A pretty long while back, uber Foodblogger Wandering Chopsticks mentioned that she thought that Kang Kang Food Court in Alhrambra made the best Shengjian Bao in LA. Kang Kang Food Court...... So I made a note, and on one of our road trips we decided to drop by, and check out the SJB.
Bare bones and very cafeteria like, Kang Kang offers both steam table and cold items, in addition to various menu items. The word "menu" kinda understates "THE MENU" which takes up the top of an entire side of the place. It's one thing to have a book-sized menu delivered to your table..... and another to have to look at what seems like an unending number of items lining a wall.......
As far as XLB are concerned these weren't very good. First off, a couple had leaked..... so "no soup for you". Second the folds of the Bao were hard as rock, and the wrapper too thick. Not enough soup, which was flavored pretty neutrally, not too sweet. The meatball was too hard and "squeaky".
Usually, food like this would pretty much ward me off. But in this case, there were a couple of things I kinda enjoyed. First, when you place your order, you give the cashier your table number. And in a few minutes, you get a pot of tea delivered to your table, along with the standard black vinegar based dipping sauce. I admit that this place goes a bit overboard with the styrofoam, and the tea is basically tea colored water, but it's a nice touch. Second, the cashier is very nice, a step up from the perfunctory, sometimes rude service you get at the other Shao Mei's and Sam Woo's. And in fact, some of the steam table stuff looked pretty good. I'll say this much, the stuff at Sam Woo's take-out here in San Diego looks pretty bad in comparison.
So on Christmas eve, the Missus and I decided, to drive up, and kinda do a semi-crawl, very leisurely going back to a few places we enjoyed, maybe try a new place, and do some take-out for calm Christmas Day. So why not stop at Kang Kang and try the Shengjiang Bao? Which is what we did.
We followed the drill, and after about 15 minutes, our Shengjiang Bao arrived, glistening under the fluorescent lighting.
So how did we enjoy it? Well first off, these were blasting hot, and full of juice. They'll literally explode when you bite into them. The "soup" has a strong pork flavor, which the Missus thought was too "porky", for me, the porkier the better. I love the crust on the bottom, but thought the rest of the Bao had not risen enough, and we were left with gummy dough. I want the tops of my SJB or Lu Bao to be somewhat fluffy. Again, I had a problem with the filling, which was a hard and squeaky meatball.
I guess if we could get the crust and soup from this SJB, and cross it with the filling and semi-leavened breadiness of the SJB at Food Cabin we'd be happy. As it was, this was not bad, and soon enough it was time to move on to our next stop.
Kang Kang Food Court
27 E Valley Blvd
Alhambra, CA 91801