SGV: Phoenix Inn
When I was a kid, my parents would take me to the original Phoenix Inn restaurant in Chinatown almost every week. They enjoyed the homey Chinese food not usually found in more upscale Chinese restaurants. We’d eat stuff I’d see more often at my grandparents’ house like salted fish and steamed meat loaf. Our order was almost the same every week- clams with black bean sauce, cold boneless chicken, squab lettuce wraps and whatever dish I wanted. While I chose something different every week, my brother always wanted the black bean sauce clams. Oh, and a bowl of complimentary soup always accompanied our meal.
It was a bit of a surprise then to find myself at the Alhambra location. Oh, I’ve been to their more fast casual food boutiques where they serve a variety of casual noodle dishes and Chinese desserts but this second Phoenix Inn location was nice. It’s much larger than the original but it’s lost some of its old-fashioned charm. I had loved that the servers wore white jackets growing up despite working with a homestyle menu. Here’s a commercial (in Cantonese) for the new location from 2009 that shows glimpses of the old and new restaurants. It even features the cold boneless chicken which we ordered.
To start, we got the fish, tofu an preserved egg (1000 year old egg) soup. My brother liked it and I liked it better than the soups of my childhood.
The Australian beef caught my eye. What came can only be described as so homey Cantonese. Not only were there tender slices of beef but it came with wood ear mushrooms, bits of gluten, lily buds and veggies.
The hollow-stemed vegetable or Morning Glory as the Thais call it with fermented bean paste was great. Nicely crunch and we needed the greens to complete our meal.
My brother wanted the house special noodles. To my surprise, we didn’t care for it. It wasn’t flavorful and the noodles were too soft. Actually, I don’t like this type of noodle but we boxed it up thinking maybe it’d be better the next day.
I suppose if I didn’t want to drive to the old location, this Alhambra location will do. The chicken is as good as I remembered. But then again, I’m embarking on my Chinatown project so perhaps I should revisit my childhood fave soon.
© The Minty 2012