Shanghainese specialities (and Xiaolongbao — whoo-hoo!!) in San Gabriel.
My eating life frequently takes me to the San Gabriel Valley, and on the way, I pass dozens upon dozens of restaurants, all serving differing variety of Asian (mostly Chinese) food.
My mission in life is to try every single one of them.
I’ve seen Mei Long Village (no website) for a long time, driving past it on the way to other places. All of the sudden, I found myself with a hankering for Dumplings, and decided to consult ye Olde Google to see what I could find that I’d hadn’t been to before.
And there, in an old L.A. Weekly article from 2013, was Mei Long Village.
Okay, I’ll take that as a hint.
I know where that place is. And they do dumplings? Fantastic.
Mei Long Village looks like a old neighborhood joint as you walk in, and that’s a good thing. I have to say it was a bit intimidating to see all the signage (except for the words Mei Long and Village) were in Mandarin. I’m guessing its Mandarin. I mean if it leans Shanghai and all…
Anyway, when you got up close to the door, the Menu was on display, and it was partially in English.
Okay. Okay. It’s good. It’s all good. I can navigate. And, look-look-look, they got Xiaolongbao. So, let’s do this!
In I went, landing a quiet table in the back, hot tea at my side. Looking around (sigh) I should have brought more people. There is a lot to try here, and I’ve only got the one stomach. Tea at one side, and Xiaolongbao. I can’t claim they were the best, but they were interesting, and interesting in a good way. The Xiaolongbao felt more handmade, more homemade, and that’s always a good thing.
But Mei Long Village has it’s own charms. Remember, it’s not just a Dumping joint, its serves a wide variety of Shanghainese treats and specialities that have (deservedly) made a lot of fans out of a lot of people. I think the Xiaolongbao are good, well-made, tasty, but I can get those at some other places. It’s the rest of the menu that I want to explore, and I’ll be making future visits to try them all out.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Ahh, for the joys of Xiaolongbao (Steamed Pork Dumplings…Juicy Pork Dumplings…what have you).
You know, what I’m discovering as I get older and older is that most Dumpling places (or places that have good Dumplings) don’t necessarily have Dumplings in the name. Some of them are places like Mei Long, which is serving a wider variety that just your usual Shanghainese treats.
Anyway the Xiaolongbao are fine and dandy. Not as much “juice” (Soup stock) as I’m used to seeing at either Wang Xing Ji or Din Tai Fung, but good dumplings nonetheless. The Dumplings are always handmade, no matter where I go, but they feel a bit more handmade here for some reason. I’ve read some concerns about “structural integrity” with the dumplings, which is partly true. (The Dumpling wrapper are a bit thin, and can leak). That is true, but I didn’t find it an impediment to the meal.
The Dumpling Sauce itself arrives with the sauce and fresh Ginger all ready to go. The sauce itself looks a little…weak to the naked eye, but on dipping stands up well, and makes an already tasty Xiaolongbao even tastier.
Yes, I’d have this again in a heartbeat.
Besides, that I saw Tomato and Winter Melon soup on the menu. I like Tomatoes. I like Winter Melon…so why not? The soup itself is okay. Well, a little better than okay. It’s a like clam based stock, with hunks of (duh) Tomato and slices of translucent Winter Melon. If you’re used to tasting a wintry cool blast of flavor from your Winter Melon, that won’t happen here. Alas, the soup comes at you piping hot, and the heat overwhelms all other sensations. Would I have it again? Maybe, but there are other things on the menu I’d like to explore.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: I usually wind up paying cash whenever I don’t see a Visa or an AMEX sticker on the front door. Well, I needn’t have bothered. Mei Long does take Credit Cards.
PARKING: Straight ahead and simple. Mei Long Village is in the heart of a two story strip mall. When you pull in, you’ll see that pretty much every every parking spot is taken. Worry not, there’s more parking underground. Slip down there, and try to park near one of the stairwells or elevators. And it’s all free, too.
Mei Long Village
301 West Valley Boulevard #112
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Tel: (626) 284-4769
Daily: 11:30 am – 9:30 pm