At Yi-Mei Deli, you choose what goes into your rice roll

Name of restaurant: Yi-Mei Deli. It's the name of a famous breakfast chain in Taiwan though there’s no relation between the two. It was adopted because it’s a name that’s familiar to Taiwanese clientele.  

Chef: Steve Ting. Ting, who by trade was an electrical engineer, developed all the recipes based on experimentation. The Ting family hails from Tainan, a bustling metropolis in the southern portion of Taiwan.

What dish represents the restaurant, and why? The rice roll, or fan tuan. It’s a cylindrical rice roll packed in with twisted cruller, pickled vegetables and dried, shredded pork. The rice roll at Yi-Mei is customizable. You can ask them to put anything in there – like a braised egg.

Concept: In the city of Monrovia, Yi-Mei is a family-owned Taiwanese restaurant. It’s their second location (the first is in Rowland Heights) and it’s owned and managed by Jason Ting, the son of founder Steve Ting. Jason, 32, has revamped the family business to cater to a more Americanized and youthful demographic.  There’s now a lunch and dinner menu touting Formosan specialties like fried pork chop, chicken leg and beef noodle soup.

Who's at the next table? A local Chinese family. Grandpa is drinking hot soy milk and reading the World Journal (a Chinese newspaper in Los Angeles). The kids are picking at their egg omelets cakes while mom and dad are thoroughly enjoying their rice roll and cold soymilk.

Appropriate for...: Yi-Mei specializes in Taiwanese breakfast. A lunch and dinner menu is also available, but not as developed. All the dishes can be ordered for take-out and pre-made specialties can be purchased.

Uh-oh...: They’re closed on Wednesdays and take their last customers at 7 p.m. on weekends and weekdays. The Taiwanese rice bowls, or wah gui in Hokkien, sell out quickly.

Service: Most servers are trilingual. They speak English, Mandarin and Hokkien. Tax is included in all the listed prices and everything is rounded up or down. No pennies exchanged here.

What are you drinking? Freshly brewed soy milk. It’s served multiple ways — hot, cold, with or without sugar. The mi jiang (soy milk brewed with peanuts) is a delicious alternative. 

Info: 943 W. Duarte Road, Monrovia. (626) 275-8785. (Closed Wednesdays)

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The Scouting Form is a quick look at restaurants worth a visit. Scouts were selected by restaurant critic Jonathan Gold, who may or may not agree with a single word.

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