Over the last couple of years, we've tried to grab a meal at Earthen Restaurant in Hacienda Heights, but never seemed to have much luck, and had usually ended up somewhere else. The Missus just didn't think that much of the menu, and was sure we could get better Dan Bing and Jiaozi elsewhere, so why wait in line? Still, having read posts on Earthen by Elmo and Pam, I knew I just had to make it there someday. And on this weekend before Chinese New Year, we were in luck.
We're very familiar with the strip mall where Earthen is located. We used to shop at the Long's Drug store that used occupy a large part of the mall.
Half of the problem was that Earthen opens at 1115, not 1100, or 1130....... so we had to adjust our schedule. We arrived at 11am, and were the second set of customers in the door.
There were just two items I was really interested in. One of them is the Shandong Chicken. A room temperature roasted chicken topped with a nice sauce.....slightly sweet, assertive but refreshing vinegar tones highlight this chicken.
While not quite in the class of Dazhou Pa Ji or Dao Ko Shao Ji, the famous roasted chickens of Shandong province, this was quite good. And since we saw a plate of this on every table (we actually checked), this is obviously the restaurant's signature dish. I'd gladly have this again.
We also ordered Dan Bing...... here they are thin and slightly crisp.
These are good piping hot; but get really greasy as they get cold.
The Missus decided to order some Jiaozi. We started with the Shrimp and Chive, one of my favorites.
When the Jiaozi arrived, something interesting happened. The Missus noticed that there was only white vinegar on the table. And worse, we weren't provided with bowls for our dumplings. Very un-Shandong-like. We noticed that the service here was a bit better than many of these types of restaurants..... and when the Missus asked for bowls, the woman smiled and asked Her if She wanted black vinegar as well. Both arrived post haste.
We also ordered some Pork Jiaozi.
The wrappers on these were better than the shrimp Jiaozi; pillowy with a bit of pull. The filling wasn't that great. Some folks may enjoy fillings heavy on the meat, like these. However, there wasn't anything to cut the rich pork, which was also on the hard side. Some celery, cabbage, or something similar would have been a welcome addition.
In the end, we thought the service here was good. Unlike many of the restaurants in the SGV this place is well staffed. The chicken is quite good and the Dan Bing was good, As for the Jiaozi, I guess if we were still living here, we'd have them every so often. But when you drive a hundred miles, you really don't mind driving a bit farther for something better.
1639 S. Asuza Ave.
Hacienda Heights, CA 91745
Postscript: We're always curious to see how businesses that we remember are doing. Back in the mid-nineties, before the Missus met me, this was a regular stop for Her.
And while I hold no nostalgic memories of this place; I was happy to know that one of the Missus's very old favorites was still around.......