Yes, I have a "little black book"......no, not that kind of little black book! This Moleskin that I carry around is full of little handy dandy notes...things like addresses, how to change the time on my wristwatch, and sometimes, when I anticipate that all to often occurrence nowadays, where the heck I parked my car. And of course, it contains names of restaurants, many restaurants, an unmanageable list of places to eat in several cities, some which I'll probably never set foot in....but like making sure you wear clean underwear, you know, "just in case", I'll jot down a restaurant, the address if I have it, what to order, and other stuff, in my own little undecipherable scribbling....just in case. And recently it dawned on me, this list of restaurants, having no rhyme or reason, has become untenable. Luckily for me, I can, most of the time, locate my restaurant scribblings when necessary. A good example is Kingburg Kitchen. Several months back, I scribbled "Kingburg - Shengjian Bao". And after reading first, Eileen's post on Kingburg Kitchen, which led me to Pepsi Monster's post on said dining establishment, we just had on head on over during a recent trip to the SGV. Please check out their wonderful posts.
Kingburg Kitchen is located on Las Tunas Drive, quite close to Lucious Dumplings, a place that we'd been to a few times. And yet we had never noticed it, in spite of the very bright and yellow banner.
The interior is San Gabriel Schizoid......everything from a faux cloud ceiling, to the fake fish tank. And man does this place love fliers....sheets of paper posted everywhere. Many of them saying, "We have the best buns in town".
The tables were only mildly "San Gabriel sticky", and the usual suspects were in display with regards the soy and vinegar.
The woman working was very efficient, and quickly brought out some pickled napa cabbage, which was pretty bland, but kept the starving Missus satiated.
We started with the Niu Rou Mein (spicy beef noodles soup - $6.50):
My first thought was, "this looks nothing like what I saw in Eileen's post." And to put it bluntly, we didn't care for it very much. Nice mild spice, but no beef flavor to speak of, the meat was very tough, and tasted a bit off. The noodles started out with a decent chew and pull, but went mushy real quick.
The broth needed a more richness, it just reminded us of soy sauce water. Perhaps this was the first bowl of the day, and it needed more simmer time?
We couldn't finish half of it.
Of course we ordered the Shengjian Bao, starting with the pork and cabbage version ($6.50). After the requisite 20 minute wait, it arrived nicely browned on both sides.
The Missus and I both bit into our buns simultaneously, chewed and stopped, well, I swallowed. There was something wrong with these, the taste was decent, full of pork flavor, and well seasoned. But the texture of the buns was on the "gooey" side. This is when we took a look at the buns.....
Good God, the pork was still raw, and the dough on the interior of the bun was uncooked! I watched the Missus turn several shades of yellow, or was it green. The Missus managed to flag down the Server, who was already working on several tables, and explained to Her quietly in Mandarin what was going on, and of course we displayed the uneaten portions of the Shengjian Bao. Now, when something like this occurs, there are a whole range of responses we've gotten from restaurants. Everything from very defensive attitudes, to actions that try to place the guilt on us ("well, it's your fault you ordered this"), to where everything would just be reheated and dumped on our table. This lady responded in the best way possible to make things right. She was very, very, apologetic, and told us that they would like a chance to make us a fresh batch (this is a Chinese Restaurant, ain't no way you're getting comped, and we're not into making a scene). Of course this would take 20 minutes. So we decided to go ahead, but take the Pork Buns to go. In all honesty, I still get the heebies just looking at that photo.......
By this time our Vegetarian Buns($6.50) had arrived, and to be perfectly frank, I was ready to turn into a vegetarian about now anyhow.
Of course, we didn't just dig in this time, but daintily cut the Bao in half to check out what was going on first. Overall, we both weren't too pleased with the bun, in spite of the decent browning on both sides, we found the overall texture to be a bit too gummy, and the browned areas hard instead of crisp.
Personally, I love bitter greens, so I enjoyed the filling.
The smoked tofu and cloud ear fungus really just adds texture, but there was enough seasoning and flavor of my tastes. I think the Missus was still mentally consuming raw pork.........
We did have an entire order of Bao which we took home....but we really had a hard time eating them. I tried to have a few, but for once, we wasted food......which I feel real bad about.
We thought the service to be efficient, and the Server was very nice and professional. We really wanted to like this place, but I'm just not all that sure we'll be back.
715 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776