Back in fall 2007, when lil' sis abandoned me, without someone around that I had to feed or a readily available dining companion, I got lazy. Sometimes it seemed like too much effort to go out to eat or to cook for one.
Was this how bachelors felt?
Even something as simple as dim sum would require making plans with someone. Sometimes, a girl just wants a dumpling or two. Long before I realized that several of the big dim sum restaurants had take-out dim sum available for cheap, my family used to go to Dim Sum Express in Monterey Park.
A decade ago, Dim Sum Express was a cheap, cheap option for a quick snack. My cousins and I would sometimes go and just order the cheapest item - 4 potstickers for $1. This was obviously before I discovered dumpling restaurants too. Sure they rather resembled the frozen kind I can buy at the grocery stores, but they were freshly pan-fried and cheap.
So one day, I decided to revisit this old haunt. There's two dilapidated wooden picnic tables on the side for eating, but most people just get stuff to-go. The full picture menu is on the front of the restaurant, between the "place order" and "pick-up" windows.
You can look inside and see the steam trays of dim sum.
I got one hom sui gok (Chinese glutinous rice dumpling) for 69 cents and an order of potstickers for $1.29. The hom sui gok was crispy and chewy on the outside with pork filling on the inside. The potstickers were perfectly acceptable, even if they tipped on the other side of the $1.
On a different visit, I got the $6.50 dim sum combo, which included two egg rolls, two egg tarts, two baked pastries that I've long ago forgotten, two hom sui gok, har gow (Chinese shrimp dumplings), and two sui mai (Chinese meatballs). As far as dim sum goes, just OK. I guess it goes with relative value. One hom sui gok and an order of potstickers means a $2 snack. A whole combo and I feel like I want a better flavor return for my money.
I saw leaping flames when the cook prepared something in his wok. It was time to move beyond dim sum then.
The beef udon with black pepper stir-fry for $4.99 was freshly made upon order. I think this lasted for three meals for me. Tasty food, in a huge container, for a good price, that could be stretched for multiple meals, meant my nostalgic trip to Dim Sum Express wasn't entirely in vain.
I ordered the vegetable chow mein stir-fry for $3.99 at another visit and it just didn't have the same flavor. The beef udon was definitely the way to go.
I noticed the cook freshly frying up deep-fried pork chops for someone else's order so I had to order that too. Big container of Chinese deep-fried pork chop rice for $4.29. This lasted me through several meals as well. Definitely one of the better options.
With so many dim sum restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley, Dim Sum Express' version doesn't really warrant a visit. But if you're craving some comfort noodle stir-fries or rice dishes, they're freshly made upon order, are huge servings, and taste much better than the dim sum.
Other dim sum restaurant posts:
Bon Marche Bistro/B Village Cuisine (Dim Sum) - Monterey Park
Capital Dim Sum & BBQ - Monterey Park
CBS Seafood Restaurant (Dim Sum) - Los Angeles (Chinatown)
Elite Restaurant (Dim Sum) - Monterey Park
Full House Seafood Restaurant (Dim Sum) - Arcadia
Lunasia Chinese Cuisine (Dim Sum) - Alhambra
Ocean Star Seafood Restaurant (Dim Sum) - Monterey Park
Dim Sum Express
326 N. Garfield Ave.
Monterey Park, CA 91754
7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
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