10 Best Eats In Arcadia: Neighborhood Grub Crawl
Some call it the "new Chinese Beverly Hills." For others, it's just the city where Din Tai Fung and the Los Angeles County Arboretum are located. But look closely and you'll see a lively food community in an otherwise very suburban neighborhood.
Clarissa Wei Fatty pork over rice at Tofu King
Arcadia is the home of the recently relocated 626 Night Market and with a high concentration of eateries alongside Baldwin Avenue and Duarte Street, the city houses some of the finest Asian restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley. Prices are cheap, interiors are cleaner than most SGV eateries and service isn't all that bad.
Mirroring the population demographics, a good majority of the food in Arcadia is Taiwanese-inspired. Think stinky tofu platters, freshly-cooked Taiwanese sausages, saucy oyster pancakes and great offal selections. If Formosa specialties aren't your thing, there are standouts like the Korean Young Dong Tofu and the cornmeal crust pizzeria Zelo.
Because of the city's suburban layout, walking isn't exactly the preferred means of transportation. Sure, it's possible, but it's better to bring a loaded SUV with a good few of your buddies for this neighborhood grub crawl because most of the food is family-style. You may not be able to hit up all these places in one visit, but make sure to make room for a final stop at one of the city's teahouses for dessert: AU79 Teahouse, if you're all about tea and boba quality, or Honey Boba, if you crave sugary sweetness.
10. A&J Restaurant:
Clarissa Wei Shredded pork and mustard greens noodle soup
A big bowl of glistening beef noodle soup. Fried pork chop over rice. Small plates of boiled peanuts, marinated pig ears and a wonderful cluster of bean sprouts mixed with seaweed. A&J Restaurant is a simplistic small eatery on Las Tunas known for their noodle soups. At no more than $7 a pop, the beef noodle soups here have both soul and bite. The appeal is the price: A ten dollar bill can easily cover the entire meal. Small appetizers are less than $2 each and if you have the room, the restaurant offers milk shaved ice for dessert. 27 Las Tunas Drive, Arcadia; 626-445-7270.
Clarissa Wei Oyster pancake
There's no finer place for Taiwanese sausages than SinBala. The restaurant is open every day except Tuesday and you can tell that it's the anchor for the Arcadia Center Plaza because Tuesday is the only day of the week that the parking lot isn't packed full. Adorned with neon walls and a sunglass-wearing daiquiri cup as their logo, SinBala has a large menu filled with Taiwanese selections. Their Taiwanese sausages, called xiang chang ("fragrant" in Chinese), is their claim to fame. They're sweeter than normal varieties and are complemented by a condiment of your choice: basil, garlic, cilantro, grape jam, kiwi, wasabi, etc. SinBala also offers uncommon Taiwanese specialties like oyster pancakes and ba wan (Taiwanese meatballs). 651 W. Duarte Road, Arcadia; 626-446-0886.
8. Zelo Pizzeria:
Anne Fishbein Zelo Pizza
The distinguishing factor at Zelo is the cornmeal-crusted pizzas. Located in a small shop with a faint view of the San Gabriel Valley mountains, Zelo is perhaps the only destination in Arcadia to go to for freshly baked cheese pies. The kitchen is thoughtful and one slice, labeled tactfully as "generous" on their menu, goes for $4. The corn pizza on a cornmeal crust may sound redundant, but it's one of the best choices you can make all day. Inside a steel deep-dish pan, the fresh corn kernels, balsamic-glazed red onions, smoked mozzarella and chives combine into a perfect, crisp medley. 328 E. Foothill Blvd., Arcadia; 626-358-8298.
7. Capital Seafood Restaurant:
Clarissa Wei Dim sum
Few things are better than convening a big group of friends for dim sum on the weekend. Capital Seafood is part of a new-wave of dim sum eateries, where menu items can be ordered off of a checklist rather than by hailing a hurrying cart. The menu is dim sum standard, but a particular stand-out is the warm egg custard bun topped with a lovely pineapple-flavored glaze. 333 E Huntington Drive, Arcadia; 626-574-8889
815 W. Naomi Ave., Arcadia, CA