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Nov 26, 2007 12:47 PM

westside chinese food

i live in Culver City and almost never eat chinese food, mainly because i don't want to drive out to Monterey Park, although i drive to K-town and Thai-town often for food. i often drive by the 2 Chinese restaurants at Pico/Robertson, Twin Dragons and maybe Red Dragon (?). Red Dragon seems like it's busy, which i interpret as a good sign. does anybody have any good tips for Westside Chinese food?

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  1. Sadly, the tip is "don't." Things are almost back to where they were before 1994 when J.R. Seafood first brought good, authentic Chinese food to the Westside. J.R. Seafood was then followed by VIP Harbor and Royal Star on Wilshire as excellent Chinese restaurants on the Westside. However, in the past couple years Royal Star closed down, VIP Harbor was sold to new owners, and J.R. Seafood was sold to the Hop Li group. While VIP Harbor and Hop Li are still in business, the food pales compared to that which was served at those locations 10 years before. If you check the board you'll find that Hop Woo on Olympic and Sepulveda might be your best bet today, but that's Chinatown caliber at best. Twin Dragon on Pico was among the better Chinese restaurants in town back in 1970 but its day passed decades ago. I know of no Red Dragon restaurant in the area. Are you thinking maybe of King Fu or Fu's Palace on Pico? In any event, pass on both.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Chandavkl

      And even Hop Woo on Olympic & Sepulveda is being sold as I type!

      1. re: carter

        I would recommend Hop Woo for De lobster, which is a very good bargain. I hope this restaurant is not closing.

        1. re: Mateo R

          I think Hop woo has gone downhill

    2. There's a place on Sawtelle, westside of the street just north of Olympic--Little Hong Kong Cafe--that's low key and has amazing Mongolian Beef. Everything else on the menu I've tried has been good and the pricing is reasonable.

      Hu's Szechuan on National in Culver City is a little hole in the wall that's decent and cheap.

      13 Replies
      1. re: caligirl614

        Did they reopen after the fire? The sign is still up but somebody posted recently that they haven't reopened even though the fire was several months ago.

        1. re: Chandavkl

          re: Little Hong Kong Cafe? I know they remodeled. I was at Hurry Curry next door a couple of weeks ago and it looked like they were open for business.

          1. re: caligirl614

            i also ate at the place next to Hurry Curry (Little Hong Kong Cafe?) and thought it was completely white bread americana. nothing authentic.

            1. re: DeLobster

              Concur, nothing special and quite greasy, but of the westside options...

              Mao's Chinese Kitchen ain't authentic at all, but it's still pretty decent for americanized Chinese, and they're really accommodating for all diet types.

              1. re: DeLobster

                Actually the noodles are pretty good. I figured if it's good enough for the Chinese students at UCLA it's good enough for me.

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    Really?! I haven't tried their mapo tofu yet, but it looks pretty bland to me. No hint of the oil or spice I associate with the dish. I am, however, addicted to their mongolian beef. Polished off an entire order of the stuff at lunch the other day...

                1. re: caligirl614

                  I ate at Little Hong Kong Cafe two weeks ago and had the Mongolian beef, very tasty as always.

                  I know it's not popular, but the place on the 2nd flr. on Santa Monica, just east of Sepulveda, Jin Liang's I believe, is pretty good. Their cod with black sauce was much fresher than the one at Hop Woo's. Decently priced lunch specials...

                  1. re: ladius

                    Forgot to mention Jin Jiang. They were pretty good when they opened up at the same time as J.R., VIP and Royal Star, but unfortunately they went mainstream somewhere along the way.

                    1. re: ladius

                      We went to Little Hong Kong Cafe last night. The remodel looks great. I had the hoi nam chicken. Excellent. My wife had the crispy fried thin egg noodles with chicken in black pepper sauce. I really like this style of HK Cafe food and while this place probably isn't the best in the greater LA area for this type of Chinese food it is only 8 minutes from our house in rush hour traffic, the service is friendly (especially from the young woman who was our waitress last night) and the prices are reasonable.

                      Little Hong Kong Cafe
                      2129 Sawtelle Blvd
                      Los Angeles CA 90025

                      1. re: Servorg

                        thanks for the LHKC cafe tip. i have never eaten here if it's on the 2nd floor, but i will definitely try it out. i'm thinking of the place across the street in the strip mall next to Manpuku and Hurry Curry; this place is boring and bland.

                        1. re: DeLobster

                          No, you do have the correct location--it is on the west side of Sawtelle, right next to Hurry Curry. I don't think anybody is saying that the food is great compared to SGV or even Chinatown. But it's probably the best option for Chinese noodles west of downtown.

                2. re: caligirl614

                  Haven't eaten here much but the Orange Chicken is by far the best I've ever had. Its much lighter (both in breading and orange flavor) than the traditional whitey Orange Chicken, so I think its worth a shot.

                  I have had very poor luck with West Side Chinese (and Asian in general). I think Hop Li is one of the most over-rated places I have encountered.

                3. Chang's on San Vicente. It's Americanized but excellent, esp. the fried dishes (e.g., General Tso's) and veggies (e.g., green beans with garlic).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: a_and_w

                    Yes, Yes, Yes!!! I love Chang's. So underrated. It's been there forever and never disappoints.

                  2. It has been a long time since I said it, so I'll repeat: While westside Chinese food may pale compared with the SGV, it is still better than what is available in 95% of the country, including NYC. I am eternally on the search for the holy grail of westside inexpensive combo lunches, and I've tried pretty much all. I've been unimpressed by Hop Woo on Olympic and Sepulveda -- they have steam-table takeout on one side and sitdown on the other, and I got the feeling serving me was interrupting my server's lingering, and there was nothing special about the food. Hop Li on Pico had a good chicken in black bean sauce, and other diners seemed to have more interesting choices on their plates. I was a longtime fan of Cheng Du on Pico when it was Chung King, and they have the best spicy hot'n'sour soup and big portions at low prices. I like their mongolian beef ordered spicy and their shrimp in garlic sauce, but other dishes are hit and miss.

                    My clear favorite over the last year is Hu's, on National and National. I like their twice-cooked pork (w/o tofu) and their kung pao chicken. Their soup is good spiced up with hot chili oil and soy, and I appreciate the middle course of a simple cool Chinese chicken salad.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: nosh

                      As one who recently moved here from NYC, nosh, I emphatically agree. The west side of LA offers some of the most remarkable westernized versions of Chinese, Mexican, Thai, etc. that I've ever had. It amazes me the way some Angelenos turn up their noses at this cornucopia just because it isn't "authentic." That said, I wasn't a huge fan of the mongolian beef at Cheng Du the one time I tried it...

                      1. re: a_and_w

                        PS: Nosh, please tell me you've tried the mongolian beef at Little Hong Kong Cafe.

                    2. i would second the Hu's Schezwan recommendation - which should be quite near you - also i think the hop li that replaced jr seafood isn't that unworthy a successor - their rock cod in black bean sauce is really good - i think the hop li on pico was closed for health reasons, don't know if it ever re-opened - i'm not a big believer in hop woo - not in the same league as hop li in my opinion

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: paulfromla

                        Hus is pretty good but our family really likes Fu's. They do great spare ribs, veggie dumplings with garlic sauce, shrimp with black bean sauce, and a tastey war won ton soup. I know that some people on this board are not pleased with Fu's...I am not sure why as we have always had a good experience there although we haven't found a place that compares to the NYC Chinese restaurants that we used to frequent.

                        1. re: paulfromla

                          Hu's szechwan pork dumpling appetizer is amazing. And, if you ask nicely, they'll pack up some sauce for you to take, and keep in your fridge. It's great when cooking at home.

                          1. re: paulfromla

                            Hu's has one of the best Chinese beef noodle soup.