Restaurant: Ji Rong
Location: 8450 East Valley Boulevard #115, Rosemead, CA 91770. (626) 280-8600
Date: December 14, 2014 and September 3, 2018 & January 13, 2019 & February 2, 2020 & February 27, 2022
Cuisine: Beijing Chinese
More Chinese food, it never gets old. We tried out Ji Rong, another Beijing style place is Rosemead back in 2014 and then after a long gap I returned in 2018, 2019, and 2020.
More or less the usual decor.
Pretty big main room.
There are some “private” rooms off to the side, which offer some privacy, but the dividers are open lattice and offer no sound dampening.
The left side private room is a bit more “private”.
Cold sliced pig’s foot. Rubbery.
Sea Cucumber and Vegetable Jelly (2/27/22). A bit bland.
Spicy Jellyfish (2/27/22). Amazing.
Cold spicy mung bean noodles (9/3/18 & 2/1/20). I love this tangy dish for its slippery texture and great balance.
Crab flavored black fungus (2/1/20) – as you’d expect.
Bean curd salad (2/1/20).
Cold spicy chicken (2/1/20) – lots of flavor and a good dose of heat.
Cold sliced spicy beef (9/3/18 & 2/27/22). A bit of heat, cornbeef/tendony meat, lots of cilantro.
Marinated barley, mushrooms, and beancurd (1/13/19). Unusual sweet and soy flavor and chewy texture. Delicious.
Hot and sour soup (2/1/20) – very nice version of the classic.
2014 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc.
2001 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Kaseler Nies’chen Riesling Spätlese. 91 points. Oily petrol, quince, marmalade notes in a light yellow hue. Electric acid framing lychee, flaked slate, pineapple, kumquat, apricot and lime. Excellent at this age. Slightest secondary notes of overripe fermenting fruit evident.
2007 Joh. Jos. Prüm Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Spätlese. IWC 90. Fresh bouquet of bosc pear and acacia blossom. The palate offers a delicate sweetness, with an attractive interplay of apricot and saline soil tones. This rich spatlese finishes with lipsmacking elegance.
Peking duck (every-time). This was a solid duck. Probably around the same quality as Tasty Duck and with a very generous portion of meat. They do refuse to give you the bones and other parts except as soup.
And the usual boring duck soup. The only place I know of with a genuinely good duck soup is Shanghailander.
2007 Dönnhoff Schloßböckelheimer Felsenberg Riesling Felsentürmchen Spätlese. 92 points. Bright light canary yellow color; bright, floral, apple nose; tasty, solid, ripe apple, ripe citrus palate; medium-plus finish
Beef roll. I’ve had better beef rolls and I’ve had worse. It was tasty though. Dough was good.
Steamed chicken in Hunan Sauce (2/1/20) – lots of ginger, very ugly, and tons of boney little bits to chew on. I don’t think I would order this again.
From my cellar: 1999 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Les Saint Georges. IWC 94. Full, bright, saturated medium ruby. Knockout nose of black fruits, minerals, espresso, roasted meat, licorice, violet pastille and menthol. Huge but utterly lively and suave. A sappy, perfumed wine of great intensity and inner-mouth lift. Very complex and perfectly balanced. Vibrant finish features smooth, toothcoating tannins and superb persistence. Les Saint-Georges of grand cru quality.
Dungeness Crab with Garlic and Ginger sauce (1/13/19). I don’t always love Chinese crab because it can be hard to get into but this was an awesome one. The sauce was so lick smacking good it was worth chewing the shell.
House still spicy lobster (1/13/19 and 2/1/20). Very good lobster prep, but not worth the extra cost. Other places have better lobster (and it’s common).
Clams with ginger and garlic (1/13/19). Any tasty seafood dish.
Scallops with garlic (2/27/22). Good.
Braised Croaker (2/27/22). Nice, garlicky.
Sweet and sour fish filets (1/13/19 and 2/27/22). When Seb wasn’t looking I ordered these tasty/sweet fried goodies. He likes a steamed whole fish — boring! (although I do like the whole fish in chilies)
2011 Hilliard Bruce Pinot Noir Sky. IWC 92. While there is a trace of reduction here as well it’s noticeably less pronounced and doesn’t really mask the mix of upper and lower level aromas that include menthol and crushed leaf as well as cassis, dark currant and soft spice elements. The supple and vibrant middle weight flavors possess good detail as well as reasonably good complexity on the intense, clean and again ever-so-mildly edge and austere but persistent finish. While a bit more technically correct this will also need a few years of cellaring to allow the tannins and acidity to harmonize.
2005 Paul Autard Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee la Cote Ronde. Parker 94. The 2005 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee La Cote Ronde is undeniably the best wine Autard has made since the 1998 rendition of this cuvee. This got a big “Wow!” when I smelled it. A stunning nose of black truffles, melted licorice, blackberries, and sweet cherries is followed by a multi-dimensional, multi-layered, full-bodied wine with tremendous power, richness, and a hint of barrique. One could say this is modern, but the Provencal personality jumps from the glass of this meaty, dense wine. Give it 2-3 years of bottle age and drink it over the following 15+ years.
Szechuan eggplant. Good, but Beijing Tasty had a better version.
Pork belly. Bland and fatty.
Second time with this dish, which is braised pork belly with preserved vegetables (9/3/18) and I loved it. I do (nowadays) love the contrast between the slightly sweet succulent pork and the salty vegetables.
Whole fried fish with chilies (9/3/18 and 2/1/20). Delicious fish. Sauce I’ve had better, but it was still very good. In 2/1/20 the sauce was better, more mala. The veggies, like lotus root, were great too.
Crispy fried aromatic lamb ribs (9/3/18 & 1/13/19). Not a lot of meat, but awesome flavor to gnaw on.
Dung Po Whole Pig Elbow (2/1/20 and 2/27/22) – this was an awesome dish, if a bit jiggly. Lots of fat and very tender meat, but it was really all about the salty sauce of ground pork, preserved vegetables, and tons of ginger and garlic.
Tender (fatty) meat and incredible umami sauce. This dish was an 11 for us Chinese style fans.
Kung Pao Beef (2/27/22).
Pea tendrils with garlic (2/1/20) – very nice.
Mixed vegetables (9/3/18). Light flavor and great texture.
String beans (9/3/18). Always good and these had some nice crunch.
Spicy Cabbage (1/13/19 and 2/1/20 and 2/27/22). I love this dish. There must be pork or something in the sauce as it’s so delicious.
Plain noodles (9/3/18) for my son.
Bean curd with Jalepenos and pork (2/27/22).
Veggie fried rice (9/3/18). Not as good as the meat one, but still a tasty fried rice (how can you go wrong?).
XLB soup dumplings (9/3/18 and 2/1/20). Quite solid soup dumplings. Skins a little thicker than at an absolutely first rate specialist place like this, but still we ordered a second round.
Sauce for the dumplings.
Sicily via Sonoma – Goat Cheese Gelato with house-made Blackberry Honey Coulis and Marzipan Brownies (Sep 2018) — this was a new recipe I concocted for @sweetmilkgelato – Milk and Chevre are both from Sonoma, although I couldn’t get the chevre completly melted so there is still a chalky quality to the base. Blackberries are from Avignon. Raw Honey from California. Marzipan made with Sicilian Noto Romano Almonds and Amaretto. #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #SummerTime #marzipan #almonds #amaretto #Chevre #GoatCheese #Blackberries #honey #cake #sonoma #brownies.
My gelati from 1/13/19:
Torta di Frutta alla Mandorla Siciliana Gelato (Sicilian Fruit & Almond Tart) made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — toasted Sicilian almond base with Homemade Sicilian Marzipan Cake and Candied Sicilian Lemons & Oranges — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #almond #ToastedAlmond #Mandorla #lemon #orange #cake #AlmondCake #CandiedFruit
Blackberry Passionfruit Amaro Sorbetto! — like a frozen aperitivo — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #blackberry #passionfruit #amaro #cocktail #sorbet #sorbetto
Peppered Lemongrass Ginger Creme Brûlée Gelato — A blended milk and Thai coconut cream base steeped with lemongrass and ginger and then juiced up with yuzu and black pepper. For sugar, I used coconut palm sugar and even torched the top! — created by me for @sweetmilkgelato –#SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #lemongrass #ginger #CremeBrûlée #BlackPepper #coconut #yuzu
Mud Pie Gelato — Hot brewed espresso gelato with house-made milk chocolate coffee ganache and crushed Oreos — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — the gluttonous classic made even more gluttonus! — #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #chocolate #valrhona #espresso #coffee #oreo #MudPie
Cthulhu Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato (2/27/22) – The base is made with Valrhona 62% Satilla Chocolate and then layered with house-made Hazelnut Fudge Sauce and Toffifay Eyes! — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #Valrhona #chocolate #hazelnut #fudge #toffifay
Overall, 2014 impression of Ji Rong was just fine. Few dishes were standouts and a bunch were mediocre, but few were terrible either. The menu is a little overly Beijing only for my taste and even includes various Chinese American favorites like orange chicken. Still, an enjoyable meal. Even fair Chinese is good. Peking duck was quite good.
Returning in 2018 I thought they had improved. Maybe I know how to order better, but almost all the dishes were quite good and the duck was as good as I’ve had in the SGV, particularly since Tasty Duck has slid a bit.
In 2019 and 2020 this impression continued. Duck was excellent, probably the best in the SGV right now — although I wish someone would open a real serious Peking Duck place with table-side carving and a wood-fire oven, like this. Most other dishes were very good and they have a big interesting menu. Particularly standouts on 2/1/20 were cold spicy mung bean noodles, peking duck, whole spicy fish, hot and sour soup, and pig elbow.
In 2022 after the pandemic this was still the case. Our 2/27/22 meal was fabulous in all ways, both the duck and most of the other dishes.