Dumplings and noodles…oh my! In San Gabriel…
When you walk inside, you may be tempted to walk back out again, just to get a grip on where you really are.
The inside is a dark, brooding. One would dare say, a slightly aristocratic atmosphere. You feel like you’ve found yourself a table at an old world Shanghai restaurant.
You’re in a Strip Mall…
…in San Gabriel.
You know what it was, it was the Purple (or dark red). The dark
purple red walls, the low intensity lighting does give the place a romantic feel, even though all we’re doing is slurping up some noodles.
Well, I am anyway.
Emperor Noodles is another place that’s long been on my list of must places to visit. I went in hungry for some noodles (I mean, that is what the sign says), when I probably should have gone in there for some dumplings. Emperor Noodle’s dumplings do have a good reputation, and it’s something I need to check out on a later visit.
But here? Now? I’m surrounded by College-age local kids, everyone coming in for a bowl or a plate of something good. Everyone quietly going about their thing, slurping up noodles, working away on Bao…and happily mind you.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: This review is the result of two visits to Emperor Noodles. The first visit was all about the Noodles. (I mean…what the heck, right? It’s got noodles in the name). I got the Onion Noodles with Pork Chop, which was exactly what I needed. A good tasty bowl of noodles, flavorful, tasty noodles, good broth, and a fried Pork Chop. Simple and good. Would get this again in a second.
Then I started doing the research for this piece, seeing it if has a website (it doesn’t), or an online version of it’s menu (it doesn’t), and I see all these pieces saying that this place has some of the best dumplings in town.
Well, it’s Sunday. I’m hungry. Why not?
This visit I tried the Shanghainese Rice Cakes, and…these may have been the best I’ve ever had. This is a dish I get routinely in places like J&J’s and Din Tai Fung. Love ‘em every time I have them, but these were the best.
The dish itself is simple. Small discs of pounded rice, fried up in a pot, with a little bit of vegetables, a little bit of pork, and some sauce. Had to be tasted to be believed, and I plan on going back to verify my findings.
Then I got the Pan Fried Pork Dumplings (if I’m getting the dish names wrong, forgive me, they don’t have a website) which…as you can see, are not done in the way you’re used to seeing them. They look perfectly steamed on top, and perfectly pan fried on the bottom. They’re thicker and heavier than what I’m used to having (given that they seemed made from Steamed Bread instead of straight up dough), but they were fantastic. Again, making them a part of my rotation when I come here.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Be aware, that first off, this place is cash only. Typical for a place in San Gabriel.
Second, be veeeerrry careful when you bite into the Dumplings. They are coming fresh from the Kitchen and are piping hot. Treat them like any other Bao. Bite a little hole into them, let out the heat and steam, and then go to work.
As a side note, I have to say, there are some frighteningly attractive people who come into this place. And I mean the women. I’m sure the men were frighteningly attractive also, but I’m not a judge. The women here were jaw on the floor, drop-dead gorgeous individuals coming in for a bite to eat, or to meet some friends…
…or in the case of that one woman with the dynamite legs, just here to pick up a to go order.
Man, it’s kinda unfair in here.
Let me say up front, you’re going to need a lotto ticket’s kind of luck to nail a space in the small lot behind Emperor Noodles. And if you do find a space, make sure it’s one reserved for Emperor Noodles. The businesses at this strip mall has apparently agreed to…something that let’s them assign spaces to each unit. What happens if you go to Emperor Noodles, yet park in a space reserved for the Bakery next door? I don’t know.
Push come to shove, there will be plenty of free spaces along South Mission Drive. You should be good.
800 W. Las Tunas Dr.
San Gabriel, CA 91775
Tel: (626) 281-2777
Monday-Friday: 10:00 am – 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Saturday-Sunday: 10:00 am – 9:30 pm