111 N Atlantic Blvd #350
Monterey Park, CA 91754
After a long hiatus, blog posting is back on! In general I’m still trying to dine outdoors as much as possible. However, regardless of where in the restaurant one dines, the dining experience is still (and may never be) not quite pre-pandemic “normal” in most major US cities. Given that, I decided to take my recent trip to Los Angeles as an opportunity to try a new restaurant and post a new review.
I chose Tang Gong because of it’s good reviews from other folks I trust and the fact it opened months before the pandemic began. As I was also meeting up with a friend of mine who was also visiting LA, I asked if he’d like to grab dim sum and meet up there.
Tang Gong is located in the location that used to house Empress Harbor Seafood Restaurant, which was a venerable dim sum and Cantonese seafood restaurant for many decades. I have attended a number of dim sum lunches at Empress Harbor and more than a few Chinese banquets there, so I had high hopes when Tang Gong opened. The plaza it’s in may be well past its late 90s heyday, but I was glad there was still a well rated Cantonese restaurant still there.
My friend and I ate on a Wednesday, so lines and a wait were nonexistent. While there were a number of people eating indoors and outdoors (though I think slightly more outdoors), there was plenty of seating for both. I checked in at the host stand and chose a table outside but close to the front doors. To minimize contact and risk with COVID-19, we were given disposable plates and chopsticks while we were seated, in addition to a menu to tick off food to order and tea which came with our own hot water thermos to refill hot water whenever we needed (which, to be honest, should be standard at dim sum restaurants regardless of a pandemic). After a few minutes we ticked off about a half dozen items to eat and waved a staff member to place our order.
- Shrimp Dumpling – 唐官蝦餃皇 – The shrimp dumplings were relatively good. The wrappers were probably a little thicker than I liked but held up well. The shrimp quality was good, but perhaps could have used a touch more salt and white pepper. All in all, pretty solid and up to the basic standards of San Gabriel Valley dim sum.
- Pork and Shrimp Shun [sic] Mai – 蝦子燒賣王– The shu mai were pretty good with very juicy pork that was tender and melded well with the shrimp. Didn’t taste too much of the salmon roe (the steam likely overcooking them a bit), but overall a solid choice
- Baked Crispy Pork Bun – 法式酥皮餐包 -This is the unofficial dim sum speciality of Tang Gong and it is AMAZING. It’s like if you took the Tim Ho Wan char siu bao and kicked it up a notch. The baked custard top with corn flakes were a great textural and taste complement to the pork filling on the inside. Would definitely order more if I had room!
- Pan Fried Turnip Cake – 家鄉蘿蔔糕 – Honestly, these were okay. The fry on them was great so the texture was on point, but the filling could have used a little more seasoning.
- Garlic Spare Rib Rice Roll – 蒜香排骨粉卷– This was another standout dish, agreed upon by my friend and I as the best dish of the meal. The pork spare ribs were tender and flavorful, the rice noodle rolls were soft but still retained its chewiness in the sauce, and the bits of pumpkin were soft and complemented the pork, sauce, and rice noodle rolls very well.
- Pineapple Bun – 菠蘿包 – Pretty solid pineapple bun. May have been a slight let down in comparison to the baked crispy pork bun, but this was easily a nice dessert and I enjoyed another one as a snack for a DoorDash shift later on in the day.
- Baked BBQ Pork Pastry – 香麻叉燒酥 – To be honest I was too stuffed to try these and it was probably the dish that least appealed to me in the beginning. BUT, I asked my friend who did eat them and, in his words, he really liked them as essentially a cha siu bao but in puff pastry form.
All in all, Tang Gong was pretty good. It was definitely worth coming here for the baked crispy pork bun and garlic spare rib rice rolls alone. Parking and the wait was not bad either (and I surmise it probably isn’t that terrible in the weekend compared to other places like Lunasia or Sea Harbour). The bill came out to be less than $20 a person too, which is quite a bargain for menu based higher end dim sum nowadays. If you are in or around LA, I would definitely recommend stopping by Tang Gong for some dim sum.