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Jun 25, 2006 04:00 PM

Don't expect food at the Chinese Food Festival

I was so excited when I got on the train, honestly I was. I've only just moved back to LA, and this was going to be my first food-excursion that would be off my usual beaten what-I-eat-when-I-come-to-LA path.

But a warning to all those heading out to the Chinese Food Festival today in Chinatown: Please, please don't expect to be anywhere close to thrilled with the food.

And I'm not a picky Chinese food eater! I don't need the best of the best, I don't hunt out the most "authentic." I just want it to taste good, and when I'm paying $8 admission and $1 for each food ticket (and much of the food cost 2 tickets, and were itty bitty little food festival portions), I'd like to go "ooh, yum!" about at least one item. And I didn't.

I don't mind the money spent. I know it's all going back into the neighborhood, and there's a lot in Chinatown that deserves supporting. Everyone was nice and friendly and chatty, the shows were fun to watch, and it was fun being out in the sun and walking around in the bustle of the festival.

But the food just wasn't good. I wish it was. I was excited for it to be.

That said, desperate for something that would satisfy both our stomachs and souls, we headed to the Mandarin Deli (on my sister's suggestion) for hand-pulled noodles and boiled meat dumplings. And I have this to say about the subject:

Please, please go to the Mandarin Deli for hand-pulled noodles and boiled meat dumplings. You won't regret the mini-festival of pork and ginger and cilantro and essence of heaven that lies within, I promise you that.

For those who want to head to the festival, it's still worth it, just don't spend money on food tickets - head elsewhere for lunch or dinner. But hit those events!

Event schedule can be found at:

There's also a coupon there for $2 off in case you can't take public transport.

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  1. Thanks for the heads up. Yeah, better to save your food money and get quick take out food at places like Won Kok, CBS Seafood, Family Pastry(dim sum take out only)and good noodle dishes at May Flower.

    1 Reply
    1. re: monku

      I am sorry for your experience Naama but I have learned years ago from the very first Taste of LA to never expect good food at any kind of "festival".

    2. The purpose of the Chinatown Food Festival is to introduce people who have never been to Chinatown to Chinatown as a place to hang out. Period. It is for that reason, they have the Chinatown Fear Factor with fairly normal [from a chowish perspective] stuff like nori, jellyfish and 100 year egg.

      As someone said, you don't go to a food festival to eat the food [well, except for a food festival they use to hold in Cleveland that had food to die for but I digress].

      That said, the homestyle tofu at one stand was very tasty as was some of the za jiang mien and how can one screw up an egg tart? And it was all worth the price of admission to watch the Shaolin Monks---WOW! watching them spin around on their heads or breaking boards on their backs made my stomach a bit twitchy. I think the presentation was about 30 minutes long and it was truly amazing.

      So go, eat egg tarts, watch the monks break boards [and then hit the casino!] and know that you are donating to a good cause.

      oh but don't bother with the Fear Factor Challenge---everyone just gulps the food and according to my pup, it wasn't even good jellyfish--too bland and no sauce!!!*

      * but it may improve next year because the pup complained to the MC!

      1. i rolled by today and it was really sorry. the show was interesting but the food was kinda pathetic. they ran out of lions head so i appeased my empty tummy with ja jiang mien, an egg tart and crab rangoon. oh well. it was on a whim. like peterl said, i think i'm _finally_ learning that festivals and food don't mix.