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Road Trip! Foodie Walking Tour of Cantonese San Gabriel Valley

hot dog bunThree and a half hours, more eating than walking, we were rapt students during our culinary tour of LA’s “new Chinatown.” The San Gabriel Valley Food Tour by Six Taste Tours was Larry’s idea (again, he luvs this stuff). Adventure pals Cathi and Barry (the ones who zipped around Long Beach on Segways with us), were on board.  

Dim Sum

If you have a passion for Asian eats, as do we, bookmark Six Tastes. They walk you through the cuisine and cultural life of various ethnic neighborhoods. The fact that this is the brainchild of two recent USC grads – Alex Tao and Jeff Okita — was an especially happy discovery of Trojan Larry (he’s been teaching at USC for 35 years).

hanging pekin duck

Six Taste offers 6 different tours around LA. This one, SGV New Chinatown, was our first experience with them; Larry’s already booked us again for the Financial District tour. (Other walking food tours are in my Travel and Road Trips category.)

San Gabriel, not touristy, is definitely crowded. All locals, authentic Cantonese. Guide, Judy, born in Taiwan, skillfully wrangled five hungry couples, kept our attention before we could bolt into each dish of interesting eats, provided intriguing insights into culture and ingredients, and got us to the next place before the outside world filled all the seats. “There are no Chinese people left in downtown Chinatown,” sez Judy. “They all moved east.” Hmmm, I hadn’t noticed, but now I will.

Tea

Tea – “We drink it with every meal. It helps digestion and washes off the oil. Chinese people cook with a lot of oil,” Judy reported. Pretty good tasting oil, I think.

When you take this tour, resist the urge to eat ALL you want (you’re encouraged to take leftovers home). But don’t be a weenie, try everything – it’s part of the adventure. We ate chicken feet. We ate duck skin. I’m just sayin’.

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Strip malls, called Plazas, are where the real food is. Starting with dim sum at New Capital Seafood, by the time our group left at 10:15 AM, the 500-seat (guess-timate) place was totally full and we squeezed out past dozens more patrons waiting in the lobby. San Woo Barbecue educated us on Pekin duck. At Kee Wah Bakery we learned about Cantonese baked goods (and fun “hot dog bun” in my top photo). Recently featured in the LA Times, Happy Kitchen enlightened us on the difference between northern and southern dishes. Tea Infused Chicken, their signature dish, was the freshest poultry you’ll ever eat in LA (live poultry store is a few blocks away). We topped our eat-athon with mango and sticky rice dessert at Tasty. There, we learned about (glad we didn’t EAT) specialties and ancient ingredients which I’ll allow YOU to hear about in person. Would hate to ruin that surprise.

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