Saturday, September 1, 2012

Lunasia Chinese Cuisine- Alhambra, CA

Lunasia Chinese Cuisine- Alhambra, CA: Exterior

Sometimes I have a positive and negative visit to restaurants, and Lunasia certainly fulfilled in that case in that specific order. It is annoying, but since I already posted half of this post's pictures before that negative visit, I might as well document all of it.

Lunasia Chinese Cuisine- Alhambra, CA: Orchids
Lunasia Chinese Cuisine- Alhambra, CA: Interior

The first time we went for a dim sum brunch, the restaurant was full, and we had to wait for quite a while until we were able to sit down-- at a table right next to the main walkway! The atmosphere was eventful, reminding me (along with the interior) of Zen Chinese Cuisine in Hong Kong. The second time (during dinner hours), however, the restaurant was empty with an exception of some family diners and banquet customers, and the mood was quite different.

Lunasia Chinese Cuisine- Alhambra, CA: Teapot and Anxi Tie Guan Yin Tea

Rarely do I see cast iron tea pots used in restaurants, so I took the opportunity to take a picture. Tea, by the way, has a 1.25 USD charge during lunch hours, but during dinner service the tea is complimentary.

Lunasia Chinese Cuisine- Alhambra, CA: Baked B.B.Q. Buns

We began our lunch with some excellent B.B.Q Pork Buns (S- 2.58 USD), which were reminiscent of the buns I tried at cafe TOO in Island Shangri-La in Hong Kong. These had a soft, fluffy bread exterior and a filling in which all the ingredients were easily discernable. No "mush"to be found here-- everything, from the cha siu to the onions, were nicely minced.

Lunasia Chinese Cuisine- Alhambra, CA: Porched (sic) Chinese Green

"Porched" Chinese Green(s) (XL- 5.98 USD) was choy sum with dong choy garnish on top with plenty of flavorful broth. Simple and tasty.

Lunasia Chinese Cuisine- Alhambra, CA: Sticky Rice Wrap
Lunasia Chinese Cuisine- Alhambra, CA: Sticky Rice Wrap

It was our mistake to order the Sticky Rice Wrap (L- 4.58 USD) when we actually wanted to try quite a number of items, as the sticky rice got us full really quickly! The notable ingredient in Lunasia's rendition is that slice of abalone to the top right of the detail picture.

Lunasia Chinese Cuisine- Alhambra, CA: Chef's Special Pig Stomach with Wasabi Oil

The Chef's Special Pork Stomach with Wasabi Oil (SP- 6.98 USD) was one of the more creative and special dishes of the day. This actually consisted of both cold chicken slices and pork stomach mixed with wasabi, scallion, cilantro, and ginger. The wasasbi imparted some flavor, but the spiciness was only felt in a couple of the pieces and not the entire dish.

Lunasia Chinese Cuisine- Alhambra, CA: Home-Style Pan Fried Noodles

The Home-Style Pan Fried Noodles (12 USD) Chinese name sounded interesting (translation: Hong Kong style noodles), and so I ordered it. It was a well-prepared rendition of chow mein, with some crispy noodles scattered throughout the dish. The kicker, though, was the addition of fermented black beans.

Lunasia Chinese Cuisine- Alhambra, CA: Fried Rice w/ Dried Scallop Egg White

Lunasia's Fried Rice with Dried Scallop Egg White (10 USD) was reasonably priced (only a sprinkling of fried, dried scallop though) and felt of of a high quality-- minced pieces of green onion, fluffy rice, and wisps of egg white.

Lunasia Chinese Cuisine- Alhambra, CA: Rice Noodle w/ Spare Rib

Rice Noodle with Spare Ribs (L- 4.58 USD) was a generous serving of both xiao-xing wine marinated spare ribs and rice noodles. The spare ribs themselves imparted plenty of juice and flavor to the dish, but the equally delicious soy sauce was a welcome addition. 

Lunasia Chinese Cuisine- Alhambra, CA: Thousand Layered Roll

In my mini review I noted that "some items", specifically the Thousand Layered Roll (M- 3.58 USD) probably had food coloring in it, but now that I think of it, it is probably pandan extract that caused the filling to have such a color.  These were pretty delicious-- a ma lai bread with taro and pandan filling, but that yellow color is a bit too vibrant for me.

Lunasia Chinese Cuisine- Alhambra, CA: Salted, Roasted Peanuts

Our dinner visit began with complimentary fried, salted peanuts. These were nothing special, and pursuing the dinner menu was nothing special either; it was just an extension to the dim sum menu, which was also available for ordering.

Lunasia Chinese Cuisine- Alhambra, CA: Pan-Fried Tender Sliced Pork (Pork Neck)

The Pan-Fried Tender Sliced Pork(15 USD) actually features pork neck pan-fried with shacha sauce and perhaps some honey or sweetener. It was interesting how the pork texture was so uniform, even "crisp" at some spots.

Lunasia Chinese Cuisine- Alhambra, CA: Beef Chow Fun

When Lunasia wrote Beef Chow Fun/ Dry Style (12 USD) on their menu, "dry"really meant "dry."The beef was fried and quite dry, and the dish was dry overall. Still,  it was enjoyable, and I liked the plentiful amount of bean sprouts and yellow chives in the dish.

Lunasia Chinese Cuisine- Alhambra, CA: Combination Plate (Pork Stomach and Chicken in Wasabi Oil, Jelly Fish, Roasted Pork Hock)

Comination plates, in which you can customize to your liking, actually come as a result of just putting various items together. In this case, we put Chef's Special Pork Stomach with Wasabi Oil (6.98 USD), Jellyfish (6.00 USD), and Chef's Special Roasted Pig's Feet (12.00 USD) together to form this large platter. Do note the Wedgewood plate-- most of the plates at Lunasia, like those of Sesame Grill's, are of some high-end brand. 

This plate was decent, with the jellyfish probably being our favorite item. Unfortunately, the pork stomach was over powered by the wasabi, causing all of us at the table to make weird reactions after eating a piece! The pig's feet was tasty, with a mix of crisp, chewy, gelatinous, and meaty textures, but only for a short while; the air conditioning quickly cooled the pig's feet and made it unappealing.

Lunasia Chinese Cuisine- Alhambra, CA: Sauteed Pea-Tip Sprouts with Garlic Sauce

Our waiter ignored our request to have pea sprouts in broth and instead presented us the menu's Satueed Pea-Tip Sprouts with Garlic Sauce (15 USD) instead. This was a typical rendition, but "garlic sauce" was certainly not featured. The plate was devoid of liquid and was really, really dry. 

Lunasia Chinese Cuisine- Alhambra, CA: Red Bean Soup

Complimentary red bean dessert soup made a better end to this otherwise dry meal, with everything being quite lacking in terms of liquid. This was quite sweet in nature, but was appreciated for the timing. I downed quite a number of cups of water when I got home. 

Our first meal was great, our second, mediocre. I would stick to having brunch here; with the turnover being much higher during lunch, you are bound to have a more eventful and tastier experience, unlike the silent (with karaoke in the background) experience we had on our second visit. 


Lunasia Chinese Cuisine
500 West Main Street Suite A
Alhambra, CA 91801
Tel: (626) 308-3222

Lunasia Chinese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

P.S. This last month of August has been quite eventful and the rest of the year will stay really busy for me, but I will do my best to maintain weekly posts.

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