on May 2, 2013
A friend of mine recommended the Beijing Pie House to me. I had never previously heard of Beijing Pies, but now they’re one of my favorite foods! So far, I can’t find them anywhere else but at the Beijing Pie House.The Beijing Pie House restaurant is located in a strip mall on the south side of Garvey Avenue in Monterey Park, between New and Alhambra Avenues. The strip mall has parking in the rear, but it’s still quite limited, so be prepared to park on the street. The Beijing Pie House is open for lunch and dinner, but closed on Mondays. The dining area is quite small, maybe seating only 25-30. If you come early, there’s hardly much of a wait, but if you come during dinner, you can end up waiting up to an hour.We arrived early and managed to get a table. The staff gave us a menu and a pot of tea. The menu had specialties from hand cut noodles, and hand pulled noodles, dumplings of all sorts, pancakes, and of course, the namesake Beijing Pies, with various fillings. We ordered an onion pancake, an order of steamed soup dumplings (xiao long bao,) and an order of Beijing Meat Pies with beef filling and another order with pork filling. Looking around, there isn’t much of an atmosphere, but there are a few pictures of the Beijing Meat Pie. They appear to be thick round discs, resembling large hockey pucks, with filling in the middle. As we waited for our orders, we noticed that the tables were getting filled up and a line was forming.Our food arrived, and it all looked very good. The green onion pancake is a large wheel of pan fried dough with plenty of green onions mixed into it. The pancake had a nice flaky and crispy texture, probably the best I’ve had at any restaurant so far. The steamed "soup" dumplings (xiao long bao) are little, bite sized dumplings with pork filling. When cooked by steaming, the filling releases its juices, but it’s contained inside the dumpling wrapper, making it into a very delicious "soup." They are steamed on little carrot slices, keeping them from sticking to the steamer dish.The Beijing Pies are basically pan fried buns that are smashed flat into thick discs about 5-6 inches wide. The pan frying produces a nice crispy skin, and this skin seals in the juices. The beef and pork fillings were both absolutely delicious. I think I just found a new favorite food. Oddly enough, the staff brought out a complimentary bowl of what appeared to be cornmeal soup. This cornmeal soup was tasteless in comparison to the Beijing Pies. One of my friends likened it to cream of wheat and happily ate it up.We were very happy with our meal, and the total came out to around $29 for 4 people. The service was very good, and you can tell that this is family owned and run and they do try hard and turn out a very good product. On our way out, we saw a worker rolling out some dough behind the counter, and hand cutting some noodles. I made a note of this and vowed to come back and try their noodle dishes.Actually, I had decided to visit the Beijing Pie House the very next week with my family. We went for lunch and we were subject to a wait, but we gladly endured it. We started with the Chinese beef cold cuts, which I consider a little fatty for my tastes, but it wasn’t bad. My cousin ordered an odd shredded potato dish covered in vinegar. It wasn’t bad, although a bit odd to me. We ordered the Homeland meat cake with pork filling, which is basically made of onion pancake dough with a pork filling folded into it. It’s fairly good, but the construction is a bit messy, as the filling doesn’t adhere to the dough and slides out easily. We had the hand cut spicy beef noodles in soup, which has slivers of beef in it, but was a bit spicy for my taste. The noodles were very nice and had you could tell they were made fresh. I also ordered a hand cut beef noodle, which had chunks of beef, and a nice, beefy soup. The noodles there were also excellent. We had the lamb pie and beef pie with leeks, both of which were excellent. We also had an order of shrimp and pumpkin pan fried dumplings. The flavor mix was interesting, as I the pumpkin was more like a miscellaneous squash dish, not bad but I’d rather order more Beijing pie in its place. I do think I have a new favorite restaurant in the Beijing Pie House.
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