Monday, February 19, 2007

Mini Foodventure #28: Lu Din Gee for Chinese New Year's

Since there were no giant Chinese New Year's feast about for me, I decided to do what any crazy Angeleno did -- make a reservation at a soon-to-be-fully booked Chinese Restaurant. And what better place to be packed like a sardine than one of the hottest spot for celebratory meals - Lu Din Gee.

For those not acquainted, Lu Din Gee is a San Gabriel restaurant famous for their Peking/Beijing Duck - which was featured in Los Angeles magazine in October '06 and a rave review from LA Weekly's Jonathan Gold, not to mention the point of discussion (generally positive) for countless Chowhound threads. Of course, like any place with significant good buzz, service is bound to be a bit shakey with influx of customers - so my friends and I weren't holding out much hope for being treated like V.I.P.s.

Alas, when we arrive (around 6:45p) the restaurant wasn't packed (soon to change) but there were several large parties already there - including an approximately 30-person group seated on three large round tables. And as such, we got very little love from the servers, who were busy trying to synchronize serving that large group before taking care of our lil party of three.

And this was also the reason why I have no food pictures (and thus not a full foodventure) -- we were so ravenously hungry by the time the grub arrived I didn't even remember to take photos, but the very least I can do is refer you to the LA Weekly photo of the wrapped up duck here. Anyways, our dinner menu included:

- Of course, the Peking Duck ($29.95) chopped up with skin separated from the meat, served with thin pancakes barely thicker than crepes, hoisin sauce, slivers of scallions, julienned cucumbers. Sweet-savory-fatty goodness overall, though my friends noted they preferred the version served with mantou-like buns instead of pancakes. Since there were only three of us and we wanted to try other dishes, we opted out of this dish being prepared "two- or three-ways" (which would include duck bone soup and/or duck meat + bean sprout stir-fry, for about $6-$10 extra.)

- Scallion pancakes ($4.95 for one, eight wedges)- warning for vegetarians, these contain strips of salted pork within - but were the crispy, flakey, drug scallion laced deliciousness that we expected them to be. Unfortunately, these arrived with the Peking Duck (we were expecting them as appetizers).

- Dragonballs, ($7.95 for 12 of them) and no, not these:
but actually breaded and fried fish paste meatballs with a mildly-spicy shrimp center, served with sweet-sour sauce. Interesting dish (that we were also expecting as apps, but came with the duck), and my friend got an extra order of this to bring home. (and no, we didn't have to travel the world fighting spiky-haired, beefy supervillains for them either.)

- Snow White Rice Wine ($8 for a light-bulb shaped bottle, enough to pour about 12 shots worth) - milky, smooth, sweet with a little grassy scent - though my friend thought it was a bit flat (I don't know much about rice wine, so couldn't comment on that part)

All in all, a filling and decadent Chinese celebration dinner that wound up about $20/person, which is not bad at all even for Chinese food standards. Yes, the service was kind of sucky but improved a bit after the large parties were taken care of (i.e. so drunk they're just making random toasts instead of bugging the poor servers for this and that.) And we at least took some mildly evil glee that by the time we left, around 8:30p, the restaurant was packed and there were dozens of salivating folks outside.

Note to people planning to go: If getting the duck, call at least an hour in advance - since it takes that long to prepare (I would even advise at least a day ahead of time.) Also one duck order (prepared one-way, by itself) is generous enough for two people to eat, but can adequately feed up to 4-5 if other "side dishes" are thrown in.

Lu Din Gee Restaurant
1039 E. Valley Blvd, B102

San Gabriel 91776
(626) 288-0588


Chubbypanda said...

Good heavens! I've never seen power levels like this before! Where did he come from? Kamehameha! =b

I never watched it. Honest.

Anonymous said...

oh yum! i want duck. and maybe some of those secret powers from dragon ball......

elmomonster said...

I've been dying to try this place forever! I need to call up my peeps who live in SGV to join me. THanks for the reminder and the tips.


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