The San Gabriel Valley is nearly unrivaled for Chinese food in the U.S. Some people might not associate Pasadena with the SGV, but they are indeed intertwined. Until now, it’s been surprisingly tough to find good Chinese food in the Rose City, but that’s changing with arrivals like Chong Qing Yao Mei, Ding’s Garden, and most popular of all, Dan Modern Chinese.
ROC co-founder James Kim has found a higher gear with Dan, a dough-centric restaurant on South Lake in The Commons. The simple and sleek glass and steel design includes a glass-fronted kitchen, chandeliers that resemble Furbeys, white walls, and black cushioned banquettes.
Kim is apparently a Joe’s Shanghai fan, and he indeed delivers a more rustic xiao long bao that isn’t as tightly pleated or compact as Din Tai Fung’s textbook model, but still packs plenty of flavorful juice beneath the steamed dumpling skins. Dan’s straight pork version was a winner, though I’d recommend Pork & Blue Crab ($12) more thanks to their initial pork burst, followed by a savory finish fueled by tufts of blue crab.
Based on my initial visit to Dan Modern Chinese, it’s clear that Kim has taken a leap forward from ROC, and it’s not clear why. Regardless, he should have a hit on his hands in Pasadena and already has a Westwood Village spinoff in the works.
Dose of Vitamin P spotlights my favorite pork dish from the previous week.