Restaurant: Beijing Tasty House
Location: 172 E Valley Blvd. San Gabriel, CA 91776. (626) 573-3062
Date: November 2, 2014 & February 8, 2015 & October 15, 2017 & December 3, 2017 & March 11 & April 1, 2018
Cuisine: Beijing Chinese
Rating: Tasty – very Tasty!
The bounty of Chinese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley. They open all the time in almost every type of regional Chinese cuisine. Beijing Tasty House fits in the inclusive style of the capital, which sucks in cuisine not only from right around it but from central and western areas like Szechuan.
This report is a composite of many meals. Sometimes I feel it better illustrates a restaurant’s character to do it this way.
The relatively modern interior. I have to point out the SGV special cove ceilings and the mismatched curtains.
There are two private rooms behind those screens. Twice with larger groups we’ve used them — both of them!
One of the private rooms on 3/11/18.
2002 Delamotte Champagne Blanc de Blancs Millésimé. IWC 92. Pale yellow-gold. Fresh citrus and orchard fruit aromas are complicated by notes of gingerbread, white flowers and sweet butter. Toasty lees and mineral qualities gain power with air, adding depth to the wine’s gently sweet pear, honey and tangerine flavors. At once rich and lively, finishing with excellent clarity and alluring mineral and floral character. This Champagne, which I’ve tasted from three different disgorgements now, is proving that it’s built for the long haul.
Crunchy cucumbers with pork. This is a traditional cord starter. Unfortunately, in 2014 ours came near the end of the meal and that just didn’t work. They were also a bit mushy. We had this again on 10/15/17 and it was very good, crunchy.
NV Schramsberg Vineyards Mirabelle Brut Rose. 89 points. Soft aromas of apple, pear, citrus, cherry, mushroom, yeast. On the palate, more pronounced citrus – mainly grapefruit – and strawberry. Nicely tart, and a touch saline. Not very deep or complex, but tasty and refreshing.
Spicy Cold Noodles (Dan Dan Mein). Pretty much a classic Szechuan version of the dish. There is sesame and bean paste, chili oil, and cold noodles.
(2) NV Moët & Chandon Champagne Nectar Imperial Rosé. IWC 87. Orange-pink with a vigorous mousse Creamy orange, cherry and strawberry preserves on the nose. Rich and velvety, with sweet tangerine and red berry flavors carrying through the finish. This would be nice with blue cheeses.
A (2) indicates this was a wine at the second dinner.
Stirred up it was quite delicious. Not super spicy, but with a bit of nuttiness. Beijing Tasty House was extremely reasonable and a dish like this was only $4.99. We liked this so much it was a repeat the second time around.
2012 Ojai Sauvignon Blanc McGinley. IWC 91. Light, bright yellow. Musky aromas of yellow apple, grapefruit pith and candied ginger. Sappy, focused and mineral-driven; at once rich and lively, with gentle floral lift to its sappy orchard and citrus fruit flavors. The floral note gains volume with air, adding vibrancy to a dry, gripping, linear finish.
Hot and Sour Noodles. These spicy noodles had a mild numbing quality from the Szechuan peppercorn and a pleasant heat. Lots of vinegar too. Had this in 14, 15, and on 10/15/17. Great every time. Very nice balance, not super hot.
You can see the noodles themselves are glass noodles. This was a fabulous dish and another repeat. The second time we kept the sauce to eat over rice (and all sorts of things).
Knife cut noodles with lamb (10/15/17). Another great noodle dish. Much more “savory” and enhanced by adding some chili oil.
Noodle with Green Beans (3/11/18). Looks like old school noodles but actually darn tasty.
Sliced Potato (3/11/18). A good version of this dish, particularly dipped in the sour chili sauce above.
Spicy Sliced Potato (4/1/18). Slight variant — even more flavor. I really liked these.
2012 Gilbert Picq & ses Fils Chablis Dessus La Carriere. IWC 92. Bright pale yellow. Aromas of mango, pineapple, crystallized lemon peel and crushed rock; still a touch reduced. Dense, chewy and rich, with citrus zest and iodiney mineral flavors that stimulate the taste buds. Finishes tactile and long, with strong salty minerality. Sexy and elegant. Picq sends a good quantity of this wine to the U.S. and recommends serving it with volaille blanc or grilled sea bass.
(2) 2011 Deux Montille Meursault Les Casses-Têtes. Burghound 89-91. Strong reduction renders the nose completely unreadable. There is excellent volume and a strong minerality to the delicious, vibrant and appealingly textured medium-bodied flavors that possess a saline character on the clean, dry, persistent and impeccably well-balanced finish. This is a fine villages that is worth considering.
Lamb buns. The lamb meat was nice, but the buns were dense. Really dense. In the end, most of us ate out the meat or went open face.
Boiled lamb with chili sauce (10/15/17). Hideous but awesome dish. The lamb was super tender and had tons of great lamb flavor. Plus that chili sauce always notches everything up.
(2) 2009 Marcassin Chardonnay Three Sisters Vineyard. 93 points. Awesome wine. Burgundian style, like a grand cru. Great minerality, with lemon, apple, and brioche taste. Superbly long finish for a white wine. Beautifully extracted with everything in balance. Very restrained acid.
agavin: Very restrained acid is what I call flabby! A rich wine, but not enough backbone.
Cumin Lamb. The classic hot sizzling cumin lamb. Full of strong savory flavors.
Sizzling cumin beef (4/1/18). Pretty much the same dish but with beef.
2010 Henri Boillot Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos de la Mouchère. IWC 95+. Bright pale yellow. Soil-driven aromas of grapefruit, fresh dill and flinty minerality. Dense and brisk on entry, with outstanding grand cru intensity to the lemon and crushed stone flavors. Conveys a strong impression of silex . This boasts the sappiness of the best 2010s and finishes with outstanding stony, citric persistence. Like a slap in the face today, this wine demands at least several years of bottle aging, at which point it may merit an even higher score.
(2) 2010 Domaine Bechtold Gewurztraminer Engelberg. 91 points. Off-dry and very tropical. Ripe pineapple, Indian-like spices, slight smokiness and an orange marmalade note that makes me think there was some degree of botrytis in this. The palate reflects the nose very well, with a huge pineapple note, lychee and exotic spiciness. It is quite full bodied, with a slightly cloying quality, and initially I didn’t know if it has the acidity or minerality to fully hold up. Needs some time to open up, but a really good wine.
Peking Duck (2014). What would a Beijing place be without Peking Duck? This was an okay version of the classic. The meat was good, but the skin wasn’t quite as crispy as I like.
And a slightly different presentation in 2017.
Hoisin, green onions, etc. The sauce was good here, thick, maybe homemade, although a touch plummy.
Duck in the pancake ready to go!
Duck soup (12/3/17). I’m not a super big fan of duck soup, but this was a good one. Lots of rich bone flavor here and nice tofu.
2009 Domaine Huet Vouvray Moelleux Clos du Bourg. 91 points. Medium sweetness, with lots of apple and apricot. Long finish, just a hint of petrol as it aged. Had with strawberry shortcake and then by itself.
From my cellar: (2) 1998 Nikolaihof Riesling Federspiel Steinriesler. 92 points. Deeper yellow golden hues; white flower, honey, beeswax, stone, apple, grain; richer body, stone, weight, lemon, solid mid palate, spicy finish, higher alcohol, very focused.
(2) 2012 Peter Lauer Riesling Barrel X. 89 points. Apricot on the nose and in the mouth. Nice acidity.
Spicy Garlic Eggplant. Most people agreed that this was one of the best eggplant dishes they’ve ever had. It had an awesome garlicky flavor.
Eggplant in Garlic Sauce (3/11/18). I think a slight variant on the above.
Cabbage with bacon. A nice traditional cabbage dish. Not quite as good as the Beijing Restaurant version, and the bacon was a touch soggy, but good nonetheless.
Cabbage dynamite (10/15/17). Another cabbage variant. A little bit of heat. Nice crunch and flavors. I actually like these cabbage dishes a lot.
2005 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Spätlese. IWC 90. Pale yellow. Rich aromas of lichee, lemon oil and pine.Luscious yet piquant tropical fruit flavors accented by smoke. In spite of the wine’s substantial depth, subtle acidity brings spice and finesse to the finish.
(2) 2012 Georg Albrecht Schneider Riesling.
Coconut Shrimp (earlier and 10/15/17). Why they named this dish “coconut shrimp” is beyond me because there was A) no coconut and B) it’s exactly like everyone else’s “walnut shrimp.” But it was a tasty version with large moist shrimp — lots of mayo!
Also good enough to order three times.
Shrimp with Sweet and Pungent sauce (3/11/18). A tangier variant of the fried, sauced, shrimp. Quite excellent.
Lobster with garlic and ginger (4/1/18). Solid!
2003 Carl Schmitt-Wagner Longuicher Maximiner Herrenberg Riesling Auslese. 89 points. Deeply pitched and complex on the nose, quite forward, offering notes of pineapple custard, mint, allspice, and baked lemon. Medium to full bodied on the palate, there’s a lot of richness here, but the overall feel is one of lightness. A beautiful sweet-sour balance provides interest, but this lacks depth of flavor on the palate.
(2) 2012 Charles Baur Riesling Eichberg.
Cumin Lamb Skewers. Classic fatty meat grilled and smothered in strong cumin flavor.
2005 Aubert Pinot Noir Reuling Vineyard. I’m actually going to post 3 reviews of this wine to illustrate reviewer difference of opinion. It should be noted that Robert Parker has a shit palette for pinot noir 🙂
Parker 95. The 2005 Pinot Noir Reuling Vineyard reminds me of a top DRC Richebourg. Of course, this is made from the famed Calera clone of Pinot Noir, which was suitcased in from one of the most renowned vineyards in Burgundy. The wine exhibits that beautiful sweet black currant, flowery nose, with sweet black raspberry and very ripe cherry notes intermixed with spring flowers and some spice from the wood. A wine of considerable opulence, complexity, and tremendously savory, expansive texture, this wine should drink beautifully for at least a decade.
IWC 93+. Deep ruby-red. Deeply pitched aromas of blackberry, smoked meat and underbrush. Dense and thick but with lovely energy to its complex, deep, soil-inflected flavors of dark fruits, smoked meat and black tea. This is about much more than just fruit. Finishes with substantial but essentially gentle tannins. Interestingly, the Vosne-Romanee clones used for the UV have produced an essence of California pinot in ’05, while these Calera clones have yielded a wine in a more Burgundian style.
Burghound 83. A cough syrup and menthol nose leads to moderately vibrant big-bodied flavors that culminate in an edgy, bitter, unbalanced and hot finish. While there is plenty of structure, I would not age it as the alcohol already dominates and aging will only exacerbate that quality.
More Crazy variance. Allen Meadows hates this stuff.
(2) 2007 Aubert Pinot Noir UV Vineyard.
IWC 93. Good deep red. Aromas of black cherry, black tea and a spicy hint of chocolate. Tactile and dense but with a light touch considering its 15.8% alcohol, showing lovely lift to its dark berry, spice and saline soil tones. There’s a brooding quality to this pinot’s dark fruit flavors, but its pliant texture and early sweetness and personality should give it more immediate appeal than the Rueling bottling. Finishes with ripe tannins, a slight suggestion of warmth and sneaky length.
Burghound 78. This is extremely ripe though not to the point where there is no pinot character remaining but unfortunately, the palate impression of the impressively scaled flavors and finish is both edgy and hot. While I generally refrain from discussing the motivations behind any given style, this is sufficiently extreme that one at least wonders what the point is as there would appear to be other varieties better suited for this purpose?
Steamed Lamb Dumplings (earlier and 10/15/17). From that western thick skin style of dumpling, but still tasty. Similar to at JYTH. nice flavor.
Pork dumplings (10/15/17). Look the same, but a much more mild flavor. Nice pork centers.
From my cellar: 1999 Domaine de L’Arlot Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Clos des Forêts St. Georges. Burghound 89. More serious than the ’99 Clos de l’Arlot though not quite as ripe with color that is almost black as is the fruit with crushed herbs and intense minerality, succulent flavors and excellent pinot character. There are sizeable tannins that are completely wrapped in velvety fruit and this displays a slightly sweet finish. This is really very fine and fresh and while this is not a truly dense wine, it has filled out better on the mid-palate than I originally predicted. It will also need a bit more time as well to really arrive at its prime drinking window.
Lamb Bone Hot Pot. Don’t know the exact dish name. This interesting and tasty broth had a bitt of Szechuan peppercorn, cumin flavors, and a whole bunch of other unidentified herbs. All spice? Star Anise? It was sizzling hot with big boney chunks of lamb. After you left them to cool, they were pretty tasty. The sauce was great over rice.
Our second time around this dish was MUCH better. First of all, it had more peppers and the bones had a lot more meat on them. Second, they gave us this sesame sauce. We weren’t sure what to do with it, but it turned out that when stirred into the lamb broth it was amazing, almost like a Thai curry.
Bullfrog hot pot (10/15/17). Tons of mala and heat. Lots of peppers.
The frog tasted great although, as usual, it was boney and there wasn’t that much actual frog.
Hot and Spicy Mixed Hot Pot (3/11/18). This had everything in it, from tripe to beef, to tofu, to spam, to pork blood. It was rather excellent too. Great sauce.
(2) 2007 Siduri Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Vineyard. Burghound 90. A very subtle touch of wood frames beautifully complex and moderately ripe dark plum, cherry and intense violet that is also picked up by the attractively fresh, generous, round, forward and delicious flavors that possess good underlying energy on the sappy and lingering finish that has a lovely inner mouth perfume. About the only nit here is a trace of warmth but to the wine’s credit, it’s subtle.
Meat balls. Not sure if these were pork or beef. They were just so so. Fine, but I wouldn’t order them again.
Shredded pork with preserved mustard greens and soy beans (3/11/18). Wonderful new dish. Salty with a lot of umami.
2001 Domaine Michel Gaunoux Pommard 1er Cru Les Grands Épenots. Burghound 93. Warm nose, pungent, leathery and clay. Touch of brown on the miniscus. Excellent concentration here. Sweet fruit on the palate, the acidity is present but mild but becomes more pronounced on the finish. More strict, not exuberant – graceful but will the future show more fruit or acid?
From my cellar: 1991 Camille Giroud Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Beaux Monts. 90 points.
Beijing Chick Wings. Cumin rubbed super hot grilled chicken wings! Very yummy.
Domaine Jaeger-Defaix Rully 1er Cru Clos de Chapître. 89 points. Ripe and attractively fresh red currant aromas combines with hints of earth, spice and wood nuances. The spice character continues onto the mildly rustic middle weight flavors that exude a pretty touch of minerality that adds lift to the delicious and complex finish where the wood telegraphed by the nose resurfaces. This will most appeal to those who enjoy evident, if not generous, oak influence with their burgundy.
(2) 2007 Louis Latour Corton Domaine Latour. Burghound 87-90. Light ruby. An interesting if not overly complex nose of red and black cherry with earth nuances make for a less than dramatic introduction to the round, easy, forward and supple flavors that are also on the light side though the finish tightens up enough to suggest that cellar time is definitely needed. Moreover, the finish offers much better depth than can be found on the nose. In sum, this isn’t a bad wine so much as it’s not very typical by the standards of what one expects from a classic Corton.
Salt and Pepper Shrimp. Emphasis on the peppers! But it actually wasn’t very hot if you pulled out a shrimp. Nice tasty crustaceans.
Chicken bones with chilies (10/15/17). The aromatic dish with really tasty boney bits of chicken.
Diced chicken with chilies (12/3/17). A slight variant on the above, but with more meaty chunks and less bone.
2005 Pandora Seymour’s Vineyard.
Pork Roll. This giant burrito was like a massive pork sausage Stromboli. Tasted great but heavy as can be! Hard to finish a slice.
(2) 2007 Domaine Pavelot (Jean-Marc et Hugues) Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru La Dominode. Burghound 92. Here the nose is every bit as complex as that of the Gravains with its pure and ripe aromas of plum, earth, stone and spice hints that introduce intensely earthy medium-bodied flavors that are textured and refined but powerful, all wrapped in a finish that displays a hint of animale on the slightly more structured finish that seems to go on and on. This offers a qualitative choice as it is less elegant than the Gravains but more powerful and perhaps a hair more persistent as well. Either way, both are terrific.
Kung Pao chicken. A nice rendition of the classic. Not super spicy but very tasty.
Beef with black pepper sauce (10/15/17). Pretty mild in flavor. I liked it, as did some others, but others thought it was one of the weaker dishes.
1998 Fox Creek JSM. IWC 90. Bright, deep ruby. Spicy, lively aromas of cassis, bitter chocolate and mint. Supple, intensely flavored and nicely focused; sappy berry and spice flavors are nicely framed by harmonious acids. Dense and concentrated. Youthfully firm finish features fine tannins and very good length.
Sweet and sour fish (earlier and 10/15/17). Who can taste the fish under all that fry and sweet and sour sauce? Still tasted good.
In 10/15/17 was really awesome with a super crispy outside. You can see the improvement!
(2) 2013 Belle Glos Pinot Noir Clark & Telephone Vineyard. 88 points. This is the whackiest pinot I’ve ever tasted. The color was deeper purple than our deep purple Cab and it tasted like vanilla oak wrapped around a tiny little berry. This is a pinot vinified like a Carlisle Zin!
Fresh fish with cumin and chilies. This fish (buried under all that chili) was fairly simply cooked with a lot of cumin. It was quite nice, if boney and hard to get at.
Fish with two chilies (10/15/17). Awesome fish smothered in 2 different tangy chili sauces.
2004 Mitolo Shiraz McLaren Vale. 95 points.
Fried rice (earlier and 10/15/17). With a bit of everything in it.
The second time around we ate with either the red noodle sauce or the lamb sauce.
2001 Celler Del Pont Priorat Lo Givot. 91 points. Purple/ruby in color. The nose has raisins, black raspberries and a smoked quality. Soft texture. Dark and deep on the palate. Black raspberries. It got a bit funky on the finish, but that seemed to blow off. I don’t believe I ever had this, but I really enjoyed it. Got better as the night went on despite its age.
Pork Fried Dumplings. Greasier and perhaps tastier than the steamed ones.
2004 Outpost Petite Sirah The Other. RJ 92. Quite tannic, but not in a way that’s unpleasant. Concentrated and fruitily tasty with nice PS notes. A real pleasant surprise, this one, given others’ notes. The nose is light, but the mouth is great, and the length is substantially dense and decently long. Nice rd and black fruit notes, good depth, nice feel. Have I mentioned that I like this wine?
Pig Intestine Stew with Tofu. Various bits of tempeh, pig stomach, pig intestine. Yuck. I don’t know why Yarom likes to order this kind of offal. Just giving him s**t. Even a few of the organ lovers who dared try it declared it a “bad dish.”
2012 Yaso Toro. 87 points. Rather simple cherry cool aid. Inexpensive though and a pleasant enough weekday wine.
Hand cut noodles with pork. A weird sweet and sour flavor, with fairly typical, almost Panda Express ingredients. The pork was tasty though and the noodles had a nice texture.
We ended up getting it both times by accident. I wouldn’t have.
Sweet and sour spareribs. Yummy sweet fatty nuggets.
(2) 2006 d’Arenberg Cabernet Sauvignon The Coppermine Road. IWC 92. Opaque ruby. Powerful cassis and blueberry aromas are complicated by lavender and pungent herbs. Fleshy, palate-staining dark berry flavors are enlivened by juicy acidity. Gentle tannins add grip but don’t get in the way of the lush, creamy fruit. Very impressive cabernet, with the sweetness to drink on the young side but the depth and balance to reward patience.
Ma Po Tofu. A tolerable but not particularly great version of this dish. Some spice, but a lot of oil. Still I enjoyed it, because I adore Ma Po, but it could have been better.
(2) 2011 Double Diamond (Schrader) Cabernet Sauvignon Bomber X. 89 points. Big & bold, lots of fruit and a little tannin. This wine could wait awhile.
Omelet. Pretty much what it looks like. A nice fluffy omelet with green onions.
Candied Sweet potato. Very sticky. Very hot. Tasty.
Made by me (Sweet Milk Gelato) on 3/11/18: Fior Di Philly – Philadelphia Cream Cheese base, with Graham Cracker and Strawberry Topping mix ins!
Made by me (Sweet Milk Gelato) on 4/1/18, left to right:
Best Vegan Chocolate Gelato Ever – Thai coconut milk & cream base with 100% Valrhona chocolate!
Mangle Berry Sorbetto – Mango and Blackberry sorbetto with a touch of Aperol
Coconut Rum Lime Sorbetto – Thai coconut milk base with dark vanilla rum and lime juice.
Overall, I thought this was a great meal and exceedingly reasonable. We ordered about 8 peking ducks, maybe more, and it was still only $42 a person with tax and a huge tip. We could have eaten a massive meal for $30. But I’m all for the overkill. Yarom did a good job ordering (except for the pig guts) and we had some great stuff in all sorts of categories. I like this style of Chinese cooking as it emphasizes flavor. It’s not straight Szechuan, but has many Szechuan dishes, and all sorts of other good stuff too. Not your typical Chinese American. Most dishes were very well executed. The noodles were fabulous. Some of the cumin stuff. The eggplant. Even the goopy sweet and sour fish was great.
The second time around we didn’t order Peking Duck but had even more dishes and it was only $31 all in, so the duck definitely runs up the price. I liked this place the first time, and even more the second. Maybe they’re getting into a groove, or maybe we also ordered better. Some dishes like the Lamb Hot Pot improved considerably.
The third time they were out of duck (sigh) but we ordered up a stone of more unusual dishes, total of $47 (and only because we were only 6 people and over ordered) and most of them were amazing. Some repeat dishes really improved. This place has gotten very very good and it has a huge menu with a lot of great variants.
A fun night! And if I was going to take a group of friends to the SGV for a “bargain dinner” this would be a great place, as is Beijing Restaurant. Unlike a pure Szechuan place there are dishes for the spice hater. The good Cantonese Banquet houses are great for first timers too, but they are more established and much more expensive with their emphasis on crab, lobster, and other expensive ingredients.
Then down the street for Foot Massage! ($15 an hour!) Earlier AND 10/15/17. Alibaba has very good staff but they don’t spend enough time on the feet (I guess you can ask).
And to the boba tea house for…
Soothing rose tea (10/15/17).
Giant mango shaved ice with strawberries, ice cream, sweetened condensed milk and almond jelly.
Another mango shave ice (10/15/17) with honey boba, vanilla and mango ice cream, and almond jelly. So yummy!
For more LA dining reviews click here.
or more crazy Hedonist dinners here!