The waitress knew what we were asking before we even finished the sentence: "This isn't really dog meat," she said in Mandarin. "It's just shredded pork. There's no way we could serve dog in the States."
This was our introduction to Shen Yang Restaurant, a recently opened Monterey Park joint specializing in the food from Shenyang, China, where dog meat is considered a delicacy. Shenyang is the capital of Liaoning, a coastal province in China bordering North Korea. Its cuisine is similar to the fare found in neighbors Beijing and Shandong, but there's a considerable Manchu, Mongolian and Korean influence as well. Salt, oil, vinegar, and soy sauce are used in heavy rotation, and many of the region's signature dishes feature a distinct sweet and salty taste.
Meals are heavily induated with suan cai, the Chinese equivalent of sauerkraut, and because there's a sizeable Korean population in the city, cold noodle dishes like naengmyeon are common. In fact, the restaurant's Chinese name is "Shenyang Lengmian," literally "Shenyang cold noodles."
The clientele leans toward northern Chinese natives, and according to a waitress, the entire staff is from Shenyang. Noodles aside, there's a lot of meat, offal and skewer options on the menu. Beers are on tap to help wash it all down.
Take a look at more of the menu in the slideshow above.
Shen Yang Restaurant
1639 W Garvey Ave., Monterey Park, CA 91754 (map)