SGV: JR Cafe
A few weeks ago, I had the whim to try one of my old late night haunts, JR Cafe in San Gabriel. Back in the early to mid- 90s, Hong Kong style cafes were popping up all over the San Gabriel Valley. There you would find a mixture of Chinese and Western style foods peacefully co-mingling and unified with a multitude of tea drinks. The most racy of the sort was the ying yang (coffee mixed with tea and served with condensed milk). On this night, I decided to get an iced Chrysanthemum tea. Unfortunately they don’t do refills on this but expect refills on others.
There’s something about Chinese food where I order too much food. We got the whole Tilapia fish soup to start. It took a while to get to our table but when it came, the bowl was enormous. The restaurant actually piled on the fish, tofu, bok choy on a separate plate and served the milky soup with the preserved eggs (1000 year old eggs, baby).
We had thought about canceling the soup order as it was taking a while but I’m glad we didn’t.
As a nod to the Western dishes, we got the roast chicken. The photo on the menu makes it look enormous but it’s actually just a tad bit bigger than a Cornish game hen. You get a choice of soup and rice or spaghetti with this plate. We had a hot pot of vermicelli and fried rice so we packed the spaghetti to go.
We ordered so much food the restaurant sent out a free dish! We got the seafood curry. I could taste a lot of coconut milk in this.
My favorite dish this night turned out to be the salted fish fried rice. I had high hopes for the beef and vermicelli clay pot but it was a bit saucy for my liking. It made the slipper noodles even more slippery.
Ah but the rice. Get this dish! It’s a homey dish but just perfect if you’re carbo loading. Maybe I should start running.
And it’s not a real Chinese meal without greens. We got my favorite pea tendrils with garlic. It was a tad oily but not too bad.
I still see this as a late night place but at the early dinner hour of 7 PM, it was fairly crowded with families instead of the hoards of 20 somethings.
JR Cafe512 W Valley Blvd., San Gabriel, CA 91776 — (626) 457-8898 © The Minty 2012