NEW YORKER in LA 4 Nites Best Chinese? Mexican?
Hi. My partner and I are from NYC. We will be in LA for 4 nights after Christmas. Will be staying in West Hollywood. We really do not know much about LA, we visited once for a few days 15 years ago, which means pre internet and pre GPS. Will have a car. We really wanna hit as much as we can, but I definitely want some real authentic Mexican, not Tex Mex burritos or tacos, real Mexican foood. Then, also Chinese (Hong kong, Cantonese, Sichian, Shanghai etc.) I want to places for lunch or dinner that you know are good because the place should be filled with Mexican patrons or Chinese patrons....not interested in fancy decor, but real food. Also, best place for DIM SUM. I suppose I need at least one recommendation for Chinatown. Also, any other places you guys think would be a MUST EAT AT place...any cuisine...we like it all. Since we will be staying in West Hollywood (The Chamberlain Hotel Westmount Dr near Santa Monica Dr abd La Cieniga.) would appreciate ANY tips eating or otherwise...oh, and budget, for Chinese and Mexican $25 each and under. Would also like to take a native LA-er, my brother in law, out ti dinner, a thank you dinner, so any suggestions? He eats mainly fish and vegs, but we are omnivores. For this restaurant, then $50 each and under since it should be special. Boy, thats a lot of info I am asking for..good Chinese, Good Mexican, Good eats in West Hollywood and a good fancy rest. for a native LAer. And any other must see or dos or eats. Thanks guys...JOHN
Mexican under $25... Entrees not Tacos... for a NYer...
Birrieria La Barca (Goat Birria, Mixed Molcajetes, Shrimp a la Diabla)
Monte Alban (Oaxacan Moles... Black, Green or Red, Goat Barbacoa etc.,)
If you can go a little over $25 then:
Chichen Itza (Yucatecan)
Mariscos Chente (Sinaloa / Nayarit Seafood)
11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
2501 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90057
Birrieria La Barca
10817 Valley Mall, El Monte, CA 91731
4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066
A good option for one of your Mexican meals is the Oaxacan food at Monte Alban restaurant. Lunch is ~ $10/pp. They have the best mole I have had in LA (yes, I prefer it to Guelaguetza - both branches). My favorite of their moles is the verde (green), although the yellow, red and black varieties are also quite good. The birria (lamb stew) is delicious but I find it hard to not get mole here. No hard liquor license, so no margaritas, although they do have beer.
Located in a minimall at:
11927 Santa Monica Blvd, at Brockton, between Barrington & Bundy in West LA
I will echo the other posters about going to the San Gabriel Valley for dim sum.
An option for your nice dinner out could be The Nook. Simple but good New American food.
Lunch at Philippe the Original for french dip sandwiches is an LA tradition. Philippe has been around for 100+ years. It is located at 1001 N. Alameda St., near Union Station downtown, about 30 minutes from your hotel. They have a parking lot.
Musha on Santa Monica btw 4/th & 5th streets could be a good option for one of your meals. Probably ~$30/pp. Japanese izakaya- small plates pub food.
first things first.
for any address the BEST source is
if you get tired and just want to see what's near the hotel, you can plug in the zip code of the hotel andyou'll get the complete list of any place that sells food.
I'm going to simplify your life. You will get yourself to the corner of Garvey and Garfield in Monterey Park. Within two blocks of that intersection you will find four places that are incredibly worthwhile. It's also a good orientation point fora few other recommendations.
for yunnan dishes like qiguo ji (steam pot chicken) and crossing bridge noodles (guoqiao mixian)
First. A REAL hunan restaurant. Not New York fantasy gulliver's travels hunan. Real, pickled and preserved meats, ask for hot and die, sour like you can't believe, so authentic you wonder when the next tourist train to shaoshan is leaving the station, everything but liling porcelain hunan food (frogs if you want em
)HENGYANG CHILIKING INC
138 E GARVEY AVE # C
For recommendations, first ask the waitress what americans don't like and get that.; next, check out a travel guide for hunan visitors online and note the dishes you'd like to try. anything with the word preserved on the menu is worth a shot. This is two blocks east of the intersection listed above.
Next. two blocks north on Garfield, west side of the street is Yun Chuan. YUn for Yunnan, Chuan for sichuan. They have the ubiqutious cold table you find in so many sichuan places. BUT they have the steam pot chicken (qiguo) Make sure they have it. They often sell out. if they do, leave. And the crossing bridge noodles (guoqiao mixian) are a specialty. look online for the legendary source. Yunnan is close to vietnam, and frankly they're a lot like Pho. But for china, theyr'e special. If they have anything with Yunnan ham get it (hunan also has famous ham).
Across Garfield in the mall on the east side is a place called giang-nan (south of the river [i.e.yangtse river] although the chinese name is the same as a famous suzhou restaurant, deyuelou). Huaiyang food (often called shanghai food, although shanghai food is its own thing - this is food from zhejiang and jiangsu provinces). They don't have beggars chicken. But they have some great dishes -the pine nuts with fish "rice" (song ren yu mi) , the house special pork (zhe rou), the eel with leeks, the lions head meatballs with duck egg, MAKE sure to get the crab and pork xiaolongbao (ny'ers call soup dumplings). these are my fave although most people here like other places better. As well, order the cold app's like the jade celery, the vegetarian duck (a mushroom dish with doupi), and any others that catch your fancy. For dessert, get the tangyuan with osmanthus. They're authentic and you've probably never had them. You might not like them, but that's your affair. (also the silver thread roll yin-si juan, are good steamed or fried. they may have a different name on the english menu. ask the server).
GIANG NAN RESTAURANT
306 N GARFIELD AVE A12
Just south of the intersection is another place called ChungKing. this one is great. Again, be brave. Go for any of the "shui-zhu" (waterboiiled) dishes. These are ineffebly hot and tasty. High recs for the pork kidney dishes. The strange taste chicken - guai-wei ji, is good. Make sure ot get teh cold charcuterie and variety from thecold table in the back. Just get up with the waitress and go. You can pick up a beer at the market on garfield just north of garvey (superkmarket) good harbin beer as well as taiwan and qingdao brands.
CHUNG KING RESTAURANT
206 S GARFIELD AVE
For excellent hong kong in the area, there are many choices. I like MPV on Garfield but about 3/4 mile north of the intersection. Up on Valley. they also have tanks of fish all around (including one with a lobster of such gargantuan proportions that the beast probably comes out to about $400 or so) where you can select. Good seafood and even dishes that you might think inauthentic but actually are quite authentic. STAY AWAY from sichuan dishes at any hong kong or cantonese place. Dont bother. (make sure you're in the resto with the fishtanks in the wall)
1420 S GARFIELD AVE
Next, Shandong non-banquet dishes. Both rec'd places are a bit further. My fave is at Valley just west of New called 101 noodle express. Get the beef roll. Get some cold dishes. They carry the beijing style yogurt now made here (english name, bluecherry) in alhambra. The great things are the jiaozi dumplings. They have an item on the menu - mixed plate, which alows you to split the plate of 10 into 2 orders of 5. so for two mixed plates, you can try 4 kinds of dumpling fillings - authentic? very. Shrimp-pork-pumpkin dumpling, meat with shepherd's purse (menu has "wild vegetable- ji-tsai), sole, all kinds. remember to order some cold dishes - excellent cucumber plate, etc. The thing that brings in the CHinese though, and just isn't as exciting for non-Chiense, isthe DeZhou PaJi - Dezhou-style braised chicken. The chicken is cooked in a special not all that complicated way, but with seasoned spiced water rather than the standard boiled water usually used. If you want to try it, get a half chicken. And taste it, andwrap the rest for the hotel room. it's fine cold.
101 NOODLE EXPRESS
1408 E VALLEY BLVD
others here rec for similar dumplings -
noodle house, 958 E GARVEY AVE. just fyi. it's also near New Ave but on Garvey, vs Valley.
For Muslim food, esp the lamb dishes, the buckwheat noodles, the sesame bread (zhima dabing) with scallions, go east on Garvey past New to China Islamic. No alcohol. don't bring any in. Excellent food - henan style, hui food. NOT turkic xinjiang dishes like lamb with cumin sticks.
CHINA ISLAMIC RESTAURANT
7727 E GARVEY AVE
A for more general rec's a little farther afield.
For northeast food, try homestyle on valley. Cornmeal bao, stuffed with chinese preserved cabbage (think sauerkraut) and killer eggplant and good lambskewers.
Home Style Restaurant
301 West Valley Boulevard
San Gabriel (haven't been in a while they may be closed - in fact places close often so good luck)
For handpulled noodles, Ma Lan noodles in hacienda heights. Noodles are pulledand boiled to order. Check this site for more details. Combine it with a trip to the Hsi Lai Temple (which also has a cheap vegetarian lunchroom), the one where Al Gore got in trouble They have a website. But Ma Lan is worth the drive.
2020 S HACIENDA BLVD B
My fave dimsum place is farther than MPV - it's 888 seafood. Get things you'venever had before. It is possible. The all mushroom dish is great. THe porridges (zhou//juk/congee/xifan) are really good. For regular meals, 888 has the long-cooked (24 hour) individual soups made with black-bone chicken, or turtle with tons of chinese medicinal herbs. not available during dim sum.
888 SEAFOOD RESTUARANT
8450 E VALLEY BLVD 121
Across the street is a Yung Ho in the mall. Yung Ho makes its own soy milk and has a standard chinese morning meal fixin's available - youtiao (chinese crullers), scallion pancakes (cong you bing) etc.
YUNG HO TOU CHIANG RESTAURANT
1045 E VALLEY BLVD A105
Chinatown rec; late night - FUll house seafood. open until 3AM .
Make sure to get a pound of the live shrimp, ask for them salt and pepper style. They'll be in the shell. Deal. they're good. That and a Tie-ban dish (the hot iron plate) and you're set.
oh - quanjude, an actual branch of the famous beijing kaoya peking duck establishment in beijing closed sometime ago. the best now, sadly in Lu Din Gee. But it's good
Facility Name Address City Zip Inspected Score Type
1039 E VALLEY BLVD B102
caveat: lu din gee seems to have suffered the fate of many northern banquet food places and has succumbed to the cantonese and taiwanese local tyranny. many of the dishes on the regular menu are hongkongish x.o. dishes, sharks fin abalone dishes. so, many of the old "imperial" snacks are gone from the menu at least online. you takes your chances. the duck hasreportedly stayed the same although there's an hour order necessary. so you can reserve when you start driving out.
I like the hotpot at deerfield garden (or did last time i went) others like little sheep right next door. fancier. (chinese name for dish at deerfield garden, shuan yangrou). also check this website for "hotpot" for sichuan style ma la huoguo. and others. (mon lan is popular)
130 S ATLANTIC BLVD
Mexican - i've spent too much...oh. ok. i like the menudo at el jerezano on hazeltine in the valley. if' you're there, try it - friday, sat, sun, mon only. antojitos are fine. Check out la serenata de garibaldi in east la. also, don an is a hole in thehole with very good cemitas. pick up a bunch and go have a picnic. maybe up highway 2 and up in the snow.
EL JEREZANO RESTAURANT
5937 HAZELTINE AVE
TAQUERIA DON ADRIAN
14902 VICTORY BLVD
For your fancy dinner, just go to Ocean Ave seafood on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. easy. check the website.
And check out the $1 tamales and atole at the Jon's market parking lot (esp on weekends) in the late afternoon and early evenings. Local women make the stuff at home and sell it on the premises. JOn's market in koreatown, irolo and eightht street. Across the street is a good Oaxacan place, Guelaguetza. they even have the chapulines if you want them.
3337 1/2 W 8TH ST
oh - the serenata mentioned above -it is popular with anglos as well, go to the east L A one, the one in santa monica just isn't as good, and try the "aguas" made in -house.
it's known for fish.
1842 E 1ST ST
OCEAN AVE SEAFOOD
1401 OCEAN AVE
BTW NONE OF THESE are "THE BEST." I don't believe in that, as per the title of the thread. But they're good.
(the korean here will blow your mind - someone else can write that one.)
YUN CHUAN GARDEN INC.
301 N GARFIELD AVE D
and next to the intersection - guilin style rice noodles, guangxi province (not too spicy, more sour again, thick rice noodles, like udon texture)
110 E GARVEY AVE
and the beijing style yogurt (they also use it to make frozen yogurt, mango flavored etc, but the original in the vitreous ceramic crocks are GREAT)
Facility Name Address City Zip Inspected Score Type
BLUE CHERRY YOGURT
137 W MAIN ST
enjoy your stay. next time try and find the ultimate LA burger (great white hut, cassell's, irv's burgers, andof course the hundreds people fight about here)
Awesome, Jerome - you're awesome... By the way, if you're sending them recs to Van Nuys, they might as well consider Peruvian as well. I don't know the state of Peruvian cuisine in NYC, but Puro Sabor has received serious praise from just about everyone who has gone there. I love Peruvian food, and have my favorites, but no one who has mentioned Puro Sabor has even squeeked about my favorites. This tells me that either they haven't tried my favorites, or that they just don't even rate against Puro Sabor. I want to believe the latter. When I finally get out to Van Nuys to try Puro Sabor, I will chime in as well. But until then, here's one of the posts that tells the tale:
thanks bulavinka. i should try it. i love papas a la huancaina. and the peruvian seviche.
tonight i almost went to rincon chileno on the way to see the kirov at the dorothy chandler.
must try more south american cuisines.
Went to the other colombian in the valley beside La Maria. Not Cafe Colombia in Burbank either. ANd looking for the name I'm finding Bolivar near Northridge, Antojitos Latinos on vanowen across from the DMV, the Beat on Ventura and none of them is this place...
now found perla del pacifico on Sherman Way...
THISIS THE ONE
15713 Vanowen St
Van Nuys, CA 91406
Tel. 818-904-1099 / 818-904-1039
OK original posters, now you have six or seven rec's for colombian food in the valley. adn one forchilean food. rincon chileno is on melrose near vermont.
tehre are ecuadoran, brazilian,a venezuelanish cafe, a guyanese so-called place near usc, a bolivian place in north hollywood, and a bunch of argentine places.
lots to explore (we haven't even touched central america - pupusas anyone? nicaraguan nacatamal? or the caribbean)
run like the wind bulavinka.
waiting for your peruvian reviews.
Jerome -- Puro Sabor is the king of Peruvian in the Valley (you have GOT to try their causa rellena), but I still dream of the ceviche with octopus at Las Quenas -- it's cut better than at Puro Sabor, though Puro Sabor serves ceviche the 'right' way -- with really awesome choclo, huge fresh corn kernels, etc.
I dunno -- start with Puro Sabor, but you might just have to try Las Quenas too :)
And that Chinese list I need to print out and take with me. I've been to several of the places but that's quite the laundry list there.
re: Das Ubergeek
re: Das Ubergeek
Hey DU, I agree Puro Sabor rules in the valley and Las Quenas is right up there in a close second, each having their pluses.But, in the greater LA scene, I invite you to check out Anticucheria Danessi, the best anticuchos and everyday plates, saltados, etc.You are missing something if you don't get to this place.It is awesome.
Hello ToughNewYorker, if there is only one sit down Mexican restaurant in LA you can go to, I recommend Moles La Tia in East Los Angeles, my personal pick for best overall Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles right now.This also will fit your budget requirements.
For street food,Breed St. near Cesar Chavez on a Sunday evening. You will giggle at how affordable this place is.
"We really wanna hit as much as we can, but I definitely want some real authentic Mexican, not Tex Mex burritos or tacos, real Mexican foood...I want places for lunch or dinner that you know are good because the place should be filled with Mexican patrons..."
I'd vote El Parian, near Staples Center in downtown not too far from Weho. Though they specialize in goat (birria), they have great carne asada, as bandini wrote in his tacohunt blog. My Jalisco-born buddy says this place is the real deal, with plenty of Mexican patrons to back it up who add to the local 'flavor' of the place.
Not to be sticky too, these "authentic" Mexican places are not the typical "average" LA Mexican; LA has has its own unique version of "Mexican" that is all of the place, just like there is Santa Fe Mex or Tex Mex, there's kind of an LA version of many south of our border countries in the western hemisphere.
I love Babita too, and it is kind of divy but I'm kind of thinking crackhouse is a little bit of an exaggeration.
I'm not sure if I said this well but I think it is worthy of making this point to someone new.
Like many others have posted, if you go to the San Gabriel Valley, it would be easy to find great Chinese restaurants that meet your criteria. They usually have at least one person who speaks English, too.
Here are a few recs off the top of my head:
Hong Kong Cafe:
Tasty Garden (Arcadia)
Elite (Monterey Park)
Seafood Harbour (Rosemead)
Elite (Monterey Park)
Empress Harbor (Monterey Park)
Newport Tan Cang Seafood (San Gabriel)
Seafood Village (Monterey Park)
Kim Ky (San Gabriel)
Jin Jian (aka J&J) (San Gabriel)
Mei Long Village (San Gabriel)
Taiwanese (based on friends' recs)
Sin Ba La (Arcadia)
Uncle Chen's (San Gabriel)
Won Won (Temple City)
Dumpling House (Temple City)
Mandarin Noodle Deli (Temple City)
101 Noodle Express (Alhambra)
Luscious Dumpling (San Gabriel)
I have mini-reviews (and contact info) of most of these restaurants here: http://www.geocities.com/raytamsgv/chinese_restaurants.html
While in the SGV, you can also get some good Vietnamese food:
Pho 79 (Alhambra
)Golden Deli (San Gabriel)
Nem Nuong Ninh Hoa (Rosemead)
You can find more information about them here: http://www.geocities.com/raytamsgv/vi...
I like this list but have to weigh in on Pho 79 and MIssion 261 (not on the list). Did I just hit Mission 261 at a bad time or get unlucky. I've been to most of the other places typically mentioned and found 261 to have crappy food and even worse service than the usual dim sum joint. As for 79, I ate their today after searching the Board. I loved the extensive menu but just had a bowl of Pho. Apart from the menu option of getting the beef separate - which was a great idea - I didn't think there was anything unusual about he quality of the Pho. What is it exactly that so many 'hounds find noteworthy about these two places.
What did you find "crappy" about the dim sum at Mission 261?
I've never had problems with the dim sum (or dinner items) at Mission 261. While it's not as good as Sea Harbour in my opinion, it has never failed to disappoint.
Service? Well, I would never think to judge a Chinese restaurant based on service. Sort of like trying to judge a book by it's publisher -- completely irrelevant.
I have to agree with Ipse. Although it's been a couple of years since we were last there, Mission 261 scored big points for ambiance and service. The food, while not bad in any way, was like a shy stripper - just didn't reveal enough. Sea Harbour and Elite weren't shy about anything at all...
Mexican food in West Hollywood for out-of-towners? GARDENS OF TAXCO (1113 N. Harper Ave, 323-654-1764). Is there anything better and more fun? You get the kitschy Mexican decor, the strong margaritas and the table-side, borderline-offensive waiter reciting the menu with WAY too many rolled rrrr's and the funniest Mexican accent since Speedy Gonzalez. All that and 5 courses of scale-tipping food for under $25. Two chubby thumbs up.
If you are staying in a hotel, I suggest you change it to downtown. Then you are a fairly close drive to SGV and the westside.
IMO Babita is hand's-down the best Mexican restaurant in L.A. county. The Chiles en Nogada are wonderful, but also try the intensely hot habanero shrimp.
I'm a Sea Harbour fan for dim sum. For Chinese at dinner, I defer to the other experts who've weighed in. For "dumplings" I love Noodle House on Garvey in M.P, but have been meaning to try Kingburg and Dean Sin World, recommended from another thread.
Enjoy your stay regardless of where you end up. Chances are it will be great weather!
As far as Chinese food is concerned, skip Chinatown since the food isn't any better than New York Chinatown. Rather you should concentrate on the San Gabriel Valley which is a large suburban Chinatown many times the size of Manhattan Chinatown or any other urban Chinatown, that encompasses several separate cities including Monterey Park, Alhambra, San Gabriel, Temple City, Arcadia and Rosemead, as well as the more eastern Hacienda Heights and Rowland Heights. For dim sum I think you'd most be interested in a more modern style of dim sum that has hit Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver and Toronto from overseas, but which has bypassed Manhattan and Flushing. This is the menu based, modern and delicate form of dim sum. Leading practitioners which you can search for on this board include Elite in Monterey Park, Sea Harbour in Rosemead, Mission 261 in San Gabriel, King Hua in Alhambra and Happy Harbor in Rowland Heights. All of these places also do a good job at dinner time, and once again bring a modern and creative flair to Hong Kong/Cantonese cuisine that you find in Asia and the above named North American cities, but not New York City. The San Gabriel Valley is east of downtown L.A. so take the Hollywood or Santa Monica Freeways east and catch the San Bernardino Freeway into the San Gabriel Valley. Travel times for you will vary greatly depending upon the day of the week and time of day.
re: Das Ubergeek
Maybe the absolute prices are higher, but the quality is several times better at Elite or Sea Harbour.
So based on a quality to price ratio, I think Sea Harbour, Elite, etc. are actually cheaper than 888, Ocean Star, etc.
McDonald's is cheaper than Father's Office, but you tend to get what you pay for.
What he said. The San Gabriel Valley is the physical size of Manhattan and it's hugely Asian. If anyone recommends Chinese in Hollywood, West Hollywood or anywhere on the Westside, I can guarantee you'll be disappointed given your request for places where Chinese people eat.
If you want push-cart dim sum, go to 888 on Valley Blvd. near Delta Ave. in Rosemead, but the best dim sum is actually menu-order at the aforementioned Elite, Sea Harbour. Mission 261 is OK but Elite is better.
There is noplace in LA like Grand Sichuan in Flushing or Szechwan Gourmet in Midtown. Sichuan is the one Chinese cuisine that New York really clearly does better (besides, of course, cheap delivery egg rolls, hahaha).
Try Giang Nan restaurant, in the back of a minimall on Garfield Ave. between Garvey Ave. and the 10 freeway in Monterey Park. It has excellent Jiangsu cuisine -- the chicken with chestnuts (really) is truly excellent, as is the the house pork. Make sure that if they don't give you celery with sesame oil ("jade celery") that you ask for some, because it truly does cut the richness of the "red-cooked" sauce.
As for Mexican, my recommendation is to take a drive to -- wait for it -- the San Gabriel Valley and go to Babita, which is on San Gabriel Blvd. in San Gabriel, between the 10 freeway and Valley Blvd. It's a tiny place and it looks like an absolute hellhole from the outside, but step inside and feast on great Mexican food -- their beef cheeks are insanely good, and I like the panuchos (thicker tortillas with shredded pork and pickled red onion). You'll be pushing the $25 limit if you order two courses each, but not by much. They have wine and beer only, no hard liquor.
For very good Mexican seafood with interesting sauces (try huitlacoche sauce), go to the original branch of La Serenata de Garibaldi, on First Street in Boyle Heights, right where the 5, 10, 60 and 101 freeways all intersect (you will definitely, definitely need the GPS, because they're constructing the light rail through there). Again, no hard liquor, so don't order the margaritas, but the seafood is fantastic, and the flan is second to none.
Another possibility is to go on a taco truck crawl -- see Bandini's Taco Hunt blog for details. If you even spend $10 each you'll be stuffed to the gills.
re: Das Ubergeek
Geek, I wouldn't say that Babita looks like "an absolute hellhole from the outside." It's certainly a modest little house but not frightening, as absolute hellholes must be under current California law. For frightening, let's send this New Yorker to Bahooka, if we want something in the same vicinity that begins with "Ba..."
Getting back to Babita, I also endorse their delicious food (except for the guisado meats -- in the chiles en nogada, for example, which are much better with ground meat, as at La Casita in Bell) and add to Das Ubergeek's list the tequila-cured salmon sope. (See the detailed description with picture at Exile Kiss: http://exilekiss.blogspot.com/2008/09/passionate-culinary-artist-from-sinaloa.html.) The dish is fantastic and fabulous -- better than anything ever produced or even conceived by any Tokyo sushi house in the last 100 years! Well, OK, I may be going overboard slightly, but it is much better than the ubiquitous ground tequila-cured salmon tacos at Tito's, Taco Bell's, and similar places.
After Chinese and Mexican food in the San Gabriel Valley, you might also want to stop by Fosselman's Ice Cream in Alhambra. Excellent versions of all the usual flavors in addition to some not-so-usual. (See: http://www.fosselmans.com/Pages/flavo... ) My favorite there is a decadent shake with two scoops cookies 'n cream, one scoop espresso ice cream. They should call it Buzzy Crunch.
1823 S San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776
Fosselman's Ice Cream Co
1824 W Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801
re: Das Ubergeek
"There is noplace in LA like Grand Sichuan in Flushing or Szechwan Gourmet in Midtown. Sichuan is the one Chinese cuisine that New York really clearly does better (besides, of course, cheap delivery egg rolls, hahaha)."
I'm not really sure about that. Shufeng Garden in Rowland Heights does delicious Sichuan and I like it much more than the Grand Sichuans in New York. The chile braised carp and pepper chicken (tasty chicken bits in a mound of red pepper) are very good. Their water boiled beef is excellent and there's a bunch of little side dishes that they do very well (eg. spicy beef tendon, tongue, pickled cucumbers, etc). There's also a rich soup of free range chicken, gingo nuts, pigs feet, and tripe that's not spicy but delicious. But Rowland Heights would probably be out of reach for the OP.
re: Das Ubergeek
My vote goes to Chongqing in Hacienda Heights (which is NOT the same place as Chung King). It is also called Mr. Swiss, so you must be very careful to get the Sichuan menu and not the Crappy American Panda Type menu, and you may need to be quite firm with the waitstaff.
I will tell you that it pales in comparison to the New York Sichuan places. Sichuan is a hole in the otherwise revelatory LA Chinese scene.
The point I was making is that while it's good, I find that the best Sichuan in this city is not as good as the best Sichuan in New York.
Happily, though, I think the GENERAL state of Chinese food is better here than anywhere else in Anglo North America save possibly Vancouver, and the Sichuan is still quite good, so I'm happy. :-)
If you like Chung King, great.
But don't consider Chung King great simply because a restaurant critic says it's great.
Trust your own tastebuds and come to your own conclusions.
If you like Chung KIng independent of what anyone else says, great. Go and enjoy it often.
But don't do it because of some other person is making you believe it.
re: Das Ubergeek
To piggyback on DU's post about taco trucks, here are some recent and very relevant threads to your requests. The vast majority of these eateries are very informal, frequented mainly by their locals, and have excellent food. The one exception that comes immediately to mind is Monte Alban, which is a Oaxacan restaurant in West LA. As good as it is, its location is not so heavily ethnically fortified, but is excellent, and is frequented by patrons of all walks. This thread is picking up speed - you folks have your homework cut out for you... :)
re: Das Ubergeek
I won't add any more to the Dim Sum recs - all (most) listed by everyone are good IMHO. One small addition - i fyou have been to and like the liquid filled soup dumplings at Joe's Shanghai in NYC, (http://www.joeshanghairestaurants.com/) I would recommend checking out Din Tai Fung dumpling house in Arcadia. Even just to swing by (early) and get some dumplings to go.
You will get detractors and recommendations for many newer, more innovative and probably more expensive places but my favorite traditional cart dim sum for the price is Ocean Star at 145 N Atlantic Blvd just north of Garvey in Monterey Park. Get there by 10:30 on Sunday but take your time ordering as items come out in waves. If you must get dim sum in China Town, I suggest CBS at 700 N Spring Street. They have their own parking with an unofficial attendant who can be very helpful. They have take out as well including dim sum, bbq duck and pork. It is gritty but it is authentic. For great pot stickers, hand cut noodle soup, scallion pancakes and more, I love Mandarin Noodle Deli at 9537 Las Tunas east of San Gabriel Blvd. Also, Mei Long Village for many things. I have to go pick up pizza now so do a search for Mei Long Village in San Gabriel on Valley to find out more but others will pick up where I left off. Have Fun!
Hi. Thanks so much for the reply. I did read somewhere the Monterey Park is a city with many recent Asian immigrants. I really dont know the LA are at all, if you had to guess, about how long would it take to drive from West Hollywood to Monterey Park? Also, if I went there for dinner instead of dim sum, would you recommend the same restaurant? Thanks so much!!! JOHN
Well, for dinner, I would tell you to check out Newport Seafood House 835 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel (626) 289-5998. If there is room in your wallet, check out the fresh lobster specials. From WL to MP especially on a Sunday morning is very doable. You are taking the 10 Freeway east, I would say about 20 miles. If you do a Map Quest or Google Maps, you can get the mileage and directions.
Depends on the time of day. From West Hollywood to Monterey Park can take 20 minutes, or it can take an hour plus. If you eat late-ish dinners, traffic usually clears decently by 7:00 or 7:30 PM. On the weekends it's a total crapshoot.
FWIW, many of the XLB (xiaolongbao -- what you know as soup dumplings) places are very different to Joe's Shanghai in Chinatown and Midtown East. I actually like Joe's better, but it's a personal preference -- the skins are thinner here and the dumplings tend to be smaller.
From West Hollywood to the general San Gabriel Valley area (where Monterey Park is located) would be about 30 minutes under normal driving conditions.
I think Fru has some good recs for you folks. But to be honest, one could recommend hundreds of places in the San Gabriel Valley (SGV) that you'd probably find appealing. Just about any rec in SGV will fit your criterion of being surrounded by patrons of the local ethnicity. I personally feel that if you are truly seeking out some great experiences in Chinese cuisines, you ought to consider making at least a whole day outing to the SGV. To take in only one meal would be tragic. You could easily do dim sum for breakfast - most open at 10AM. Lunch can be had just about anywhere. And dinner is even more wide open. The most difficult part is to pare down your choices...
As for dim sum, most would find places like Ocean Star to be perfectly acceptable. It's big, frenetic and loud. this is the classic dim sum palace where you choose from the carts - your eyes and nose will be your guide. I used to regularly go here up until a few years ago. We just found it to be too crowded and frantic. We also felt the food didn't appeal to us as much any more.
If you ask folks who tend to focus more on the food and are willing to pay a bit more for it, the menu-driven places like Sea Harbour and Elite tend to get a big thumbs-up. Another place that started this menu trend in the area is MIssion 261. Of the three, Mission 261 has the best ambiance. The building's architecture has a California mission-like feel to it - evidently it used to be a California/Mexican restaurant in a previous iteration. And its address is 261 (261 S. Mission Drive); thus, the name. Both Sea Harbour and Elite sit tied a very distant second in the ambiance department. However, both get higher marks for the food. Both places have their fans. If I had to choose one over the other, I couldn't - I like both equally well for different reasons. But you'd probably find Elite to be closer to West Hollywood. As good either of my personal two favorites are, I would guess that the two of you would have a hard time spending more than $50 on a very memorable dim sum meal (unless you have the appetite of a college linebacker).
While the dim sum "admission price" for many dim sum places can be very easy on the pocketbook, many would feel that the opposite is true for their dinner menus. Being strongly driven by live seafood, the typical dinner could easily run over $100/per. If you're into seafood, and if Chinese (mainly Cantonese) cuisine is high on the list, then it's more than worth it. You will find the quality to be superb and the quantity of food will again outweigh the average appetite.
Dumpling places have become very popular. These places tend to be very basic in their accommodations but superb in their execution. Here's a recent thread you might find valuable:
Many heavy-hitters on Chinese cuisine have chimed in on this thread. A couple others you might seek out on Chinese cuisines are posters Chandvkl and Das Ubergeek. I personally like 101 Noodle Express, but Noodle House, Luscious Dumplings and Dumpling 10053 are all excellent as well.
Mei Long Village is one of our favorite stops in the Valley as well. The menu is primarily Shanghainese and most dishes are well-executed. Aside form the xiao long bao and other dumpling-like goods, we like their jade shrimp, their pork "pump," steamed fish, and okra w/ dried shrimp. While I find personally find the flavor of their xlb to be better than Din Tai Fung, my last visit there (around late September) was a little disappointing. The xlb, while still flavorful, were stuck to the parcment paper and couldn't be removed without tearing the skin, thereby releasing the precious soup - small quibble.
I hope you folks enjoy your stay. The odds are that you will be greeted with great weather the week after Christmas. The skies should be clear, the air crisp (by LA standards), and the traffic somewhat muted...