Restaurant: Jiang Nan Spring
Location: 910 E Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801. (626) 766-1688
Date: September 11 & November 3, 2019
Cuisine: Shanghai Chinese
Rating: Very good, but probably not the best in the SGV
Yarom and I set out on another small party SGV adventure and chosen Jiang Nan Spring (which we hadn’t been too because of this review from the LA times which asked “Does Jiang Nan Spring have the SGV’s best Shanghainese food?”
After our reconnaissance lunch (9/11/19), we returned (11/3/19) for a big group dinner.
They have a newish storefront on Main in the heart of Alahambra.
Interior is clean and free of the usual wall menus, TV’s etc.
For our 11/3/19 dinner we dined in this private side room (2 tables). This made for one of those giant 2 table CF dinners — I do much prefer my Chinese dinners to keep to one table.
Boiled peanuts on the table.
Shanghai Duck (9/11/19). This cold marinated duck is flavored a lot like pork.
Cold Drunken Chicken (11/3/19). Nice for this kind of cold bland chicken. It had some good flavor, very nice (if cold) texture, and was quite moist.
Cold Smoked Fish (11/3/19). Classic Shanghai style cold fried fish. Smokey flavor.
Pork belly slices in garlic chili oil (11/3/19). Very tasty pork as the spicy/garlic sauce was excellent.
Scallion pancake (11/3/19). Fine for what it is, but I usually find this a boring dish.
XLB (11/3/19) pork soup dumplings. Decent version of the always fabulous pockets of steamed pork. Not amazing house-made versions like at Juicy Dumpling, but still good.
Beef Roll (11/3/19). Not usually my favorite dish either, but a pretty good version of it.
See the inside.
West Lake Beef Soup (9/11/19 and 11/3/19). A mild goopy soup with tofu and beef, it was actually delicious. I had several bowls. I’m not sure what was so good about it — certainly texture — but it was very addictive.
Spare Ribs in Lotus Leaf (9/11/19 and 11/3/19). I’ve only had this dish once before, at another West Lake / Shanghai style SGV place, Chang’s Garden.
Sautéed Shrimp (9/11/19). I asked them if they had the green tea version, and they said they did, but we got the more regular Shanghai version. The shrimp were super succulent and with the vinegar quite delicious. Still, I wanted to try the tea version again.
Shanghai Style Pork Hock (11/3/19). Classic Shanghai dish.
This was a controversial dish. Among those of us who love “real” Chinese food, we LOVED this dish. It was moist, fatty, jiggyly (yes), but had tons of fabulous porky flavor. The other table, with lots of lightweight Chinese eaters found it “too fatty.” Of course, it’s supposed to be fatty!
Peking Duck (11/3/19). Even though it’s not a Shanghai dish, they do offer peking duck. The meat itself was solid but not the best ever or anything. Good flavor, but the skin wasn’t the crispiest possible.
And with pancakes — which were good but a bit large.
Hoisin and green onions.
David L, as always, demanded the “bones” from the duck. Sometimes there is meat on the bones, not really here. But I won’t be critical, as that means it just went into other dishes.
Yarom gnaws on one anyway.
Vegetables, soy beans, and bean curd (11/3/19). Very interesting dish. Nice crunchy texture.
Salted Egg with Chinese Squash (9/11/19). Like Zucchini with salty egg. Ick. I didn’t like this dish at all. Yarom did, but I’m not a fan of this sort of vegetable.
Seaweed fried fish (11/3/19). Crispy moist “fish sticks.”
Walnut shrimp (11/3/19). The classic, tasty, but lots of mayo.
Fried Tofu & Ground Pork with hot sauce (9/11/19). Or maybe it was Hunan Tofu. Not sure. This was actually pretty hot. Not exactly MaPo or Szechuan in style, but quite good.
We special pre-ordered Beggar’s Chicken (11/3/19).
The chicken is inside this pastry and they wallop it open with the mallet!
Inside it’s very moist, with tender meat, sweet Shanghai-style sauce, chestnuts, and other fruits and vegetables. Very interesting, if a touch rich.
Shanghai Purple Rice. Starchy!
Chocolate Peppermint Gelato — Chocolate base made with Valrhona 62% Satilla Chocolate and melted in peppermints, mixed with Mint Oreo Cookies — 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 #oreos #peppermint #mint #ChocolateMint #MintOreos
Pistachio Lemon Cookie Gelato – using my new egg yolk based nut formulation with a custom blend of two Pistacchio di Bronte DOGC sources to produce an intense pistachio base, with layers of Southern Italian Lemon Cookies — 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 #pistachio #sicily #nuts #LemonCookie
Overall, Jiang Nan Spring has a good kitchen and most dishes were really tasty. I think the chef (or the menu) leans toward Hangzhou (the old Southern Song capital just south of Shanghai). I don’t really agree with the Times — I think Shanghailander is slightly better, but this was certainly a very good place, in the top 3 LA Shanghai places I’ve tried no question.
Our big two table CF dinner was polarizing as all the people who like adventurous Chinese food (including myself, Yarom, and the AFF) all loved it and the people who like their Chinese more “American” found it a bit over some magic textural or fatty line. They can head back to PF Changs!