On one of the local restaurant message boards I once facetiously posted that there were multiple teams of chowhounds criss-crossing the San Gabriel Valley to be the first to find the latest great Chinese restaurant opening. Well, fellows and gals, we missed one, because Sands Chinese Restaurant, which opened two years ago in Irwindale, is really a gem, one which I’ve never heard anybody mention until I stumbled onto a posting that one of the operators had made on a Facebook group.
Perhaps first order is to explain the name of the restaurant, since there’s nothing Chinese about “Sands.” From what I can tell, the chef here used to work at the Sands Casino in Macao, which would explain the one of the stunning Yelp reviews that claimed Sands was the best Chinese restaurant in the San Gabriel Valley, which I assumed came from a relative or friend of the owner. It would also explain the quality of the food here and some of the less common, upscale dishes that they serve here. Unfortunately, most of those dishes are advance order only so I didn’t get a chance to try any this time. Also we were hampered by the fact that one of our group is midway in the tooth implant process and we had to limit ourselves to soft dishes. Nevertheless this was enough to give an idea of the quality of the restaurant.
One other unfortunate thing about ordering only soft foods was that none of the dishes were particularly photogenic. But the food was excellent across the board.
This is the crystal noodle with egg whites.
Sweet and sour fish, nice and thinly crunchy and tasty.
Singapore curry chow fun, spicier than usual but very well done.
The special advance order menu is something we don’t see very often in Southern California Cantonese restaurants. Items on the Sands Menu include mixed meat and vegetables in egg white pancake, pipa tofu, braised stuffed duck, braised pork belly, sweet and sour fish with pine nuts, and chicken wings with glutenous rice. I actually didn’t see the prices of these, except the pipa tofu at $38. A couple other nice dishes on the regular, fairly short menu were the thousand layer tofu and the rack of lamb.
Sands Chinese Restaurant is closed on Sundays.