SimBaLa - Rowland Heights
Food blogs are a wealth of information, but they only help if you can remember what that information is.
I had read about SimBaLa in Rowland Heights from a number of sites similar to the one you're reading now. So when I was in the area, I remembered enough to seek it out. But what to order? Not so much.
If I did, I would've known to try the sausages. That's what they're known for, you see. Not only that, there's also what's done to them: SimBaLa's sausages are served with wild-and-crazy toppings like kiwi, peach, chocolate, or strawberry jam.
Suffice it to say, because of my poor memory, you won't be hearing about how well chocolate goes with Taiwanese sausage. Instead I tried the pork chop rice ($5.75), which was the classic example of what a proper Taiwanese-style fried pork chop ought to be: bubbled with a crunchy batter, sweet as candy, and a perfect partner to rice.
What I didn't like were the sides, which seemed to have been slimed with warm ectoplasm -- a cornstarch-y goo that covered the corn niblets and stretched out from every spoonful like snot. And there was this scrambled egg and tomato thing that had no business being anywhere in the proximity of my pork chops. A third side item of steamed broccoli would've been fine if it wasn't overcooked to mush.
All could've taken a lesson from the cold celery dish ($3.00) I ordered. Snappy, brisk and refreshing, it was simply prepped to allow the main ingredient to shine. And since it was thoroughly freed of its pesky fibers, every spear was as effortless to eat as the next. The only thing I'd change is the presentation. The dish was unceremoniously served in its plastic takeout container. Would it kill them to put it on a plate?
Spicy beef noodle soup ($6.50) -- a.k.a. niu rou mian -- was punchy, slightly licorice-y, and left my mouth numb from its slow chili burn. In the long-simmered darkness of the brew, hunks of beef braised slowly and tendon turned into softly chewy collagen knobs. Wonderful.
The meat ball vermicelli noodle soup ($5.75) was the niu rou mian's anti-matter. While the former was as brown as a brick, this broth could pass as milk. Its flavor was also the polar opposite. This one was mild and cleansing -- the perfect medium for the glass noodles, elastic strands that had the bounce of bungees.
Next time, I'll remember to try those sausages and ask them to hold the slimy side items. Hopefully I'll have better luck remembering what I write in my own posts.
18489 Colima Rd
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
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