An open letter to fellow 'hounds who recommended Canton Kitchen as providing egg rolls comparable to those found in the New York metro area
- Mr Taster Dec 10, 2006 05:36 AM
Dear fellow Chowhounds,
I know you meant well.
I've come to seek your advice, fellow hounds, on many occasions and truly, I've had countless food successes thanks to your help over the years. My Chinese food world has expanded well beyond my childhood experiences. In fact now that I've been to China, I can now appreciate how lucky we are to have such diverse, delicious and authentic variety in Chinese food here in Southern California.
This time, however, it just didn't work out.
I'm one of those back-easters (born in Lakewood, New Jersey) who is always looking for the occasional bit of culinary nostalgia from my youth. For me, this means great red sauce italian (Baked ziti, anyone?), the quintessential slice (if you need to ask what this means, don't worry about it), and of course the ultimate egg roll. My god, I miss those egg rolls.
I'd heard rumors at one point that decent ones could be had at Manhattan Wonton before they went out of business (they were on Doheny, south of Wilshire), however I never tried their version. Needless to say, I'm always on the lookout.
To date, the closest I've found have been the ones at Genghis Cohen (which are actually billed on the menu as "New York Style Egg Rolls". While they are unspectacular, the do the trick as they have those difficult-to-find-qualities that are the hallmark of a good New York egg roll... the thick, brown, chewy skin (as opposed to the flaky spring roll type skin you find everywhere else in America, including Panda Express... *shudder*). They're also a great deal thicker and longer than spring rolls... sort of like a mini Chinese deep fried burrito. They have a shredded cabbage interior, with bits of flavorful pork and/or tiny shrimp inside. The exterior layer of skin is crispy which the underlayer is chewy. The cabbage is crunchy and the bbq pork is soft and juicy, salty and sweet. Necessary condiments are little packets of sinus-blasting Chinese mustard and "duck sauce", a sweet and sour sauce which is branded as "Saucy Susan" nationally (you can find it in some supermarkets here.) Note to those who grew up in LA: duck sauce is NOTHING like ketchup!
Eggrolls from New York are a perfect melange of junk food greatness, and even the cheapest random dives in New York can crank out a decent egg roll, usually for no more than 99 cents. So why, praytell, is a decent eggroll of that variety so hard to find here?
Today a visit to the fashion district to purchase $7.00 sneakers turned into an improptu chow hunt (as it often does in my world.) My Lovely Tasting Assistant (LTA) and I started by grubbing on a Tijuana dog (those street vendor griddle dogs wrapped in bacon, topped with grilled onions and peppers... yum! $2.00 from a lady on the south end of the Maple mall in front of guys selling copied DVDs). This deliciousness sparked our mutual chow-dar to seek out other munchies in the area and it was not long before we found ourselves in the venerable Canto-American Paul's Kitchen on San Pedro, south of Olympic. We popped in for the basics... wonton soup (you can keep your wor) and eggrolls. The wonton soup was fantastic... a real throwback to Chinese flavors of my youth, with tender, favorful chunks of juicy bbq pork (though back east they would not be chunks, but shredded-- though this is an incidental detail), some crunchy bok choy, a flavorful broth brimming with tasty MSG and nice full, chewy, meaty wontons. It was a little pricey at about $5.50 for a medium sized bowl, since we're used to getting a giant bowl of dough sliced noodle lamb soup at China Islamic for about $6.50, and that's enough to fill 1-2 people. The wonton soup, while delicious, was thin and left us still hungry. We decided to press our luck and ordered an order of eggrolls... 2 for $3.50. I crossed my fingers, and hoped for the best.
Strike one. These were spring rolls, not eggrolls. Flaky skin, flled with bland cabbage, and not a hint of that succulent bbq pork we had in the soup. Too bad.
My LTA saw the spark in my eye. She could tell that we were on the verge of a new chowventure.
"So, where are we going now?"
"Mar Vista, my dear. Mar Vista."
We leaped on the traffic-free 10 freeway and sped westward. In about 15 minutes we found ourselves at the doorstep of the divey take-out joint called "Canton Kitchen". I'd been meaning to try this place for a while. Jackie Chan filmed a scene from Rush Hour there, with photos and his autograph on the wall to prove it. Very nice.
I ordered 2 eggrolls, $3.50. We sat down in their waiting chairs and opened a 6 month old issue of Time magazine.
About 10 minutes later I was handed a small paper bag. "Eggrolls!" the man behind the counter announced. My heart skipped a beat. We went back to the car and I anxiously opened the bag. The first thing I saw were two packets... the first yellow packet was labelled "Chinese hot mustard". Very promising! The second packet was labelled... KETCHUP. My heart took a nose dive.
I parted the crinkled wax paper and took a peek. I saw a dark brown, bubbly skin. This was promising... my heartrate sped back up a bit. I exposed the entire eggroll and saw... what did I see? What the hell was this? This was a square, not a roll. This was an eggcube. I couldn't quite figure out what I was looking at. It was dense, deep brown and bubbly on the outside. It sort of looked like a New York eggroll's retarded cousin. No matter, I took a bite.
Extremely crispy exterior, but very thin, not thick and chewy. The underlayer didn't quite seem like it was cooked at all, as if it were just warmed eggroll dough from the shelf of Ranch 99. The interior? Totally weird. Whereas most out-of-NY eggrolls are spring roll type ventures filled with flavorless cabbage, this was the opposite... it was one solid pork mass with little bits of cabbage inside to augment it.
So imagine, first bite:
Ultra light, flaky crust
Soft, doughy, uncooked layer
Chewy pork meatball interior
This turned out to be more like a sort of bizarre deep fried shweijiao than anything like an eggroll I had ever experienced anywhere in this country, or in China for that matter.
Now don't get me wrong. It did not taste bad, it's just nothing (nothing at all, in fact) like the yummy nostalgia that so many of us east coast hounds are seeking here in Los Angeles.
Please do consider my plea in future before recommending Canton Kitchen as an alternative for those homesick hounds looking for a taste of their childhood.
With great respect and appreciation,
Unless you open your own place and fly in cooks from NYC, you will never find what you're looking for. San Francisco is the only place nearby with anything that tastes like NY - and I can't speak for the eggrolls. Sadly, I've been looking for 10 yrs.
Perhaps a friend can freeze and overnight those tasty treats, or Jet Blue now goes direct from Burbank to JFK!
re: Food Good
You may not be far off the mark. No, I don't expect anybody to send me frozen eggrolls from NYC. But, if there are hundreds of places producing similar eggrolls in NY, perhaps somebody is producing them commercially and selling them frozen in the L.A. area. Seems to me there almost certainly should be. I like to visit a giant Asian market called LAX-C, about a mile east of Chinatown. It's sort of like a Smart & Final, only the size of an airplane hangar and Asian food oriented. It has one of the most authentic -and cheapest- Thai restaurants in the city. They may carry "New York style" egg rolls, I'll have to check.
Perhaps our Bi (-coastal) friend Dave Feldman will chime in. I'm sure he knows from NYC eggrolls.
Try NEW MOON in Montrose. They are also billed as 'New York Style Egg Rolls' on the menu. I went thru a similar search and I like them.
I am totally trying New Moon -- they got the eggy thing and the filling right at Sun Palace (around the corner from New Moon) but the wrapper was crunchy and flat.
I'll let you know.
I'm from New York and as you can see from the following post I spend most of my time there in an Arthurian (and hopefully not Quixotic) quest for the holy grail of the perfect Chinese meal.
But I have never eaten an egg roll in New York, nor do I ever want to. In fact, I wouldn't know where to get one in NY. But as for Los Angeles, three suggestions. Try Vietnamese spring rolls. Try Westwood Thai Cafe. Or try any of these places:
re: Brian S
After moving here from NYC a mere 4 months ago, i have discovered that it is a waste of time trying to capture those 'occasional bits of culinary nostalgia from our youth'. It was one dissapointment after another. I too was filling the hole in my heart, reserved for my family and friends back home, with nyc-esque foods that would make me feel like i had conquered LA by making it my new NYC. Now I know...LET IT GO! This is a new world, no better and no worse then the Tri-State area we grew up in. Let's discover the new - Chili Rellenos, Japanese Curry, countless hamburger places- that this sprawling, crazy new place life has taken us to! I say save the eggrolls, the bagels and whitefish and the good pizza for when we visit our loved ones back home and embrace the new culinary delights just waiting for us here.
LA has a lot of great stuff... and I am a champion of LA food, especially because when it comes to ethnic eating, there is NOPLACE like LA. Having lived here seven years, I can't imagine not having the choice of 30 different ethnic cuisines within half an hour of me. But now and then, I'll be sitting here enjoying the 70-degree December weather, and all of a sudden, my stomach will go into action.
.oO( ...egg rolls. )
"You don't need egg rolls."
.oO( EGG ROLLS. )
"Have some nice cha gio instead, mmm, tasty. Egg rolls are a holdover from when Chinese food was bad, we have Monterey Park just a half hour away."
.oO( EGG. ROLLS. New York style. Give me egg rolls or I'll make your pants ride down in yoga class. )
"You wouldn't dare!"
.oO( Try me, bucko. )
And thus, I search for egg rolls. It's not like pizza, where you really might NOT be able to make New York pizza in LA (water, ovens, fat sweaty Italian guys, I don't know)... the ingredients aren't any different here.
I do get egg rolls, by the way, every time I head out East, but given the Security Dance of the Placid Sheep required to get through the airports, I don't do it very often... thus the search.
re: Das Ubergeek
So I've read all these posts and now for the first time in my life I want an egg roll! Actually if someone opened up a tiny place serving good NY egg rolls there would be more fancy cars parked outside than in a Lamborghini showroom. New York will trade you one egg roll chef for one chef from Oaxaca.
Das Ubergeek hit the nail on the head. I've been living in LA for 10 years (and have been living outside the tristate area for nearly 15). In addition to what I cook at home, my daily diet generally consists of some combination of fantastic Thai food, Chinese food, Mexican Food, Korean food, Japanese food, Ethiopian food and Vietnamese food. I have wholeheartedly embraced the best that LA has to offer. And yet every so often...
.oO ( EGGROLLS. )
You've only been here 4 months. Give it some time... you can only pretend it doesn't bother you for so long, I promise.
LOL. I feel your pain.
Please try this place in Venice/Marina Del Rey - I do know what the correct New York eggroll is like and these are the closest I've found. I like them better than the ones at Ghengish Cohen. This is just a buffet/steam table place and there is no reason they should be the only place in town with the right egg rolls so try them and tell me if I'm crazy:
Magic Wok Express, 515 Washington Blvd. in the same strip mall with Killer Shrimp and Pradeeps. Not to be confused with Wacky Wok a block away and sometimes recommended here, but not by me since I never found it very good.
Since I went out to the new Santouku on Venice for ramen today, I figured why not check out the eggrolls at Magic Wok Express which was basically down the road.
It is, as you said, a steam table place so the eggrolls were sitting under a heat lamp, not made to order. I must say, they looked good, with the dark brown, bubbly wrapper. The guy asked me if I wanted pork or vegetable eggroll... (why mutually exclusive?) so I said "pork". He then takes a SPRING ROLL which was hiding below the beautiful golden eggrolls. I said "I don't want a spring roll, I want an eggroll" and he said "this is pork eggroll."
I decided to take one of each-- the proper looking eggroll (with only veggies) and the spring roll looking "pork roll".
OK, first the veggie egg roll. Texture and crispiness of the wrapper was right, very good. Filling was... :( Some sort of greasy curried cabbage thing. It was made slightly better when dipped in the sweet & sour sauce (definitely not duck sauce as this was translucent red) and hot mustard was not on offer.
On to the pork filled spring roll. As you already know, the wrapper on this one was all wrong. The interior? Much like Canton Kitchen's version, the spring roll wrapper was filled with one solid hunk of pork meatball, augmented with a shred of cabbage here and there. This "deep fried meatball" style seems to be a recurring theme in LA eggrolls.
At least the price of the eggrolls was right... each was $1.00.
Moving on to the next!
Lychee Nut, Sorry for the bad news..i drove right over to Magic Wok on Washington after reading your comment..The magic is gone! The veg egg rolls looked like a shrunken cousin to the real deal, the NY style egg roll. And it was greasy too..The only good news is that its just down the block from me so I didnt waste too much time or money..Just more disappointment...Woe is we in search of our long lost tastes and smells..
Unfortunately the egg roll is destined for mediocrity no matter where you might find one....its an appetizer and not a main dish staple (afterthought).
#1 it can't be sitting out...has to be deep fried and served immediately. As far as fillings I remember the NYC egg rolls being mostly cabbage.
I personally think the the Canton Kitchen egg rolls were the closest thing to a NYC eggroll.
I'll mention it again...the "Best" egg roll ever in Los Angeles (maybe the world)was at United Foods in LA Chinatown(no longer in business for like 10 years now-was basically a butcher shop with meat and seafood). 75 cents each, they were huge, crispy and 99% ground pork and maybe a hint of cabbage.
I grew up in NY on those egg rolls people seem to rave about.
Now if I want egg rolls at home I'll go to those Filipino markets and get those different kinds(fillings) of frozen lumpia and make them at home...they seem to fill the void.
Monku... I don't understand you! On one hand you said:
"...Canton Kitchen egg rolls were the closest thing to a NYC eggroll."
"United Foods in LA Chinatown...were huge, crispy and 99% ground pork and maybe a hint of cabbage."
then TOTALLY contradict yourself by saying:
"...NYC egg rolls being mostly cabbage."
But the Canton Kitchen eggroll I ate contained almost ZERO cabbage!! Per my description above, the filling was literally just one giant porky meatball mass, much like your United Foods eggroll.
Do you remember what eggrolls in NYC are actually like? I'm not trying to be snarky or anything, I'm really serious, cuz what you've just said doesn't make **any** logical sense to this born-and-bred New Jersey boy. Never, ever, ever (did I say ever?) did I EVER consume an eggroll back home which was 99% pork as you describe... and any pork that you find inside will not be a meatball, but will be thin shreds or cubes of the salty/sweet Cantonese bbq pork (of the type you find served over rice in Hong Kong, with the red-tinged outer layer). Never, ever, ever EVER would it be some type of meatball. This would happen not in New Jersey, not in New York City, not in Philadelphia, not even in Boston. And I've had a lot of eggrolls in my day.
I just don't get how you could have grown up in New York and have been eating a product so utterly and completely different from anything I ever ate.
Help me to not be so confused by you!
P.S. Re #1... must disagree with you here as well. My regular thing when I visit the city is to bring a package of 7 or 8 eggrolls on the plane with me back to LA and they're friggin tasty as ever, pulled right out of the storage compartment and eaten cold as my alternative to the $5.00 airplane box lunch. When cold, the texture however does become a little different, as the skin becomes uniformly chewy instead of nice and crispy on the outside, but it's a small price to pay as the flavoer of the eggroll is not harmed at all, and when faced with the yummy cabbagey barbecuey porky lusciousness found within, chewy eggroll skin is a small price to pay.
re: Mr Taster
I kind of remember the egg roll at Canton Kitchen as being half meat and half cabbage.
I said the "best" egg roll in the world had to be the one at United Foods, I never said it was a NYC style egg roll. Those egg rolls were so big you could make a meal out of one. When I'd order them for parties I'd have them cut them in thirds. They were so crispy-I could take them from my freezer and pop in in the Toaster Oven and heat it up and it would be like it was just made.
I think its going to come down to to trying to make and concoct your own. Now you got me going-I know someone who knows the old owners of United Foods and I'm going to find out how they made them. Now that I think of it it was ground pork, some chopped up Chinese sausage and Napa cabbage.
Went to college in NY. Living in the dorms, my floor would spring for Chinese take out at least once a week. And with my combo plate would com the little white paper bag that would contain 1 fork wrapped in a white napkin, hot chinese mustard packet, soy packet and said NY eggroll. (the duck sauce packets were sent in a larger brown, lunch bag cause we would request "a lot" of it).
I never ate said NY eggroll. I tried it once it was grossed out by "the thick, brown outer skin" that was slighty chewy and felt not cooked; it felt dense in my stomach. I missed the egg rolls I grew up with in LA, light and not at all filling, certainly the point to being a precursor to an already filling chinese meal.
When in Rome...
I just accepted that this was the way that NY made their eggrolls, alas, you are here and you must just accept that your eggroll cravings will be satitated when you visit your home state.
I, too, lived in NYC for a while, around 6 years, between the ages of 18 and 24, *and* my college roommate had moved to NY from Taiwan when she was 9 years old, and her father was in the Chinese food restaurant business. What I miss from the Chinese food I ate in NY is really well-prepared and seasoned dishes, and the ubquitiously available delicious sesame noodles, which came with every delivery of Chinese food in NY, and bao of all kinds. My friend's aunt, who cooked for the family, made the best bao I've ever had, anywhere. I also miss Chinese breakfasts -- there was some kind of radish they put into the eggs that were scrambled in the wok, that gave the eggs a little bit of a crunch that was soooo good.
I also get where Das Ubergeek is coming from. I feel the same way about foods I ate as a kid in LA. For one, I've NEVER found a place that makes a cheese enchilada like the ones I ate as a kid at the branch of Casa Escobar that was on Pico near Manning Avenue in the 1970s. Even the La Talpa enchiladas don't taste the way they did when we went there when I was a kid in the 1970s. And nothing will replace the taste of the pizza we had at Regular Johns in Brentwood, nor will any stew taste as good as it did at the Stew Kettle, also on Pico, almost 30 years ago now (eek!).
As to why foods aren't made the same in different parts of the country, I posited this before in another post about pizza, I think, but it's because there's not a market for it. People here happen to like the lighter, flakier egg rolls that are more akin to spring rolls. If people in LA were served the thicker-skinned egg rolls that Das Ubergeek desires, they would be disappointed, because that is not what they are looking for in an egg roll.
Another poster in this thread said something along the lines of "if you can't have the one you love, love the one you are with." Of all people, I know Das Ubergeek has that in him. LA has so much good food to offer, maybe it's worth rethinking the desire, or, to think about bringing back and freezing those egg rolls if the hankering is so strong you can't wait for it until the times you visit the east coast.
If you still really want those eggrolls, start going places like Hop Li on Pico in West LA or Chi Dynasty in Silverlake. You aren't going to find them in any place attempting "real" Chinese food in L.A., where the influence of the real thing has taken most restaurants in the direction of authenticity rather than old-fashioned Americanized Chinese food. You probably would have found those egg rolls at a place like Madame Wu's (now defunct). . . or maybe at a place like Mr. Chow's, that have been in LA forever and have catered to American tastes for many years. For the most part, though, I think even small-time, local Chinese places in non-Chinese parts of LA do not cater to the old-timer tastes like they do on the east coast.
I *like* to think that there are still foods only available in some parts of the Country but not in others. If there weren't, then the fast food industry will have won. It's actually a positive that you can't find those egg rolls here ;-)
I go to Canton Kitchen for take-out once in a while.
I never get the egg rolls. Well, rarely.
I would never recommend CK to someone looking for New York style egg rolls.
I have recommended this place to readers here looking for a certain type of savory/brown gravy egg foo young.
Just a note to say that we've moved some posts that are more about what makes NY style egg rolls great than where to find them in LA over the General Topics board where more people can chime in. We weren't able to move all of the great posts on that topic over there, but we would like any further discussion on what makes an egg roll NY style, and why that's great over to this thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/350293
If you've got recommendations for places in LA to try the egg rolls, please continue to add them here.
We've also moved a suggestion for these eggrolls in Santa Cruz to the California board: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/350500
I have held off posting this...for obvious reasons...but Trader Vic's Egg Rolls are large, with the type of skin described, somewhat bubbly and a bit chewy on the inside. The menu says it has ham in it and cabbage and not too greasy. I truly do realize there is little authentic about Trader Vic's, if anything.....and I am be waaaay off on this one...but it isn't a 'spring roll' type 'egg roll'...and oh, those drinks...and if rumors are true they are closing a visit for drinks and nibbles are called for by us who
grew up on the place. In fact, we had a family dinner there about a month ago, and I will miss it when it is gone. It is an experience more than a Chowhound destination. It is always fun. But getting back to the egg rolls, I like them. And one gets that little butterfly shaped dish with 'ketchup' and hot mustard, a Mai Tai or Navy Grog and all is well.
Oki Doki's rolls *are* great. But they're Viet style cha gio, thin skinned spring rolls, not the thick skinned "NY style" fatties.
As a NY native, I know exactly what Mr Taster & Das Ubergeek are looking for. No, I haven't found any out here, but you're damn straight I'll report in if I do.
re: Professor Salt
Yeah I can tell you understand.... out of curiosity, how do you find the ones at Genghis Cohen? I find that sometimes they do the trick but other times they're off... bland and mealy.
I wonder if they import them frozen from a supplier in NY? Hmm.... that sparks some possibilities, doesn't it?
So many people are offering opinions on how to find alternate roll-type deliciousness, but I fear that only those of us from back east truly understand what we're looking for here in LA.
For example, you might hear a funny story about an angry nun in Catholic school... the story might still be funny to a Jewish person but to *really* get it, you've gotta be Catholic.
Same with eggrolls in NYC :)
re: Professor Salt
I'd check it out if I were you... if for no other reason than that's really the closest I've found, and occasionally it's not bad. In fact I had a recent experience where I got some from GC for my girlfriend (who is Taiwanese and had never eaten the NY varietal) because we were heading to New York the next day and I wanted to compare with, let's say, Wo Hop's eggroll. (For those who don't know, Wo Hop on Mott St in NYC Chinatown... the quintessential divey American Chinese restaurant) Well that time Wo Hop must have been way off, and GC was on because she felt GC's was actually tastier. (I wouldn't allow myself to admit that, but she may have been right.)
Let me know if you're heading to Genghis Cohen... I live around the corner from Canter's :)
I've only ever eaten the eggrolls at GC but check out the menu... it does seem that their heart is in the right place.
Its become obvious the elusive NYC eggroll may not exist. How about one of the original LA egg rolls? The old Far East Cafe, Little Tokyo(now Chop Suey Cafe)had an egg roll that had curry seasoning in it and not too bad.
They still make it at the:
New Formosa Cafe
2415 E Cesar E Chavez Ave (near Soto)
Los Angeles (Boyle Heights) CA 90033
Place is not so new, been around for 20+ years and Dewey, son of the original founder of Far East Cafe owns the place and still cooks. They have the old original recipes from the original Far East Cafe(which Chop Suey Cafe does not have-they couldn't get the original recipes or call it Far East Cafe).
Weird hours-only open for lunch and till 7pm on Saturdays...closed Sunday/Monday. Ask Betty(Dewey's wife)for the Far East Cafe menu--otherwise you'll get the local Mexican-Chinese menu.
The Formosa Cafe in West Hollywood on Santa Monica Blvd is also related to the same people.
Funny thing is that in NYC if you check out their board they have the same dilema...the elusive NYC eggroll of our childhood and even they have the NYC style-pizza debates.
Like I mentioned before its an appetizer or side dish and there's no incentive to make the "best".
Maybe its a memory of our younger past and our immature taste buds.
You've posed an interesting idea, Monku... I'm always up for a new chowventure, and I especially like eating my way through old LA history.
Of course it's still not a replacement for those delicious eggrolls from back home, but it's at least a diversion to get my mind away from obsessing over them :)
By the way, it is most definitely not a memory of my younger past... I was in NYC about a month ago and my girlfriend and i walked a few miles of Flatbush Ave. in Brooklyn, through all the Caribbean markets and African shops and right on a corner near a shop which exclusively sold DVDs of Kung-Fu and Blaxploitation films was a random Chinese takeout dive, where you purchased your food through bulletproof glass windows. Local people were going in to this place and ordering fried shrimp, fried chicken strips and french fries, one after another, not even bothering with the Chinese food. We ordered 2 eggrolls. They were HEAVENLY. Chewy, lovely, salty, sweet, crunchy mini deep fried Chinese burrito deliciousness. Remember, I ate this just a month ago... My memory isn't *that* bad!
They do exist, I swear... and they're truly that delicious. They're not just a figment of our collective back-easter imaginations!
With gajillions of New York transplants here in LA, I am surprised that someone intimately familiar with these pseudoethnic Gothamcentric anamolies hasn't somehow figured out how to sell these at a stand or packaged frozen in stores. If only 1/10 of Applers-Turned-Orange-aiders supported this product, you'd be rich enough to hire Donald Trump to sweep out your storefront.
As I've never tried these seemingly tasty morsels, I couldn't even begin to suggest where you might find its near-equivalent out here, but I can tell you that eggrolls really don't register on the radars of most eaters out here. I think it's a combination of too many other foods competing with this once-very popular food item (back in the 60s and 70s) that have eventually crowded it out of the market, and the evolution and elevation of Chinese cuisine here on So Cal. My kids love eggrolls as this food item fulfills some of their favorite characteristics for food: Crunchy, fried, goes well with sauces (ketchup and sweet/sour sauce), and can be easily held while doing something else. Which brings me to a semilogical deduction. Maybe another reason this food is very popular in New York, and not so much here in LA is because it is very hard to get a good grip on one's steering wheel with oil-slathered fingers from eating an eggroll while driving through rush hour traffic on the 10. However, this deep-fried delectable of crispy goodness can easily be eaten while negotiating the streets of Brooklyn with a Flatbush swagger.
Too bad you never got chance to eat at Manhattan Wonton Company but their Won Ton Soup was superb (tight wrapped won tons, great broth same ingredients as NYC) Chow Fun was delicious and Egg Rolls were also good. Sadly, it didn't last long.
when i was a kid, the china kitchen at the farmers market at 3rd and fairfax had the kind of eggrolls of which you speak. they also had egg foo yung of the type one would find with those kind of eggrolls.
check out both the chinese places in the market. maybe you'll be lucky.
or invest in a time machine
It really just comes down to the fact that people either know what they are or they don't, and it's really hard to explain this to someone who didn't grow up "back east".
I now realize now how strange a thing it was that we grew up in this eggroll culture where uniformity was the norm. Out here the styles are so widely varied that, good intentions aside, LA hounds really can't know what that extraordinarily specific eggroll "experience" is like without having lived through it themselves.
It's not that LA hounds don't have delicious, worthwhile suggestions. It's just that they don't know (or more accurately, can't know) what we're looking for, because it really is a very specific thing.
In this instance only, having grown up back east is really the most important criteria to consider when estimating accuracy of fellow hounds' responses. With that in mind, I am very interested to try NYN8IVE's suggestion of "Wings" in Yorba Linda from my other eggroll post (link below)
Will certainly report back!
Das Ubergeek, did you ever get around to trying New Moon in Montrose? I'm going to Burbank for a car repair later today and thought I might check that one out....
Please copy & paste to your posts
re: Mr Taster
I did -- and it was ALMOST PERFECT -- crenellated exterior, chewy eggy interior, cabbage -- except they use chicken (!!) instead of pork -- I mean, whisky tango foxtrot, pal!
Bear in mind that New Moon is trying to be haute Chinese -- linen tablecloths et al. The scallops in ginger sauce are fan-@$#%ing-tastic... and well worth the trip alone.
Its been well over a decade since I've been there, but the best New York egg roll was in San Bernardino at Wongs Kitchen take out on either E or F street south of Highland. Their sauce was wrong - ketchup and hot mustard, but the egg roll was right
I have to say, the dearth of certain things in LA I took for granted in Chicago (my hometown) is fairly astounding. I grew up eating what OP refers to as "NY-style egg rolls" (weird that they're actually known as that, since as I mentioned, I grew up eating these in Chicago).
So none of the places out east in SGV do these kind of egg rolls??
There's a small restaurant in a supermarket mall in South Pasadena called Golden China. They have egg rolls like the ones you describe, and they serve them with hot mustard and what we here in LA call sweet and sour sauce, but my New Yorker husband calls duck sauce, just like you (they also serve them with ketchup, but if that offends you too much I'm sure they'll leave it off). Tasting them was a little trip back East for my husband, so maybe you'll like them too.
The restaurant is in the Von's mall at the northwest corner of Monterey Road and Fair Oaks Ave. (1115 Fair Oaks Avenue, South Pasadena 91030). I like their potstickers, too.
Now I cannot say about the egg roll, but there is a place in Montebello called Chinese Garden. They have that old style chop suey house food that I know New Yorkers are used to. Egg foo young and pan fried noodles and stuff like that. There is nothing authentic to this place other than it is dyed in the wool American style Chinese food. It is about a block south of Pomona Blvd on Garfield, across from the entrance to Montebello Golf Course.
Has anyone tried Egg Roll Express on Washington in Pasadena? It's a block or two west of Altadena, on the north side of the street - just west of Domenicos, IIRC.
I drove by it yesterday but didn't stop - I'm not confident in my abilities to determine just what is/not a NY-style egg roll. But it might be worth a stop to someone more in the know.
I just have to say.... I'm one of those people who misses a lot of stuff about the east coast (bagels, pizza, etc.), even after years in LA. But I personally don't miss those egg rolls at all.
Lies! Lies! Lies!
We are not talking about NEW YORK style Egg Rolls here.
These are NEW JERSEY egg rolls...and they come from big musty places with wierd island drinks and polynesian decor like CHAN'S DRAGON INN and CHAN'S WAI KI KI!
They can also, happily, be found in similar places in Boston like The Kowloon and Tiki Island.
Now, yes, I know these New Jersey Egg Rolls probably have their ultimate origins in New York City, but I've found that the Egg Rolls in the Big Apple are inferior to the best Egg Rolls that you can get across the river in New Jersey.
The silly decor and stupid hawaiian drinks help with the enjoyment. They are best when served on a big ridiculous flaming platter with spare ribs and chicken wings. Here, they look like this (this is from Chan's Dragon Inn in Lodi):
I always thought you can get these egg rolls at the Panda Express places in the mall food courts. The ones here in NYC don't seem that different, and look pretty much like that photo. I guess I just don't get it like those who are prone to nostalgia. I guess I should start posting on the Manhattan board looking for Pink's style hotdogs.
I think they come close. They certainly are not spring rolls. Cabbage and ham, tastes more ham than pork, I believe. They are tasty. Especially tasty after a Navy Grog or another fab drink! They are served with ketchup?, hot mustard, duck sauce?. Of course they are expensive. I posted this waaaaaay back.
Or "Jade East" on Rte 22.
My family moved from NJ to Calabasas circa 1980. I distinctly recall being taken to a restaurant on Ventura Blvd. more than once for something approximating very closely Jersey-style Chinese food (replete with, yes, the puffy-crunchy-chewy egg rolls you describe). It has obviously been almost three decades, and even if I could remember which corner it was, the restaurant has probably been turned into a shoe store by now.
But who knows -- it might still be there. Have you tried any places on Ventura Blvd. between Topanga and, say, De Soto or Winnetka? It might have been as far east as Tarzana, but somehow I recall it being nearer to St. Mel's (our church). I remember it being fairly well-decorated inside.
Also, sweet-and-sour sauce is not the same thing as duck sauce, which is not the same thing as plum sauce. Sweet and sour sauce is invariably red; duck sauce is usually closer to brown and, as someone else noted, is based around apricot preserves (not, as my father used to joke, produced by chasing a duck around and wiping off the sweat).
If you go to a reasonably well-stocked asian market you can find jarred duck sauce next to jarred plum (and sweet-and-sour) sauces made the same manufacturer.
I grew up in LA eating the kinds of eggroll y'all seem to be looking for. There was a place on Pico in West LA - when West LA was just a normal neighborhood and not the "LOOK AT ME!/don't you wish you were me/I live in WLA" attitude-y place (where the most prestigious car goes first at 4-way stops). That place is long gone of course and so are the ones in Chinatown that used to have these eggrolls. My sister and I would eat them at the counter of one of those places in Chinatown - with harsh lighting, mint green walls, lots of dragons and red vinyl rotating stools. When it was too early and a band we didn't like was playing at Madame Wong's, we'd go there and eat eggrolls, munch on those crispy noodle "appetizers" (also served with the hot mustard and red ketchup-like sauce) and slurp tea, all for $2 or $3. And then go back to the club when the opening band had finished their set. I GREW UP eating takeout from Canton Kitchen and no, they don't make them properly there. They never did. I'm so tired of Szechuan this and Hunan that. I'd do anything for one or of these old school/not-so-authentic/ABC-Cantonese eggrolls. Maybe we can go to an old people's home in San Gabriel Valley or Chinatown and see if any of the elders ever had a restaurant in the 50s or 60s and get them to give up the recipe and their technique? Or just fly to SFO - I think they still have them there (more NY style pizza, too). BRING BACK THE EGGROLL!