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End of the Great NY Eggroll Debate. And the winner is.......................

After all the eggroll mishigas we've been through over the past few days (see http://www.chowhound.com/topics/349884 ), I decided to give Genghis Cohen another shot.

I stopped in at an odd hour (around 4:45pm) and was greeted by a friendly Chinese woman (funny, I always figured Genghis Cohen was run by some LA hipsters). I got to talking with the lady about her eggrolls, and how strange it is that with all the NY transplants here in LA, why they are the only ones who make NY style eggrolls.

She said, "Of course we make NY eggrolls-- I'm from New York!"

AH HA! That explains a LOT. I wanted to probe more into her experiences coming from Hong Kong to NY and then finally to LA, and what she thinks about LA eggrolls, and why do they deep fry pork dumplings and call them eggrolls, and what's up with that ketchup here they try to pass off as sweet & sour sauce... but she was scurrying about and I didn't want to disrupt her flow.

ONTO THE EGGROLLS:

I opened the takeaway bag and was greeted with 2 mini containers of........ you guessed it......... DUCK SAUCE and SINUS BLASTING HOT MUSTARD!!! Woo hoo!!!! Now listen up, all you LA guys, when I tell you that didn't even need to ask for it. It was simply there, in the bag, as it should be, for all eternity. Again (for emphasis).... I didn't even need to ask! Amazing.

I delved deeper inside the bag and discovered a little plastic container with a paper doily at the bottom were two visions of deep fried, golden brown loveliness.

EXTERIOR: The skin color, texture and size of the eggrolls were just perfect. Deep, golden brown, blistered and bubbly skin, with the crispy exterior and chewy interior that us NY transplants love.

THE FILLING: Of course the heart and soul of the eggroll is in the filling. Das Ubergeek and Professor Salt will be most happy to know that the eggroll filling does in fact contain BOTH shredded bbq pork and mini shrimp!

The shredded cabbage, however, was sort of green and leafy (in NY it's always white), and the wilting of the green leaf made the texture ever so slightly slimy-- whereas in a true NY eggroll, the cabbage should be entirely crunchy. Hmm, minus a few points for authenticity there.

In addition, the overall flavor of the interior was relatively bland. The best NY eggrolls have a wonderful harmony of flavors, which brings all the individual components together. The interior will stand up on its own, but this one sadly did not. The flavor really was 95% crunchy, salty, deep fried exterior skin and only 5% filling... it needs to be more balanced. For example, even though the filling did include the bbq pork and shrimp, they contributed to authenticity of texture, but not to flavor. Too bad.

CONCLUSION:
The overall flavor of the eggroll is distinctly New Yorky in style, but I have to say that if I lived in Brooklyn and GC set up shop there among the masses of restaurants which prepare eggrolls better, I would not be going out of my way to eat GC's version. I *DEFINITELY* would not be paying $5.15 for two (price includes tax... in NYC they're generally 99 cents each.

)

However I don't live in Brooklyn... I live off Fairfax, and considering that it seems that this is the only eggroll of its kind for 3000 miles, it'll have to do.

In fact when you dip the eggroll into the HONEST TO GOODNESS DUCK SAUCE and SINUS BLASTING HOT MUSTARD (truly... I was incapacitated for 5 minutes on first gulp), it masks some of the inferiorities and if you close your eyes, you can pretty much convince yourself that you're eating the real deal. Almost.

SO......... after much debate, personal reflection and Chowhound research, I'm ready to declare the eggrolls at Genghis Cohen the closest to NY I've ever found outside of the tristate area... which, unfortunately, is not a claim of high praise! However, it is what it is, and overall it's an adequate approximation considering our geographic divergence (and non-existent selection)

Would love for other NY area transplants to try it out and chime in here.

Mr Taster

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  1. Congratulations. :-)

    Now, I hope you'll discover a food so LA, it'll be just as tough to find it in NY.

    6 Replies
          1. re: Das Ubergeek

            how would you describe a SF taco? I lived there for years, and ate plenty o' tacos there. I wonder if I was having the SF tacos?

            1. re: krushdnasty

              I just now saw this -- sorry! A San Fernando-style taco is meat, salsa, and cilantro. Sometimes a bit of chopped onions. On a very small tortilla (well, on two very small tortillas).

              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                Uh-oh, you better make that the San Fernando/Gardena-style taco as that is exactly how they are made at the taco truck on the corner of Vermont and 167th (evenings only) in Gardena.

                They are $1 each, is that equivalent to the pricing in the SFV?

      1. I'm glad you finally found what you were looking for Mr Taster! It was fun to read about the journey to the NY Egg Roll of your memories :) $5.15 for two egg rolls sounds like major rip off to me, but as long as you're happy, it's all good.

        7 Replies
        1. re: kingkong5

          Sadly, I didn't really find what I was looking for... merely the closest approximation. I'll still keep an open mind for others, but it seems pretty unlikely. How many Chinese people who settled in NY would then come to LA and open a Chinese restaurant here, carrying over the eggroll knowledge and traditions they gleaned there serving thousands of New Yorkers? I think it's highly unlikely.

          Mr Taster

          1. re: Mr Taster

            Well when I saw the title of this post, after following the thread that followed your personal quest, I was afraid, very afraid, that you were going to conclude that - And the winner is....................... DOESN'T EXIST!!! At least you found a reasonable approximation. Now I will be able to sleep tonight!

            1. re: Mr Taster

              It's been written that Genghis Cohen does not serve pork and that their egg rolls are made with chicken.

              That could be the difference.

              The difference could also be a matter of 2,500 miles, but that's another story.

              1. re: DanaB

                Hm, that sounds like my post, though I was talking about New Moon in Montrose -- their egg rolls are close, but too big and made with chicken.

                I've never been to Genghis Cohen. I tried to get people to go last night but was overridden by Mrs. Ubergeek who wanted to go have Ethiopian food.

                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                  No need to make a commitment, Das Ubergeek. Just do what I did and get some eggrolls to take away.

                  Mr Taster

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    Oops! Sorry! Getting my eggrolls confused!

                  2. re: DanaB

                    It was not chicken. The pork in the eggrolls was that distinctly red-tinged grey color that you see floating in bowls of wonton soup all over Manhattan.

                    Mr Taster

              2. Thanks for the extensive field work, Mr T. I'll head over to Genghis Cohen next time I'm up in that part of the world.

                The preemptive info before someone asks:
                740 N Fairfax Ave
                Los Angeles, CA 90046
                (323) 653-0640

                Can I talk you into posting photos on your blog next time you visit? :P

                1. I'm so pleased! I love Genghis...i was there last night and had:

                  Mai Tai
                  Tsingtao

                  NY Eggrolls
                  No Name Duck
                  Crispy Beef Noodles
                  and
                  Honey fried banana with Vanilla ice cream

                  The total was $52. And our server, Hugo, was great

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Dave and Stuff

                    FIFTY-TWO DOLLARS!!! Holy JESUS. Our whole dinner for four, with beer, at Nyala wasn't $52!

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                        duck will always be more expensive than most of the ethiopian food found in this town.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          Really? Duck is pretty cheap at the Cantonese restaurant near my house (BBQ Unlimited on Sherman Way, if you're interested).

                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                            BBQ Unlimited is one of my favorite Chinese Restaurants in the valley, but really, can you compare their rent to Ghengis Cohen. Location and ambience have someting to be said for. What do you think that menu would have cost at Trader Vic's???????

                            1. re: Hughlipton

                              I hesitate even to think about it, Hugh. I really don't frequent higher-end places very often... I always start thinking about the great ethnic chow my money could be buying.

                              I'm not suggesting that Genghis Cohen is shmancy, just that the price tag gave me a bit of sticker shock.

                      2. re: Dave and Stuff

                        I bet the drinks were a lot of that price.

                      3. True Genghis has NY "style" eggrolls, but sorry, I don't think they're tasty. Still searching...never finding.