Los Angeles is a top destination for so many reasons: beach boardwalks, world-class museums, Disneyland, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where you can pay homage to your fave star (or not). And then there’s the food. Sure, there are the enclaves, from Little Tokyo to Thai Town, with their must-visit spots—but hop in a Lyft and get on the 60 heading east to the San Gabriel Valley to find some of the best East and Southeast Asian food. The SGV, aka the 626, is an area that covers a few dozen cities east of Los Angeles proper (but still within the county). The region includes Monterey Park, which was declared the first suburban Chinatown in the country and continues to grow, bringing along all the best dishes.
518 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel
This spot will test your foodie patience, weeding out the weak from the strong with their wait time if you arrive at peak dinnertime. So plan ahead for this Chinese restaurant that’s heavily influenced by Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Thai cuisine. The house specialties are their lobster dishes, and you can’t go wrong with any of them. But definitely try the Newport Special Lobster—a large, heaping plate of lightly battered bright-red shells filled with savory lobster meat that’s been wok-fried with green onions, peppers, and a secret sauce. Most everything on the menu is a winner, especially if you’re a seafood lover.
815 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel
If you were too slow to get in on the family-style lobster at Newport and find you still have room for more, Golden Deli is just a five-minute walk down the street. This Vietnamese restaurant has all the noodle soup staples and more, and you can’t go wrong with ordering a bowl of their beef-broth pho. They’re well known for their perfectly aromatic pho broth, which perfectly complements the rice noodles and choice of beef cuts. But don’t sleep on their vermicelli bowls, brimming with all the right fixings: lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, and your choice of meat, topped with perfectly fried green onions.
18489 Colima Rd, Rowland Heights
Walk in, flip open the menu, point to the Simbala sausage dish at the top of the rice dishes section. The house-made Chinese sausage is perfectly sweet and savory atop a bed of jasmine rice with a side of vegetables. It’s enough of a reason to visit this Taiwanese spot. Don’t neglect the first page of the menu and the appetizers. I’m always a big fan of classics like the fried radish cake and green onion pancakes. Foodie pro-tip: overorder on your favorite apps to take home and reheat later for a perfect snack.
1015 S Nogales St, Ste 125, Rowland Heights
If you’re looking for the right Taiwanese dessert to follow your meal at Simbala, Class 302 has you covered. With its classroom aesthetics, this tiny spot serves Taiwanese-style shaved snow like no one’s business. Unlike shaved ice that’s made up of, well, ice, shaved snow is a creamier treat that looks like layered ice cream piled high in flavors like green tea, mango, strawberry, and condensed milk. Then there are the toppings that include mango mocha, red beans, honey boba, and so much more. These dishes are sharing desserts, so bring a friend or two, or four, to help you conquer this sweet treat.
1015 S Nogales St, Ste 126, Rowland Heights
In the same shopping center as Class 302, and also home to 99 Ranch Market, Happy Harbor serves up fresh dim sum for when you’re hankering for some good Cantonese food. Some of my go-to dim sum are the veggie cheung fun, steamed rice noodles wrapped with cilantro and doused with soy sauce and green chives, and shrimp dumplings. Happy Harbor is also known for serving dim sum portions of xiao long bao, so you can get a taste of a small steamed bun with a burst of soup.