Thanks to all the hounds that recommended Har Lam Kee. This place - San Gabriel little Cantonese place - is kind of what I've been looking for for a while. Straight, pure, non-seafood oriented Cantonese food.
On pretty wooden tables with pretty backless chairs, like all the Chinese teahouses in all the kung fu movies I watch.
Surprisingly sweet, attentive service from young hip-looking waiters for a place where most of the dishes are under $6.
Anyway: stir-fried venison with pepper sauce was very delicious. When Eating Companion Sarah, who has been raised by a huntin' and fishin' Idaho dad, saw it on the menu, she sort of squealed and jiggled and begged until it was firmly entered into the menu. Surprisingly mellow. It satisfied Sarah's venison needs.
Wontons and soup were indeed quite good.
Fried tofu: beautiful. Soft, tender tofu in a sort of nubbly, sandpaper-y thin crisp delicate fried skin. Ultrahot. Gorgeous. Served with a bit of soy dipping sauce, nothing else. The two ladies at the table moaned. Eating Companion To Remain Nameless) stared discontentedly at the fried tofu hunks after eating one and said, "Thi, you know, I just don't get the *concept* behind this tofu."
He's a screenwriter.
Eating Companion Sarah later tells me that I looked like I was about to get up and jump across the table and punch his lights out. Why should I be upset, though? More tofu for me.
Anyway - food in general is of a sort of simultaneously homey and clean style I've been seeing around here more and more. Maybe the Taiwanese influence? (Not that I know a goddamn thing about this - other people on the board say the Taiwanese like to clean up things, make 'em less greasy). Well-flavored, well-balanced, immaculate, comfortable, yet never, ever greasy in the least bit.
Maybe that's just real Cantonese cooking.
Anyway, tofu. Yeah. Wow. Best-fried tofu I've had in San Gabriel, and I've had a lot.
On the way home, Eating Companion To Remain Nameless said, "You know, what I was trying to say was, what am I supposed to be paying attention to with that tofu? I just don't get it."
He almost got thrown out of the car onto the exit ramp.
Going back for more tofu soon.