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Tung Lai Shun (San Gabriel CA)
||140 W. Valley Blvd. #118C,|
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Spring Volume: 2004 Issue: 11(2) page: 24
Tung Lai Shun in San Gabriel in California wins hands down, as one of, if not the best Islamic Chinese food restaurant we have ever eaten in. You do need to work to both find it and park once you have located it. Readers of Zagat clearly have been there and devoured their fine food. They rated the food '24' which is one of the highest ratings ever given to a Chinese restaurant. And among other things, they called the food a 'bargain.' It is even less expensive for those who get there before four in the afternoon when the dinner menu replaces the lunch menu.
This large restaurant, seating more than three hundred diners, sits on the ground floor of a 99 Ranch Market complex that has two stories of eateries and businesses. Fortunately, the building has a third story tower. That was valuable as it stand out as a beacon when driving around seeking entry to its huge parking lot, a lot that always seems full. Be patient because though parking was a dilly all three times we ate there, the food rewarded patience, time, and effort.
Another beacon worth knowing is that Tung Lai Shun, from the parking lot, is on the right corner of this almost u-shaped building, and it anchors it well. For those in a hurry or just shopping at the 99 Ranch Market, run in and at least buy their bread. It is more than an inch thick, and purchasing it to take-out, it will come in a large pizza-stye box looking, smelling, and tasting most heavenly.
Selecting what to eat is no easy task. The dinner menu, for example, has more than two hundred printed choices, and the wall behind the cashier’s desk has some more. Skip the egg rolls and fried wonton in the four-item appetizer section and look at the eighteen item 'Cold Delicacy' section. Everything we had from Green Bean Jelly with Spicy Sauce to Flavored Jellyfish Strips was great. Once as an eight-person-group we ordered the Any-3-Combo. Our only mistake made was not ordering two of them. Then we would have tasted six more items. The Beancurd Roll with Black Mushroom and Bamboo Shoots stood out as great as did a simple sounding item, Spicy Napa Cabbage. And the Spicy Ox Tendon Slices are just that, very spicey and a true cold delicacy.
The great Soup/Warm items we recommend are the Lamb with Pickled Cabbage Soup and the Combination Warm Pot. The latter was loaded with shrimp, chicken, and sea cucumber. Muslims eat a lot of lamb, and we did too, because they really cook it well. The Lamb with Leeks and the Bejing Style lamb entranced, while the Lamb with Cumin won everyone’s heart. It did win mine. On each of my three visits over two days, I ordered it.
But lamb is not all that they do well. Try the Codfish with Bean Sauce, Sauteed Eel Strips with Yellow Chives, the Small Pea Sprouts with Garlic Sauce, the Chinese Squash with Crab Yolks Sauce, the Celery with White Nuts and Lily Bulbs, and the Combination Fried Rice with eggs. Not to be missed are many of the appetizers that appear under Pastry & Dumpling; they are on the rear menu page. The Boiled Lamb Dumplings, Sliced Pan Cake with Beef Soup, and the already mentioned Sesame Bread and be found there. Once we had the bread with green onions; what a treat!
It is hard to leave out a wonderful Sliced White Dishes with Snow Cabbage and Beef Strips, an item from the lunch menu. We had it with others one day, learned that the ‘white dishes’ were rice ovals and the combination just wonderful. The portion was too large for three of us, along with their phenomenal Lamb with Cumin, and a Tofu with Black beans and Leeks that had very hot green peppers.
Do eat at Tung Lai Shun. Chef-owner Tang, a true family man who even gets his daughter from Detroit to come and help at times, does know what he is doing. While there, take a look at the huge jar with pickled garlic, hundreds upon hundreds of cloves, and order some. This dabau goes well with the lamb dumplings. We praised Allah for the wonderful Islamic food enjoyed there.