Let's Catch Up, with Taiwanese Donuts

Wow, life gets in the way sometimes!

After finishing my job, I flew to the East Coast to help my family move into a new house, and on top of all the stresses that come with moving, there was no wifi, so I couldn't update the blog. I've had to sneak out to the local library just to send emails from my laptop. I have truly suffered. But now there is wifi and I'm here!

I want to back up and talk about a food adventure I had in Los Angeles a few weeks ago. You might remember way back to the Festival of Books, where I played games at various tourism booths. One of those booths, which was dedicated to Taiwanese tourism, had a challenge for people to visit various Taiwanese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley, hosted by the Culture Center of TECO in Los Angeles. At each restaurant, you would get a stamp, and then after five stamps you would get a prize. 

I'll be honest. Before coming out to Los Angeles, you could fit my knowledge of Chinese food on a few fortune cookie slips. But the array of restaurants and cuisines has really opened my eyes and resulted in a lot of fun experiences. 

For my stamp-collecting quest, I started at Lu's Garden, which specializes in rice porridge studded with sweet potato. You walk up to the register (and not unlike Chipotle) and them point to the assorted dishes in the buffet you would like. I was guided through my journey by my friend Shirley. The San Gabriel Valley is her stomping ground basically, and she probably stopped me from making a great fool of myself. 

We ordered seasoned eggplant, sausage, dried fish and nuts sprinkled over vegetables and the salty crunch was great sprinkled over the porridge. We also ordered simmered meats and vegetables. Highly recommend. Would go again. 

Lu's Garden though.. did not have the stamp. So they gave us the random paid stamp behind the register, and Shirley decided to photograph the journey... just in case the local cultural center hosting the contest decided to not give us a mug.  

This one was a little strange. Uncle Yu's Indian Theme Restaurant, which is a sports bar serving Taiwanese bar food with Native American knick-knacks as decorations. The waitresses wear feathers in their hair. Some things only happen in the San Gabriel Valley. We enjoyed drinks with the grilled and spicy corn-on-the-cob. 

This one was a little strange. Uncle Yu's Indian Theme Restaurant, which is a sports bar serving Taiwanese bar food with Native American knick-knacks as decorations. The waitresses wear feathers in their hair. Some things only happen in the San Gabriel Valley. We enjoyed drinks with the grilled and spicy corn-on-the-cob. 

It's really unfortunate that I didn't take pictures at Yung Ho City Restaurant because describing this Taiwanese breakfast food without a visual aid is going to be a challenge. We ordered Taiwanese donuts, which are long (like churros, but fatter) and a more savory/neutral flavor. You dip the fried dough in warm soy milk or take a more salty, savory approach by munch on bread twists filled with dried pork. I enjoyed it. In this picture, I am wandering around after eating, trying to find a staff member to grant me my stamp. 

It's really unfortunate that I didn't take pictures at Yung Ho City Restaurant because describing this Taiwanese breakfast food without a visual aid is going to be a challenge. We ordered Taiwanese donuts, which are long (like churros, but fatter) and a more savory/neutral flavor. You dip the fried dough in warm soy milk or take a more salty, savory approach by munch on bread twists filled with dried pork. I enjoyed it. In this picture, I am wandering around after eating, trying to find a staff member to grant me my stamp. 

Surprisingly, this was one of my favorites! I'm normally not a fan of beef noodle soup, but Taipei Bistro's thick homemade noodles and rich, flavorful broth won me over. Studded with big chunks of beef that fell apart. Also, our waitress told Shirley that I looked like a woman who had come in yesterday, who was half-Taiwanese, half-German. Am I? No. But the soup was great. 

Surprisingly, this was one of my favorites! I'm normally not a fan of beef noodle soup, but Taipei Bistro's thick homemade noodles and rich, flavorful broth won me over. Studded with big chunks of beef that fell apart. Also, our waitress told Shirley that I looked like a woman who had come in yesterday, who was half-Taiwanese, half-German. Am I? No. But the soup was great. 

Our last restaurant was a vegetarian family restaurant called Vege Paradise where we ordered fake kidneys and mushrooms in a brown sauce, fake fish (which was tasty on its own rights) and dessert. I liked people watching. Lots of families came in as we rested, and the staff were friendly. We had been eating all day long, and Shirley and I had to take some of it to go. They stamped our sheet, and I posed at the front of the restaurant.  I don't usually smile with my teeth. 

Our last restaurant was a vegetarian family restaurant called Vege Paradise where we ordered fake kidneys and mushrooms in a brown sauce, fake fish (which was tasty on its own rights) and dessert. I liked people watching. Lots of families came in as we rested, and the staff were friendly. We had been eating all day long, and Shirley and I had to take some of it to go. They stamped our sheet, and I posed at the front of the restaurant. 

I don't usually smile with my teeth. 

Finally, the big moment! We went to the El Monte Taiwanese Culture Center, which was hosting the contest. When I approached the front desk, I found out I was the first person to complete the food quest! The head of the Center came out to greet me and congratulate me. He said they were looking to expand the restaurant list, which I look forward to! He presented me with an extra mug and we got to take photos!  Afterwards we explored the Center. They had Taiwanese art in cases, a library, and they seemed to be offering classes and lectures, which were ongoing while we were there. 

Finally, the big moment! We went to the El Monte Taiwanese Culture Center, which was hosting the contest. When I approached the front desk, I found out I was the first person to complete the food quest! The head of the Center came out to greet me and congratulate me. He said they were looking to expand the restaurant list, which I look forward to! He presented me with an extra mug and we got to take photos! 

Afterwards we explored the Center. They had Taiwanese art in cases, a library, and they seemed to be offering classes and lectures, which were ongoing while we were there. 

The great failing of this blog post is that there are no food photos. This is because I was too busy eating (and enjoying the food) to take pictures. But I hope you'll check out the Yelp links and see other people's pictures, and should you find yourself in the Los Angeles area, please take advantage of the amazing array of great Chinese and Taiwanese food.