L.A. Chinese Food
- Paul Brown
Coming to L.A. for first time and would appreciate recommendations for everything from great Dim Sum and Cantonese to any other region that you Chowhounds feel is represented well in L.A.
Many thanks in advance
This is considered LA environs, but well worth it. This is my all-time favorite Chinese place (being that Shanghai-nese style Chinese suits my palate the best). There's a vegetarian version upstairs from the Colima location (other locations listed below - I can't vouch that they're all as good or the same as the Colima one). It's packed, so don't wait till your too hungry, or you'll keel over smelling all the great food waiting for a table.
Some of the best dishes: pork with bamboo, spicy beef with jalapeno pepper slivers, bean curd (with light green veggies, sprouts of some sort), and a special pancake made from wheat flour. This "pancake" has a texture that is reminiscent of a croissant that has been formed into a flat circle.
*** Only location I've been to - my all-time fave. ***
Happy Family Restaurant A (upstairs in the same plaza is the vegetarian "sister")
18409 Colima Rd. Rowland Heights, CA. 91748
Happy Family Restaurant
869 N Wilcox Ave. Montebello, CA. 90640
Happy Family Restaurant
140 W Valley Blvd. San Gabriel, CA. 91776
Happy Family Restaurant
1208 S El Camino Real. San Mateo, CA. 94402
Happy Family Restaurant 3 (vegetarian I believe)
608 N Atlantic Blvd. Monterey Park, CA. 91754
Don't mean to hog this whole thread! Close to LA Downtown, the most reliable dim sum place is Empress Pavilion in Chinatown.
988 North Hill Street Suite 201, Downtown, CA 90012
The place where the LA Chowhounds will be meeting for the first time, 888 Seafood, also does great Cantonese banquets, and good dim sum.
·Address: 8450 Valley Blvd. #121, Rosemead
·Thomas Guide Coordinate: 596 G6
Phone: (626) 573-1888
I like the Empress Pavilion Dim Sum - its very inventive - but truly, my favorite dim sum is Ocean Star, which is in Monterey Park, on Atlantic, right above Garvey. Second story of a little mall-plex.
For pure Cantonese dining:
The first time I ate at the Empress P, I was utterly destroyed. It was really great. I've back a bunch of times and it struck me as... spotty. Sometimes spectacular, sometimes less than that, verging on mediocre. Has that been other's experience?
Dungeness crab with fresh noodles
Beef filet (which is a texture like I've never had before)
Minced squab in lettuce cups
Mixed seafood soup
Magical dried scallop with mushroom soup (truly a fine, fine soup)
Duck fried in taro (a favorite dish for me in general - this is the best I've had it)
I've eaten once at Ocean Star for dinner, and was very impressed. The duck was less than fabulous, but all the dishes were very fine to great. Especially the bean curd mixed seafood hot pot. From my one experience, I would put it above Empress.
If you're new to LA, and haven't experienced much beyond cantonese, look for an Islamic Chinese thread from a month or so back.
Here are my choices.
I agree with Empress pavilion for Dim Sum.
I also agree with 888 for Dinner and a variety of Southern dishes.
For Huaiyang/Shanghai food: noodles and dumplings at Meilong Village, and full meal at Lake Spring Garden (I posted a review on this board under the word Huaiyang restaurant).
In Chinatown, although it's not great, the Foochow restaurant on Hill St. does over a few authentic dishes from Fujian province. I like the chicken in rice wine lees (tsao liu chicken) and the meat balls in soup where the ball is forcemeat covered with a thin slice of meat, or is a pork meat ball inside a larger fish cake ball.
For Instant boiled mutton and other beijing dishes (shuan yang-rou, like hot pots only I like it better), try Deerfield Garden in Monterey Park. The Shuan Yang Rou is great and you'll have some of the best potstickers, guo-tier around.
For Peking Duck, go to Quanjude in Rosemead. stick with Northern dishes although they've recently undergone huge staff changes and serve many Taiwanese and Hong Kong banquet dishes. Cold duck appetizers, the full duck are recommended and be sure to order the hollow cakes to go with the duck (Kong-hsin bing).
For Vegetarian, I also like Happy Family on Atlantic. They have a nice all you can eat option which doesn't include the more expensive dishes, but you can get the odd mushroom and seaweed dishes if you go a la carte (Fa-tsai, hair vegetable is a kind of seaweed).
I also like China Islamic restaurant on Garvey near New. I prefer it to Tung Lai Shun. Great lamb dishes, and be sure and order the bread with scallions. They also make noodles from a combination of flour and green beans. Very nice.
A bit more unusual is J.Y.Z. in the mall across from 888 on Valley Blvd. They have snacks and specialties that they claim are from the Fangshan imperial cuisine. They're quite good in any case.
There is supposedly a Szechwan hot pot restaurant in Rowland Heights but I don't know it - hot sesame spicy - ma la huo guo. Maybe someone can help.
As well, take a look out at the Hsi Lai temple in Hacienda Heights, where Al Gore went to the fundraiser. They have a small restaurant as well as a museum of Buddhist art and a cool location that looks very much like a Buddhist Temple in China.
Have a good visit.
These are some of the places in Chinatown that I go to all the time:
Golden Dragon on Broadway: Dim Sum. Empress Pavilion probably has better quality and selection but Ive been going here for over 40 years so its a habit. Empress is very crowded and service is usually abrupt. Dim Sum quality has been a roller coaster with average quality until competition (Empress) came in and then it improved noticeably. Was there about a 2 weeks ago though and something may have changed as the Dim Sum was only average again. Besides Dim Sum, Chicken Chow Fun, dry, is always satisfying.
Full House on Hill: Lots of seafood, big portions, reasonable prices, long waits around dinner time. Fast kitchen. Stuff comes flying out of that kitchen. Great for large groups.
Mandarin Deli: A noodle house for lunch. Noodles w/ Special Pork Sauce, Garlic Cukes, Tofu salad, scallion pancakes, dumplings. Dont let the surly waitress bother you, the food is great. Latest surly waitress story: I was there last week for lunch. A single female patron came in and after a slight hesitation found a seat. The surly waitress interprets any hesitation as weakness. The patron looked over the menu and got up. Waitress: Nothing? Patron: Looks like too much food for me. Waitress: Well then, get out of here!
Pho Hoa: My most favorite meal in the whole world, a scalding hot bowl of Vietnamese pho soup, though the cleanliness of this place is starting to get to me.
Thanks so very much for all your imputs. I'm very interested to see how L.A. Chinese food differs from what I am used to in N.Y.C.