I always tell people that just because I look Asian, it doesn’t mean that my knowledge, tastes, or skills fulfill the stereotypes. I have absolutely no idea when Chinese New Year was (I only know it’s over….isn’t it?), I prefer colors like purple and pink to red and gold, and I can not calculate simple numbers without a calculator.

If you’ve read this blog before then you already know my reviews of restaurants are rarely on places which serve any type of Chinese food. My eating partners all know that inviting me to brave traffic to eat dim sum or get authentic Chinese food in the San Gabriel Valley is comparable to inviting me to go camping (neither is likely to happen).

R.O.C. (Republic Of China) Kitchen apparently knew that many of us on the Westside would enjoy some dumplings, shu mai, steamed buns, Dungeness Crab glass noodles, and beef oxtail noodle soup without having to trek through traffic. They’ve only been open since October, so their sign isn’t up yet, but the lines are already forming, especially around lunch and brunch times.

The draw here is soup dumplings (no other place on the Westside serves them), but I am not a fan, so I ordered some of the classic pork and shrimp steamed ones. For $9 it may seem expensive, but these are HUGE, and the serving of eight pieces is enough for a full meal for one person or enough to share with 2-3. The dough is freshly made and nicely tender with a bit of body. The filling was delightfully light and juicy, but be very careful when you take your first bite because these come out HOT and as hungry as I was, there were times I literally had to open my mouth to let the hot steam escape after a bite! You can make your own dipping sauce from the little saucers, freshly chopped ginger, and condiments on the table (if you want, you can ask for hot chili).

I ordered the sauteed shrimp with shishito pepper for $16. The shrimp were slightly overcooked, but overall this was a pleasant dish if you like spicy sautées.

When I was eating in, I saw the table of celebrities next me take FIVE bags of food to go after their meal, so I figured, why not take home something for later? I wanted to try the glass noodles with fresh Dungeness Crab $12, but they had run out of crab, so I opted for the oxtail beef noodle soup with bok choy for $8. I was pleasantly surprised by the aromatic star anise flavor in the broth and the huge tender oxtails. The noodles were perfect (freshly made), and if the beef and bok choy had been a bit hotter I would be raving about this dish. As you can see from the picture, the fat around the oxtail was white, and cold fat is never tasty.

I don’t often chose Chinese food, but it was a pleasure to have a place to close to home for slightly upmarket Chinese food at decent (for the Westside) prices.

ROC Kitchen on Urbanspoon