300 Marine Ave., Balboa, California
Balboa Island, California--Shanghai Pine Garden is one of Southern California's best bet for an affordable Chinese meal (lunch is a great deal). Located on Marine Avenue on Balboa Island, the brightly painted red trim building with the colorful green-blue roof.
Shanghai Pine Garden opened in 1969 under Cheong Lee, whose two sons founded Wahoo Fish Tacos chain. While ownership has since changed, the quality of the food remains great--soup is piping hot, salad is crispy cold, and your platter arrives, usually with steam and heat, plus the scent of the meal you have selected.
The soup options that come with many luncheon specials include the egg drop soup (delicious with little pieces of sweet corn!), or hot & sour. Lunch also comes with a pot of tea and your choice of rice--steamed or fried. Fortune cookies included. The bill comes to around $12-18 for two for lunch. It's delicious, and it's the best deal on the island for a complete, hot meal.