288 W. Valley Blvd. Suite 110
Alhambra, CA 91801
From what I know, my great grandfather’s family is from Hainan, a province and rather large island off the southern coast of China. It is the namesake of Hainanese Chicken Rice, a very tasty and popular dish, especially in Malaysia and Singapore. In fact, some call Hainanese Chicken Rice the national dish of Singapore.
It’s a dish that I also claim as comfort food for me, regardless of my ancestry, and it’s really no surprise I ordered it a couple weeks ago when I was hungry for lunch in the San Gabriel Valley before flying back to Albuquerque. I decided to eat it at the Alhambra branch of the Tasty Garden chain of restaurants that serve Cantonese comfort food in a slightly more upscale setting (similar to Noodle Village in last week’s post). The trouble I had was deciding what side dish I wanted to accompany the Hainanese Chicken Rice. After mulling it over for a couple minutes, I placed an order of Chinese broccoli stir fried with dried salty fish, a dish that my brother and I love to order at Golden City in San Diego.
The food came in about 15 minutes and I immediately dug in, considering it was 2 in the afternoon. The first few slices of chicken I had were delicious. The meat was tender and the skin was juicy and fatty, without overpowering. The ginger and scallion oil give a nice kick and the picked vegetables were nice to cut some of the oil in the chicken and sauce. The rice was decently flavorful as well, with enough chicken stock and oil to give it a wonderful aroma. The last pieces of chicken weren’t as great, but didn’t detract much from the overall dish. The Chinese broccoli came next and like thee Hainanese chicken rice, the first bites were also pretty good in that the texture was just al dante enough with the pungent aroma of the dried fish and garlic. Unfortunately, as the Chinese broccoli wore on, some of the pieces were not done as well, either by having a little too much dried fish to accompany it or the Chinese broccoli they had used seemed just slightly past ripe. It was not the biggest deal, but certainly not the best either.
The service, however, was excellent – far from my typical experience at even fancier Chinese restaurants. Perhaps it was because the dining room wasn’t as packed to the gills, but the waiter was very generous in making sure my tea cup was refilled with tea and that my plate for bones was emptied and replaced. I was very pleased, especially given the often rude service I got at Tasty Garden’s Monterey Park location. The decor, as I have stated, was modern, nice, and clean too, which is definitely not something I am used to very much.
All in all, this was the perfect meal to end my California trip (aside from, perhaps, an In-n-Out burger or order of carne asada fries). Hopefully I can take my brother and his fiance here as well, given that he recently mourned the loss of Maxim Cafe in Rowland Heights, where we dined many of times as teenagers and college students.