99 Essential Restaurants 2014

Sinbala

photo by Danny Liao

Pity anyone for whom “snacks” still means a trip to the 7-Eleven — or the vending machine. An infinitely better, and just as economical, solution is to head for the San Gabriel Valley mini-malls, particularly the one in Arcadia that houses the fantastic Taiwanese snack shop Sinbala. Sinbala specializes in small plates, snacks or, as the massive menu characterizes the surfeit of wealth between its pages, “deli food.” As you wait outside the restaurant along with what seems to be half the population of Arcadia, you’ll probably spend a while memorizing the numbers of the dishes you want — the radish cakes, the spicy noodles, definitely the plate of sausages with slices of raw garlic. You won’t be disappointed, and you certainly won’t be hungry for long. The milk tea is sweet and strong, the pumpkin noodles are outstanding, the shaved ice is marvelous — and the amount of raw garlic you’ll happily munch with your sausages will keep you pungent and healthy for days. Or at least until you make it back, hungry again, to the strip mall.

-- Amy Scattergood