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Where should I go for dinner in Chinatown (downtown L.A.)?

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  • lmie May 10, 2001 03:05 AM
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My friends and I are planning to go to Chinatown this Friday. Where is a good place to take them for dinner? Somewhere not super super expensive, and where they can get the Chinatown experience (whatever that means) as at least one of them has never been there before. Thanks!

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  1. 1. ABC Seafood, 205 Ord. Only a shadow of its former self as perhaps the best Chinese restaurant in the USA, after the retirement of its head chef, may be the best for a total Chinatown experience. Food is still decent, and not a lot of ambience. Many people don't want to park their cars here after dark (I don't think it's a problem) leading to a pattern of non-Chinese diners in the early evening hours, but mostly Chinese patrons later. However, with daylight savings time, this isn't a problem. All of the life seafood is good.

    2. Empress Pavilion, 988 N. Hill St. Probably the best and most expensive restaurant in Chinatown (but not expensive by Chowhound standards), though the quality has been very uneven over the past few years. Highest on ambience, but being in an enclosed mall it's also more sterile and certainly not representative of Chinatown.

    3. CBS Seafood, 700 N. Spring. A clone of ABC owned mostly by the former waiters of ABC. Menu is extremely similar to ABC. Biggest advantage is a decent sized parking lot adjacent to the restaurant.

    4. Ocean Seafood, 747 N. Broadway. Not as much ambience as Empress Pavilion, but still quite nice. Located in the middle of Chinatown so you can mingle with the crowds.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chandavkl

      don't forget Happy Valley. Easy parking in the alley, too.

    2. I like Monkee a lot. I especially love their squid with special salt and this eggplant dish that I belive is called Spicy Eggplant with minced pork.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Muhlyssa

        Monkee is very popular with the downtown lunch crowd. However, it's probably a little more expensive and not quite as good as some of the other seafood restaurants in Chinatown.

      2. thanks for the suggestions.. in my researching i also came across a restaurant called Yang Chow that's supposed to be good.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Lmie

          Los Angeles Chinatown has always been the domain of Cantonese Chinese, and most recently Vietnamese Chinese who are of similar origin. Consequently, most of the restaurants in Chinatown are Cantonese/Hong Kong style. Yang Chow is one of the few L.A. Chinatown restaurants featuring Shanghai and northern Chinese cuisine. Plum Tree Inn on Hill St. is another. Both of these restaurants are good, but are really in a different category.

          Another good seafood restaurant is Full House, 963 N. Hill.

          1. re: Chandavkl

            You won't get a Chinatown experience at night... it's pretty deserted after dark. If you can, try going during the day when all of the elderly are out and about, buying groceries and taking strolls. The grocery stores and curio shops will be open then too, so you can browse around. Oh, and the poultry stores--a friend who was visiting accompanied me into one and he was so fascinated.

            Full House has good HK-style dishes (especially seafood), it's on the north side of Chinatown. There's a lot on the side, and plenty of street parking. Service is relatively good. Don't go to Plum Tree Inn--the food is tasty, but it doesn't have the same feel as Chinese restaurants. More subdued--maybe because the tables here are either booths or are square, not round. Also, most patrons are non-Chinese.

            Empress Pavilion, across the street, used to be great for dinner, but has unfortunately been going down hill lately.

            1. re: Jennifer W.

              Jennifer, thanks for your message. Unfortunately I am reading it after already going to Chinatown. You're so right, we thought on a Friday night it would be a little more lively, but it was pretty deserted. Yang Chow's food was pretty good we thought, although I'm not an expert at all.

              1. re: Lynne

                ABC Seafood is still a great place for Cantonese seafood.

        2. c
          critical mass

          Coming from San Francisco and searching the greater LA for great Chinese (Catonese style), hands down its Ocean Seafood. IT's not too expensive, the service is great - definitely order the mince squab - no place does it better. Their Salt/pepper Shrimp is so crisp and fresh, you can eat the shells.
          Consistent, fresh, delicious. If you haven't been there yet, you're missing out. Oh, and the dim sum - great variety of dumplings - but get there early to beat the lines.