Legit sheng jian bao on the Westside? How could this be? These pan-fried, Shanghai-style pork buns are a gift from Johnny Pan, a prolific restaurateur who grew up in Shanghai and Guangzhou and is now cranking out Chinese restaurants at a dizzying clip across L.A. County. He debuted the first Tasty Noodle House in Hacienda Heights in 2009 and debuted a Mid-City location – his eighth – on August 11. Consider Johnny Pan a Chinese food Pied Piper, working with longtime chef (and fellow Shanghai native) Mr. Lu to deliver Chinese food to neighborhoods like Lomita.
The most centrally located Tasty Noodle House is mid-way between the Beverly Center and The Original Farmers Market. A striped awning and covered patio give way to a dining room with blonde wood-panel and olive green walls. It might take Angelenos in this part of the city decades to appreciate the joys of featured proteins like eel and snails, but pretty much everybody gets dumplings. Start with Shanghai Grilled Pork Buns ($10.50 for 8). Sheng jian bao, as they’re called in China, take 20 minutes, and they’re worth the wait. These buns features crispy sesame-studded bottoms, soft tops sprinkled with clipped scallions, and unadulterated pork fillings. These sheng jian bao could use some more juice, but would rate pretty well in the SGV, and have to be considered a major boon for the Chinese food-bereft Westside.
[Note: the manager stressed Tasty Noodle House has no connection to the San Gabriel restaurant by the same name.]
Dose of Vitamin P spotlights my favorite pork dish from the previous week.