HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >


Great Chinese Food on the Westside

Anyone know any great Chinese food to check out on Xmas day preferably in West LA, Santa Monica, Venice, MDR, or elsewhere nearby? A big buffet would be nice, but yumminess is far more critical. Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Welcome to the site. The answer to your question is:

    1) Great
    2) Chinese
    3) West side
    Pick any two.

    So do you want to travel to the San Gabriel Valley and get truly great, or are you looking for the best of the meh-est on that end of town?

    7 Replies
    1. re: Professor Salt

      I guess I just got schooled :) I want great personally and would head to SGV, but I think my group is pretty set on convenience. Let's see if anyone else happens to have a Great Chinese Westside gem you've yet to uncover...

      1. re: Hungry_O

        Well, just so you don't go away emptyhanded, you might give Little Hong Kong Cafe a shot. It's a reliably decent Cantonese deli. It's pretty good, just not world class like you'd find in the SGV.

        It's not a buffet, either. Does it need to be buffet style?

        Litle Hong Kong Cafe
        2129 Sawtelle Blvd
        Los Angeles, CA 90025
        (310) 478-7329

        PS - This neighborhood is better known for its great Japanese options. Look around while you're there.

        1. re: Professor Salt

          Thanks. That place was recommended to me once before actually. Probably time to give it a shot. I love some of the Japanese places in that area and also the Vietnames place, Phoreign.

          1. re: Professor Salt

            This and Hu's are about as good as it gets on the Westside. Someone will probably mention Hop Li, and there's BBQ Unlimited #2 on Melrose near the 101, which is not Westside but is closer than Alhambra.

            The best of the mediocre. We've tried for years to find a hidden little gem on the Westside. With a few exceptions (Middle Eastern/Persian, Oaxacan, Japanese), you can generalise the Prof's statement to:

            1. Great
            2. Ethnic
            3. Westside
            Pick any two.

        2. re: Professor Salt

          the only place to go is Mao's Kitchen in Venice. Home-style cooking just like Mao's mamma used to make.

          1. re: kozmonaut

            mao's is one of the worst chinese joints on the westside.

            1. re: wilafur

              That's because Mao's is only nominally a Chinese restaurant. They do have some interesting stuff, though.

        3. I second Little Hong Kong Cafe, eat there all the time for years, just had a recent makeover. You can also try VIP Harbor Seafood on northside of Wilshire at Barrington. We're usually the only non-Chinese when we eat there, if that's any indication.

          2 Replies
          1. re: wykkedwilly

            Forgot to mention the Chinese restaurants on Pico between La Cienega and Beverwill.

            1. re: wykkedwilly

              I've been to the VIP Harbor Seafood couple of times, once AWFUL, 2nd time the seafood dishes were above average, but - as noted - not to compare to SG.

            2. Hunan Taste at Olympic and San Vicente/Fairfax.

              2 Replies
              1. re: caldad02

                Edible food but highly Americanized.

                1. re: Chelmoon

                  completely agree.
                  it's ok for lunch if you work near there.
                  would not spend any money for gas to actually drive there.

              2. I agree that there is no comparison between SGV and Westside restaurants, but if you must, try Chang's (not to be confused with PF Chang's). Below find the menu and an intelligent and fair review.


                Hope this helps.

                2 Replies
                1. re: THapa

                  Totally agree with the Chang's on San Vicente rec. I keep meaning to try Little Hong Kong Cafe, which looks decent too.

                  PS: I actually think the review you linked was a little unfair, as some of the comments note.

                  1. re: THapa

                    I took visiting relatives to Changs two nights ago and the food and service were both first rate. We shared wonton soup, various appetizers, three different chicken dishes, and bbq pork with snow peas: everyone remarked how good everything was. My sister provided the one criticism - she didn't care for the orange segments given with the almond cookies. Everyone also complimented the waitress, Linda (I think), who provided an exemplary standard for helpful advice, efficient service, and personal attention.

                  2. I like Hop Woo. Their portion is huge and food is good & authentic. They serve Hong Kong style Chinese food. Hop Woo has two other locations, Chinatown and Alhambra. The food at West LA location tasted the same as other locations'.

                    Hop Woo Seafood Restaurant
                    11110 W. Olympic Blvd.
                    Los Angeles, CA 90064
                    (310) 575-3668

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: eileen216

                      agreed.....the three places i go for my chinese fix are:

                      hop li
                      hop woo
                      little hong kong cafe

                      they are all decent for the westside.

                      1. re: eileen216

                        I agree, Hop Woo is my first pick for this area for good Chinese food. Service not the best but not too terrible. Parking is one of the worst but I won't complain too much since I think their food is best in this area. Any Chinese restaurant that offers Salted Fish Fried Rice outside of SGV area is authentic. They do a very decent job on that dish too. Been to Little H.K. Cafe several times and not impressed at all. Half the time they served luke warm tea, not acceptable for Chinese restaurant. Twice, I asked them to please give me hot tea. Had to wait a good 15-20 min. Can't understand what's the problem with something so simple. The food is not terrible but as long as Hop Woo is open, I won't settle for so so Chinese food.

                      2. Hu's was closed for the last day of their Xmas holiday today when I went by for lunch, so I decided to give another one from this thread a try. There was parking available at Little Hong Kong Cafe so I stopped in. I told the waiter I liked spicy and asked for recommendations, he said try the lunch specials. I wanted a sampling so I ordered the beef, chicken and shrimp with broccoli, and requested it with the hot garlic sauce from another dish -- he said they couldn't do that but could spice up the one I ordered. The hot'n'sour soup that started was pretty good -- a bit thicker and darker than Hu's with less tofu, but not as good as my favorite at Cheng Du. Came with a fried spring roll and sweet sauce -- ok. My entree was a very large portion, with a lot of large broccoli florets covered high with mostly beef, some chicken, and three or four shrimp. The meats were pretty good, and there was some extra spice from some thinly sliced green chilis I'm mostly used to in Thai food. I had asked for hot chili oil, and was served some crushed chili paste with little oil. The broccoli definitely seemed to be steamed or blanched, not stir-fried. The sauce was thin, had little flavor and definitely needed the soy and chili that I added.

                        The good: Generous portion, not chintzy with the meats. Good soup. Service fine.
                        The bad: More expensive than Hu's, and no chicken salad course. Not nearly so flavorful. Have to take a key and exit the front and go around side of building to use restroom in the back.

                        1. Does anyone know of a GREAT jewish deli in montebello or surrounding 4 sq miles?

                          just as likely. hu's is ok, noodle planet could work - it's more S E asian and chinese from singapore than something from the mainland. There have been attempts. Jin jiang used to be FANTASTIC (santa monica near veteran). They had excellent huaiyang dishes and whenever i went there was my table and one other. Then they fired the huaiyang cooks and got hongkong trained cantonese cooks. Food was still better than average but no takers.

                          Same with a szechwan restaurant that used to be on Lincoln near washington blvd. NO clientele, so they modified the menu (let's avoid terms like americanize or dumb down) to be more friendly to non-sichuan eaters. became mediocre. There is a chinese place on Washington between the Beach and Lincoln on teh south side of the street. I haven't tried it. It could be the same people. Go have an adventure and let us know.
                          NO REC but
                          SZECHWAN RESTAURANT
                          2905 WASHINGTON BLVD
                          MARINA DEL REY

                          In general - i have found while looking that in general, i save my chinese experienes for other parts of the city which have a large enough educated population to support excellent chinese food. Unfortunately, the west side of los angeles is not such a place - witness the demise of J&R, VIP etc.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: Jerome

                            in light of SO MANY westside chinese food threads, it seems weird (for this semi-new westsider) that the good places J&R, etc have closed down. Was it because of lack of interest or something else. i would imagine a good place 'round these parts would be hopping!

                            1. re: NYCnowLA

                              There was a very illuminating analysis posted in answer to this question in a westside chinese food thread oh a year or even more back. Obviously, some of it has to do with the clientele -- while a restaurant may start with ambitions of serving authentic regional food (e.g. J&R Seafood when it started) if the majority of your customers are asking for kung pao chicken and mongolian beef, what is a smart owner going to do other than accommodate? But the eye-opening part of the analysis had to do with the staff, particularly the top chefs: How do you attract and keep them, when their families and communities reside in the SGV and there are more convenient and actual authentic opportunities nearby? To induce them, you need to give them freedom and money. The freedom starts places like J&R, Royal Star(? -- the one on Wilshire that closed), and Jin Jiang, which eventually are forced to compromise. The money leads to higher prices, which creates a backlash among potential customers who view chinese food as an inexpensive cuisine, and the more authentic and ethnic the cheaper it should be.

                              I don't do the post complete justice here, but the analysis helps to explain why the westside is home to so many Panda Express and ChopStix places.

                              1. re: nosh

                                Rent-to-margin ratio must be way different than SGV, as well. It is like a constellation of physical laws that prevent the success of a decent chinese eatery on the Westside: rent/margins/distance/picky diners, etc. Royal Star actually had quite good dim sum and seafood when it opened but it deteriorated fast.

                                If only Din Tai Fung -- or another regional chinese specialist -- would try something, somewhere between the Grove and the Ocean.

                                1. re: Ciao Bob

                                  really - then why so many decent Italian places. People on the west side routinely pay $15-20 for lunch in an average place. A similarly priced Chinese place could have wonderful mushroom dishes, like the hutougu (monkey head mushroom) soup at Happy Family.
                                  BTW, Fragrant Vegetable, one of the first buddhist style veg places in the SGV opened a place on WIlshire. It was good. It didn't last.

                                  1. re: Jerome

                                    WINE keeps most of the Italians alive...

                                    1. re: Ciao Bob

                                      You're both right -- people don't blink at $20-a-plate or more Italian food, but they've got a blind spot when it comes to Chinese food, because obviously there's no difference between an $88-a-head seafood banquet and an order of $5.95 orange chicken with indifferently-steamed rice.

                                  2. re: Ciao Bob

                                    The problem is the rent and the lack of available employees within a 30 minute commute. Do not expect any improvement in this situation until at least a depression hits!
                                    Rumor has at least two of the above(this thread) restaurants are being sold as I type. So if you don't like the current situation, just wait...
                                    Royal Star never made money!