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NY Style Egg Rolls... SO CLOSE... but not quite.

It was late. I was starving. I didn't have lunch... and Chinese sounded good. The problem was, I was in Montrose... not exactly a destination for good Chinese.

I've passed Sun Palace, on Verdugo Blvd., for years. It's always been kind of like the haunted house on the street where I went to grammar school... you just didn't go in there because you just KNEW it would be bad.

I was desperate. It was that or the Rice Garden near the movie theatres by the entrance to the 2 -- and that place is just unspeakable.

I went in and ordered egg rolls, Szechwan shredded pork and steamed rice.

The first clue was the fried noodles, a big ol' basket, with duck sauce -- NOT the red gloppy ketchup-oriented "sweet and sour" sauce, but a dish of honest-to-God DUCK SAUCE, with a dab of mustard in one side.

Then the egg rolls came. I was so disappointed to see them -- the same ol' "flat" rolls, with no texture on the outside -- New York egg rolls have the blistered skin with the soft chewy egg part inside.

These had no blistering -- but they had the egg part! And they had the required cheap cabbage filling that has almost no discernible meat but still tastes like pork. Combined with the duck sauce and mustard and I could almost -- ALMOST -- believe it was a worthy substitute. I ate all 4 of them.

As I've said, I like most egg rolls, even the kind here in California. I'm really not picky, but I *am* looking for the New York egg roll of my youth. If I find it, I'll be happy, and if I don't, I'll be OK with that... it gives me an excuse to try Chinese restaurants.

This was the closest I've gotten in LA. I'll continue my quest.

The "Szechwan" shredded pork, by the way, was the blandest thing I think I've ever had in a Chinese place, blander even than wonton soup. I asked for -- and received -- chili oil, which made it a little bit better. I took most of it home, and then the smell invaded the car.

I swear to God it smelled like bologna in my car. I was horrified. It smelled so bad I pulled over and left it on the side of the 2. I couldn't even make it to an exit to put it in a trash bin.

I can't recommend Sun Palace -- it's totally the archetypal God-awful Chinese-food-for-gwailo place that makes me so glad we have alternatives in the SGV, where they don't serve chop suey and egg fu yung -- but stop in and get an order of egg rolls at the bar. See if I'm just deluding myself. Just eat dinner elsewhere -- Arcadia is just 15 minutes down the 210.

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  1. The closest thing I've found to those "N.Y."-style egg rolls recently has been at the L.A. County Fair, at the so-called "Thai" concession. Blistered skin & all. But you'll have to wait another 10 months or so.

    Back in the 70s and early 80s, virtually every egg roll I encountered was the thicker skinned variety; all those places seem to have disappeared, I guess.

    1. You know it's really quite strange. I've seen quite a few chow threads over the last few years bemoaning the lack of NYC style egg rolls in L.A., and still nobody has managed to find them here. The odd part is that they are available at most L.A. supermarkets near the deli counter. Now don't take this as a recommendation, because they are almost all universally horrible, but they do get the NYC egg roll skin component correct. Blistered, slightly soft outer skin, with a doughy second inner layer. This is why it's all the more frustrating that I get bizarre looks whenever I ask about these at any L.A. Chinese restaurant. Maybe I should grab one of these samples from the supermarket and whip it out as a visual aid next time I go to China Town.

      1 Reply
      1. re: creamfinger

        Yeah, they also used to serve those awful things at my Elementry School Cafeteria... :)


      2. I don't know what NY eggrolls are, but there was a place in SF Chinatown that sold magnificent eggrolls of fond memory. They were about the size and shape of a medium potato, had a crunchy deep-fried batter on the outside, and (I think) caul fat wrapping up the contents. They were full of meat, mushrooms and other good stuff and had a wonderful flavor. One of these and a steamed pork bun went back to my desk with me for lunch.

        I haven't seen anything like these in years.

        1. Have you tried the chinese place next to Frank's Famous on Verdugo? I haven't, but I saw a sign in the window for winning best of 2005 by Glendale News Press or something like that.

          Trader Joe's frozen ones will do in a pinch, and the Pagoda in the frozen food section at Albertson's.

          3 Replies
          1. re: jackattack

            Never tried it, though I will... I tend to dismiss the Glendale News-Press ratings. Anyplace that rates Oven Fresh Bakery higher than both Berolina and Porto's is clearly weird.

            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              Had a really great, really fresh Cinnamon Raisin Nut Danish at Oven Fresh Bakery a few weeks back....they might be under new ownership?

              1. re: jackattack

                Maybe, though the rolled danishes were the best things they had.

          2. My favorite NY-style egg roll is at Genghis Cohen (www.genghiscohen.com) on Fairfax just north of Melrose in Hollywood. BIG and with tasty filling. While you're there, also get my favorite Szechuan scallops.

            1. I found egg rolls *similar* to NY-style in Ye Loy in Temple City. I've never been to NY, but it based on your descriptions, it seems that this is similar.

              However, the rest of the food (except for their wor wonton soup) was rather mostly forgettable old-style Cantonese-American. I haven't been there in a few years, so I cannot say with certainty whether or not they still serve them.

              Ye Loy
              9406 E. Las Tunas Dr.
              Temple City

              My family used to run a Cantonese-American restaurant many years ago, and we cooked them by the hundreds. It's actually pretty easy to cook them. I never bothered to write down the recipe, but if you want it, let me know.

              5 Replies
              1. re: raytamsgv

                OHhhhhhhhhhh yeah! Could you post it on the Home Cooking board? We promise to adulate you!

                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                  It's there. Unfortunately, it's a bit sketchy because it's mostly from memory: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/348271

                  I hope it's what you are looking for.

                  1. re: raytamsgv

                    Just make sure when you get the wrappers it's the right type (not the white colored ultra thin spring roll wrapper). I am guessing based on the texture that it's the type closer to wonton skin wrappers (yellow-ish).

                    I'm from NY, but never heard of this being NY Egg roll either.

                    Actually there's another style of authentic chinese spring rolls that I know of (possibly others from other regions as well). Shanghaiese style is about 5" long, kind of flat, and filled with nappa cabbage, pork, chinese mushrooms and sometimes shrimp.

                    1. re: notmartha

                      Yes, it is the large, rather thick yellow-ish wrap. That is what you want to use for this one. The white ones become rather chewy when fried, which some Vietnamese restaurants do. If you try to cook it, let me know how it turns out!

                      1. re: raytamsgv

                        i believe you want a wheat flour type wrapper. if you make them you can buy some Hong Kong Brand wrappers at 99 ranch, thats what my parents always use and they come out of the fryer with the blistered skin.

              2. OK, I am still stumped about what NY style eggroll is. Are those the big round ones about 2" in diameter like the one they sell at Trader Joe's (not sure if they still have it now)?

                The filling is just mostly (non-chinese)cabbage?

                Nothing like the ones at Panda, or the lumpia type?

                1 Reply
                1. re: notmartha

                  The ones at TJ's are sort of similar (the skins, I mean) but in the end they really taste nothing like a good NYC eggroll.

                  I agree that the ones at Genghis Cohen's on Fairfax are the closest I've had to the real thing, but at $5.00 for 2 of them, it's outrageous (they're 99 cents each back east).

                  Mr Taster

                2. Here is another place to try. It's in Venice, on Washington Blvd. at Ocean, in the same strip mall with Killer Shrimp. It's a steam table place that you would never try if you're looking for good food, but try the egg rolls. They have the bumpy wrapper, the inner layer of dough and the cabbage filling.

                  The type you get at Trader Joes or the market usually has a pretty close outer wrapper and a terrible filling that ruins the whole thing.

                  The only other place I have had good East Coast style egg rolls, and I don't know if it still exists or has the same style food, is the place Michelle Kwan's parents used to own - the Golden Pheasant in Torrance. They had exactly the right kind of east coast eggrolls and wonton soup with thick wonton wrappers. But it has been years since I went there.

                  1. The best I have found - and I am continually frustrated by the silly, thin, spring rolls of LA, which are often ludicrously called Egg Rolls on menus – are at New Moon in Montrose. They are fat, full, sliced into sections as many NY Egg Rolls are, and quite tasty. Not the best I have ever had, but certainly the best I have found in LA.

                    1. Rambutan Thai in Silverlake has egg rolls (though now that I think of it, they might call them spring rolls on the menu...) that have a pretty thick skin, and are a lot bigger and heftier than the eggrolls/fried springrolls I'm used to in Los Angeles. Not bad...

                      1. Try the chicken egg rolls at Panda Express found in most Pavilions markets. They don't have pork filling but they're the closest thing I've had to NY style in LA. You'll have to make your own Chinese mustard for dipping as the PC paks of prepared Chinese mustard they offer are a joke.

                        1. Try the big fat Vietnamese imperial rolls "cha gio" at Golden Deli in San Gabriel and you will never go back to regular old egg rolls again.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Ernie

                            I've had cha gio at Golden Deli -- and elsewhere -- and they're truly excellent, but they're not egg rolls... they're cha gio. I love them just as much, but I miss the nostalgic long Chinese-ish egg roll from my youth.

                          2. Closest thing you're looking for is at Canton Kitchen (take out only). Big egg rolls with the blistering crispy-chewy outside you're looking for.

                            Canton Kitchen
                            12511 Venice Boulevard (1/ blk west of Centinella)
                            Mar Vista

                            I know what you want in sauce..."Saucy Susan Duck Sauce"...NY egg roll fanatics like me have to have it in their fridge. I've gotten it at Gelson's in the past. (like on the east coast its Hellman's Mayonaise--here its Best Foods Mayonaise-same stuff).

                            Even good on Chinese roast duck !!!!


                            My favorite egg rolls of all time (and I used to live in NY) used to be at United Foods in LA Chinatown...99% of the filling was meat and maybe 1% cabbage and you could make a meal out of one of them- they were like 50 cents each. Unfortunately they've been closed for many years.

                            1. The egg rolls were by far the best things that came with my lunch at Canton Kitchen last month. They were thick and squat, fried very crispy and done, and had a ground-meat filling. Unfortunately, the entrees I ordered were about the worst I've had in L.A., with gloppy bland sauce (though I asked for spicy) and cartilagy chicken. I really wanted to like the place -- service was friendly, parking was easy, and they were doing pretty good business. But other than those egg rolls -- blecchh.

                              1. Wings Restaurant in Yorba Linda, Orange County is a REAL NY Egg Roll. I buy a dozen at a time and freeze them. You won't be disappointed, they even have the grease from frying. I used to bring them back from NY on my business trips and they permeated the clothes in my luggage. Try it and let me know, this is a throwback Chinese Restaurant from back in the day.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: NYN8IVE

                                  I just read Mr. Taster's report. Next time I head east I'll check it out, but they better not cut that damn thing!

                                2. A funny thing happened on the way to a donut place...

                                  I spotted NY style eggrolls amongst all the donuts, and croissants.

                                  Not sure if it's an isolated incidence, or these shops are branching out. I didn't sample as I don't like that type of eggrolls.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: notmartha

                                    Now STOP that, you egg roll tease! What is this mythical donut-and-egg roll wonderland of which you speak??

                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                      A bit out of your way.

                                      Genie Donuts
                                      1606 Nogales St, Rowland Heights
                                      (near the 99 cents store)

                                      Saw them at 6:00AM, and it's the first time I've stopped by (for some reason I felt like checking my neighborhood donut shops out).

                                  2. The ones at Mao's Kitchen have that deliciously bumpy wrapper. Huge for $1 each.