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Paul's Kitchen.....Anyone???

So a buddy of mine told me about Paul's kitchen in Downtown and not in China Town.
He swears by it but I've never heard of it and it's not too far from me either.
He also claims It's Tommy Lasorda's favorite place.
SO I ask you folks........Is it good, hours, beer wine, do they deliver??
What to order??

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  1. In the wholesale produce market district downtown L.A.
    Paul's Kitchen, 1012 S. San Pedro St. 213-749-5004
    Depression Era American Chinese food. They've been known to deliver if you're market adjacent. If you're aping Tommy, get the egg rolls.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Gohantabeyoka

      If you're aping Tommy you won't be paying for them. ;-D

    2. I like regardless of what some say, old school amercan-chinese. Been going since i was a kid with friends families. I drove by last weekend to make sure they are still there. I would have eaten but just had 5 Original Bills Tacos. I was stuffed! Report back on Paul's, I have not been in about 7-10 years.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Burger Boy

        so then it sounds like a lunch counter or sit down??
        I'm think an order for pick up might do the trick.
        Other then the egg rolls which we'll get what's a good noodle and or meat dish?
        Thanks for the help.

        1. re: afs

          AFS, you're so persistent, mang. Hungry?
          This may help:

          I'm kinda partial to the tomato beef. But for me, it has to be eaten out of a steaming takeout container @ 4 a.m.
          But note the "Tommy Lagorda" special. That just mite be what you be seeking, grasshopper.

          1. re: Gohantabeyoka

            I can't believe that they are still around. I'll have to tell my spouse. He ate there all of the time when he was training at U.S.C. County Hospital.

            1. re: afs

              Counter, booths or take out. Forget about the egg rolls, you'll be disappointed.
              Get some BBQ pork chow mein, shrimp with lobster sauce and beef and peppers.

            2. re: Burger Boy

              Luckily nothing's changed there--the food, decor and owner is the same.

            3. I have a fondness for their Chinese Chicken Salad and paper wrapped chicken. They have a very spicy beef something. Pepper beef? Loved this place in my downtown fashion working days, and still stop in on rare occasion, when in the 'hood, picking up or dropping off someone at the train station. Nothing fancy about the salad, but simple and hits home every couple of years!

              1. Actually that was the old Chinatown at one time.
                Yes, a well known lunch haunt of Tommy Lasorda's and he said it probably contributed to his bad health. Dodger pictures and memorabilia and pictures of LA celebrity's adorn the wall of fame. Picture of Yao Ming(not in his Rockets uniform), but the owner told me it was Ming's father who came in to eat.

                Classic old fashioned Cantonese cuisine served in those stainless steel pedestal dishes. Open I think at 11am and closes at 8pm Monday-Sunday. Beer & Wine only.

                Much better than the one in Monterey Park which has nicer ambience, but I think the MP location pre-cooks a lot of dishes and slaps on the sauce. Think the MP location has become more into nightly entertainment like different bands and the bar biz.

                Things to order:
                Order a couple dishes and I think they'll bring you either seaweed soup or egg flower soup. Seaweed soup is my favorite-ask for it if you want it..otherwise I think they bring egg flower soup for the faint hearted. Love the fried chow mein noodles they serve, not many places do that anymore.

                Almond duck
                BBQ pork chow mein
                Tomatoe curry beef chow mein
                Chinese sausage --they make their own
                Wor wonton soup--you can make a meal out of it.
                Egg rolls--not so great in my opinion.

                You're either going to like it or hate it. But if you want that nostalgic feeling and taste of old style American Cantonese food, then it is the place.

                1. Went there once in a while, back in the 70's when I was working in the garment industry. It's not too far from the California Mart. SInce then I've spent many, many, many weeks in SouthEast Asia and no longer find this type of Chinese (memories of my youth on Long Island) of interest. If I recall correctly a lot of LA detectives used to eat there, as well as Tommy.

                  We also used to go to New Moon, which was just up the street I think. Paul's was down a few rungs on the authenticity scale from it, but not very far.

                  At some point, around the end of the 70's Yang Chow opened in Chinatown and I never looked back.

                  1. slight hi-jack. anyone try ming's restaurant in bellflower? they're supposed to be old school.

                    1. I've been thinking of Paul's Kitchen since I 1st read about it in CH 2 or 3 mo. ago. It's the only place I've heard of that still serves Pressed Duck. I've had the menu (from Menupages) out all day and we're going there for lunch tomorrow. I'll probably order Chasu Egg Foo Young to bring home for dinner. I'm really looking forward to what I hope will be a delicious trip down memory lane.

                      10 Replies
                        1. re: Burger Boy

                          Sorry to say, Paul's Kitchen should be on the Worst Restaurants in L. A. list along with my other worst Chinese experiences, VIP and Ocean Seafood.

                          The egg flower soup? was water with a few peas and carrots, a tiny piece of chicken and something that might have been egg white. My long awaited pressed duck was big squares of, I think, deep fried sawdust covered in thick sweet/sour sauce and pieces of slivered pineapple. BF's tomato beef had unripened tomato wedges, uncooked onion and green bell pepper, and beef in a commercial tasting sauce. I love Chinese food. I'm very disappointed and disgusted.

                          1. re: Barbara Ladden

                            You either like that old style of Cantonese food or you don't. You probably didn't grow up eating it 40 years ago, but that was Chinese food in LA.

                            Egg Flower Soup is just that, chicken broth with scramble eggs stirred into it. Think maybe you got Pressed (almond) duck and sweet and sour pork(served with sweet/sour sauce and pineapple). The Pressed (almond) duck is what you described--pieces of duck mashed up in a flour mixture and baked, cut in squares and served with brown gravy and crushed almonds on top. The sauce in tomato beef is basically ketchup, sugar and corn starch slurry.

                            1. re: monku

                              I'm from Chicago and grew up eating great Chinese food and I've been eating it for over 40 years. I'm not Chinese. Pressed Duck has always been a favorite and what was served at Paul's Kitchen was exactly as described on the menu, but nothing compared to what I've always known to be Pressed Duck. Obviously it's their own version but not something I could swallow. I had 2 or 3 squares and pushed the plate away.

                              I agree with your description of Egg Flower Soup, but there was no chicken broth in what they served unless it was very watered down or just water. The Egg Flower soup at Hop Li on Santa Monica Blvd. is good. The sauce in the Tomato Beef was brownish and strange. The tomatoes weren't ripe and the onions were raw.

                              I've eaten a ton of Chinese food over the years and look forward to another ton, old fashioned and upscale, I love it, but not at Paul's Kitchen.

                              1. re: Barbara Ladden

                                Pressed Duck or Almond Duck?

                                I go to P'sK a few times a month and when I order it I always ask for "Almond Duck". If you look at their menu it says "Almond Duck", there is no "Pressed Duck" on their menu.


                                There is a Chinese dish called "Pressed Duck" and its a duck that has been pressed (flattened), the French also have something similar. But they serve "almond duck" at P'sK, that's why you've never seen it. Ask any Chinese American over 40 years old like yourself, whether its LA, Chicago or NYC ....they'll tell you that's Almond Duck. Now almond chicken is something else.

                                1. re: monku

                                  On the Paul's Kitchen menu under "Sweet and Sour" there is an item called "Press Duck". That's what I ordered. Under "Poultry" there is "Almond Duck" which is maybe what I should have ordered but I had no way of knowing because all my life when I ordered Pressed Duck, I got Pressed Duck, from Chicago to L. A. The last time I had real Pressed Duck was at Eddie's in Cathedral City and it was tasty like Pressed Duck, not squares of sawdust. I guess Tommy Lasorda's taste buds compare to his baseball skills. If I were ever to go back to Paul's Kitchen, I would order the Almond Duck, but instead, I'll continue looking for Chinese restaurants where when I order Pressed Duck, I will be served Pressed Duck.

                                  1. re: Barbara Ladden

                                    From what you described earlier you got their "Almond Duck". Fried squares of what you said tasted like sawdust covered with gravy.

                                    1. re: monku

                                      Hi monku. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to sound rude when I wrote last night. Every time I go to a Chinese restaurant, I look for Pressed Duck and I haven't seen it in years. I always ask the manager about Pressed Duck and either they don't know what it is or don't understand me, or they say it's too difficult to make. When I read in CH about Paul's Kitchen, I got all happy and looked forward to Pressed Duck once again and as you know, I was/am very disappointed. It's ok that the restaurant isn't in the best neighborhood (probably was when it opened), or that it's a dump, BF and I Iooked forward to some good food and it didn't happen. We had recently been to 2 old places on Pico Blvd. for Chinese and they were awful too. Don't know why, don't understand it. Maybe we're spoiled by CBS Seafood in Chinatown, Hop Li replacing the late J. R. Seafood on the westside and the late, great Royal Star also on the westside. O yes, also Mon Kee's that JTea mentioned was a favorite. I think for now we'll stick with our tried and true favorites and not be quite so adventurous.

                                      1. re: Barbara Ladden

                                        No problem. I said you either like it or you don't and probably has to do with memories of your childhood. I'm sure 95% the people like yourself (never been there) who like Chinese food go there and have the same bad experience and reaction and comments. People go to P'sK because they have memories of the food and the good times they had with family there. Many of my Japanese friend's have after funeral lunches at the Paul's Kitchen in Monterey Park because their families have been faithful to that cuisine and still are. You go to Paul's Kitchen downtown or Monterey Park and you'll see several Japanese American and Mexican families dining there....not Chinese. Good thing you didn't order the hom yu pork hash...you really would have died...that's another one of their favorite dishes (definitely an acquired taste...you go into any Chinese market and what you smell is hom yu). That was American Cantonese food 50 years ago and Paul's Kitchen downtown has never changed their food or decor. When I'm there I look at the ceiling and it looks exactly like the same ceiling and light fixtures at The Original Pantry which is 80+ years old. Think The Original Pantry has had many more new coats of paint put on it. Every poster who likes P'sK has fond old memories of the place--it isn't "Chowish" cuisine by a long shot.

                                        The Chinese restaurants you mentioned are the Hong Kong style that replaced the old American Style Cantonese. Many people in LA credit Mon Kee's with that style. It was a shock to me the first time. They have these little rice bowls that I thought were the tea cups.

                                        As I mentioned before as an experiment ask any Chinese American what they think almond duck or pressed duck is. Then ask any Japanese American of your age what they think of Paul's Kitchen...you'll be surprised.

                                        1. re: Barbara Ladden

                                          It's a little bit out of the way but the best I've had of pressed duck in recent years is in a restaurant on the avenues in San Francisco called the Yet Wah. It is moist, tasty and the sweet and sour is wonderful. The last place in Los Angeles that served a really decent version was Moonlight Kitchen on Woodman and Riverside. Ahhh memories.

                        2. i ate lunch there several times in the 80's, and the collective here has it pretty well covered, with monku providing good history. i recall it being pretty dingy, and can imagine both cops and tommy, in addition to downtown printers and truck drivers, as customers. the upscale neighbor, man fook low, was across the alley to the north; from it, my kids got takeout char siu bao for snacks instead of fast food. similar vintage places are mon kee and hop li. go while you still can.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: JTea

                            mon kee in chinatown is now gone, unless they moved, but i doubt it. i would say they closed like 5 months ago. the restaurant named may flower which was next door, which was original across the street form alpine park, took over they're location. now what used to be their location is now i believe a pho restaurant.

                            and about paul's kitchen, the paul's kitchen of new is not and will never be the paul's kitchen of old. while the menu may remain unchanged, i believe the correct way of cooking those 'old school' dishes has been lost, whether it be through the passing of old timers or just plain cutting corners.

                            the only other place that i think is old school here in so. cal. is probably ming's over in bellflower and i've heard there is a new moon in montrose still. ming's still makes chow mein the original way, which is the pan fried version. unlike what is made today, which uses the shortcut method of what seems like deep frying the noodles then adding the 'topping'

                            another place that does the original style noodles is far east/chop suey cafe in j-town.

                            sorry for going off topic again...

                            1. re: phant0omx

                              Mon Kee's closed several years ago and never reopened anywhere. The owners of the May Flower are Vietnamese from China and that pho restaurant was their 2nd attempt at a Vietnamese restaurant at the same location. The first is when they moved from their Alpine location and after a couple months decided to open May Flower II. Then when they acquired the Mon Kee location for the May Flower they again decided they'd try theVietnamese restaurant at that same location after opening the May flower. Now the Vietnamese restaurant isn't doing as well as they expected.

                              Nothing's changed at Paul's Kitchen downtown. Same family owners at both locations (son's took over 20 years ago) still in the kitchen doing to cooking. I think its a matter of changing tastes. The food's the same, I've been going there for 30 years. The food at the downtown location is better than at the Monterey Park location.

                              Forget about the "new" Chop Suey Cafe (old Far East Cafe) in Little Tokyo. The new owners were never able to get the original recipes from the founding owners of the Far East Cafe or the name. Close would be the New Formosa Cafe in Boyle Heights and Formosa Cafe in W. Hollywood. They are both owned and run by the kid's of the original owner of the Far East Cafe. Dewey(original Far East Cafe owner's son) owns the New Formosa Cafe and used to cook at the FEC and his wife Betty have been running the New Formosa Cafe ever since the FEC closed. They're only open Tuesday-Friday for lunch and Saturday till 7pm.

                              Couple other old school American Cantonese places are Kim's in Crenshaw Plaza and Canton Kitchen on Venice Blvd.(Centinella) in Mar Vista. Canton Kitchen is another one of those old places run by the son of the original owner. They only have take out there.(Featured at the Chinese Soul restaurant in Rush Hour 2).

                              1. re: monku

                                Good list for reference. Will have to try these places before they close down.

                          2. Growing up as a kid, Paul's Kitchen was as authentic as it got. We used them to cater all of our family gatherings. No regional cuisine stuff back then--not even Hong Kong style food. Dim sum down the street at Man Fook Low consisted of three plain types of varieties--large steamed cha shu bow (called "hom bow," with its tasteless breading), siu mai (called "stacks") and ha gow. That was it.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Chandavkl

                              i was told thats what dim sum used to consist of. siu mai, ha gow, and a pot of tea

                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                I started going to Man Fook Low in 1960 and their teacake menu was a little bit more extensive than you describe. It certainly would not compete with what we have available today but their sui mei were really good.

                                1. re: Hughlipton

                                  oh i know it was more extensive. they were the ones that brought bao's to the forefront right? what i meant was most old timer's breakfast/dim sum would just consist of those couple of dishes. it wouldn't be a feast like we do today. plus those two items were the best to eat.

                                  1. re: phant0omx

                                    There was a restaurant on the corner just north of Man Fook Low that as far as I am concerned introduced me to the first meaningful gai bao. It was huge, had a hardboiled egg in it and chines sausage along with chicken and black mushrooms. It was a nice place but best for lunch rather than dinner.

                              2. one word: chowdun! (or is that 2?)
                                it's greasy as hell but pretty yummy

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: jcwla

                                  i still like their bbq pork and hom yu

                                2. So I finally had dinner at Paul's last night. My wife and I live maybe 4 blocks away so it was close. We walked in and I automatically was sent back to my childhood, I remember this type of Chinese diner type of eatery. We use to go to Joe Woo's on Lankershim with my grandparent's all the time.
                                  Anyway's we ordered the Tommy Lasorda special for $9.25 a person you really can't beat it along with $2.00 Tsingtao's, wow.
                                  1st came the wor wonton soup which was a huge bowl of bokchoy broth and included wontons, pork, chicken and shrimp. Then came the spareribs and Chashu pork and egg rolls , the ribs were just ok and the chashu pork was pretty darn good. 2 more beers then came the main dishes, beef and asparagus, kung pao chicken and the special fried rice, both dishes had a thick gravy consistency to them but both were ok. The fried rice was good and overall we were pleased. The menu was huge and the guys in the kitchen were like machines.
                                  Have we had better Chinese, YES, would we come back, YES would I tell people to go, of course. While eating, families came in, produce guys, wholesale folks, fashion district types all came in and out either ordering to go or sitting down.
                                  It was cool to see old LA live and well.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: afs

                                    You have the right attitude and expectation of that old style American Cantonese cuisine. Its all about memories of that era and type of food.

                                    Wor wonton soup there is the best around. Next time try their sausage, they make it themselves.

                                    1. re: monku

                                      ahhh..the sausage. they are good but they only have it on the weekend. its been a while since i had them

                                      1. re: rickym13

                                        They have it everyday. I go different day's of the week and my SO always has to order it.

                                    2. re: afs

                                      Joe Woo's Chinese Kitchen on Lankershim! That was my family's place. It certainly was one of the 'old-school' Chinese restaurants. Joe Woo's was the very first take-out Chinese restaurant in the San Fernando Valley. I believe there were a couple of other Chinese restaurants in the Valley first, but Joe Woo's was the first Take-Out. I remember that on weekends the wait to get a table could be up to 2 hours. It's funny because one of the more popular mainstream Chinese restaurants now is PF Changs which is so clean, so crisp.....exactly opposite of our very family, cozy restaurant.

                                      It's rare to find the things we used to offer...egg foo young, paper wrapped chicken, almond (pressed) duck, Chicago style chop suey, moo goo gai pan, and many more Americanized Cantonese dishes. Those were such fun times!

                                      1. re: rhgindc

                                        Great sweet and our pork and great fried rice. Moved to Studio city Dec. 1943 at 4 months of age so I was well acquainted with Joe Woo's. As i remember Joe was also a magician and belonged to the Magic Castle. Your right about the wait so my favorite was take out.

                                        1. re: Hughlipton

                                          Here you go Hugh....a Facebook page dedicated to the memory of Joe Woo's Chinese Kitchen. There's a few old pics on there.


                                    3. Get the Chinese Chicken Salad! yummmmm!

                                      1. Might as well Link!

                                        Paul's Kitchen
                                        1012 S San Pedro St, Los Angeles, CA 90015

                                        1. When I was a kid in the 50s and 60s (I'm a sensei, third-generation Japanese-American), Chinese food in L.A. was Paul's Kitchen, Far East, Hung Far Chin (on Vermont) and Man Fook Low (the king of them all). It was all very old-school, totally inauthentic "Chinese" food. But it was great and none of the "modern" Chinese restaurants can match that old simple "Cantonese" greasy-spoon experience. Yes, it's partially a nostalgia trip and yes, you either like it or you don't. But for me, it's irreplaceable. Went to Paul's Kitchen downtown a few months ago and it was a true trip in a time machine. Ate all the old standbys and they seemed pretty much the same. It does not surprise me at all that those coming from a different background/culture would not find Paul's Kitchen very good. But I still love places like that and in a way it's too bad that food consciousness has evolved so radically away from those ur-restaurants of long ago.

                                          1. Real "Old School". The Almond Duck is very good. So is the Shrimp Egg Foo Yung. Make sure you have a water bottle in your car. The food there is EXTRA salty and you will be needing it for your drive home.

                                            1. I know its an old thread but since someone replied to it recently I'll add my two cents. We took out some food from Pauls Kitchen a few months ago and it was total garbage. Just about the worst Chinese food I ever ate. It was embarrassing. We ordered 6 or 7 things and not one of them was acceptable, taste-wise, appearance-wise or anything-wise.

                                              1. Paul's Kitchen is the best!! I love their crunchy chow mien noodles!!

                                                1. I grew up on "china meshi" - Americanized Chinese food at places like San Kwo Low, Far East Cafe, Ho Sai Kai, Tin Sing, Chin's, Paul's Kitchen (on Jefferson Blvd) etc and there's always been a place in my heart and tastebuds for it.. So that's what I was expecting when we took out a bunch of dishes from Paul's Kitchen near the garment district. After eating it I wondered if my tastes had simply changed or if this food was just plain lousy. I'd say the food was just plain lousy.

                                                  1. Pauls is great. In an area that really offers nothing else they deliver with a toch of class. So what if the menu is misspelled and the floor is pealing off. Good food is good food. I go 2-3 times a week and have the belly to prove it.