Food

Mon Land Hot Pot City in San Gabriel

My favorite hot pot place is Mon Land Hot Pot City.  It’s just behind the huge Focus shopping center at Valley and Del Mar in San Gabriel.  Kevin thinks Lu Gi’s famous spicy hot pot broth is the best, but we both agree that Mon Land’s mild broth wins hands down.

Half and half hot pot

The secret lies in the really neat variety of herbs that they put in their broth.  I’m not sure what they all are, but there are bay leaves, cloves, hawthorn berries, green onions, garlic, ginger, among others.

Herbs in the mild broth

Basically, the hot pot boils in the middle of the table and you order a number of plates of raw meat, vegetables, noodles, and tofu.  There are three sauces on the table, as well a place to get a small bowl of green onions, cilantro, and chili paste.  The meat is very thinly sliced, so it cooks almost immediately, but some of the other ingredients take a little longer.

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We ordered some cabbage, Chinese greens, noodles, fish balls, fried fish balls (called “tempura” in Taiwan), beef, pork, and shrimp.  We also ordered two kinds of tofu: one that was fried and one that had been previously frozen, giving it a chewy, spongy texture that I really like.  For the adventurous, there are cubes of curdled pig’s blood.  I’m not a huge fan, though I will admit that, to my taste, it has actually very little taste (not what I expected).  Most of the plates run from $3 to $6.

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My favorite item to order there is the plate of fresh and wild mushrooms.  At around $10, it’s one of the most expensive things on the menu (second only to the live crab), but the variety of mushrooms is great, ranging from tender to chewy to crunchy.

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Altogether, it’s pretty filling and a really fun way to eat.

Shrimp, noodles, and greens for the hot pot

Wash it all down with a glass of Chinese plum juice and you’re set.

Mon Land Hot Pot City
251 W. Bencamp St.
San GabrielCA 91776
(626) 289-4889


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The family story goes like this:  when my grandfather was courting my grandmother, he complimented my great-grandmother’s rutabaga dish at dinner to make a good impression.  After that, she made them for him whenever she had the opportunity, and my grandmother continued to also make them for him every year at Thanksgiving.  My mother carries on the tradition and still makes rutabagas as part of Thanksgiving dinner.  As it turned out, my grandfather never liked them.  Indeed, eating them at Thanksgiving was always a bit of a chore for us, too.  I attribute this in part to the fact that my mother never really prepared them with much seasoning or even salt and pepper like the other dishes because the rutabagas weren’t supposed to be liked.

We’re going to some friends’ house for Thanksgiving this year, and so I’m going to take rutabagas to carry on the tradition, but I’m preparing them following a recipe I found on Epicurious.  The much-maligned root vegetable may redeem itself yet.

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Rutabagas are a bit like turnips, and have a slight orange tint and a pungently sharp smell when they’re being cut.  The skin is pretty thick, so the vegetable peeler wasn’t sufficient.  Peeling was the most difficult part of the process, as my knife skills are okay, but peeling with a knife just isn’t one of them.

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The pears are tossed with olive oil, ginger, lemon juice, and sugar.

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The neat thing about this recipe is that the rutabagas boil and the pears roast for about the same amount of time (a little over 1/2 hour).

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When they’re boiled, the rutabagas become soft, turn a more vibrant orange, and are actually pretty sweet but still earthy.

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I mashed them with butter, heavy cream, and thyme, then mixed in the roasted pears.

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Happy Thanksgiving!