With a name like Southern Mini Town, you’d expect to see mac and cheese or biscuits and gravy on the restaurant’s menu. However when that restaurant is located in San Gabriel, the closest thing you’ll get to American southern cooking is fried fish, Shanghainese style.
Southern Mini Town is located in a mini mall, which has a parking lot that is usually full (thanks to the crowd waiting at Golden Deli). On the other hand, Southern Mini Town may have one or two parties waiting outside the very small restaurant. Inside, you’ll find around seven tables, a flat screen TV at one end of the room and specials listed on the wall.
Looking around the room, we tried to figure out what looked good. Every table seem to have dish with a whole fish in some sort of brown sauce, so we ordered it in addition to some traditional Shanghainese dishes.
The green onion pancake was perfect – crispy and delicious. Since my daughter was in the mood for noodles, we had noodles with pork and preserved cabbage. The noodles were OK, nothing spectacular, yet satisfied her craving.
The best dishes that I’ve tried here have been the fish dishes. The fish was fresh and came in some thick sauce. I have no idea what the sauce was made of, but it was tasty. All I know is that my mom and I managed to eat the entire fish. Southern Mini Town also has a Fried Seaweed Yellow Fish which is amazing – the fish has a greenish tinge on the outside and is lightly fried in batter.
What would a Shanghaiinese meal be without dumplings? We ordered both the pan fried pork dumplings and the pan fried steamed pork buns (which don’t hold a candle to the ones at Emperor Noodles across the street but are still good).
Some veggies rounded out our meal, in a meager effort to combat the carb and protein assault on our bodies.
Parking is extremely difficult, mostly due to the popularity of Golden Deli. Try parking on Las Tunas or around the corner on the residential street – be sure to check the parking restrictions as we saw two parking enforcement officers enthusiastically ticketing cars (for, as far as I could tell, expired plates).
Service is typical of a Chinese restaurant. If you check out their Yelp reviews, poor service seems to be the biggest complaint. You don’t expect to get good service at an authentic Chinese restaurant, and Southern Mini Town does its best to uphold that tradition. Just think of it as part of the overall experience as you happily enjoy your Shanghainese food.
Location – 833 Las Tunas, San Gabriel, 91776
Website – none
Kid-Friendly – Yes
Kid’s Menu – No
Pesco-Vegetarian Friendly – Yes
Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly – Yes
Gluten-Free Options – Yes