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Who has the best Hot and Sour Soup?

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.


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  1. 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.

    1. 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. 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

          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

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

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

          1. 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. 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. 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

                  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. Chang's Garden in Arcadia does a good version

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

                    1. 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

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

                        1. 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. 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. Thanks for all the great advice and insight!

                              1. 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. 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...)