Tuesday, July 31

Rainbow Noodle

I never thought I would like a noodle place with a cheesy name like Rainbow Noodle, especially when my favorite, Mien Nghia, is just down the street. However, this recently opened restaurant in the crowded market center on Valley is definitely worth a visit. A huge picture menu in the window is what first drew my mom's attention, and it depicts many delectable noodle dishes waiting for your enjoyment.

This place has many, many food options, ranging from noodles with soup, chow mein and chow fun, to rice dishes, porridge, and vegetarian options. There are over 120 options! Luckily, there's also a picture menu to help you with your choice.

The interior is small and clean, and is much more visually appealing than the usual noodle place. It wasn't very busy on a Sunday for lunch, which I attribute to its newness. The dish that caught my mom's eye was their seafood deep fried egg-noodle. It features a mound of crispy noodles that is covered with seafood, bok choy, and sauce. The temperature of the sauce softens the noodles. I like to eat a mix of soft noodles and crunchy, deep fried noodles with the seafood. Deep fried here does NOT mean greasy. It's a great texture in my mouth. I mean, who doesn't love yummy sauce goodness with crispy carbohydrate noodles?

I decided to order the needle rice noodle. I don't know why it's called the needle rice noodle, because it's misleading. This thicker noodle came swimming in a very flavorful broth, accompanied by fish cake, shrimp, chicken, and a duck wing! The chewiness of the noodle was great with the saltiness of the broth. It was very much like the Vietnamese dish banh canh, which I love, but without the thick soup. This bowl of noodles alone persuaded me to come back to try more on my next trip home.

One the next visit, I was accompanied by my mom and my boyfriend. The place was packed, with almost every table occupied. My mom decided to order the Special rice noodle, which came with the default flavorful broth and was chock full of delicious things, like shrimp, chicken, fish balls, and duck.

My boyfriend decided to order his favorite noodle dish, which is a soup noodle with duck. Here it's called "Soy sauce Duck egg-noodle" and he asked for the big egg noodle, which had the right amount of bite to it. The duck leg makes the broth deliciously salty and fatty, which he loves, but is also notoriously hard to eat. My only complaint was that there wasn't any bok choy in the soup for a change of texture.

Although I was tempted to order the needle rice noodle soup again, I decided against it for the sake of this blog. It's not exciting if I order it twice. I ended up ordering the "Fish ball soup with seaweed" before I realized it didn't come with noodles. The waiter was obliging, however, and told me he would ask them to include noodles. Now, would I rather have egg noodles or wide rice noodles? This was such a nice gesture and wholly unexpected. When my bowl came out, it was steaming and full of noodles. The broth had a hint of seaweed flavor which I liked, and they had included two types of fish cake. See those brown, oval bits? That was deep-fried garlic, one of the best things about this dish. However, I think I still prefer the needle rice noodle soup.

With my second visit out of the way, I can now officially endorse Rainbow Noodle as a place to get some noodles that hit the spot, whether you want soup noodles or fried noodles. The service is fast, the restaurant is clean, and the location is close. A win-win situation for all...especially this blog, as noodles are its namesake.

Rainbow Noodle
1281 E. Valley Blvd.
Alhambra, CA 91801
(626) 282-8878

Open 7 days: 8:30am-8:00pm

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Thursday, July 19

Gin Sushi

I can’t front: Gin Sushi serves the best sushi I’ve ever eaten. Complete with a sushi bar and photographs of happy customers sprawling across its walls, this restaurant’s food quality is hard to beat. Although the service varies highly, especially during the busy night hours, I do not recommend skipping this joint while in the San Gabriel Valley.

Here are photos that detail my latest splurge there:

Salmon sashimi: fat, smooth, and creamy.

Philadelphia roll: The cream cheese does not overwhelm the roll. Instead it complements well with the creamy salmon, making this dish a smooth and fresh delight.

Unagi roll (right): Served with a sweet sauce, this roll’s unagi boosts both freshness and flavor. The unagi itself was a bit crisp around the edges.

Spider roll (left): Crunchy and tantalizing. The mix of ingredients in this provided a light and cold feeling.

Baked scallop crab roll (BSCR): Wonderful! + Tastes heavy. The best verb I can use to describe this is “ooze”. The big amount of sauce on it just oozes out of the roll. The blended flavors just ooze easily out. This roll is such a mouthful that its ingredients just ooze out of your mouth when you bite into it.

Cherry blossom roll: I was informed by a regular of Gin Sushi that this was a new roll. The spicy tuna serves as the main flavor and the rice seems to taste extra sweet. The salmon was just as fat and smooth as the ones used as the sashimi dish.

Dragon fire roll: Filled with cream cheese and spicy tuna, the roll itself was excellent! The pepper was simultaneously juicy and crunchy, which complements well with its crunchy fried exterior. The spicy bang seems to fade the longer the roll sits uneaten, so be sure to eat this the moment it arrives!

Caterpillar roll: The fact that I somehow forgot to take a picture of this roll should not unjustly make you think that this roll isn’t memorable. This perfect combination of the avocado and unagi is one of my favorite dishes at Gin Sushi. It was a bit salty this time, but the avocado never fails to be fresh and the unagi never fails to be sweet.

Might I mention that the prices are also rather fair for such good sushi? Everything totaled about $65 (minus tip).

Don’t be fooled by the photos’ focus on sushi. Gin Sushi serves other kinds of Japanese food, such as noodles, rice bowl combinations, and delicious desserts (pictured: strawberry mochi ice cream and tempura green tea ice cream):

Gin Sushi
3589 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91107
(626) 440-9611
Sun - Thu 11:00AM to 10:30PM
Fri - Sat 11:00AM to 11:00PM

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