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Hop Li... Pico & Veteran... what am I in for?

I have a friend who is taking my Lovely Tasting Assistant (LTA) and I out to dinner and he's suggested this "excellent Chinese restaurant" near his house in Westwood... Hop Li.

I'm truly scared of Westside Chinese. My girlfriend is Taiwanese. I've tried to shelter her from non-SG Valley Chinese. What are we in for? Is my relationship in trouble? What can I do to minimize fallout?

Please help.

Mr Taster

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  1. Though Hop Li is definitely not the best Chinese restaurant I've ever been to, it is a step up from all other Chinese places I've been to on the Westside.

    I think the restaurant is mainly Cantonese style food, but most everything I've had there is not too bad. Steamed fish, squid with spicy salt, and honey walnut shrimp are some of my favorites.

    Hopefully this will help you out.

    1. Also, I recall portions being quite a bit larger than at most Chinese places on the Westside

      1. There was another post awhile ago that tried to put this kind of thread about Westside Chinese food in perspective: No, it isn't going to be as "authentic" as the San Gabriel Valley. Yes, it will be better than most available around the country.

        I had a good portion of above-average chicken in black bean sauce there for lunch a few weeks ago. There was an elderly couple who were regulars who ordered more interesting seafood dishes.

        Chinese food is tasty and fun and reasonably-priced. If I don't want to go all the way across town, or trans-continental, am I supposed to avoid it? If better pizza is available in New York, or better sushi in Tokyo, I shouldn't eat it here? C'mon. Lighten up. Let your friend order his favorite dish. Ask, or have your Taiwanese girlfriend ask in Cantonese, what their best specialties are and have fun.

        5 Replies
        1. re: nosh

          I believe this is the thread to which *nosh* refers:

          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

          See also:

          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

          In our most recent Hop Li meals, we have generally done well with an emphasis on fresh comfort-food Cantonese: cold jellyfish; scrambled eggs and shrimp (PayOrPlay Jr.'s favorite restaurant meal these days); some sort of crab, lobster, or other live seafood; the pan fried noodles with tomato beef; mango chicken (everyone orders this at Hop Li, it's variable but can be quite good when not overly starched); and some fried rice. "Tofu garden" is a good vegetarian dish with mixed veggies buried in a mound of tofu, but it hasn't been on the specials list lately so I'm not sure if they can still make it or not; "Supreme Mixed Vegetables" aren't bad either.

          1. re: nosh

            Actually I think you're asking the wrong person... I do not believe necessarily in the very American idea of settling for inferior quality for the sake of convenience (or quantity). I see nothing wrong with only eating fresh tomatoes in summer or bagels only when in New York. Why bother with an inferior approximation? It makes the real stuff more of an occasion. All that more special. I won't die if I can't get my hand pulled noodles around the corner. Save it for the weekend and savor it all the more.

            Having just returned from 6 months in Asia, I can tell you that we are lucky to live in a city where food from such wildly diverse, high quality, authentic ethnic cuisines exists. When I can eat virtually the same tasting pud see ew at Sanamluang on Hollywood that I had in Bangkok, to my mind that's no comprimise.

            Likewise since I have been dining in the SGV, I have generally lost my taste for gloppy, overly sweet, overly greasy Americanized Chinese food (which I no longer feel is, as you say, tasty nor fun, though it may still be cheap). The real stuff is so much fresher and cleaner. Why bother with the fake stuff?

            Unless your friend really wants to take you, of course. Then you can seek advice from Chowhounds.

            Mr Taster

            1. re: Mr Taster

              If you're pre-disposed to thinking the place is serving greasy, americanized Chinese food that you wouldn't feed to your enemy's dog, then that's what you're going to get. Why not go with an open mind? If you don't like it, it's one thing... your post, however, reads as if you're dismissing it solely on the basis of location.

              Maybe you should re-post on a different forum? Ask for advice on how to graciously avoid going to a restaurant that your friend proclaims as "excellent." It sounds like you don't want to go anyway, and it seems more fair to your friend to just tell him up front than go and give off a negative vibe during the meal.

              1. re: Devourer

                You're right... I have not given it the benefit of my open mind.

                I'll go with one tonight and report back!

                Mr Taster

              2. re: Mr Taster

                although i didn't spend six months in asia, i have to say, that when i was in hong kong i was surprised at how heavily greased much of their food was.

                many dishes seemed to be floating in a pond of grease.
                the stuff i get in the sgv seems to have much LESS grease than the hong kong food.

            2. You're in for mediocre-at-best Westside Chinese served room temperature or cooler.

              1. Its the best of the Chinese available on the Westside BUT the food is very greasy I find. The location out in MDR was very good and the Pico shop should have corralled that chef when the Marina location closed. NOW I see that the old JR's near Bundy and SM in a strip mall on the north side of the street has a flickering neon sign announcing "Hop Li" - maybe that's the one to try. Maybe maybe the MDR chef has taken up residence there. In that case he made the best walnut shrimp ever. As noted above, steamed fish and chicken in black bean are safe bets.