San Gabriel: Small Plates at Chang’an
One of the things I’ve been looking for in the San Gabriel Valley is a spot to gather with friends for snacks and booze. Surprisingly, there aren’t a lot of Chinese restaurants in the SGV that have more than beer and wine. While Chang’an doesn’t have liquor, it does have a better wine list and a growing craft beer list. The menu is mostly grilled dishes you could find at a Japanese izakaya with larger Chinese entrees.
Located next to the San Gabriel Hilton on the second floor of the plaza, Chang’an is well decorated and even has those trendy Edison light bulbs you’d find at bars in nearby Downtown Los Angeles.
The three of us decided to get a slew of grilled meats and conquer the rest of the menu bit by bit.
We started out with the cucumber salad with wood ear mushrooms. The small bowl got our appetites going.
Oddly, my favorite dish of the night was the chicken soup. For those who grew up with Chinese mothers and grandmothers, this bowl might not seem unfamiliar. Chunks of bony chicken in an otherwise clear broth. It was a distillation of pure chicken essence and probably worth its $6 price tag. We each had one so that’s $18 in soup right there.
I marked off scallops (hotate), chicken wings and chicken hearts to share. My friend added the sausage to our check list.
Like gizzards, I really enjoy chicken hearts. If you eat meat, I do think it’s best to try to make use of the whole animal and I’ve come to enjoy all those “little bits.” Well, most of them anyway.
The sausage was tres petit and mignon! Very cute.
One of the recommended dishes is the ribs which were very tender. I’m not much of a sauce person but it’d go well with plain white rice.
We also got the ba bao tofu, which was a deep fried silken tofu, crab and assorted veggies stuffed roll. I did like this sauce and ended up eating it with our fried rice.
I tend to order eggplant anytime I see it. While this dish was fine, it didn’t have the wow factor of the ba bao tofu.
We debated if we should get the abalone fried rice but opted to get the sausage fried rice. The shrimp chips made me think of Chinese banquets.
Overall, I would go back to maybe either just do grilled meats or the Chinese dishes. Getting both felt a bit disjointed.(626) 872-0906 © The Minty 2016