A local Taiwanese restaurant chain specializing in breakfast and pastries, Yi Mei in recent years has also expanded to Monrovia, California, with a revamped, modern look.
The Monrovia location takes on a modern, fast-casual concept, with the menu displayed on large television displays and ordering done at the counter. Condiments, like garlic soy sauce, chili oil, and vinegar, and utensils are located on a side table, and frozen items and pastries are located at another wall of the restaurant. Though breakfast is the main attraction--think a pastry, bread item, or rice item with soymilk--Yi Mei also offers a full lunch and dinner menu with various noodles, rice plates, and other Taiwanese specialties--that's the topic for today's post.
Our meal began with one of the simplest dishes on the menu--minced meat rice. It came out almost right after we ordered! Besides the fluffy, fat kernels of steamed rice and the tender, soy marinated minced pork, the dish also came with some sauteed greens, corn kernels, pickled radish, preserved vegetables, and a marinated egg.
Next were the leek dumplings, which seemed to have been overcooked as there were some holes in some of the dumplings, and also were doused with some sauce. These had very chewy wrappers and a pleasant filling, but were a bit on the small size. Had they not been overcooked, they'd be better too.
Usually chive boxes (韭菜盒子 – Jui Cai He Zi) aren't fried, but Yi Mei (who calls these "leek pies") fries them on all sides so that the entire exterior is a golden brown. These were decent, other than being slightly greasy, especially on the edges, due to the frying. The chive to glass noodle ratio was very balanced, and thus the chive flavor wasn't as strong due to the other ingredients in the filling.
We were a fan of Yi Mei's Oyster Pancake, which was thin, and was layered with egg, napa cabbage, and oysters. It really demonstrated the multiple textures and flavors--chewy rice flour pancake, crunchy lettuce, soft, briny oysters, crispy edges from frying, sweetness from the accompanying tomato sauce.
The Pork Trotter Noodle Soup was also notable with the pork trotters, which still had a bite to them instead of being fall of the bone tender. With plentiful amounts of the gelatinous trotters, napa cabbage, a lot of thin, chewy noodles, and a broth that had a slight heat in the background, it was a pleasant noodle bowl.
Lastly, the Pork Chop Rice was like the minced meat rice plate, but with less minced meat and a meaty, fried pork chop. This pork chop was tender and lightly crisp, with the exterior binding nicely to the seasoned pork meat.
Overall, a reasonably priced and tasty Taiwanese meal at Yi Mei. The frozen and refrigerated options and various buns and pastries are also worth a look for bringing the experience back home from the restaurant.
943 W Duarte Rd.
Monrovia, CA 91016
Tel: (626) 275-8785