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Eater's Journal: 11 in 11, San Gabriel Valley

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Those of you following us on Twitter noticed that we were on a food adventure last weekend: 11 restaurants in 11 hours. Created by Jason Bernstein (co-owner of forthcoming Golden State on Fairfax) and Mark Flaisher (the cruise director), this year's "11 in 11" (now in its fifth) focused, mostly, on China. For us, it wasn't something planned---there was no conditioning akin to what marathon runners put themselves through---we simply got up one Saturday morning with a "You coming?" email, and less than two hours later we were sitting in front a table of strangers and kelly green dim sum. The rest, as they say, is history. There were more "Bs" than we care to admit, more unusual dishes than we've ever tried, a lot of MSG, a few communication breakdowns (no one in the group spoke Chinese), and all only 10 miles away from home. We highligh recommend such an experience for everyone. Here's a quick look at where the group went what we ate.

11:50am: The Kitchen, Alhambra
Late arrival so we picked at fried tofu that was practically liquid inside, decent pork buns, and sticky Kelly green fried tea balls filled with black sesame and poppyseed paste.

12:31pm: Mama's Kitchen, San Gabriel
Barely enough room for our group; beef rolls; vinegary cabbage salad; regulars eating delicious looking noodle soups. The manager from The Kitchen joined us. The owners took pictures of the group of white people that just took up the entire restaurant.

1:28: J&J Restaurant, San Gabriel
Pork soup dumplings eaten in parking lot because no room for all 15 of us; green onion pancakes. Again, we must have been a sight: Passersby photographed us as we photographed ourselves.

2:07pm: Bahooka, Rosemead
There's only one thing necessary at that point---flaming tiki drinks and Scorpion Bowls. Rufus, the 31-year-old fish, greeted us with big smiles. Tiki somehow fit right into the day. Alchohol, at that point, was very much needed.

3:17pm: China Islamic, Rosemead
Some pretty basic sweet and sour chicken and beef broccoli; delicious hand-cut noodles albeit in basic brown sauce.

4:12pm: Yung Ho King Tou Chiang, San Gabriel
Probably the most adventuresome of the day. Big bowls of homemade soy milk; giant fried crullers; chilled tofu topped with steamed peanuts and ginger broth; spicy tofu soup; crullers wrapped in egg; crullers wrapped in rice with some sort of dried meat.

5:02: Banh Mi & Che Cali, San Gabriel
15 people run across four lanes of SGV traffic to devour several banh mi and random odd things like black sesame mochi (that felt like Slime that we played with as kids), and unmemorable sweet rice "tacos" that the counter guy convinced us to buy.

5:21: Lu Din Gee, San Gabriel
Back across the street for the most amazing Peking duck ever. The most expensive meal of the day ($179 for three ducks, some drinks, plus tip) and the largest group (we grew to 20 or so).

6:54: Half & Half Tea House, San Gabriel
We took up the entire space, lots of boba teas, steamed milk teas, and almond toast. Also one random "plum honey tomato" concoction that actually made people grimace.

7:09: Favorite Quote of the Day
"I thought I was full, but I'm not. I mean, it is Chinese food." -- 11 in 11er, Michael (we think)

8:09: Yunnan Garden, San Gabriel
Very spicy. Ma po tofu, spicy dried beef, house noodle soups. The owners gave us pig ears and pig tongue from the counter gratis because he was so enthusiastic about the group's enthusiasm.

9:27: Cotton Candy, Alhambra
This was supposed to be a bar with stinky tofu; but it was more of a restaurant and we weren't there to order a ton of food, so we left. Plus the table full of Yatzee players was driving some people crazy.

9:47: Jay Dee Cafe, Alhambra
Plan B. Really the only way to end the night: Alhambra dive bar for $4 Sapphire martinis and $3 well drinks. At least 15 of us made it through the whole day. High fives and fist bumps abound.

For more pictures check out our Flickr page. For a full rundown on the day, including addresses and info, check out Man Bites World---the reason the day focused on China. And more on All Kinds of Yum.