Located next to the bustling metropolis of Beijing, Tianjin is a northern Chinese city with a unique culinary culture of its own. Similar to its cousin Beijing but with a focus more on river fish and seafood given its proximity to the water, the cuisine is inundated with large helpings of noodles, Chinese-style pies, and baos.
You can find a slice of the region's tastes in San Gabriel, located in the far eastern corridor of Los Angeles. The restaurant is aptly called Tianjin Bistro and they have been cooking up the regional specialties for Angelenos for five years. Owner Jinling Tian used to own restaurants in Tianjin and her store is the quintessential San Gabriel Valley hole-in-the-wall. There's only a couple of tables, plastic bags are provided so you can chuck the fish bones, and the affordable dishes are served on family-style platters.
"Our main focus is to bring Tianjin and Beijing specialties to the Los Angeles area," Tian said. "With that in mind, most of our customers are Tianjin natives."
The English menu is admittedly plagued with spelling errors and descriptions that sound far from appetizing (what in the world is a "Tan Jing Shredded"?). But we went in, ordered the top menu items, and have compiled this introduction to some of their best sellers.
534 E Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776 (map)