Friday, March 13, 2009

Let's all take a dive into Lake Spring! (Monterey Park)

Front of Lake Spring

Lake Spring, one of the many Shanghai style restaurants that has been popping up along Garvey Avenue in the Monterey Park area in the year 2008. My first visit here was with a few friends and had a pleasant dinner (a then 30% off special helped quite a bit). Subsequently, I came back to Lake Spring to a dinner hosted by Tony C. and the group of us feasted on various seafood dishes and their famous pork hocks done 2 ways. While there were some misses, my overall take on the place was: Solid Shanghai style cuisine, at an affordable price.

Well, this is San Gabriel Valley, and not West LA. Expensive, poor quality Chinese will not cut it here!

With that said, on Chinese New Year, when all the restaurants around town are bustling with families (what recession??), my friends and I decided on Lake Spring after seeing the god awful lines at Newport Seafood on Las Tunas. What should we order??? can't forget the most important item in any Chinese establishment, the tea.

Now, let's get down to business. Savory braised pork hock or the steamed one? As our group decided to go light, we went with the steamed pork hock:
Lake Spring House Special Steamed Pork Hock - $18.99

To me, this is the best dish at Lake Spring (#2 I think is the fried taro chips with anchovies that we unfortunately didn't order that night). The skin may look fatty, but it was actually quite light. There were plenty of lean meat on the hock and with the vinegar sauce provided (not pictured) it was actually a refreshing dish, especially compared to the other version available, the braised pork hock. While I liked both version, I have to give the steamed version the slight edge as the braised hock can be slightly salty.

House Stir Fried Shrimp - $12.99

This shrimp dish I thought was OK. The best shrimp dish here is the Shrimp done in 2 ways (Green/Red), which was shrimp stir fried in two separate sauces. Green was made from Spinach and Red was a ketchup based sauce. The House Special Shrimp dish was of ample serving and a pretty decent deal for the price.

Fish Fillet in Wine Sauce - $12.99

This dish was the big winner of the night. I'm pretty sure I ate a few extra bowls of rice just due to the fish and sauce. The sauce had a similar flavor to wine brew (酒粱) and the wine flavor was noticeable in the sauce, yet not too pungent. The fish fillet was tender and I'm definitely going to try this dish again in my next visit.

(魚香干貝) Scallops in Garlic/Chilli Sauce - $12.99

(豆香雪魚) Cod in brown sauce - $15.99

The above two dishes were pretty OK. I wouldn't say there's anything to rave about here, but both are solid dishes. The scallops dish was flavorful and the scallops themselves were quite tender. The Cod dish was actually slightly disappointing based on the price paid. The fish itself was cooked well, but I personally didn't enjoy the sauce. This dish has been done better elsewhere, but like my previous trips to Lake Spring, there probably will be 1-2 dishes that'll be considered "misses" during your meal. Going further on the subject, there are two dishes that I would not recommend here:
  • Tea Flavored Duck - What tea flavor? Plus, the duck was dry. A big No-No!
  • Wine Brew (酒粱) - The aforementioned wine brew is actually a dessert, and the version served here was weak at best. It's not worth the money here. Go down the street to Dean Sin World for a better Wine Brew.
Red Bean Soup Dessert

To sum everything up, Lake Spring is a solid Shanghainese Restaurant in the SGV amongst the numerous choices out there. If you're coming here for the first time, do yourselves a favor and order one of the two pork hock options. Plus, I'd check the chef's menu for their recommendations. The servings here are pretty big and the prices are just right due to their constant promotion. As of Late January 2009, they're running at buy 3 dishes get 1 free or buy 6 dishes and get 2 free. While it's not the 30% discount that I received during my first visit, a ~25% discount ain't too shabby in this economy. Plus, like many Chinese restaurants in the area, you can definitely go with BYOB here, but just don't leave your bottles out in the open (FYI). Lake Spring has a good variety of seafood, meat, and poultry dishes, and at under $20/person, you can definitely have a feast here.

Also note, they've changed their "promotion" each time I've been here, so I can't guarantee what the next promotion will be.

Final Grade
  • Taste - 4 out of 5
  • Decor - 4 out of 5
  • Service - 3.5 out of 5
Lake Spring
219 E. Garvey Avenue
Monterey Park, CA 91755
Tel: 626-280-3571

Lake Spring on Fooddigger


choisauce said...

yay, first review!!!

when are we finally having a dinner here?? steamed pork hock and fish fillet in wine sauce, please!

Pepsi Monster said...

Love your breakdown on your grading system! Steamed Pork hock? Sounds good to me!

Kat said...

Just for you I am still up to read your review. Congrats on your first review! ^_^ I would wait for Newport Seafood! haha This place is not cheap IMHO... $18.99 for pork hock.. boo! lol Ironically my Mom just told me they bought some and I am going to braise it soon ^_^

Kung Food Panda said...

Choi: Anytime you guys are in the mood for it, so we can set it up and invite a few peeps

Pepsi: Thanks bro, you should come next time!

Kat: Thanks! The wait for Newport was going to be at least 1.5 hours....damn Chinese people out and about on Chinese New Year! Actually the dishes there were buy 3 and get 1 free, so it wasn't that bad. The pork hock we did pay full price for, but the portions are huge! Save some for me!

Exile Kiss said...

Hi Kung Food Panda,

Congratulations on starting up a blog! :) Welcome to the blogosphere.

Nice review as well. I agree: the Pork Hock is delicious here... with a few misses like what you ran across.

Aaron said...

Ah, you chose Lake Spring as your first review? Good start; looking forward to seeing your Urasawa review

TonyC said...

yup, still remember this meal. loads of pork... loads and loads of pork. good lookin' out cuz no one wrote it up afterwards.

thanks for the shout-out Danny, last year yielded some pretty fine grub.

cocochanelella said...

The steamed pork hock looks so good. Too bad in SF there isn't a good Shanghaiese restaurant. I can scarf up bowls and bowls of rice with that cod.

I like how "money" is in the title of the restaurant.

Kung Food Panda said...

Exile Kiss: Thanks for visiting. You're right, the pork hock is a must order here.

Aaron: I was going to do Bazaar as the initial review, but since no one (at least not that I know of) did Lake Spring, I figured I'll just start off with this. Can't wait for Urasawa bro. See you there!

Tony: That was a fun dinner. We need to do something like that again. I love BYOB places!

Coco: You must come visit :P Bring me Bi-Rite if you do!