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High-end Chinese cuisine in Monterey Park that's NOT family style

  • b

A friend of mine is coming into town and he wanted to eat in Montery Park and said that when he traveled to Hong Kong/Beijing, he has eaten at some REALLY expensive chinese food (beautiful presentation, etc).

Two Questions:

1. Are there places like this in Monterey Park?

2. Are there places like this (or high end-ish) that's not served family style?

thanks :)

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  1. I don't think I've seen any such examples of Chinese fine dining here.

    Either Fantasy Eatery (Cantonese) or Green Village (Shanghainese) are the closest that I can think of, off the top of my head. Both places are just a cut above the others when it comes to decor, setting, and presentation, though neither are particularly expensive. Also, unless you're getting a personal rice/noodle plate, the entrees are going to be family style. It's just how Asians traditionally eat, we share with everyone at the table. :)

    2 Replies
    1. re: WBGuy

      The Japanese don't typically eat family style, in my experience. A Chinese friend in Tokyo made it a point to point out that difference to me. Particularly for breakfast, which seems to be the most elaborate meal of the day, at least in the home, each member of the family can have as many as 9 or 10 individual dishes.

      The only Chinese restaurant I know of that seems to be what the OP is looking for is Family Li Imperial Cuisine, where the meal is served tasting menu-style, with each party getting a private room, and the servers do everything but put the food in your mouth. Unfortunately, it's in China.

      1. re: mrhooks

        Directions to Familiy Li Imperial Cuisine:

        Take the 10 East. Far East.

    2. Never been to it, but is the much-hated Mr. Chow the closest we have to this?

      Triumphal Palace is a HK/Cantonese place with more atmo than usuual, pricier (at dinner, not dim sum) than usual, and with a few rare (and expensive) fish swimming in its tanks from time-to-time.

      1. It has been a while, but I vaguely recall Yujean Kang in Old Towne Pasadena being more high end. But don't hold me to that.

        1. I don't know if they come close to HK, but a couple of the high end seafood restaurants maybe what you want. Mission 261, Sea Harbor, come to mind. Except, why would you not want it family style? This is how the high end restaurants in HK serve the food. Do you mean you want the food served western style? Each person getting a separate plate of food?

          In the high end Chinese restaurants in HK, the food is brought out and a captain plates each person's plate individually. If you want it really served western style, you are talking about Yujean Kang.

          As for really expensive, order shark fin, abalone, black cod, budha jumps over the wall, geoduck, etc. That'll set your wallet back a bit.

          1 Reply
          1. re: PeterL

            Even Yujean Kang serves everything family style. At least, that's how it's always been when I've gone.

          2. I don't know any restaurant in Monterey Park that serves individual plated food. And having eaten in Hong Kong and Shanghai, I don't know any restaurant that is a high-end comparable. However, I think that there are probably a number of places that you can call ahead and order some high-end dishes that they don't normally serve off the menu.

            1. Both Yujean Kang and Mr. Chow serve their food family style, although at least at Yujean Kang, typically the waiter will plate it for you.

              While the ambiance of Mr. Chow is high-end, I seriously doubt that a person who has dined at restaurants in Hong Kong or Beijing would enjoy the food there. I've been a couple of times recently (people I work with are fans, and we go there on office special occasions), and while they use quality ingredients and certain dishes are tasty, overall, it's pretty bland and tame. Expensive, too.

              I haven't been to Yujean Kang in a couple of years, but the several times I've been there, the food was quite good although not as authentic as you'd find at any number of places in the San Gabriel/Monterey Park area. I would put it on par with what Saladang/Saladang Song is to thai food in terms of authenticity.

              1. I think your best bet is Triumphal Palace in Alhambra or Mission 261 in San Gabriel and ask them to serve the food to each guest. I've been at meals where they've done that and it works out just fine.

                1. I wish I had more to say than that the above posters are all correct. Unlike Asia, LA has no Chinese restaurants that are completely opulent and overwhelmingly beautiful as soon as you walk in, followed by white glove service and elaborate displays. If we had one, I wouldn't be at such a loss as to where to have my wedding banquet. It's really quite incredible that there isn't a single place like this here, given the number of Chinese people and lovers of Chinese food we have here. If there were one, maybe people would stop thinking of Chinese as cheap takeout and realize it's on the scale of French in terms of being a classic world cuisine.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Pei

                    eating "family style" reflects the trait of interdependence that permeates chinese culture - emphasized by how no one serves themselves - traditionally, everyone *else* places food on your plate - while you put food on others' plates.

                    the other issue is that no one can afford the additional expense for presentation/glitter and maintain a profit margin that allows them to stay in business due to the degree of competition for chinese business. we chinese are by & large natural chowhounds! <grin>

                    IIRC, there was a $775 dinner for 4 when the abalone king (i forget the chef's name) came from hong kong and cooked for a season at a MP restaurant. (the abalone was steamed for over 24 hours, in layers of chicken, etc. and was amazingly tender - but the chef didn't cook anything else - just known for his method of cooking abalone.)

                  2. Closest I can think of are Hong-Kong style cafes, like China Bistro, Red Ant, Baccali, etc.

                    Places like that serve individual meals (a la western style, and not family style), but "high-end"? Nope.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Definitely. Chinese culture prizes things that are whole, especially when it comes to food. Whole fish, lobster and poultry arranged so it looks like a whole animal, large pieces of pork, etc. It makes for a more dramatic presentation when each entree arrives on a giant platter!

                      At the fanciest places, the server will plate at the table and each person will get a serving, but that serving itself is never (in my experience) further plated and made beautiful on its own. I can't think of any places in LA that do this unless you ask for it at a private banquet though.

                      1. re: Pei

                        Places like Sea Harbour, Mission 261 and Triumphal Palace, as well as Empress Harbour if I recall correctly, will all plate your food. And, all of the servers do it quite expertly and go beyond just spooning the soup into individual soup bowls.

                        1. re: Pei

                          You make a good point. What is considered "elegant" varies by culture and I don't think most Chinese people would consider non-family style dining to be elegant when it is Chinese cuisine. That is part of the dining experience - the presentation. When we visited Beijing and Hong Kong a couple of years ago, all of the restaurants served the food family style, even the "fancy" ones. I don't see why you couldn't have a beautiful or impressive family-style presentation, especially when that allows it to be presented "whole" versus already portioned.

                          1. re: monkuboy

                            the food at fangshan isn't "Family style" but perhaps i misunderstand. - there is a style of service in the west as well where food isn't individually plated but the waiters come around with food and the diner serves himself (or herself) with the provided utensils.

                            and it's exceptionally formal.

                            1. re: Jerome

                              It's called "service à la russe", or Russian-style service, and yes, it's very, very rarely seen these days. The food comes out whole and is portioned tableside by the waitstaff, then brought round on platters or large bowls. Whether you serve yourself or the waitstaff serve you is a matter of some debate, but generally, the waitstaff serving you ("potatoes, sir?") is considered more formal.

                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                thanks no i remember. there's a nice article comparing the nearly baroque service a la francaise with service a la russe - neither of which had individually plated servings.

                      2. I had this exact same question recently after I returned from an extended stay in HK on business (i.e. more money to spend on food than usual). I talked to family and friends and decided it's very unlikely we'll see something of that type here. Most Chinese people would find the idea of a "tasting menu" style Chinese dinner to be strange and unfamiliar, and most non-Asians would also probably miss the appeal (although sushi did make it here, so who know knows). Given that this style is still fairly rare even in HK and elsewhere in Asia, there probably won't be a market for it for a long time (if ever!)

                        1. The posts so far kind of fall along the same line as what I was thinking. Almost everything is family style. The problem with this approach (in higher end meals) is that it's hard to get a variety when the party size is 2. The dinner will be my friend and I, and that's kind of hard to do at a restaurant like Mission 261, Sea Habour, Triumphal Palace, etc....... when the plate portions are huge. One dish would almost suffice for both! :(

                          any opinions on this ? [greatly appreciated] :)

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: badtz

                            I'm sure there are many hounds who'd be happy to join you so you could order a wider variety of choices! Or just order a lot, and again, you'll find plenty of folks who'll help you out with the leftovers! :-)

                            1. re: badtz

                              Does it have to be dinner? While not ideal (and generally not fancy), it's easier to get a variety with dim sum (where plates are small) for 2 rather than dinner for 2 at a restaurant. I take my grandmother out to Monterey Park sometimes for dim sum, and we can usually manage a pretty good variety, although even with that there's still usually a round of leftovers afterwards.

                              1. re: sidwich

                                Unfortunately my friend is not too fond of dim sum (so I'm planning a lunch maybe at the Alcove Cafe or Royal Claytons, something along that line) ... otherwise, I would take him to New Concept or Triumphal Palace :P

                              2. re: badtz

                                Oh OK I see what you mean. You aren't objecting to the style of service, just to the size. Whenever I dine with a small number of people we usually get a couple of high end dishes, supplemented with a couple of simple ones. For example, whole steamed black cod, steamed crab, and sautee vegetable. So you don't order a full banquet, but a small number of dishes.

                              3. You could try the Universal Hilton buffet -- international food, but geared mostly toward Asian tastes. Everything from crab legs and salmon pate, to oysters and fried rice, wontons, carved meat, sushi, salads, and a huge dessert selection (including chocolate fondue).

                                At least this way, you two won't have leftovers.

                                1. Chinese food, high-end, non-family style, and in Monterey Park?

                                  I think not .. at least not anywhere that's going to be worth mentioning - sorry!!

                                  1. Maybe those places in China are emulating western non-family style protocol adding a twist to their presumably already fine presentation and preparation of fine Chinese cuisine. This new spin would set them apart from what must be stiff competition over there and serve the foreign diner base as well as offer something new to an increasingly wealthy and sophisticated local customer-base. The non-family style would probably lend a air of superior western-ness. If that's the case, that kind of marketing hasn't been tried here...yet. At least not to my knowledge. Maybe I should try it to create that better-than-thou effect, which could draw an audience if done correctly and supported with with fine food and the right atmosphere once the novelty wears thin.

                                    Like other posters mentioned, Yujean Kang's in Pasadena and Mr Chow's in Westwood (if they're still there) can offer that finer atmosphere which caters to upscale diners where maybe one can insist on individually served platings, while places like Mission 261 in San Gabriel, Elite (formerly New Concept) in Monterey Park, Sea Harbour Seafood in Rosemead, and The Kitchen in Alhambra wouldn't really have non-family style service, though they do prepare Chinese fare with quality that's a cut above the usual in a slightly better setting, too.

                                    1. Chinese food has to be family style! Fancy or not. =)

                                      1. Go to Sea Harbor, order a japanese abalone per diner, geoduck, quality sharksfin , live steamed fish and anything else that catches your fancy.

                                        Believe me it will be REALLY expensive. Don't be surprised if you end up with a bill of $200+ / pp.

                                        P.S. Don't forget to order a bottle of Opus one.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Sgee

                                          go to any good hk type canto place like the aforementioned mission 261. INADVANCE>

                                          Arrange for a real banquet (not a family discount dinner) with cold plates, like dragon-phoenix, fora whole stuffed CARVED winter melon soup and MAKE IT CLEAR that you want the dishes presented at table, and then have the waiters serve the dishes. That you want a waiter assigned to the table for drinks. And that if possible you want a private banquet room.

                                          and be prepared to depart with major cash.

                                          1. re: Jerome

                                            And let's not forget that if you're not talking in Chinese, you're going to get a menu that looks like a cheap Murray Hill takeaway -- either go with a translator, or be prepared to fight for the foods you want.

                                        2. I know SGV is authentic, but if you want fancy chinese and presentation,
                                          try Yujean Kang's in pasadena. It is far less authentic than SGV, but a good place to expand your research