Lesson #4: know your meals.
Brunch. The perfect combination between the wee hours of the morning when we are all too sleepy to be hungry and the stuffy hours during noon when we are too busy to eat at all.
Rowland Heights is a taste of familiarity for many new and old immigrants. Although this suburb is not a carbon copy of the streets of China, it gets pretty darn close! Brunch in Rowland Heights is an important occasion. It is a time for the different generations to gather together, get their grub on and catch up with one another.
A traditional, mainland Chinese brunch will consist of a number of staple items.
1. The Soup – Corn Meal Porridge or Rice Porridge
Some type of porridge is usually served at brunch. Rice Porridge is Xi Fan in Chinese. This porridge is most frequently made from white rice, but when my mom is feeling extra traditional, she uses corn meal. Favorite toppings to the porridge include Pork Sung, freshly chopped green onion and thousand-year old duck egg.
2. The Carb – Chinese Fritters
You Tiao in chinese is basically fried dough in an elongated shape. This entree is extremely crispy on the outside but perfectly chewy on the inside. This has major Q factor.
3. The Side Dish – Pickled Cucumber with Seaweed tossed in Minced Garlic
Pickled dishes are popular across Asian cuisine. Mom likes to make this fresh in the morning and dresses the entire dish in white vinegar. It is the perfect combination between sweet, sour and spicy.
4. The Entrees – Onigiri, Green Onion Pancakes, and More
Fan Tuan is the chinese version of the Japanese Onigiri. Fan Tuan has the same concept, except the filling is one You Tiao (Chinese Fritter) cut in half, Pork Sung and strips of pickled radish. This is my all-time favorite entree and if it can get a lazy college student out of bed on a Saturday morning, then it is worth a try.
Green Onion Pancakes are also a favorite and Mom makes the best homemade and all-from-scratch pancakes.
5. The Beverage – Soy Milk
This is not your typical soy milk from the box. Traditional soy milk is less sweet and has that organic soy bean taste that gives this drink its name.
There is one Mom and Pop restaurant that, in my opinion, serves the most authentic mainland Chinese brunch, Yi Mei Deli Co. It has some of the most authentic You Tiao (fritters) in all 9.02 miles of the town; I recommend going around 8 a.m. and getting them fresh out of the fryers. The fried green onion pancakes are also delicious and extremely crispy; if you can’t get them homemade, then this is the best option! Yi Mei Deli Co also serves warm soy milk in a bowl just like at Grandma’s house back in China. When I’m in a pinch and Mom’s not home, you can be sure to find me standing in line in the wee hours of the morning ordering my Fan Tuan before I head to campus. All in all, Yi Mei is a unique experience that will be perfect on a Saturday or Sunday morning.
So there you have it, the ultimate breakdown of traditional mainland Chinese brunch. What are you waiting for? Yi Mei Deli Co and a traditional Chinese brunch are calling your name.
Dreaming of Fan Tuan and Soy Milk on my corner on,