Friday, January 16, 2009

The 20th Birthday Posts: Lunasia Chinese Cuisine

I am what?

Feel the same, look the same and absolutely eat the same (even more I think?). Still can't help but feel nostalgic but at the same time...good riddance, seriously.

Delayed my highly anticipated, usual Dim Sum feast at Elite an extra hour to do some excruciating forward bends, I ended up haphazardly trying Lunasia Chinese Cuisine right across the street (decided to go with the whole 'new phase in life' theme, hence, try a new Dim Sum Place?).

This was probably my first Dim Sum experience back in the day when they were still 'Triumphal Palace'. They have a very similar menu to Triumphal Palace's, not too far from Elite's so, I stuck with some of my usuals, and of course...tried new things.

We were the first guests of day, the three of us (mom, pops & me) were the only ones there for a good hour, service was impeccable. Not even five minutes had passed since we submitted our little dim sum exam sheet (check off, no carts in sight) and our first plate had arrived.


It was simply translated to Boiled Chinese Green, definitely a close relative to Kai Lan (Chinese Broccoli). Lived up to its name as there was no resistance in the usually undercooked stalk of this plant, came along nicely with some added texture of the chewy bean curd pieces on top. The broth added depth.

Then these babies showed up.

Baked Turnip Cakes have been making its way to most of these modern check-off establishments. This glorious pastry encompasses that ubiquitous shrimp-pork-rice flour steamed turnip mixture and adds even more of a swoon affect with its luxurious flaky crust. Still, keeping that light touch; not as greasy and rich as in other places.

Next up was the Sauteed Eggplant.

Eggplant is one tough veggie, literally. To get rid of that bitter, dry mealy raw texture requires a lot of patience, skill and heat. That said, these were good. Texture somewhere between a fried plantain but still a little bit of that raw eggplant stuff left in tact. The accompanying sauce was as expected, a lot lighter on flavors--not as sweet or salty--than most other chinese eggplant stuff.

The vegetable dumplings were standard.

A plethora of finely cut assorted veggies and bean noodles. Just have to wait a while to cool (which I couldn't), so they can be chopstick manageable. Since they are done in the Cantonese style of the south, fragile, translucent rice flour is used, not thick pliable wheat flour like in most dumpling/noodle only shops.

Almost done.
pan fried turnip xo

Pan Fried Turnip Cake in X.0 Sauce

X-O Sauce is a concoction derived from brewing the hell out of dried fish, scallops and shrimp then cooked with garlic, chili, onion and oil. Put this on anything and I will eat it. The turnip-mixture spears were satisfying, starchy and hitting the same comfort spot as a devious steak french fry. My dad was convinced it was a potato wedge.

We also got these Purple Rice Wraps due to the exclusivity of it. But they didn't make the photo room floor (totally crossed my mind somehow). These were the only things that broke that signature lightness that was apparent through out all the dishes. The wrapper acted as a sponge for excess oil. Nonetheless, the obscure forbidden rice delivered its floral savory notes, it was well seasoned.

These though, let me tell you about these.

Durian Pastry

Absolute godfood. That same buttery, flakey crust but this time enveloping the king of fruits: Durian, in all its luscious, silky divinity. I will admit, it was a bit sissified though to maintain Lunasia's signature lightness.

Going again with the theme, I opted for Pu-er cha (tea), a fermented black tea associated with old chinese men for it's digestive benefits, ha. It went nicely with everything, tasting of earth. It kept me rooted and refreshed through out the meal with its fresh soil essence and fat-cutting properties.


Everything ranged from $1.88 (S) for the smaller vegetable items to 6.88 (Kit). for the meat items. I did get kind of carried away. So, thanks pops.

A nice way to start my birthday, first one since I can remember to start off right.

Lunasia Chinese Cuisine
(626) 308-3222
500 W Main St
Alhambra, CA


Exile Kiss said...

Hi Teenage Glutster,

Happy Birthday! :) And great review of Lunasia. I still remembered the previous Triumphal Palace and was bummed to hear it closed down.

Sounds like its replacement is a decent place to get Dim Sum in the area. I'll have to try this place out. :)

Eileen said...

Happy birthday! You're officially not a "teen" anymore. ^^

pleasurepalate said...

Just wanted to wish you a Happy Birthday. :)

David said...

I came across your blog via eatingLA and I was blown away because your writing is remarkable, your taste is refined and astute, and for crying out loud you're only 20 years old! And to be honest when I saw your pictures on Myspace I flipped out because you reminded me of this really troubled emo kid with skinny jeans that one of my friend's teenage sister dates're a really accomplished and talented food writer! And I know it because I'm Chinese and when I read your dim sum reviews I said to myself, "this kid knows his stuff."

You're going to follow if not surpass the footsteps of Jonathan Gold and win your own Pulitzer one day. I'm sure of it. You're exceptionally talented. If you haven't already, go get an agent!

Food GPS said...


Congratulations on hitting two-oh. Sounds like you celebrated in style. Triumphal Palace was my favorite dim sum spot, and it sounds like Lunasia has kept high quality. What are you going to do for 21?

Food Marathon said...

Punk rock knows no age... Happy birthday.

teenage glutster said...

thanks everyone for stopping by.

really means a lot to me and keeps me going in this :)

Chris said...

Happy Birthday and what a cool review. The food looks delicious at Lunasia. I have to go by and have some dim sum this holiday weekend!

Food GPS said...

Nice review. Your writing is getting better and better, and it's good to see some artistic photos.

burumun said...

Happy (belated) birthday!
I'm glad you're enjoying _durian_ on your birthday! That's the way to roll ;)