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Who has the best Hot and Sour Soup?

PlanDan Feb 1, 2007 10:09 AM

I have eaten hot and sour soup in just about every restaurant in Chinatown. Nobody does it great. I ask for it extra hot and extra spicy but it seems like everyone makes it just to give free with the lunch specials and nobody really tries to make it as good as it can be. In fact, if I really want a good bowl of hot and sour I have to ask my wife to make it! (She makes the BEST).

The only bowl in CT that I like is at Zen Mei Bistro but they put red pepper in it instead of black pepper. Not traditional (is hot and sour soup at all traditional or authentic? dunno) but it is very good and very chunky, not starchy.

Any recs? Prefer CT but not too far out is okay, too.


  1. c
    cobalt Feb 2, 2007 04:59 PM

    I'm ordering it tonight from Fu-Shing in Pasadena, I bet they do it right!

    I will report back!

    (I usually get the gourmet Won Ton...)

    1. w
      wilp Feb 2, 2007 02:23 PM

      Dragon Mark in the famous (J and J, Mei Long) 301 W. Valley (San Gabriel) shopping center had a very good hot and sour soup.

      I like a bit of "kick" and a good blend of starch/broth - too much either way and the soup doesn't work.

      1. p
        PlanDan Feb 2, 2007 12:46 PM

        Thanks for all the great advice and insight!

        1. m
          Michelle Feb 1, 2007 09:02 PM

          Spring Garden Chinese Restaurant in Pasadena has good hot and sour soup. They serve it with the vinegar and chili oil separately, so you can make it as hot and as sour as you like it!

          1. ipsedixit Feb 1, 2007 08:18 PM

            True "hot and sour soup" is neither hot (as in chili pepper hot, not temp hot) nor sour.

            Really good "hot and sour soup" is a perfect meld of hot and sour so that neither flavor dominates -- it is, for lack of a better phrase, the epitome of fusion. Not unlike the unique flavor sensation imparted from a yogurt pretzel or a salt caramel.

            That being said, my go to place for hot and sour soup is SEAFOOD VILLAGE in Temple City, although more often than not when I'm there I usually opt for the fish broth served tableside in its own chafing dish/portable stove top.

            And for those kosher diners in the audience, try the version at KIM TAR, which makes its hot and sour soup with chicken (instead of pork).

            Seafood Village Restaurant
            9669 Las Tunas Dr
            Temple City
            (626) 286-2299

            Kim Tar Restaurant
            Monterey Park
            964 E Garvey Ave
            (626) 307-9139

            1. c
              chowchow12345678 Feb 1, 2007 07:10 PM

              I haven't tried a lot but I like Oak Tree Inn's h&s soup, they're in South Pasadena.

              1. Bon Vivant Feb 1, 2007 06:42 PM

                The hot and sour soup at Yujean Kang's in Pasadena is one of the best that I've had. Goes great with beer too.


                1 Reply
                1. re: Bon Vivant
                  russkar Feb 1, 2007 08:45 PM

                  Ah yes, the Master(Yujean) in the Kitchen does make a killer soup. He made it live one time about 6 yrs ago at the Mondavi Center and my eyes are still stinging. Incredible talent.

                2. Skunk2Racer Feb 1, 2007 05:33 PM

                  I like "JADE WOK" Formerly "GOOD TASTE" on College They make a Good Hot Sour Soup

                  1. w
                    WHills Feb 1, 2007 01:36 PM

                    Chang's Garden in Arcadia does a good version

                    1. s
                      slacker Feb 1, 2007 11:43 AM

                      It should be white pepper, not black pepper. I like the version at Sum Woo, not sure if I got the spelling right, it's the one in the plaza next to Ocean Seafood, upstairs. It used to be Sam Woo, then the name changed. They also have a seafood hot and sour soup, which I like better than the regular one. Also, their version is not the sparse, overly soy sauced/dark kind that is usually served with the lunch specials.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: slacker
                        sel Feb 1, 2007 12:38 PM

                        In the Fuchsia Dunlop recipe that I refered to above, she indicates that there is a lot of variation with this soup in Sichuan, meat/veg. versions etc. and she calls for white OR black pepper in her recipe. Authentic in this case seems to be a pretty flexible recipe.

                        As Oriental Pearl and Szechwan Express, two of my favorite restaurants are unfortunately no more, I think the best chance for an excellent version would be Chung King, San Gabriel or maybe Best Szechwan (200 block n garfield, just n of garvey according to Jerome).

                      2. t
                        theboatmanscall Feb 1, 2007 11:39 AM

                        I never order it in the restaurants, but whenever i order delivery, this place had the best hot and sour:
                        Wok on Fire.
                        1447 S La Cienega Blvd
                        Los Angeles, CA 90035
                        (310) 289-5168

                        its white pepper spicy, not starchy, good quantity of bamboo shoots.

                        1. ChinoWayne Feb 1, 2007 11:30 AM

                          I like the hot and sour soup at Wang's Palace in Monrovia, but I always ask for chile paste on the side to jazz it up.

                          1. WildSwede Feb 1, 2007 11:29 AM

                            I really enjoy the version at Go China in Pasadena. On Lake, between Walnut and Union (east side of the street).

                            1. raytamsgv Feb 1, 2007 11:16 AM

                              Hot and sour soup is not Cantonese, who are generally known to have an aversion to spicy dishes. Once, I was eating in Hong Kong with some locals, and they thought I was crazy when I started eating green bell peppers. I managed to convince one of them that it wasn't hot at all. With great trepidation, he took a bite, promptly spit it out, and drank a whole cup of water....I emerged from the dinner with quite a culinary reputation!

                              Anyhow, I'd guess that it would be a Sichuan dish, so you might want to look for it in a Sichuan restaurant.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: raytamsgv
                                sel Feb 1, 2007 11:38 AM

                                HOT-AND-SOUR SOUP (suan la rou si tang) is indeed a classic Sichuanese banquet dish according to Fuchsia Dunlop in LAND OF PLENTY...pg.329. Unfortunately, I have not found a great version of this dish in this area but will try it at Chung King in San Gabriel as they haven't dissapointed me yet!


                                1. re: sel
                                  echoparkdirt Feb 1, 2007 07:02 PM

                                  i know this is heresy, but hs soup at CK is mediocre. My favorite? Dumpling 10053

                              2. c
                                Chandavkl Feb 1, 2007 10:35 AM

                                Hot and sour soup is not a Cantonese dish, but most of the restaurants in Chinatown are Cantonese. Under the general rule of thumb that Chinese restaurants don't succeed at other regional cuisines, it's not surprising that you haven't found anything exceptional in Chinatown.

                                1. s
                                  silverlakebodhisattva Feb 1, 2007 10:15 AM

                                  I've always liked "Chinese Friends'" (on north broadway) H&S-S, though it's probably been a decade since I had it. It is, however, the H&SS that I "started" on, 20 + years ago, so it's a nostalgia falvor, sort of like "like my mom useta make..." for me.

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