I went to Malan Noodles (301 N. Garfield #B, Monterey Park) at around 11 am today and was their first customer. I had previously read the review on LA Weekly so I had already decided to get their ja jian mien, beef noodles, and their special chicken noodles to-go.
From the moment I arrived, the man behind the register gave me attitude. I'm not even sure how to describe it; it was sort of a ..."i'm kind of exasperated with you because you're not speaking Mandarin." I took a few minutes to decide what kind of noodles to get (small, medium and large round, triangle, and various flat) There was no such item on the menu as "special chicken boat noodles" or anything resembling it so when i asked him about it, he took out another menu (the takeout menu is slightly different) and gestured to "House Special Chicken Noodles" which i figured was close enough and must be good if they were deemed the House Special.
When he rung up my order, I definately felt like I had been overcharged but the difference was no more than a dollar, so I decided to let it slide.
As an afterthought, I decided to request no MSG be added and the man feigned not understanding me. What Chinese restaurant owner doesn't know what MSG is? I said it twice and he instructed the cooks to not use MSG (see, I knew he understood).
By this point, he was really peeved at me and went to the back kitchen and started yelling really loudly. I'm nearly positive he was ranting about me because there were no other orders and no other customers. I took out my handy dandy cell phone calculator and sure enough, he had overcharged me, but it wasn't a big deal.
As I was waiting for the food, I perused the eat-in menu. The owner walked passed me and literally GRABBED the menu from me hand and walked away. I said to him, "I can't look at the menu??" and he returned and said nastily, "that's not the take-out menu."
After that, I was really fed up with all this and asked for a refund. He ignored me, screamed at the Hispanic man pulling the noodles to work faster. Two of my orders hadn't been prepared yet, but he still instructed the cook to make them even though I was standing there insisting I wanted a refund instead. When the other noodles were ready, he packed them and shoved the bags towards me. I was furious and demanded a refund. And he refused to give it. One of the other diners, on her way out, even came up to me and said "Good Luck, he should definately give you your money back."
I felt quite badly that the noodle puller was getting yelled at because of me, that the noodles were now prepared and I didn't want them, and that I was ruining the meals of the other diners, but this man was absolutely infuriating. He smirked at me from behind the counter, knowing that he had taken my money, and if he continued pretending he didn't speak English, I couldn't do much about it.
After 45 minutes of my arguing with him, pointing out that he overcharged me, and finally telling him I was calling the Monterey Park Police Dept. he relented and refunded my money.
I definately felt like my situation was special because I am a non-Mandarin speaking Chinese woman who looks extremely young for her age was there by herself and he thought that I'd take his rude service.
Obviously, I didn't leave with the noodles, so I went to my old standby, Dumpling House on Rosemead near Las Tunas. I ordere ja jian mien, their seafood chow ma mien, and the beef noodles soups.
My favorite is the fantastically (spicy) seafood chow ma mien. The broth is bright orange from the Korean influenced heavy dose of chili powder in it but it just wakes your whole mouth up. Great large chunks of sea cucumber and squid.
The nice grandfatherly owner made me happy by packing up an extra box of the kimchi -Northern Chinese style kimchi too, made from regular cabbage (as opposed to Napa)- for me.
And as always, their handpulled noodles are fresh, chewy, and perfectly cooked.
Goes to show, there's a reason why Malan was still empty at 11:45 am whereas Dumpling House was filled with customers by 12:15 pm.