Favorite Dish: Shanghai Rice Cakes With Sponge Gourd at Ding’s Garden

Shanghai Rice Cakes With Sponge Gourd

I’ll be up front about it: We had the stinky tofu, too. It did not quite make the “favorite dish” descriptor.

But it’s an experience worth having if you haven’t, already. Just bring friends to prove you did it.

As far as what I actually liked (and not ordered with purposes of boosting street cred), I have to say that the Shanghai Rice Cakes tossed with sponge gourd (or luffa) were a standout at Ding’s Garden during our Taiwanese (and dare I admit, yes, derivative Chinese) food crawl. Perfect for reheating at home, this dish had gummier rice cakes than those at Din Tai Fung and also had a lighter sauce – and less of it. Shreddings of pork provided the flavor, and the sponge gourd was a nice recall to the xiao long bao I had at Su Hung in Taipei that were filled with this veggie in addition to pork - instead of just pork. (Su Hung is the alt. to waiting 2 hours for a seat at DTF – Taipei, by the way.)

I love this vegetable because it’s somewhat sour and unexpected, but it’s still subtle and therefore palatable to those who are curious about uncharted Asian vegetables. The gumminess of the rice cakes might put some off-guard – especially those first introduced to rice cakes by DTF – but glutinous rice is really so commonly used in the cuisine that I’m more apt to consider DTF’s over-cooked, perhaps. But, if you like the sweeter variety, stick with the always-reliable Din Tai Fung.

Try many things at Ding’s Garden, but definitely make one of those dishes these particular Shanghai Rice Cakes. You can never have too many.

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Ding’s Garden
18922 Gale Ave
Ste A
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
626.810.0600