Phoenix Inn Chinese Cuisine
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Straight ahead, old school Cantonese in Alhambra.
You may not have noticed it in this space but when the Grand Dame of all Cantonese Restaurants in Los Angeles, the Empress Pavilion, closed it’s doors in June of last year (2013).
It still pains me.
I’ve been on the lookout for a good, straight ahead old school Cantonese joint since it’s demise. Now, part of this is my fault since there are old school Cantonese everywhere around me. I got to them all the time, but I usually visit them for Dim Sum. And in my besotted little mind, I’ve put them in that category and kept them there.
Like I said, my fault.
But strangely, it wasn’t my love for old school Cantonese joints that brought me to the Phoenix Inn. It was one man’s quest for Noodles.
Fast forward to the Christmas Holiday. Dear ol’ Dad was in town lamenting the loss of one of his favorite dishes: Singapore Rice Noodles.
Now, this was a dish my Godfather taught him about, and originally had at breakfast time years and years ago in D.C. Dad fell it love with it so much that he start ordering it for Dinner every time we went to Hunan Treasure, our local Chinese Take Out Joint in Suburban Maryland. Fast forward again, and now Dad is living in Houston, Texas…only he can’t find his beloved dish anywhere in Texas. Not to worry, I assure him. I know Los Angeles can handle the job.
And they do.
The night we went into Phoenix, it was crowded. Way crowded. Hey, nothing but a mark of quality as far as we were concerned. Since it was only the two of us, we were shown to a table in the far corner and got to work.
In so many ways, Phoenix Inn Chinese Cuisine is straight up, straight ahead, old school. It’s every Chinese Restaurant you visited as a child. Fish tank up front. Some busy take-out business up front, the works.
But it’s Alhambra, the heart of the Chinese-American Community. So Phoenix has to have some game, and you should go along for the ride. You’re going to see a lot of the basics. You’re going to see a lot of things that’d work on any Take-out menu in America, but here they’re prepared with just a little more oomph, a lot more care, a lot more skill.
They’ve even got a Bakery attached to the Restaurant. They serve a melange of desserts and treats for after dinner, including my beloved Egg Custards. You should definitely stop by after dinner and take a look.
Look, in the end, Phoenix Inn Chinese Cuisine is crowded, it’s crazy and it’s busy, but this is finally the place I’d been looking for since the Empress Pavilion closed. She can now rest easy.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Like I do with a lot of French and Italian Restaurants, I tend to wade in slowly my first visit to see how the joint handles the basics. Yes, the ever cursed Mongolian Beef is on the menu, but I’m just going to pretend no one ever orders that. I went for the Sticky Rice with Chinese Sausage, which was a great little meal. Lovely glistening hunks of rice and the ever present flavor of Chinese Sausage? How could I now be happy? The only thing for me was, the presence of tiny, tiny, baby shrimp.
Yeah, I have a seafood allergy. I’ve been known to react to shrimp, but…for some reason, these didn’t affect me in the slightest. Go figure.
We also got a helping of some Honey Glazed Ribs, which were tasty, flavorful…and probably meant a bit more for the American palate, but…so what? We loved them. We loved the rice.
And how was the Singapore Rice Noodles? Dad was happy, very happy. He finally got a bite of what he’s been missing all these years.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Besides the crowds? Besides the parking, which we’ll get to in a moment. Just know going in that it seems that a lot of the menu can have some kind of seafood or shrimp ingredient that may not necessarily be talk about on the menu page. If that’s an issue, talk to your serve.
PARKING: Pretty straight ahead. Phoenix Inn shares a lot with Furniture Store next to it, so…at least on the night we were there, we parked there, and walked around the block to the front entrance. Easy peasy. We came in off S. Chapel, and parked there. On S. Monterey Street, there is another lot you might be tempted by…but don’t. It seems to be one for a local Auto Shop, and they may mind Foodies parking their rides there, even if it’s closed.
Phoenix Inn Chinese Cuisine
208 E Valley Blvd
Alhambra, CA 91801
Tel: (626) 299-1238
7 Days: 11 am – 1 am