordering their pork chop noodle soup. Here is an interesting catch, they decided to use a thinner koteri noodle for their pork chop soup. As I pointed out, they used a thicker hand pulled noodle for their beef soup version which I found it to be average.

My perception change drastically when I had their thin string like noodle on their pork chop soup which was fantastic. I didn't care for their pork chop or that particular broth. That led me to think if I could request them to give me the beef soup with the thinner koteri noodle on the same bowl, I would have a much more enjoyable meal.

pork chop noodle soup

For their boiled fish dumplings, I did enjoyed it immensely at this location. I was thinking that the satisfaction probably was contributed to the homemade sauce they provided for the dumplings. Their special sauce added a nice sweeter taste to it than the soy sauce or chili that is on the table. I can't really put my finger on that, but the fish dumpling didn't have a bad salty taste like I had at Dumplings 10053.

Boiled Dumplings with special homemade sauce

Again, their cold dish was a winner at for the night. This time around, I have ordered a cold slices of beef tongue. It was not too dry and was very satisfying as a cheap appetizer. I just wished their main courses can match the starters.

Beef Tongue

Overall, my impression was to give a huge thumbs up for their cold dish items. A so so grade for the noodle soup dish and the grade will improve if I can mix n' match next time with the appropriate noodle to go along with the preferred soup choice. The dumplings are good enough to get a passing grade which in a side by side comparison of the boiled dumplings are much better than the Noodle House three blocks away (please order only steamed dumplings at the Noodle House).

If you are looking for a cheap place that reminds you of home cooked meals, then this place would fit the bill for the cheap eats. For a similar comparison, Kam Hong Garden would be my choice for the same exact items order. However, I would give this underrated hole in the wall a try if the other popular Garvey Ave places are busy.

Qing Dao Bread Food
301 N Garfield Ave Ste G
Monterey Park, CA 91754
(626) 312-6978


Qing Dao Bread Food on Urbanspoon

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