Shen Yang Monterey Park is a bit of a mystery. What isn’t a mystery is my love for the “other” Shen Yang in San Gabriel. No one should ever have a problem recalling extreme flavors of Chinese food, in Los Angeles, while visiting Shen Yang San Gabriel. When done correctly, Shen Yang San Gabriel is one of the most boisterous, “authentic”, flavorful, economical, and earthy restaurants in West San Gabriel Valley. Shen Yang Monterey Park, on the other hand, serves a lesser purpose.
And the purpose is this: to get absolutely plastered on “hundred flavor” (Budweiser) beer while downing skewers of offals, accompanied by bowls of massive flavors of funky room temp or cold dishes, finished off by vinegary Chinese renditions of Korean naengmyeon cold noodles. To do anything else here would be a waste of time. If one must deviate, it’s safest to go with some fried Korean-Chinese meats (think: sweet and sour fish filet, fried crab, fried cumin chicken bones). The meal looks something like this:
This stuff is just fantastic. Top: 5 color mung bean noodles chock full of vinegar and sesame dressing. It is a huge plate for $7, and is enough for a meal. Middle: $7 bowl of possibly the best naengmyeon in Los Angeles. How is this possible in a city with 50% Chinese population? Firstly, they press their own dough into noodles. Secondly, you can ask for NO MSG. Thirdly, it comes in two flavor combinations. Everyone seems to go for the vinegary and sweet. You’re on your own if you order the savory. Third on the picture above: the most fantastic beer pairing Chinese dish in all of Monterey Park, the racing dog (greyhound) meat. Or, Shen Yang style chilled pulled pork. It’s served near room temp, topped with cilantro, old black vinegary, sesame seeds. Think of it as fresh pork jerky.
A few other dishes are bang on: the cumin doused chopped fried chicken bone is even better than that of the other Shen Yang, if not only for the meatier pieces, but for the inclusion of plentiful fried skin. It’s a bit saltier than Shen Yang San Gabriel, but there’s that bowl of vinegary cold noodle to balance out the salt. All the sweet and sour fried meats are just fantastic, if you’re into that type of Korean-bastardized Chinese food. Per request, they will make sweet and sour fried pork tenderloin. At $12, it’s not affordable, but it beats driving to The Dragon in Ktown and getting ripped by the valet. Perhaps go with the twice cooked pork, or the expertly prepared spicy tripe ($4!) instead, then?
Nonetheless, there are some massive misses. The spicy sauteed pork intestine lacked technique, and missed all the musings of a fried sauteed pork intestine dish ala JTYH. The “snow fish” with tofu stew ended up being bony pollack and nearly unconsumable. Don’t do that one. Furthermore, between grand opening and Mid-May, Shen Yan Monterey Park pussed out and trimmed the menu by half, taking out nearly all the interesting dishes such as: “fresh Ethnic flavor of dried beans”, “Korean Platycon gradiflorus”, “combination beef offal”, “fried pickled sour Napa”, and seafood “goose pimple soup”. What a shame.
Super protip: according to the Mistress, “nothing has been removed the menu”. If you’re in the know, one’d be able to guess as to what was originally on the April soft-opening menu which I’ll attach shortly.