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Mar 29, 2009 02:24 PM

Ornate Chinese American joint downtown?

I'm looking for a Chinese American restaurant, preferably downtown. It's for sentimental reasons, not epicurean. But it wouldn't hurt if they had, say, good egg foo young. Think really old fashioned, 1930's style Chinese American restaurant decor. I'd go to the Hong Kong Cafe in Los Angeles (as featured in the movie Chinatown) but the L doesn't go that far west.

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  1. Most of these places are gone, even Hong Kong Low in Los Angeles. Not ornate, but certainly still 1930s in ambience is Nom Wah Tea Parlor on Doyers. But they just serve drinks, dim sum and cookies.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chandavkl

      The Nom Wah tea parlor (even after it suffered a fire a year or so back) is like walking back in time. They've been there for 85 years. I just love that place. When I lived in Manhattan in the '80s we'd go down there with a few bottles of champagne (they have no liquor license) and pour a glass or two for the owner (the original owner's grandson) and have a great time laughing and eating!

      By the way, the Nom Wah has the _only_ almond and walnut cookies. The secret is that they're the only ones in Chinatown still made with lard instead of vegetable shortening. Those huge cookies melt in your mouth!

    2. In terms of decor and location, Chinatown Brasserie might suit, but I don't think they serve egg foo young. They do have spring rolls, fried dumplings, fried rice and that sort of thing.

      1 Reply
      1. re: cimui

        Chinatown Brasserie crossed my mind too...I think their decor is definitely "old fashioned" and "nostalgic"...and the food has a Cantonese slant to it.

      2. Thanks for the replies...

        How is the food at Chinatown brasserie? The decor looks great.

        I didn't know that Hong Kong Low (aka Hong Kong Cafe) shut. Brings a tear to my eye. It was a great punk club in the 80's, I'll have to rent Polanski's "Chinatown" to see its interior again. Then I'll dry my eyes and check out Nom Wah.

        Last year, on this same sentimental occasion, I attempted to order off of the American menu at Grand Sichuan and they looked at me like I was crazy. They know their customers and normally I avoid that stuff!

        5 Replies
        1. re: hungrycomposer

          Food is very good at Chinatown Brasserie--but it's modern Hong Kong style food which 1990s Cantonese purists don't accept as authentic. And it's certainly nothing like the 30s to 60s Cantonese American fare.

          1. re: hungrycomposer

            I like it very much, hungryC. The dim sum and Peking duck are well made and authentic in the *style* of preparation. There are non-traditional ingredients used in some of the dim sum dishes. I haven't tried the fried rice or spring rolls... I tend not to at restaurants since my homemade versions pull down the pants of every restaurant version I've ever tried. ;)

            1. re: hungrycomposer

              Well the Hong Kong Low building is still there. It's just not a restaurant any more.

              1. re: Chandavkl

                Yeah, looks better than when it was the resaurant. Think it's a gallery or something like that.

              2. re: hungrycomposer

                I have tried their beef /broccoli/omlette rice served in a mini wok.. it was really good. I have also tried their fried dimsum (spring roll and some other seafood item that's fried)...and they were good too. Not sure how much Hong Kong Low was but just to let you know Chinatown Brasserie is not cheap. I am sure you can get an idea on the cost based on the link above.

              3. Thanks for all of the tips.
                We wound up at Chinatown Brasserie, which would never have occurred to me. Excellent choice! Lovely old school decor. The food was surprisingly good. We went for lunch, so we could have the place to ourselves, and keep those not-so-old-school prices down. The dim sum was good, but served a little cold. (The waiter apologized and gave us a free dessert.) I got 6 choices of dim sum for $19, served on one long plate, kind of like sushi presentation. The vegetable and peanut was good, as was the turnip cake. The wontons in the soup were delicious, but the skin was overcooked and mushy. Fortunately this was a very rare occasion where the weak points of the meal were nostalgic instead of just annoying. Our meal was to celebrate our first gig aeons ago at the club upstairs at the Hong Kong, so it's always a fun trip down memory lane (or Gin Ling Way in this case) as well as a good time to reflect on where it's taken us.

                2 Replies
                1. re: hungrycomposer

                  very rad. congrats on celebrating that worthy occasion! (i'm always amazed to hear about the interesting things that other chowhounds do... and sad that my life is not equally interesting! :) and i'm glad to hear your dining experience was enjoyable. i was worried, after i posted, that the food might be too non-egg-foo-youngy to properly escort you down memory lane.

                  1. re: cimui

                    Same here. Glad you liked the place. I know some folks would expect them to charge you Chinatown prices but it's not. I was a little worried that you might be looking for dimsum cart, which they don't have. Glad it worked out.