Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ethnic Food of the San Gabriel Valley: From the Tense Mid-East to the Bucolic Pyranees

Cuisines covered in previous posts: Mexican, Cajun, Nepalese

Middle East cultures are well represented here in the San Gabriel Valley. This week, we'll focus on Lebanese Food

While you can find serviceable Lebanese pretty much anywhere north of the 10 Freeway, we'll focus on one of our legendary little fast food chains, Zankou Chicken

You can find outlets of this quarrelsome family's stores throughout the L.A. area but their SGV location is on Colorado Boulevard, just east of Hill and Pasadena City College.

The family that runs the place has a history of feuding going from arguing and never speaking to each other again to outright murder.

Don't let that history put you off, though, just think of it as spice to their one-of-a-kind rotisserie chicken that comes out mouth-wateringly juicy and delicious. Served with warm pita bread and hummus, it's a special treat right there.  

But wait, there's more!

Be sure to get their super-secret formula garlic sauce on the side to dip your chicken in.  It takes what is a wonderful, flavorful bite of chicken into eating Heaven's manna.

For far less than $10, you can stuff yourself silly on this feast.

Asian cuisine is very big here and there's a large variety. I don't think there's a city in the valley without an outlet dispensing Thai Food.

From the kid-friendly skewers of satai to the more familiar entrees of pad Thai, the food representing Thailand here is very good.  

We've visited Thai restaurants from San Dimas to Arcadia and everywhere in between but have yet to find a better Thai restaurant than the tiny little Thai City on Huntington Drive, just east of Mt. Olive in the city of Duarte.

While it's all good, my favorite is the nutty pad Thai they serve, while my wife likes the savory, brothy flavors of the pad see ew with many of the sea's creatures throw in for goodness.

When she's feeling sick, she'll send me over there to get their hot and sour chicken soup made with lemon grass to help her feel better.

We'll finish this week with a word about Basque Food here in the SGV. The Basque come from the border region where Spain and France meet. Many immigrated to America where they became shepherds and brought their own ethnic identity with them.

A Basque meal is legendary. Like being at your aunt Ethel's house, everything is shared. Big bowls of hearty soup, salad, loaves of bread, jugs of wine...and that's still a couple of courses before  the main entree...you'll be waddling out of the restaurant more than walking.

The valley features two Basque restaurant. Le Basque Chalet in La Puente which, while the food is good seems like you're dining in the parlor of the Munsters, and the Continental in Glendora, which the less said about the better.

The closest really good Basque restaurant is a bit beyond the borders of the SGV in the dairy town of Chino. Centro Basco is the go-to place around here for Basque food (good enough that we booked it for Tim's college graduation party). Beyond that, it's a drive over the mountains to Bakersfield to get some more really good Basque food.

Copyright 2013 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

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