Indian: Kitschy Taiwan-Style Pub with Stinky Tofu in San Gabriel
633 South San Gabriel Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91776
626 287 0688
Date of Visit: August 20, 2009
We arrived at Indian at 8, and the Taiwan-style pub in the middle of the San Gabriel Valley was already packed with Asian twentysomethings. It was still early, but one girl was already so tanked-up on pitchers of cheap beer that she’d lost the ability to walk. Several times during the course of our meal, her friends literally had to carry her past our picnic table to the bathroom. It’s that kind of place. Thankfully, it’s also a spot with some good bar bites, some of which can get pretty exotic.
According to Cindy Chang’s article in the LA Times, owners Su Yu Feng Yu and husband Wen Tiung Yu modeled their restaurant after a Taipei pub of the same name. The space features a Native-American theme that’s pretty much the opposite of P.C., with waitresses who wear short skirts and feathered headdresses. You’ll also find plenty of wood and fake trees that are supposed to mimic the forest. It was a long way from “Lost of the Mohicans,” but I guess the kitschy look is kind of interesting.
Three flavored sauce combination in pot ($10.99) featured caramelized cross-sections of pig intestine, juicy nubs of on-the-bone chicken thigh, calamari and basil, all bathed in a syrupy soy reduction. Make sure to get some steamed white rice to cut the richness of this addictive dish.
Mattatouille was excited to share “sauteed odorous tofu” ($8.99) – Taiwan’s famed “stinky tofu.” The notorious dish tasted better than it smelled, with the crumbled bits tossed with breadcrumbs and scallions. Spoon the funky crumble over white rice. My first tussle with fermented tofu wasn’t all that enjoyable due to the smell. It probably would have been better if we could have kept the plate in the next room, or maybe down the street. Apparently Indian doesn’t even serve the funkiest version in the San Gabriel Valley.
After order duck tongues, pork intestine and stinky tofu, the “combination fried noodle” ($8.99) was seriously boring, with relatively bland noodles tossed with beef, pork, shrimp and plenty of five-spice powder.
Catatonic drunk aside, Indian delivered a solid pub experience. My next meal at Indian probably won’t involve stinky tofu, but there will be a repeat visit.