Dining on a budget: Dumpling 10053 in El Monte

By Evelyn Barge

Forget chicken soup. When I’ve got the aches or blues, Chinese dumplings are what my soul craves.

Trying out new dumpling houses in the San Gabriel Valley has become a favorite pastime of mine. That’s why I was excited to visit Dumpling 10053 in El Monte to check out their offerings.

As it turns out, the mysterious number in the second part of the name is actually a helpful forget-me-not. 10053 is the restaurant’s street address on Valley Boulevard.

Dumpling 10053 has a wonderfully expansive menu. There are nearly 60 separate menu items, which is a lot compared to other dumpling houses in the area that limit their menus to a few specific things.

I knew a couple things I just had to try, before I even set foot through the door.

First up was the steamed dumpling with pumpkin and shrimp ($6.50). I actually first read about this particular specialty in Los Angeles Magazine’s food issue, so I knew it would be stellar - and it was. I love pumpkin-flavored anything, but even my dining companion, who is usually not so inclined, said this was his favorite dish.

My hands-down favorite was the pork, crab and sea cucumber boiled dumplings ($6.95). To paraphrase Red Lobster, the seafood lover is definitely in me, and these savory morsels satisfied my every craving.

Our final order of dumplings were boiled and stuffed with fluffy rock cod ($7.50). These dumplings were remarkably light and airy, the perfect complement to balance out our meal.

Moving on to other parts of the menu, we also ordered a newly available item that our waitress recommended, the homemade cuttlefish ball soup for two ($6.50). It was a simple yet tasty concoction with a hearty serving of fish balls floating in a clear broth.

The green onion pancakes ($3.75) were also delightful and had more flavor than some I’ve sampled in other restaurants, including at a very famous dumpling house in New York City’s Chinatown. (Not to upset fans of Joe’s Shanghai, because I was blown away by the powerful soup dumplings I devoured while visiting the Big Apple.)

 

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Since we were on a roll, my dinner partner and I decided to order a few items to go: shrimp fried rice ($6.25) and crispy fried pork intestines ($4.95), which were saved for a midnight snack.

The wait staff at Dumpling 10053 is refreshingly helpful. During our recent weekend visit, the waitress engaged us as we made our meal selections and she was quick to offer up recommendations and answer questions.

Although we splurged and ordered a veritable dumpling house feast, every single menu item at Dumpling 10053 is reasonably priced under $10. Here, a lunchtime or solo diner could easily get away with a bill totaling $10-$15.

That’s the beauty of dumplings, where each steaming platter arrives with 10 pieces that you can have all to yourself or, if forced to, share with others.

Just don’t be surprised when, instead of lousy chicken broth, your wandering appetite desires dumplings. They are the ultimate comfort food.

Dumpling 10053 is located at 10053 Valley Blvd. #2 in El Monte. The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays. Call (626) 350-0188 for more information.

Dining on a budget: Victor’s Villa in West Covina

By Eric Terrazas

I never shy away from a good hamburger.

Over the years, I have eaten at many different burger joints. And on a recent afternoon, I made my first visit to Victor’s Villa in West Covina.

I decided to order the quarter-pound cheeseburger along with a side of onion rings. The burger cost me $3.15 while the onion rings are priced at $3.19.

After taking my first bite, I was impressed with the burger’s fresh and tender taste. My cheeseburger came with lettuce, tomato and thousand island dressing, which all added to the burger’s goodness.

 

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The onion rings also did not disappoint. They especially tasted good after I added ketchup. All in all, it made for a nice lunch.

If you are not a fan of cheese, a quarter-pound hamburger is available for $2.85.

The Victor’s Villa menu should also delight bacon and chili lovers. For $3.20, you can order the quarter-pound chili burger. If you’re in the mood for bacon, the quarter-pound bacon burger can be had for $3.99.

Since I’m a fan of both bacon and chili, I would be willing to try the Victor’s Villa take on both the chili and bacon burger.

For those with slightly bigger appetites, the quarter-pound Onasis Special burger is available for $4.85.

Victor’s Villa also offers a good Mexican food selection. For $2.99, you can order a taco asada. Burritos, taquitos and quesadillas are also offered.

Several different sandwiches are also on Victor’s menu. Selections feature pastrami, rib-eye steak, chicken breast, roast beef, turkey breast, fish, tuna, club and patty melt.

In addition to the onion rings, other side orders offered include fries, hot dogs, zucchini, corn dogs, rice and beans.

Patrons with hearty appetites can check out the dinner plates, which come with salad, fries, onion rings, zucchini and garlic bread. Dinner selections include the New York steak, pork chops, rib-eye steak, fried chicken, shrimp, fish and pastrami.

Victor’s Villa also serves breakfast from 7 a.m. to noon. Selections include pancakes, omelettes, eggs, steak, chorizo, sandwiches and burritos.

Victor’s Villa is located at 2201 W. Francisquito Ave. in West Covina. For information, call (626) 338-1129.

Steak sandwich so, so

Carl Jr.’s new steak sandwich is nothing to write home about. While the new item is filling, the taste and texture doesn’t match the 100 percent sizzling sirloin steak that we expect from all the commercials. I was especially looking forward to the crispy onion rings on top, but they weren’t crispy at all. They were actually limp from all the moisture. In fact, the whole sandwich was a bit of a mess, dripping all over the place. Still, it’s not a bad deal for only $4.75 and you can download a dollar off coupon from their website.

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Pick Up Stix bails us out

Here’s a bail-out plan that you can really sink your teeth into. The new Dragon Deals at Pick Up Stix. I recently stopped by on the way home from work after a busy day when I saw the new promotion.

Naturally I had to try the Orange Peel Chicken deal for $4.99. I received a single serving of the orange peel chicken plus rice and a salad.

I craved the juicy sweetness of the orange mixed with the tangy taste of the rind. As usual Pick Up Stix used fresh ingredients,
combined with their signature sauces and tender chicken chunks. The red chili peppers give it a little kick, while the seared onions
and water chestnuts soften the palate.

And there was more than enough for a little lunch the next day. I can’t wait to go back to try the other four Dragon Deals. 

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Got Togo for daily specials

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Let the bargains begin. We were recently at Togo’s for the new all-natural chicken sandwich.

It was a tasty combination of white meat, fresh vegetables and parmesan bread.

Yum! And you couldn’t beat the price. We had a coupon for buy one get a six-inch sandwich free!

While there we saw the new daily specials that were starting on Jan. 7.
Check them out, there seems to be something for everyone.