Giang Nan in Monterey Park is one of my favorite Chinese restaurants — I have yet to be disappointed by any dish here. Tucked away in the corner of a nondescript strip mall, this restaurant, which specializes in Shanghai-style food, is about as close to an actual hidden gem as you can get.
There’s nothing special about the decor or the space — though there is a requisite fish tank for good feng shui — but this restaurant’s food stands out for its consistent solid offerings. So many Chinese restaurants lack consistency, whether it’s because of lack of skill or frequent ownership changes, so it’s nice to go somewhere knowing exactly what you’re going to get.
Here are some dishes from my last trip, which was a birthday celebration for my uncle. That’s why we had these noodles (for long life, of course) — stir fried with pork, Napa cabbage and spinach. Simple yet so tasty.
Here’s a similar dish but made with rice cakes. This is very Shanghai. It’s one of my favorites!
Next up is another simple yet tasty dish. It’s a deep-fried bread roll. That’s it. But how can you go wrong with deep-fried dough? What’s fun about this one is the inside, which is filled with small strips of dough.
These mini eels aren’t my favorite dish, but my family likes it. The texture of the eel is too tough for my taste; I prefer my eel full-size, thank you very much.
And the moment you’ve been waiting for (though you may not have known it) — the fried fish pieces with seaweed. This is one of Jonathan Gold’s 99 Things to Eat in L.A. Before You Die, and I concur. The dish is light and airy despite being deep fried, and the seaweed adds a nice touch.