On a quiet tree-lined street in El Monte near a couple of auto parts stores is Little Pan-Fried Bun’s pop-up location, a restaurant that whips up Chinese sheng jian bao with aplomb. Most traditional sheng jian bao are steamed buns filled with ground pork and gelatin that melts into a soup when cooked. They’re then pan-fried on the bottom. Crispy, juicy, and pillowy soft, they’re sometimes thought of as the pan-fried versions of xiao long bao. Shengjian bao isn’t new in LA and can be found at San Gabriel Valley restaurants like Kang Kang Court and Mr Dragon Noodle House. However, Little Pan-Fried Bun, located at 10627 Main Street in El Monte (with a permanent location in Santa Ana as well), does that, and then some with more creative fillings like curry pork, corn cheese, and purple yam and cheese. There’s even a 24K gold black truffle variety.
The pop-up opened in early November, and also offers a variety of other dishes, including seafood pancake, oxtail soup with tomato, millet congee, and puff pastries filled with durian, hawthorn, and jujube. Inside the restaurant, a white statue of Greek mythology titan Atlas holds the world on his shoulders, and the walls are painted in a light-gray hue with a modern mural of Chinese characters.
Little Pan-Fried Bun is the brainchild of Vicky Liu, a China native who came to the United States as an international student for high school and graduated from UC Riverside for business, according to a Food Empiire interview. She broke into the food world through a food-delivery company and later decided to make sheng jian bao her focus since she received such positive feedback from her customers.
Little Pan-Fried Bun is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11 am to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Lunetta’s happy hour with a side of giving
Santa Monica’s Lunetta All Day will be throwing its annual toy drive on December 9 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Bring an unwrapped toy and get a cocktail or golden hour menu item in exchange, and also take photos with Santa.
Eszett to throw a holiday market
Silver Lake restaurant Eszett will be hosting a holiday pop-up market on December 11 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with everything from Wild Flour Child’s sticky toffee date cake, to Larkwood Rose’s handmade jewelry, and Belle’s Bagels’ hot smoked fish latkes. Eszett will also boast a menu with its house-made Glühwein (mulled spiced red wine) and holiday corn dog. Find more info on Eszett’s Instagram.
KROQ-FM’s massive tips to waiters
For a feel-good holiday story, KROQ-FM’s morning “Klein/Ally Show” has been leaving surprise tips of $1,067 (a nod to the station’s frequency) to servers throughout Southern California. So far, they’ve hit up over a dozen restaurants like Madre, Grill ‘Em All, and Irv’s Burgers, and are asking folks to comment on Instagram about which ones they should gift to next. Watch the servers’ reactions here.
Korean fried chicken sando pop-up gets more love
The team behind Hanchic had been running a Korean fried chicken sandwich pop-up dubbed Chimmelier since 2021, and now it’ll be folded into the Koreatown restaurant starting December 12. Chimmelier will be available Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., and then the space will flip into Hanchic on Friday to Sunday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.