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Best Chinese downtown?

Anybody know of a great authentic Chinese restaurant around the downtown area? I'm specifically looking for great dumplings, and also a kind of pan-fried noodles that I once had at the famous Joe's Shanghai in Flushing, NY. The noodles were thin and golden and crispy, but when drenched in this dark sauce, becomes soft and pliable.

I'm not interested in American-Chinese food, or boring common items like General Tsao or kung pao chicken. I want authentic Chinese food, the kind that brings back nostalgia to one who was brought up eating Chinese food!

Thanks! :-)

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  1. I don't really know of any Northern Chinese places for dumplings in the Downtown / China Town area.

    The noodle dish that you describe is simply chow mein with crispy noodles. The sauce usually varies from light to dark depending on what type of meat / seafood you order with the noodles.

    1. I believe there have been a number of threads regarding the LA equivalent of the dumplings you have referenced. I do not recall any Shanghai-style restaurant in the downtown/Chinatown area. The real place to get Shanghai-style food (or food from just about any part of China) would be the San Gabriel Valley.

      From your description, the noodle dish would be Cantonese/Hong Kong style chow mein. While this is the default style in most Cantonese/HK restaurants in the SGV, it is not always true elsewhere. Make sure you order it with the crispy noodle.

      1. Only somewhat authentic non-Cantonese restaurant I can think of is Mandarin Chateau on North Broadway. I think they have XLB, but that might be it for their "dumpling" selection.

        1. The type of noodles you are looking for can be found at Kim Chuy (on Broadway and Ord)

          1. I don't think you'll find much in the way of dumplings but I still find Hop Li one of the best Chinese restaurants in Chinatown on Alpine St. They have a variety of noodles and the best darn stir fried lobster my family has ever had.

            30 Replies
            1. re: Hughlipton

              Wow! I looked up on the menu, and they've got an extensive menu for noodles! Cool! Thank you!

              1. re: burp_excuzme

                If you try it report back. I tout this place so often you would think I owned an interest in it (which I do not). I just love their food.

              2. re: Hughlipton

                Having read your review on this restaurant, I gave it a try last night. I really wanted to like it. We tried first a couple of items, prior to ordering the stir fried lobster. Sesame spare ribs and chicken and asparagus, etc. They were so bad, I couldn't justify spending more on the lobster dish. (salty, greasy and bland) Not to mention the wait staff. All of the uniforms were so dirty, and our server was leaning on a table next to us, tending to his finger nails, right in front of us, Gross! There must be better Chinatown restaurants.

                1. re: xoxohh

                  Across the street from Hop Li, Zen Mei Bistro. Check out their $9.99 lobster special. Order $20 worth of food and get a free item. They got thin pan fried noodles...ask for the three flavor pan fried noodles.

                  Also other noodle place I like is Hong Kong BBQ (formerly Sam Woo BBQ) on Broadway.

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                  Hong Kong BBQ
                  803 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA

                  Zen Mei Bistro
                  800 Yale St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                  1. re: xoxohh

                    Well Hughlipton did qualify his statement by saying Hop Li was one of the best Chinese Restaurants in Chinatown. I personally don't agree, but whatever the best in Chinatown is, the ceiling isn't very high

                    1. re: Chandavkl

                      For non dim sum, I dare say that the best in Chinatown might be Yang Chow.

                      That's saying quite a bit because I think on a good day Panda Express can outdo whatever Yang Chow is putting out of its back kitchen.

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

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Translation: This is more of a knock on Chinatown that a recommendation for Yang Chow. However, I think we might be guilty of a little piling on. I've had some pretty good meals at Golden City on Hill St., and Mayflower over on Spring. However unless the I-10 east is really jammed, I'm headed out that way instead (and not to the Pasadena Yang Chow).

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

                        1. re: Chandavkl

                          I almost fear that in 10 years people like you and me will be talking about west SGV -- e.g., Monterey Park/Alhambra/San Gabriel -- the way we do about Chinatown today.

                          The east SGV -- e.g., Rowland Heights and environs -- may quickly supplant west SGV as the epicenter of Chinese grub.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            That's funny, I always refer to the East SGV as the "3rd coming" with West SGV as the "2nd coming" and Chinatown as the original.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              Who knows what the future may bring. For all we know, in 10 years, Riverside might become the new epicenter of Chinese cuisine. When I was younger, none of my relatives in Chinatown ever thought they would move out to the suburbs. But that's where they are these days.

                              1. re: raytamsgv

                                Maybe it'll be the foodie version of Manifest Destiny ... why stop at Riverside? Maybe the Chinese food domination will spread out all the way to Blythe!

                        2. re: Chandavkl

                          Hop Li has been LONG overrated...!!! I mean, they have a branch on the westside!!! They might have been good ONCE, but I don't think so now... Zen Mei Bistro? Gotta love that "China" vibe... those cooks definitely know how to cook the "village"...!!! As for Chinatown, it is where the old school grew up... it's too bad it has become what it is food wise. Although, I still think that Phoenix Inn (the ORIGINAL, might I add!) is still good. It was my fave until the recent remodel (and unfortunately they eliminated some old school items) but they are stupidly catering to all the downtown residential masses.... awful. Can anyone tell me if the Regency or whatever at Alameda down the street is any good???

                        3. re: xoxohh

                          It doesn't even come close to sounding like the restaurant I eat at called Hop Li. To be fair though I would be more than happy after the first of the year to have you and your guest be my guest including lobster but I must be in charge of the ordering. I also bring the wine. Let's click chopsticks together and discuss the respective dishes.

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                          Hop Li Seafood
                          526 Alpine St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                          1. re: Hughlipton

                            Are you talking to me? We may just take you up on it :)

                            1. re: xoxohh

                              Anytime after the first of the year.

                              1. re: Hughlipton

                                OK. We look very much forward to it!!

                            2. re: Hughlipton

                              Isn't Hop Li a chain? I think there's one on Arcadia. i have to say i wasn't impressed with it.

                              1. re: mc michael

                                I guess four branches (2 other branches in WLA on Pico and Santa Monica) would make it a chain.

                                -----
                                Pico Cafe
                                8944 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035

                                1. re: Chandavkl

                                  Is being a chain a bad thing? Yang Chow has at least three locations that I know of. They get favorable reviews and yet they seem to be a chain.

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

                                  1. re: Hughlipton

                                    To keep this on topic, I frequent the Yang Chow in Woodland Hills and, now that I've developed a rapport with Claire in the front of the house, I can get my dishes just as spicy as I could possibly want. They have dumbed down a bit (eliminated jellyfish, for example) but still it's the best combination of good eats and proximity to home. And no, being a chain isn't necessarily a bad thing. Arguably Per Se and French Laundry are a chain. To my mind (and I think to the minds of many Hounds and non-Hounds alike) "chain" connotes something like Denny's or California Pizza Kitchen, places with a corporate infrastructure dictating menu choices and ingredients. But In n Out and Bob's Big Boy (there are at least 2 left and a new one just opened) are "chains" and both are favorites of mine and highly rated on this board. As I see it, the problem with a "chain" is that almost always you lose the individuality of the chef of the original and you end up with restaurant clones. Not necessarily a bad thing if what you're seeking is uniformity whether you're in California or Maine. Can I get in on the lobster event and yes you can be in charge of ordering!

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

                                    Pizza Kitchen
                                    1633 Potrero Grande Dr, Rosemead, CA 91770

                                    California Pizza
                                    16960 Van Buren Blvd Ste D, Riverside, CA 92504

                                    1. re: TomSwift

                                      Come on Tom. Fess up. You were interested in the wine weren't you?

                                      1. re: Hughlipton

                                        Yup, always interested in the wine. But we'll hold up our end of the stick by bringing a few bottles as well. Although I must confess ("fess") I'm not sure what type of wine would pair best with what you'd order. Please adivse.

                                      2. re: TomSwift

                                        The Yang Chow in Pasadena is one of my worst restaurant experiences. They can't pay me to go back!

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

                                        1. re: suvro

                                          I have a co-worker in another state that insists that we do a Yang Chow run every time he comes in to LA. Gotta get his Slippery Shrimp fix. Me... not so much!

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

                                          1. re: eddiesudz

                                            I think slippery shrimp tastes best eaten no more than once a year.

                                      3. re: Hughlipton

                                        Yes, I agree in principle with your point on chains. Chain or not, I've grown less enamored of Yang Chow over time.

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

                                        1. re: Hughlipton

                                          Yang Chow is awful -- chain, or otherwise.

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

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            But remember that in the west SFV it's slim pickins' when it comes to Chinese. And most nights I'm too tired to drive over to A&W. The day was saved (sort of) when I was able to convince them that when I said "spicy" I really meant spicy. My Chowhound Passport got a chuckle but really didn't help much.