Roger L. Simon

In praise of Jonathan Gold ...

Jonathan Gold, for those who don’t know who he is, non-Angelenos mainly, is the restaurant critic for the LA Weekly, among other fancier venues (Gourmet). An indefatigable explorer of the ever-spreading jungle of ethnic restaurants in Southern California, he has had more direct affect on my life than any other critic in any form (art, literature, film, etc.). I go where he tells me to go. [You mean you don’t go where film critics tell you to go? You do it yourself on occasion. -ed. Stop me before I review again.]

I think Gold may have introduced more Caucasians to the mammoth Chinese community of the San Gabriel Valley than any known white man but, to my knowledge, does not speak a word of non-menu Mandarin, Cantonese or any other dialect (I have met him a few times, but never thought to ask. Anyway, then he would also have to know Tagalog, Urdu, etc., etc.)

It had been a while since Sheryl, Madeleine and I ventured forth to one of Gold’s picks – he has a Gold’s 99 of indispensable SoCal restaurants that is definitely vaut le detour – but last night we headed down to San Gabriel to try out the new Green Village, which Gold deemed “the fanciest Shanghainese restaurant in town.” Well, it wasn’t that fancy, just fancy for the type, meaning white table clothes and friendly waiters. It was clearly relaxed enough to be kid-friendly, not just for our kid but a healthy sprinkling of Chinese children as well, enjoying the Shanghainese cuisine with their families. And what cuisine! As usual there were a host of things on the menu you had never heard of before – but at this place they are all so inviting and well presented you want to try them all. We’ll be back. Meanwhile, if you’re near the San Gabriel Valley (probably now the best place outside China for Chinese food), stop at Green Village (it’s not very expensive either). Try the gee-tsai – a vegetable I had never tasted before and couldn’t get enough of – and the house spare ribs – off the bone in bits sprinkled with sesame… addictive.