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Dec 29, 2009 08:33 AM

Last Chinese Chef -- restaurants for taste of in LA?

Just finished Nicole Mones The Last Chinese Chef. Am visiting here in LA this week (Marina del Rey) and wondering if there is anywhere here you can get the sort of food he cooked for the contest.
We are in Marina del Rey and it would be great if we could stay on this side of town, but all recommendations welcome.

BTW, are eating our way through other recommendations (aka "Chicago native visiting Santa Monica", "2009 top picks", etc.)

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  1. The chef she wrote about in the novel is loosely based on the chef at Chang's Garden in Arcadia. Many if not most of the dishes in the book are on the menu, but if you call a day or so in advance, he can make any of them for you.

    2 Replies
    1. re: condiment

      Some friends gathered at Jai Yun in San Francisco, which was mentioned in the book as one of the truly authentic restaurants; one which is quite faithful to the food described in the book. I have to say that the food was very interesting and quite different than any Chinese food I have ever experienced. Some in our group loved the food, others did not. There was no menu. When we made the reservation we were asked how much we wanted to spend. The chef prepared the food according to what was fresh in the market and was within our budget. I believe we opted for the $80.00 pp menu. We had no idea what we were eating and what was coming next. We had a lot of fun, but not sure I would go back for the food. As I recall, there were many dishes which included jellyfish.

      1. re: maudies5

        Found more info on Jai Yun as noted by Nicole Mones
        "Here are some of Nicole Mones' notes on Jai Yun:

        "Believe it or not, this exceptional restaurant is located in Chinatown -- from which, as afficionados love to point out, the best Chinese food fled some time ago to other sectors of the city. Not in this case. Chef Nei Chia Ji, from Nanjing, is a true artist and a one-man show. Jai Yun's not a regular restaurant. There is no menu. You call ahead to book and select the per-person price level, then simply arrive. You better be hungry and relaxed about time because a parade of exquisite dishes will follow. Some of Nei's creations are unforgettable (the abalone, the tangerine beef, the eggplant) and the rest range from merely good to great. Pace yourself--the meal is long and elaborate, and best approached as a tasting menu. The atmosphere is 100% generic. The prices, which start at $40-$50 a head, are high for a Chinese restaurant, but a meal at Jai Yun is an absolute steal compared with Eurocentric food of comparable quality. Arguably one of the best Chinese restaurant experiences in North America and without question one of the most unique."

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