Name of the restaurant: Farm Cuisine.
Who’s behind the restaurant: Jonathan Tam, who is an herbalist and a restaurateur, owns the restaurant and has developed the menu. (The chefs have been changing frequently.) Farm Cuisine made its debut in early 2013 as an American-Chinese fusion restaurant with healthful tendencies. The menu has since been reworked to reflect more authentic Cantonese offerings, but the restaurant is still set on sourcing grass-fed meats and farm-fresh organic vegetables.
Which dish represents the restaurant and why? Rice with Jidori chicken baked with sea salt. It’s served with a choice of rice -- seasoned, white, or brown -- and the poultry is remarkably tender. Chickens are fed an all-vegetarian diet of clover, tomatoes and apple before being slaughtered and shipped off to the restaurant. Once there, the chicken is gently poached in broth and then baked with aromatics. This attention to detail from farm to table is what makes Farm Cuisine unique to the San Gabriel Valley. You can also find sea cucumber, wood-ear fungus and jellyfish -- all nutritious and healthful foods, according to Chinese philosophies.
Concept: It’s a healthful Cantonese-style cafe -- sans the MSG and artificial ingredients. The food is served as individual portions, instead of the massive family-style platters typical of Chinese restaurants. Dishes are also sensibly portioned and everything is very balanced. Flavor profiles are generally light, which is typical of Cantonese food. The menu has gluten-free, vegetarian and “heart healthy” selections. There is also a customized menu for those with diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol.
Who’s at the next table? Cantonese mothers who are closely watching their diets.
Appropriate for…: When you crave clean and healthful Chinese food, or for those days when you have gluten-free or vegetarian tendencies (or are gluten-free or a vegetarian).
Uh-oh: The menu is crowded and difficult to navigate. Hours are spotty too: They don’t always open when they say they’ll open.
Service: Decent. Servers are more or less bilingual.
What are you drinking: Organic soy milk or, on colder days, a hot ginger tea spiked with a good amount of sugar.
Info: 122 W. Garvey Avenue, Unit C, Monterey Park, 626-280-3276, (no website).