Photo credit: Michael R Perry on flickr
What happened to you, Lake Spring Shanghai? You used to be the belle of the Shanghainese cuisine ball in SGV, the class valedictorian. Then like all the Asian girls I know from UCLA, you hooked up with some white guy and things went down from there. Then you rediscover your culture, started studying again, and looking like the hot, smart Asian girl who you once were. But now? I’m not so sure…
If my lame analogy above is hard to follow, this is what happened: my family and I loved and frequented Lake Spring Shanghai for a long time. Then a new owner (I think he was Jewish, at least according to SinoSoul) took over, and the food went downhill. Then my grandma said that the old owner bought back the place, and the food was good again. And it had been pretty good during my few visits over the last couple of years. Not as good as I remembered, but still one of the better Chinese restaurants in SGV.
My grandparents still love the place, and go on a fairly regular basis (the servers know them). And we decided to go for Chinese New Year’s eve…WE MADE A HUGE MISTAKE. I guess they overbooked the place, and people who thought they could walk-in showed up in horror of what they saw. It was like trying to squeeze onto a MTA bus at 7am – everyone was packed close to one another. You got old Chinese people trying to snipe tables that they didn’t reserve, and everyone just standing next to tables, cluttering all walking lanes and the entrance. The fire marshal would’ve fainted at the sight.
But what about the food? As with most places in SGV, the quality really goes down during special days like this. Everything is either pre-made or half-assed, or in our case most likely both. It’s really hard to get on them during a dinner like this, but they should’ve planned it much better. We were among the earliest seating with a reservation at 5:30, and it was still a complete mess in terms of what was served. Pork hock was dry and bland, sea cucumbers were rough and uncleaned, soup was like oily water. The only good thing all night was a plate of veggies…enough said.
I’m sure they’re better than this normally. Lesson of the day: don’t eat in SGV on Chinese New Year’s Eve.
Chris Hei grade: C
Lake Spring Shanghai
219 E Garvey Ave
Monterey Park, CA 91755