At Wonderful Restaurant, sashimi boats and Formosan specialties
Name of restaurant: Wonderful Restaurant. The Chinese name is yi chi ban, or ichiban -- the Japanese word for No. 1.
Owner: Charlie Feng. Taiwanese immigrant Feng is a longtime restaurant owner with properties in Diamond Bar and Alhambra. His wife, Juanjuan Zou, was a famous Taiwanese singer in the 1970s -- hence the photos and autographs of visiting Chinese celebrities tacked on the walls.
What dish represents the restaurant, and why? The sashimi boat -- a massive assortment of nigiri sushi and sashimi carefully arranged on a wooden vessel. It’s priced at $75, but the sizing is just enough for a party of five or more. Wonderful is all about family-style dishes and this boat also makes for quite the centerpiece.
Runner-ups: Various choices from the Taiwanese menu, including thinly sliced pork, pan-fried milk fish belly and a Hakka-style vegetable medley. The basil-laced “three cup” chicken and squid are extremely aromatic options that pair well with a fresh bowl of white rice. Wonderful has a special repertoire of Formosan creations that are hard to come by at most of San Gabriel’s Taiwanese specialists.
Concept: A chic, family-friendly restaurant for both Japanese and Taiwanese palates. There are private dining rooms and plenty of booths equipped with personal TV sets usually tuned to the Food Network. Specials are aplenty and patrons get $30 off during their month of birth if they spend over $100.
Who’s at the next table? A local Chinese couple or a Taiwanese family of four sharing a sashimi plate, “three cup” squid and a platter of garlicky kongxingcai (Chinese water spinach).
Appropriate for ... : A group dinner and a solid option for picky eaters. The menu here is so diverse that it’s bound to please even the most stubborn eaters.
Uh-oh ... : Wonderful Restaurant is pricey compared with other San Gabriel Valley establishments. Family-style entrees average out to about $10 per plate or more. Solo dining is not recommended.
Service: All the servers are bilingual but it can get difficult to flag them down during prime dinner hours.
What are you drinking? A cup of freshly brewed green tea, a large Asahi when there are more friends around and almost always a cup of sake.
Info: 1558 New Ave., San Gabriel, (626) 289-7586.
The Scouting Report 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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