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Sep 6, 2009 05:21 PM

NY Style Chinese food in LA?

I know this thread comes up from time to time but I have searched all and it appears the question was never answered in the affirmative. So now, two years later I am posing it again with hopes.

I am talking about the NY takeout restaurant style of preparation. Very heavy and greasy, less vegetables. For those who aren't familiar with this I'll take a moment to illuminate. These chinese restaurants in Manhattan can be found on nearly every block of the city. They are almost always "take-out or delivery only" --no in house seating-- and are little more than hole in the wall store-front kitchens with an address and phone number. They are equally as plentiful as pizzerias in NY (if not more-so) and are a staple of every New Yorker's weekly diet. The restaurants are invariably owned an operated exclusively by Chinese folks, and whether or not the preparation is "authentic," the restaurants all prepare the dishes the same way, to the point that there is really no difference from whom you place your order, as you'll be getting the same food from anyone.

This difference in preparation is what i am seeking here in LA. There are certain dishes that commonly appear in NY and not LA, but what I am after here are the staples, which are served on both sides of the country, but prepared in the NY style.

For example: won ton soup. In every chinese restaurant I've visited in LA this is rather flavorless. The soup in LA is prepared with a clear broth, very delicate wontons, vegetables like snow peas and carrots, shrimp, chicken, etc. The vegetables are not cooked through, simply thrown in, and the result is a hodgepodge of indefinite consistency and texture, and a flavor entirely devoid of integrity. It tastes more like what it appears to be: a broth with random things thrown in, and not cooked down to achieve amalgamation of flavor. The NY style won ton soup is always prepared exactly the same way across the board. Rich golden broth, thick-noodle pork won tons, thinly carved pork juliens, and green onions--nothing more, ever. Simple, yet robust in flavor.

Next: sweet and sour chicken. Here in LA we find things like peppers and pineapple throw in. In NY it's just the fried chicken bits and sauce.

Now, for those LA natives reading this thinking "Jesus that sounds awefull!" I don't blame you. There is much to be said for the health-conscious cooking styles of Los Angeles. The Chinese food here is indeed lighter, probably much less, or no MSG, and certainly more healthy with its use of vegetables. But for those fellow transplanted New Yorkers, you know that the LA variety is pale in comparison when it comes to flavor.

Also I am aware that LA's chinatown hosts some wonderful authentic cuisine for the true insiders--as does NYC's Chinatown. But I am looking for that illusive thing that is literally impossible not to come across walking down the street in NYC, and here in LA seems completely absent: the NY-style Chinese takeout restaurant.

This will not be a Panda Express, City Wok, Pick Up Stix, PF Chang's or other mall food. It will be a mom and pop with Chinese owners whose won ton soup consists of only four ingredients and uses tons of MSG.

If anyone knows what I'm talking about, and knows of the existence of such a place in LA, please post here!

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    1. Addy r, you left out duck sauce, fried noodles and chewy fried egg rolls but I love your clear, tasty description of the Won Ton Soup.
      I believe, as you probably know, the answer is, no. Sadly, this cuisine just is not to be found here in LA. I miss it, too.
      A few places do some things similarly but not, at the end of the day, satisfyingly enough.
      Genghis Cohen and Hu's Szechuan are the closest.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Ciao Bob

        Rock on, I'll check out your suggestions!

        1. re: addy rourke

          Report back. I kind of like both for different reasons.

      2. Your post was fun to read and illuminating. Thanks! Sorry I can't help you.

        1. Fly to SF. But if you can't do that, try Twin Dragon on Pico. Depends on the dish though.

          Kung Pao Bistro on Santa Monica has Studio City style won ton soup that although isn't NY style, might be a variation that might work for you. Sam Woo BBQ in Valley has good wonton soup.

          If you find a couple of dishes that are close, you can try mixing them together. Only way I've been able to come close to fried rice out here.
          Or get someone to pack some NYC on dry ice for you.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Food Good

            Actually Twin Dragon is close to what the OP may like.. I think its pretty close but no cigar. Sit down too, but you can always take out..

          2. I still contend that Ying's Kitchen in Sylmar serves this kind of food. Gigantic pork filled egg rolls, egg foo yung smothered in brown gravy, s&s pork that has no vegetables involved. A real guilty pleasure that may make the Chinese Cuisine Purists shudder but is delicious for what it is. Simply put: it is a different animal than you'll be finding in the SGV, and comparisons cannot be drawn.

            2 Replies
              1. re: addy rourke

                I should add that while you'll find some tables in the front, this is a newer (as in the last year) addition. Since they first opened 40 years ago it had just been a small lobby and counter: take out only. Also, until recently it had been the same guy in the back cooking since I was a kid in the 70's. He may still pilot the wok on occasion, but I think that other family members handle more of the business nowadays.