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Jun 9, 2009 12:45 PM

What's authentic and good Chinese in Chinatown nowadays?

My fiancee and I would like to get together this week with both our sets of parents for dinner, preferably for Chinese.

His parents will be coming from the Valley while my parents will be coming from the SGV so we're trying to pick somewhere relatively central and settled on Chinatown maybe.

I was raised in the SGV and am more of a Chinese food snob than I like to admit as a result, while my fiancee and his parents often settle happily for the meager few Chinese options out in their hood (Sam Woo, A&W Seafood).

I'd appreciate some suggestions on the most authentic and tastiest Chinese restaurants in Chinatown. Doesn't have to be very fancy, but also not a complete dump/hole-in-the-wall please.

I combed through some old posts, but am not familiar with most of them and can't tell if they're authentic. Empress Pavilion I've only been to for dim sum in recent years and I think it's fallen in quality. Yang Chow seems like it's Americanized and Mayflower sort of Filipino-Chinese? CBS/NBS/Ocean Seafood seem like your standard Cantonese seafood houses - any one of them better than the others?

Also, non-Cantonese options are very welcome if anything like this exists in Chinatown.


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  1. Yang Chow is Americanized (geting anything truly spicy is like puling teeth). We like Ocean Seafood, upstairs in the old Mirawa space. Live seafod for dinner can be pricey.

    14 Replies
    1. re: TomSwift

      Full House Seafood Restaurant on Hill St. is good.

      1. re: TomSwift

        Also good is J.R. Bistro, on the ground floor of the building Ocean Seafood is in.

        1. re: Bob Brooks

          Isn't JR Bistro more like a Hong Kong style cafe?

          1. re: monku

            No, it's a regular Cantonese-style restaurant serving lunch specials and a dinner menu. The food is decent and its a very clean and modern interior. I'm not sure how authentic the OP would like the place to be, but I'd second the recommendation.

            1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

              OK...I went for lunch when they first opened and it was kind of a Americanized menu and I had something like a steak.

              1. re: monku

                That's very interesting. I'll admit I haven't been in months, but I've never seen something like that at JR Bistro.

                1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

                  JR Bistro is not a HK style cafe -- although it is rather Americanized in the style of Yang Chow's.

                  I believe the "steak" dish that monku is referring to is JR Bistro's french style filet mignon beef dish.

                  1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

                    This was when the first opened.
                    They had a fairly short lunch menu.
                    It wasn't a filet mignon.

            2. re: Bob Brooks

              Is this the same person who started Oriental Seafood in Venice and then started JR's in WLA? His restaurants on the Westside were the best Chinese food here, but I wonder how that compares to the rest of Chinatown.

              1. re: Ogawak

                Pretty sure it's the same J.R. The maitre'd at J. R. Bistro in Chinatown used to work at the west L.A. location. However, the menus are largely different. WLA was better but Chinatown's OK.

                1. re: Chandavkl

                  I had heard that the owner of JR's WLA was moving to Chinatown. Thanks for the confirmation. I wish him luck. Maybe we'll try it next time we feel like going to C-Town.

                  1. re: Ogawak

                    Went back to J. R. Bistro tonight. We had a larger group and were able to order more dishes. The place was packed and everything was good, particularly the egg tofu sprinkled with dry scallop and the chicken with black bean and chili. Since the previous visit the restaurant was almost empty it seems like they've maybe found a groove. My only reservation is that they have an "A" rating.

            3. re: TomSwift

              Yang Chow is certainly Americanized, but at an ostensibly Eastern Chinese restaurant, the food isn't supposed to be spicy.

            4. Golden City on N. Broadway is probably your best bet. Forget the non-Cantonese unless you're into Lollicup's popcorn chicken.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Chandavkl

                Oops. Golden City is on N. Hill. (I'm in SF staying on Broadway right now and have Broadway on the brain.) Closest thing to SGV quality food in Chinese (they do have a Monterey Park branch).

                1. re: Chandavkl

                  Golden City is my favorite of the places in Chinatown. It works out for my needs since it's central for people coming from all over LA and OC. I've had several great meals there, and some dishes better than versions I've had in some of the well-respected places in the SGV. The tofu dishes are real standouts at Golden City. I've also gotten some items off-menu recommended to me by the manager since I showed enough interest.

                  1. re: Chandavkl

                    In total agreement that Golden City is probably the best bet. Been going there since the 60s while the name has never changed. The food quality is still the same even though the management has changed hands at least half a dozen times. Still has free validated parking in the structure next door (Bamboo Plaza) while the street parking has increased to $2.00 an hour on weekdays. Lunch specials are still a bargain.

                    1. re: Clinton

                      So glad we're having a Chinatown discussion. Chinatown is more convenient for me. I always go to Full House, Golden City, Won Kok, Hop Li and Empress for dim sum. Want to try some other places in C-Town. Maybe JR Bistro. Any other places?

                      1. re: Clinton

                        This answer's somebody's question from another thread--when does a change of management or ownership result in an uphill alert? I think when they changed the Chinese name a few years ago that marked a definite improvement.

                  2. Not sure exactly how authentic it is, but my family has always enjoyed Hop Li on Alipine Street, just west of Hill.

                    We were actually referred there many years ago by family friends who are Chinese.

                    1. has anyone been to new dragon on hill? its right after the entrance to new chinatown plaza...

                      1. you are absolutely right about all these china town restaurants you metioned, go to ZENMEI on alpine/college near hill phone # 213.626.7113, great crab and lobster, hole in the wall thou...