Steamed Pao (Xiaolongbao) in San Gabriel.
Okay, there it is. That stare I get every once in a while when I walk into a place. “Really? You?”
Yeah, me. I’m on a mission for Xiaolongbao, and I heard you cook ’em up good.
The stare fades fast, especially when folks determine my intentions are honest, my ordering skills sharp and my money good.
Today, it is J & J Restaurant, also known as Jin Jian Restaurant in the heart of San Gabriel, just two doors down from Mei Long Village. The lunch rush is over and now the Crew is taking a deserved break..
…which I’m ruining…
…by coming in to have Lunch.
Suddenly, the context of those early stares comes into full focus.
Screw it. I just paid good money to sit through Jupiter Ascending, and I ain’t about to suffer alone.
Naaaah, that’s not it. I just sat through Jupiter Ascending, and I need Steamed Pao to comfort my wounded soul.
J & J Restaurant isn’t much to look at, but you get the sense that it’s one of those kitchens that would rather spend its energy and effort on making food that tastes good instead of spending money on the decor. Heck, anybody can do decor. Not everyone can do Steamed Pao.
And the folks at J & J Restaurant can do Steamed Pao.
An order of 10 Steamed Pao is no big deal as far as your wallet is concerned…and probably your stomach too as there will be room for something extra. But what what shall it be?
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: When my Waitress/Hostess comes over to take my order, she’s not at all surprised by me ordering some Steamed Pao. (Yes, you’re just going to have deal with the fact that the same foods have different names, depending on where you go. Pao is still Bao, is still Xiaolongbao).
That didn’t catch her by surprise.
The fact that I ordered the Stir Fried Rice Cakes Shanghai Style…that caught her by surprise.
As I said, the Steamed Pao is your basic Xiaolongbao. Just pick ‘em up, bite a little hole, enjoy the soup, down the dumpling. You know how to roll.
I loved the dumplings here. There were none of the structural integrity issues at Mei Long Village (not that that matters). The were just a little better than the ones I had at Mei Long, but not by much. Between the sauce (which I was allowed to assemble myself), and the consistency of the dumplings themselves things were just touch bit better their neighbors (whom I’d still have in a second). Luscious Dumplings is still the best, to me, but the next door neighbors of J & J and Mei Long both rock.
Stir Fried Rice Cakes, in this case are Wok fried noodles, rice cakes, greens and…just a little bit of pork all mixed in together. This is something I have all the time when I go to Din Tai Fung, but the recipe here is just a touch better than the stuff I’ve come to know.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Just remember that this is a cash only establishment, if the graphics haven’t tipped you off at this point.
PARKING: Same as Mei Long Village. J & J is in the heart of a two story strip mall. When you pull in, you’ll see that pretty much every every spot is taken at least on the top level. Just head downstairs and you’ll fine plenty of parking. Slip down there, and try to park near one of the stairwells or elevators. And it’s all free, too.
J & J Restaurant
301 W Valley Blvd #109
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Tel: (626) 308-9238
Daily: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm