Lu’s Garden, San Gabriel

Lu’s Garden! Although no recent visits in the past few years I have been here many times as a kid/teen. Weekends=SGV 626. It’s the small plaza right before Valley x San Gabriel (Shun Fat San Gabriel Superstore). If parking is an issue try that.

Yes it’s a steam table joint, but the popular items have very quick turn around at all hours of the day.
Speaking of all hours they close at 1am everyday.

For Chinese from Taiwan/Hong Kong this late night meal is called Xiao Ye/Siu Yeh. Lu’s Garden is Taiwanese!

Whether you are doing takeout or eating in it all starts at the steam table.

“Steamed Rice or Porridge???”

The answer here is the porridge! Sweet Potatoe Porridge.

Wait wut…sweet potatoes? Taiwan?

This porridge and sweet potatoe in general has many poetic and symbolic meanings to Taiwanese. The biggest one is this is what people ate on times of poverty, famine, and war.

Side note: My Taipei born and raised Mom absolutely loves roasted sweet potatoes (all colors). So if you ever get a chance to visit Taiwan try the sweet potatoes! I know it will take up a little more real estate in your stomach while you are at the night markets but I would say sweet potatoes are very Taiwanese as ****!!!

Pine and Crane in Silver Lake, owner Vivian Ku sometimes have sweet potatoe leaves as a stir fry with some garlic and a little salt. I’ll have to ask her in person when the season is for her sweet potatoe leaves.

So with the carb choice out of the way, it is time to pick some dishes!!!

This is a popular dish here. I don’t think this is fish-fragrant style. You get a good garlic and wok flavor from this, of course the natural eggplant flavor.

Scrambled Eggs and Tomatoes. Hands down one of the most quintessential Chinese homestyle dish of all time. Probably the first Chinese dish you learn how to cook. Chinese don’t always agree on politics but I can say almost everyone eats this or has eaten it whether you are from Mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, 626 SGV, San Francisco, Queens NYC, and everywhere between. Every family, every chef may do it differently. I encourage you all to cook this! It’s so simple but always very tasty!!

Flies Head.
Say what? The Flies Head are because of the fermented black beans! With the fermented black beans, red chiles, and garlic this deliver a strong flavor punch! Ground pork and garlic chives are also in the mix. This is one of the great stir frys that I think is unique to Taiwan (I think) “ @beefnoguy do you know the origin of this dish?”

Other popular choices are the Squid. This is one of my faves. I eat it whole and with my other hand pull out the quill (so that’s what it is called).
Baby Anchovies and Peanuts goes great against the porridge with the salty and savory flavors. Bitter melon and Egg is another homestyle dish that is popular. There are a few cold veggie plates and usually some kind of stir fry green.

For me it’s always the Flies Head and Eggplant! With the sweet potatoe porridge of course…


I think we have only two Taiwanese porridge restaurants up here, though they are scattered in the South Bay (of NorCal). The joys of unlimited porridge refills, but the beauty are the small dishes / mid sized entrees. Most are steam table fare but lots of great tasty items. The porridge doesn’t make you feel as gluttonous and it’s so homey and blue collar altogether.

As far as Flies Head, my understanding is that this is a Taiwanese invention/creation and found commonly in Sichuan restaurants in Taiwan, suited more (and born out of) for local tastes. (Kind of like how 3 cup chicken is uniquely Taiwanese but in a different way).


In the same plaza, Tian Jin Bistro and Green Zone both closed. Lu’s Garden outlasted them all.

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As SGV plazas go, Valley Plaza was remarkably stable, but in about a year, all restaurants save for Lu’s and Hunan Chili King have turned over.

I wonder how many other SGV plazas had three restaurants of 10+ years?*

*until Tianjin Bistro closed

Oh no, Green Zone closed?

Are there alternatives to Lu’s Garden? I like LG but would like to try something new after so many years. I’ve only been at night though–friend said the lunch specials are a great deal and you get the same food.

Rice porridge with sweet potatoes is foul though…Just rice porridge please.

Arcadia Center - Sinbala, May Mei, Chang’s Garden

The strip mall with Southern Mini Town, Tasty Noodle House and Golden Deli at the NW corner of Main and Mission in San Gabriel. Unfortunately, Fine Garden closed towards the end of 2018. Otherwise, they would have had 4.

:+1: I definitely should have remembered those. I’m just not as sharp as I used to be :laughing:

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