Are you missing my dumpling posts? I did say I had a few left... This one was discovered purely by accident. Lil' sis and I wanted dumplings. I thought I remembered Jonathan Gold mentioning something about big crispy potstickers at a noodle/dumpling restaurant on Las Tunas Drive in Arcadia. So we drove down Las Tunas in San Gabriel and kept going when there were no more Asian restaurants. Then the street became Temple City and the Chinese photo studios and restaurants started popping up again, and just when we were about to give up, we saw the awning to Mandarin Noodle Deli. (Later, I looked it up and I was actually thinking of Noodle House!)
It was a pretty hot day so we decided to get a cold salad but couldn't decide between cucumber or seaweed. The waitress said we could do a half and half since they were both $2.69. The seaweed salad was good, but the cold, vinegary tart cucumber was just so much better.
On another visit, I got only cucumber salad.
And then on a third visit, I decided on something new and got the cold potato and radish salad for $2.69. The cold potato was raw, wasn't slimy, and was just right.
Though the awning says dumplings, there's really only half a dozen on the menu - boiled meat, meat and shrimp, fish and leek, pan-fried meat, vegetable, and wontons. We opted for the potstickers and they were quite large and long, about the size of my finger, and nicely crispy. An order of 8 was $5.60.
Not as much filling as I'd like, but the overall size made up for it.
The wontons in hot spicy sauce (12 for $4.95) were a hit with lil' sis. The filling was pretty sparse, just about the size of the tip of my thumb. The hot spicy sauce was at the bottom, but still gave all the wontons a nice kick. And underneath the sliced scallions were bits of sliced celery.
The boiled meat and shrimp dumplings (10 for $5.95) were too heavily in favor of the meat. These were good, but nothing compared to the shrimp dumplings at Dumpling 10053.
But as you can see, there were large pieces of shrimp and it was still tasty.
The thin onion pancake for $3.15 was flaky without being greasy. Look at all those layers. This was so much better than the onion pancake at J&J.
The restaurant gets full with a small line out the door around 1 p.m. I'm not sure why, perhaps the local businesses take their lunch breaks after other customers' lunch breaks. There are a lot of nail salons and wedding photo studios on this little stretch of Las Tunas in Temple City. Anyway, so if you plan to go for lunch, just do it before 1 p.m. Service was good up to just before that point. Then as the restaurant got full, the waitresses became more harried.
On another visit with Henry Chan of Henry Chan's Food Videos and his cousin, we ordered the sliced beef with pancake for $6.65. I'm not a fan of this as I think the type of beef used is too bland, and the raw scallions and parsley are too strong. But they thought it was quite tasty, not the best they've ever had (that would be found at 101 Noodle Express in Alhambra). Anyway, if this beef "wrap" is your thing, I'd recommend it.
Though there are only half a dozen dumplings on the menu, there were 32 noodle offerings. The onion pancake is a perfect accompaniment to dip into the noodle soup broth.
The pork feet stewed with glass noodle soup for $5.95 used the thicker type of glass noodles. The pork feet had been cooked for a long time and were really tender. The broth was a bit gelatinous, bringing to mind that the pork feet had probably simmered in the soup.
We also got the beef tendon noodle soup for $5.95. The tendon was incredibly tender. The noodles were soft, but not chewy. The broth was the same as the pork feet noodle soup. Lots of greens. Large portions.
I went on another visit with cousin Q and we ordered the beef stew with homemade noodle soup for $6.75. The noodles were thick, soft, only slightly chewy. Really nice and doughy in the way that only homemade noodles can be. This was my favorite of the three. But still the same gelatinous broth. I'm wondering if they just have the same broth for all the noodle soups and just add the different meat parts and noodles when you order. Not that that's necessarily bad, just that if you don't like that type of broth, you might want to stick to the dumpling and cold salad part of the menu.
The rest of the menu features some Mandarin specialties such as kung pao chicken and sweet and sour pork. But I've only ever seen people order the dumplings and noodles, so I'd stick with what the restaurant seems to do best.
*Minimum charge of $4 for each person. (I just find this funny. Like did they have an incident where someone came in and only ordered the $2.69 cold salads?)
May 7, 2010 update: Tipped off by Eat. Travel. Eat!, this restaurant is closed. The new owners have named it New Mandarin Noodle Deli, and while some items might be the same, the dishes are made by a different person.
Mandarin Noodle Deli
9537 Las Tunas Dr.
Temple City, CA 91780
Tuesday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.