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By Steven Li on 2007-03-09

March 09, 2007

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Spring break starts tomorrow and I’m flying home to the land where the sun shines, the food is good and the tap water is even better! But before going back home, Trisha and I had one last pre-break hurrah over xiao long baos at J&J Restaurant in San Gabriel. After a recommendation from Henry and reading about Krik’s adventure as well as a review on LA & OC Foodventures, I decided, that yes, it was about time I pay a visit!

I really owe it to my high school friend Trisha, who has been extremely nice about the long drive from Claremont (and she’s taking me to the airport tomorrow!). We arrived here around 7pm and the restaurant was completely full with a waiting line on a Thursday night. It’s not that big, but still, that must say something!

Our order of scallion pancakes ($2.25) came cut into quarters, a brilliant crisp brown, flaky with layers that seemed to have been rolled endlessly over and over and bits cuts of scallions tucked between. Pan fried to a greasy goodness that could easily replace my love for curly fries, I ate my share of the savory glory and threatened to take over Trisha’s. Yes, it left many grease marks along my lips and dozens of napkins, but it was greasy in a nicest, most necessary way possible.

The pork xiao long baos ($4.95) came 10 to an order, and while they were picture perfect, my heart still lies with Joe’s Ginger in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Still, these satisfied my craving for sweet nuggets of tender meat wallowing in a bath of soup. I bit into the skin carefully, looking in, hoping, praying for the sight of sweet, rich juices. And to a slight letdown, I found some, though not much juice. However the skin was thin and supple, and the pork was steaming hot, sweet and seasoned just so. It’s not perfect, but far superior to what you’ll find at the nearby Din Tai Fung.

But who is to complain when the order of Pan Fried Baos ($5.25) comes riding to the table, in a lucky 8 family. “Like mini manapuas!” I thought. Indeed, only these are fried to a crispy brown on the bottom. The pork based innards are sweet like the xiao long baos, only bigger and meatier! They are deceiving filling, owing to the thickness of the buns. Trisha could only make it through three baos, and I alas, being the Chinese-who-can-waste-no-food, went to finish the other five and then insisted we get double scoops of ice cream at Lee’s Sandwiches after. No wonder my belly is sticking out now!

Well I’m very full and even more happy if that’s possible. I think I’ll take a nap before we leave 5am tomorrow! :) Hooray for Hawaii!

J&J Restaurant
301 W Valley Blvd. #109
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 308-9238



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