All throughout Chinese Food Week, we'll be interviewing the chefs and restaurateurs behind some of LA's hidden gem Chinese food establishments. Today: Dean Sin World.
Dean Sin World's Mrs. Lu is the most gregarious 60-something chef/owner in The SGV. Her hands may be consistently sticky with
Where did you gain your culinary skills? I was a female three-star chef at a famous restaurant in Shanghai. By the 80s, I was in charge of catering, and attended much corporate cheffing education.
Give us a brief history of Dean Sin World? Dean Sin World has been open for five years. It has been under my auspices for three. After I came to America, people keep telling me, with my craftsmanship, I should open a restaurant, but I was a stranger in a strange land. The timing wasn't right as my children were young. After the last one started college, I finally took on the restaurant. We're famous in the area for our "Yellow Crabshell" (Shanghainese pastries). They come in both savory and sweet flavors, and people drive hours for them. Unlike other places, we use no lard, but it's still flaky and tasty.
The dish you're most proud of? This is not on the menu but... back in Shanghai, I was famous for my Dongpo Rou (Hangzhou-style braised pork belly). I've convinced many officials to come to the old restaurant for the Dongpo Rou.
If it's off the menu, how can anyone try this? Just pre-order and I will personally cook it to your satisfaction.
Your favorite ingredients? Lee Kum Kee oyster sauce and hoisin sauce. We don't use any MSG. I don't think MSG and chicken bouillon are healthy for the customers.
Your favorite Chinese grocery store? Ranch 99. Excellent product selection, excellent quality. You won't believe this, but we don't use wholesale grocers. I source directly from Ranch 99. The cost is higher, and I don't care.
The most joyful thing about having a Chinese restaurant in LA? Even though I have language difficulties, I still ask diners "eat good"? When people say "everything good" paired with a thumbs-up? Of course I understand that. It just makes me so happy and proud. With the opening of the restaurant, I've brought happiness and joy to the visitors. A couple recently drove here from Irvine after they got engaged because we are the girl's favorite, I was very touched.
What about the difficulties? Especially in the San Gabriel Valley. Well, of course the competition is extremely tough here. But I want another restaurant neighbor. I welcome it. (Giang Niang is in the same plaza, six doors down). Dish for dish, I welcome the challenge.
How would you make Chinese food "cool," ie, introduce weird shit to white people. Oh, I have my ways. I give away free food. "No eat, no money," I say. They always eat it, and then they have to pay!
Final Tidbit? We can wrap 300 wontons per person an hour.
·All Chinese Food Week 2011 Coverage [~ELA~]
— Tony Chen