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Best Chinese Restaurant in Chinatown

A friend and I are going to do the Downtown Art Walk this week and I want to try Chinese food in Chinatown. What's good?

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  1. Zen Mei Bistro on Alpine st. near Hill (next to the school playground/basketball court). Free fried shrimp with any order over $20. CBS for dim sum. Several mom/pop cheapo entree places, some of which aren't bad.

    3 Replies
    1. re: broncosaurus

      Zen Mei may be the best bang-for-your-buck, but there's absolutely no way it's the best restaurant in Chinatown.

      If you do go there, order off the wall. They have some on-the-menu dishes that are really dismal. Other than that, the congee is good if you're on a budget, and the sauteed string beans are pretty good as well.

      I don't know what they do to the fried shrimp there, but they just aren't worth what they charge for them, which is nothing.

      1. re: Bjartmarr

        I've never had a problem with that big plate of free fried shrimp they give you. Or anything else for that matter.

        "Best" of course is relative. Zen Mei certainly isn't "fine dining" but then very few places in downtown are. It's like Sapp Coffee House in Thai Town...good value.

        1. re: Bjartmarr

          What do you think IS the best Chinese restaurant? Thaks

      2. This is going to get a lot of dismissive criticism but maybe some support -- Yang Chow. Yeah, I know it is labelled as americanized. some will suggest a favorite dim sum or fresh seafood from the tank place. But the bottom line for me is that every time I go into Yang Chow, I emerge well fed and happy. The first perk is the tetris-like parking in the cramped lot behind the restaurant, or the validated parking across the street if their own lot is full. Start with the spicy wonton soup, from the special items page on the menu rather than the soups or appetizers -- dark clear broth with big wontons and a huge amount of diced raw garlic, sneaks up on you and really cleans the sinuses. Everyone orders the crispy sweet/sour/hot slippery shrimp, and I like the eggplant in garlic sauce, the green beans, and the yang chow lamb. A tasty fun filling meal with much variety for $15 per person more or less per person in a group. Chinese Friends, up in the last north stripmall on the east side of Broadway, has some comparable food in a linoleum table setting for a buck or two less -- an alternative, but I prefer Yang Chow.

        7 Replies
        1. re: nosh

          I'm with you -- probably the best Mongolian lamb in L.A.

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          Yang Chow Restaurant
          819 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

          1. re: nosh

            I third the opinion on Yang Chow. Their slippery shrimp is legendary.

            1. re: nosh

              Fourth on Yang Chow. Consistently great service. Never had a bad meal.

              1. re: Hollis Greene

                I'll bravely step in against Yang Chow and their slippery shrimp.

              2. re: nosh

                I appreciate that you gave us the reasons why you like Yang Chow; so much more helpful than "I like Yang Chow. It's the best!".

                I see that you like that they have parking, good wonton soup, and several other dishes. Furthermore, you compare it to Chinese Friends. Since I don't need to park, I'm not all that interested in the dishes you mentioned, and Chinese Friends utterly bores me, I'll skip Yang Chow. But you've helped me understand where the other good reviews are coming from, which is very useful. Thanks!

                1. re: nosh

                  I think Chinese Friends, where I've eaten on and off for 29 years, beats Yang Chow on the "slippery shrimp" ("house special shrimp" at Chinse Friends) the eggplant dishes, and their hot/sour soup; though I'll admit that this last may be for me because it's where I learned to love H&SS, and C.F.'s became sort of my model of what it's supposed to taste like..

                  1. re: nosh

                    I wouldn't go back to this restaurant again. The "Slippery Shrimp" that many have raved about is nothing special (deep fried shrimp with sticky sweet sauce). The eggplant was over cooked and mushy. The wonton soup was good.
                    Service not friendly.

                    -----
                    Yang Chow Restaurant
                    819 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                  2. That there is a very subjective question. I can also give you my own personal opinion but others may give you theirs. The place that I have often frequented since the mid-60s is the Golden City on Hill Street next to the Bamboo Plaza where the Empress Pavilion is located. The food has consistenly been the same as well as it's clientele. It's one of the oldest restaurants in Chinatown and still very popular with the locals. Also, free validated parking is available next door located in the 4-story parking structure.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: Clinton

                      Clinton, what dishes do you like at Golden City? The free parking in the multi-story Empress complex is a big advantage. Do they have a website with a menu?

                      1. re: nosh

                        Nosh,
                        Over the many years, I've just been going to the Golden City mainly for lunch after I've finished with weekend shopping on North Broadway. Also, to buy take-out dim sum at this little hole-in-the wall dim sum place that closed down recently called Hong Kong Low (in the alley next door). I usually would order my usual beef stew (or roast duck) won ton noodles which flavor hasn't changed in over 40 years to my knowledge. Seafood is their specialty but sometimes it gets quite crowded and noisy during peak lunch hours. Very typical Cantonese ambience and clientele. Their lunch specials are reasonably priced and the food is very tasty. Service is quick and 1 hour validated parking is free.

                        Oh, I love noodles so I also order their Hong Kong-style chow mein which is deep fried thin egg noodles covered with a thick gravy and veggies on top. I love their chow funn too!

                        1. re: Clinton

                          I like the salt/pepper squid at Golden City.

                          1. re: Clinton

                            Golden City is no longer a won ton noodle house like it used to be. It was taken over by the owner of Fullhouse Seafood restaurant across the street. In fact the owner of both places spends most of his time at Golden City.

                            -----
                            noodle house
                            46 W Las Tunas Drive, Arcadia, CA 91007

                        2. re: Clinton

                          Agree Golden City is very good. Would also recommend Mayflower on Spring St.

                          1. re: Chelmoon

                            Mayflower does have good food; however I got the worst service of my life there, waiting an hour for a take-out entree.

                            1. re: hpcat

                              Mayflower is the only restaurant I have eaten at in Chinatown - don't get down there that often - but I like their food a lot. Every table seems to order a whole fried fish or two.

                              1. re: Snackish

                                It's actually pretty amazing how consistent the bad service is at Mayflower! They never waiver!

                        3. Jade wok

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                          Jade Wok
                          625 W College St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                          1. Let the jeering begin, but if you are brave---Won Kok at Alpine and NewHigh has some great stuff. Not an americanized dish in sight, very reasonable, but it is sort of "3rd worldish." I have eaten there many times over the last 18 years and never had a problem. They are open late---2:00 AM or later and work their tails off. Same waiters for years and years. I love their Chowmein and mongolian beef. Okay Hounds, give it to me!!!!

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: ajbinla

                              Somebody else on this board referred to Zen Mei as "cheap and adequate". I think that description fits Won Kok pretty well also.

                              1. re: ajbinla

                                The only good things I've had at Won Kok are the baked bao and the chow fun with fish fillet.

                                1. re: ajbinla

                                  I missed this post, so I will comment now. Won Kok has my favorite house special Chow fun. My wife loves their Hong Kong style chow mein. Then we get bao and pastries to go. Great service (for Chinatown). Whenever I get the urge for chow fun, it's time to go to Won Kok. Plus they have some parking.

                                  1. re: ajbinla

                                    Won Kok has this dish called Westlake Duck, which is a boneless duck braised in its juices with its skin, then covered with sauce. It is a little fatty, but absolutely delicious(at least four years ago:). Otherwise, Wonkok is an institution in Chinatown and it's sometimes more the experience than the food that is noteworthy.

                                    1. re: cfylong

                                      Hi Cfylong,

                                      Did you have to order the Westlake Duck (Sai woo op) 24 hours in advance? I've been craving the dish for 20 years. I used to get it in Oakland Chinatown at the Lantern Restaurant.

                                      1. re: Galen

                                        I can't answer your question, but to put in my 2cents worth, I think CBS Seafood at 700 N. Spring St. is the best restaurant I've been in, in Chinatown and I've been to many. CBS has delicious dim sum until 2:00 P. M. and everything we've had there is good. There is a big take-out deli adjacent and they have their own big, free parking lot.

                                    2. re: ajbinla

                                      Won Kok sure give you a lot of food that's for sure. Big bang for your buck guaranteed.

                                      -----
                                      Won Kok Restaurant
                                      210 Alpine St, Los Angeles, CA 90012