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Feb 5, 2009 09:04 AM

CHINATOWN- is there anything worth it?

So a close friend is DJ'ing at Mountain Bar in Chinatown on his birthday this Saturday, and i'd like to take him out for chinese, but it has to be chinatown. Is anything worth it?

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  1. I like the former Sam Woo, current Hong Kong BBQ - I think it's the best of the Chinatown options. The scallops in XO sauce are especially good, as is the deep fried pork chop (but watch for bones!)

    Sam Woo Bar-B-Que Restaurant
    803 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

    1. For a birthday dinner, I would opt for CBS for Chinese seafood.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ogawak

        Yang Chow
        Slippery Shrimp is worth the trip

      2. I like Yum Cha Cafe on Broadway.

        1. Well here comes the one man band again. Hop Li on Alpine St. in Chinatown has some of the best food around. Fresh stir fried lobster in ginger and green onion sauce is a personal favorite when my 18 1/2 year old daughter lets me get close enough to get some.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Hughlipton

            Hughlipton , is it better than the Hop Li(s) in West L.A? I've found the Hop Li on Pico Blvd to be not too great.

            1. re: bophisto

              the one downtown is much better than the two outposts on the westside.

              1. re: wilafur

                I absolutely agree with Wilafur. I don't know why the quality should not be the same but it just isn't. The one downtown though is the closest I can find to the wonderful Chinese Restaurants in San Francisoco in the avenues.

                1. re: Hughlipton

                  i want to blame it on "dumbing down" for the westside populace. ;-)

                  1. re: Hughlipton

                    It's the La Serenata symptom. Downtown = great; Westside = appalling.

            2. I'm tired of the Chinatown bashing. Yes, there are more authentic regional specialties available in the SGV, but our Chinatown is better than 99.9% of the Chinese food available in the rest of the country. My vote, and my best memories, goes to Yang Chow on the west side of Broadway north of Alpine (parking in the back or across the street). Yes, the dish to get there is the slippery shrimp -- crisp, delicate, sweet with a tinge of hot. Start with the spicy wonton soup (from the specialties page of the menu) and other strong dishes are the fried dumplings, the green beans or eggplant with garlic sauce, the Yang Chow lamb, and the noodles with peanut sauce and shredded chicken. Hop Li and Chinese Friends are both good, but if I had one meal in Chinatown I'd much rather get the food and service and elan of Yang Chow rather than saving a buck or two on the pretenders. I love Yang Chow -- I emerge happy and wellfed there for less than $20 per person with leftovers, it is dependable and honors reservations. I wish they'd serve dishes in sequence rather than all at once, but they are my longtime favorite in Chinatown.

              14 Replies
              1. re: nosh

                All I've ever heard about Yang Chow is about the shrimp, which wasn't enough to get me in there. But you said the magic word - lamb! I'm adding this to my what-to-try-next list.

                I agree, sometimes the Chinatown bashing can be a bit harsh.

                1. re: Vaya Con Carne

                  Famous Yang Chow Slippery Shrimp recipe. Story is the chef prepared the shrimp and it slipped off the plate....history was made. Sound similar to the Phillippe's French dip sandwich creation?


                  Yang Chow Restaurant
                  819 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                  Yang Chow Restaurant
                  3777 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

                  Yang Chow
                  6443 Topanga Canyon Blvd, Woodland Hills, CA 91303

                2. re: nosh

                  Have you tried the Yang Chow on Topanga Canyon Blvd in the West Valley? Does it compare at all to the China Town one?

                  1. re: bophisto

                    The valley location is good, just a notch below the Chinatown location.

                  2. re: nosh

                    FWIW, I don't think the Chinatown bashing goes so far as to say the food is bad. It's just that the SGV, arguably home to the best Chinese food in the world outside of Asia, is just 10 minutes away.

                    1. re: nosh

                      Hi, Nosh. Thanks for your Yang Chow recommendation. We went 2 weeks ago and throught the food was excellent. We ordered everything you suggested. We're getting take-out from there tomorrow and wondered if you have a chicken dish you recommend. Thanks.

                      1. re: mocro

                        mocro, Very glad to hear that you enjoyed Yang Chow. Yep, it isn't "authentic" or cutting edge regional cuisine, but it is very tasty, fun, and I always leave well-fed and happy. Many people love the cold chicken in sesame noodles with peanut butter sauce -- a dish that is ideal for takeout because it holds up well. Their kung pao chicken is not my favorite item there -- too bland -- and I also try to avoid their orange or tangerine chicken because it would be fried and too close to the extraordinary slippery shrimp. Anyway, I'm a week too late in responding anyway, but I'm glad that with all of the Yang Chow and Chinatown bashers you had a good experience.

                      2. re: nosh

                        Thanks Nosh. I'm with you. Yes, you can be taken to the heights of Chinese food nirvana in the SGV, I get it, we get it, everyone gets it and bows in awe of the amazing discerning palates that populate this board. But sometimes because of time, geography, convenience, the phases of the moon, whatever, ya gotta go to Chinatown. And it's those times that you'd like some earnest advice on the actual geographic location that you posted about. And it's nice when someone responds in a non-snarky manner instead of making you feel like you'd asked about the best menu items from the steam tray at the 99 cent Chinese joint at the outlet mall in Topeka. There are gradations and there are grey areas and you are absolutely right, LA's chinatown is not a Godless foodie hellhole just because the SGV is better.

                        Sorry, I know you posted this months ago, but I just had to rant as someone who digs the authentic and the transformative as much as the next 'hound, but sometimes... sheesh! Gonna go to Hop Li right now, and it's gonna be fantastic! Tomorrow, SGV dim sum,and that's gonna be a religious experience. Both meals will make me VERY happy.

                        1. re: PinotPlease

                          You know, I really like Yang Chow.

                          Is it the best Chinese out there? No. But every time I go, I have a good time. The slippery shrimp are good. The scallops with Chinese greens are awesome. The green beans (dry-fried) are excellent. The soups are usually pretty good.

                          I avoid the noodles -- talk about an oil slick -- but I never go away unhappy, and while the service is not exactly fawning, it's better than the phlegm-hock-and-give-me-patience shtick so common in the SGV.

                          Am I gonna go there to eat when the SGV is closer? Nah. But now and again the Gold Line beckons.

                          1. re: PinotPlease

                            That is a silly excuse, geography shows that there is much better food 5 miles in any direction of Chinatown. Boyle Heights, Little Tokyo etc....

                            I have been to Yang Chow many times, and the deep fried pork chop is damn good. But everything else is just okay, certainly not worth the price.

                            1. re: A5 KOBE

                              Five miles can be a long way in LA. If you don't like Chinatown then that's fine but it certainly is not some culinary wasteland. It's just overshadowed -- and I'll tell you that from, say, Burbank (speaking of culinary wastelands...) to Chinatown for a weeknight dinner is much more palatable than, say, Burbank to Monterey Park. I know from painful experience exactly how long it can take to get from the 5/110 to the 10/Garfield.

                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                Yeah I was just saying in general, like Little Tokyo, Boyle Heights, K-Town, etc...

                                Plus if I was coming from Burbank I would definitely take 210/Rosemead and just go to that Yang Chow. But hell, then you might as well go to SGV then. HAHAHA

                            2. re: PinotPlease

                              I work downtown but I probably go to the SGV 20 times for lunch for every time I go to Chinatown. That having been said, sometimes Chinatown is right (Golden City, J. R. Bistro, even Hong Kong f.k.a. Sam Woo), like Saturday nights when traffic on the 5 and 10 are horrid and you once you get to Monterey Park or San Gabriel you'll have to wait for a table.