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HK style Dining Over Here: Poor and Mediocre in Quality

It doesn't matter whether we are talking about Dim Sum, HK Cafes, HK Cantonese Seafood joints, or simple Cantonese BBQ takeout. Here in the L.A. metro area, we seriously are deficient in the quality of HK style restaurants. I have lived here for the past 20 years and I have never found one that I would even consider to be "above average quality. Most are either poor or mediocre.

I travel to Toronto every 2-3 months to visit my sister and twin brother there and I am amazed at how far Superior Toronto is when compared to L.A. in terms of HK/Cantonese style dining. The Toronto suburbs of Markham, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, (and to some degree Mississauga) is a Mecca for top notch HK style Dim Sum, HK Style Seafood, HK Style Cafes (cha chan teng), and HK BBQs.

The problem L.A. has with HK style restaurants lies to the fact that we lack H.K immigrants here. Of the 5 major NA markets that have huge concentrations of Chinese population (LA, SF, NY, Vancouver and Toronto), the L.A. region has the smallest number of HK immigrant population. Yes even SF and NY each respectively have larger HK population than L.A. As a result, many of the so-called HK style cuisine here are run and cooked by non-HK Chinese, many whom do not understand the concept of delivering high quality HK dining.

The positive aspect of Chinese Dining in L.A. is the fact that we have so many high quality and low priced non-HK/Cantonese Chinese restaurants such as those serving Taiwanese, Shanghainese, Teochew, Sichuan dishes. So the lack of high quality of HK style restaurant is compensated by the top notch restaurants serving authentic Chinese cuisines from other regions.

These days whenever I go for Chinese dining here, I always go to the non-Cantonese ones such as the Taiwanese style Supreme Dragon in Rowland Heights, Din Tai Fung in Arcadia, Michelle's Pan Cake in San Gabriel, etc, just to name a few of the non-Cantonese Chinese dining I enjoy here. I don't even bother with the HK style ones because I have been disappointed way too many times. I get to go to Toronto so often so only then do I bother going out of for some HK style dining with my siblings and enjoy the delicious cuisines native to my homeland.

To be honest if you ask me here in L.A. if I would rather dine at Panda Express or those HK-style restaurants, I would pick the former. Just goes to show how much I dislike HK-style dining in the Greater L.A. area.

If there is a so-called Cantonese style dining that I enjoy here, it will be Newport Seafood in San Gabriel. But I would hardly consider this a HK style dining. It is rather a mixture of Cantonese and Teochew blended with Southeast Asian (esp Vietnamese and Cambodian) cooking style and spices. This is one restaurant, if someone would ask which Chinese Seafood joint in the L.A. area would be worth recommending, that I would recommend. I in particular love their lobster, beef cubical and their house special spicy fish.

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Din Tai Fung Restaurant
1108 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007

Supreme Dragon
18406 Colima Rd, Rowland Heights, CA 91748

Newport Seafood Restaurant
18441 Colima Rd, Rowland Heights, CA 91748

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  1. "The problem L.A. has with HK style restaurants lies to the fact that we lack H.K immigrants here... As a result, many of the so-called HK style cuisine here are run and cooked by non-HK Chinese, many whom do not understand the concept of delivering high quality HK dining."

    100% spot on. Couldn't have said it better myself.

      1. It is simply not fair to compare SGV area HK style to those in Toronto or Vancouver. No one, at least not in their right mind, will argue that the HK style food here in LA/OC is comparable to that in Toronto.

        That said, outside of those two Canadian provinces (Toronto and Vancouver), SGV has probably the best HK style food in all of the western hemisphere. It's certainly is better than your typical suspects like NYC, SF, etc.

        19 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit

          That is so not true. The Bay Area easily outscores in HK-style food. Moreover, there are many more resstaurants serving it. SoCal's priorities are different when it comes to eating - the emphasis is more on "I found this fantastic hole-in-the-wall serving this amazingly authentic [FILL IN THE BLANK] and it's really cheap!!"

          How else can you explain the loss of an extremely popular cheap HK-style restaurant like Won Ton Time in Alhambra?

          1. re: babettelabete

            "How else can you explain the loss of an extremely popular cheap HK-style restaurant like Won Ton Time in Alhambra?"

            Good, but hard to survive on one item like won ton.
            A one trick pony. .

            1. re: monku

              "Good, but hard to survive on one item like won ton.
              A one trick pony. ."
              ----------

              One trick pony, or some weird disagreement with their former landlord? In any case, Won Ton Time has been reincarnated, famous "laat jiu yau" (chili oil) and all!

              Noodle Boy
              8518 E. Valley Blvd. #B108
              Rosemead, CA 91776

              Careful...kinda hidden in the back of a small strip mall

              1. re: goowahk

                I will say they are the biggest won ton's I've ever had....they were the size of a golf ball.

            2. re: babettelabete

              Koi Palace may be better than anything down here in LA, but taken as a group, LAs Hong Kong style food is perceptably better than the Bay Area. (And this is not at all a knock on the Bay Area). Believe me, I've tried all of them up there and down here. Note that the Kitchen fizzled with their branch in Alhambra because it didn't stand out at all in the crowd.

              -----
              Koi Restaurant
              730 N La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069

              1. re: babettelabete

                Sorry totally disagree. I lived in LA for 20 yrs, and Bay Area the last 12. Bay Area simply cannot compare with LA Chinese food. Even the best dim sum, Koi Palace, would only be one of the best top 5 in LA.

                -----
                Koi Restaurant
                730 N La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069

                1. re: PeterL

                  I think the issue here is not that LA is better than SF or vice versa, but that the HK style food in general sucks big time in both places compared to what you find in HK itself. There are a few reasons:

                  (1) A lot of Chinese people in the US are not familiar with the high standards set by HK, usually because they are immigrants from other areas of China and not HK itself, and therefore have no sense of how much better it could/should be here. They are just not familiar with the level of sophistication and complexity in the food and service that consistently comes out of the good restaurants in HK.

                  (2) There isn't nearly as much competition here so restaurants like Koi Palace in SF and Elite in LA are able to get away with subpar quality and service. Put these restaurants in HK and they wouldn't stand a chance against even some of the above average ones.

                  (3) The talent here is limited since many chefs can't easily come into the US and those who are decent have a monopoly on the place. But then again, even they might not succeed financially because a restaurant is ultimately a business and there are very few people here who know how to run a HK style restaurant.

                  A really good example of a well run restaurant in HK is Lei Garden 利苑. It's not the best by any means, but it's definitely above average and very consistent. Compare Lei Garden to any HK style restaurant in the US and you'll see the stark contrast: the food, the service, and the atmosphere are significantly superior.

                  If you are not familiar with Lei Garden or other restaurants in the same league, I don't think you can even begin to understand what OP is talking about.

                  1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                    So it's not just the food you're looking for, right? You are looking for the whole package.

                    For the sake of everyone else here who hasn't eaten in HK, please describe what you would consider to be superior/sophisticated HK-style service and atmosphere. Also, what would you consider to be good examples of the complexity and sophistication of HK-style food?

                    1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                      Well Lei Garden is a bit of an unfair comparison to use :-) Simply because they have laid claim to inventing XO sauce (and make an excellent version at that, that has set some high standards) and the mango pomelo coconut juice sago fusion dessert.

                      Also HK is a place that breeds competition of quality, where it is literally a struggle for survival (as well as fame and fortune) versus everyone trying to offer the same thing for the cheapest price (e.g. HK cafes in SGV). It is is a complete different culture that in a way breeds such attitudes about food.

                      I perhaps like to remain optimistic, that there are a perhaps few exceptional but very rare odd gems in California to comfort those who might want to seek a good experience once in a while, even if it may not be the same. However getting too used to these gems you may end up flying back to HK and do an unfair comparison, and thus making such gems as the standard.

                      There are perhaps a very small handful (or even less than 3) really good places in SF Bay Area (and perhaps LA), but the problem is, you have to order like a Hong Konger VIP spendy expat golfer....get to know the owners and chefs, have them custom design a menu, do the ego stroking thing with the staff (including red packets on new year's etc) and what not, and then you'll get a meal of epic proportions that is close enough to HK and service to boot. However this is the exception and not the norm as not everyone has an "in" to a place, and most folks these days won't stoop to that. And this is not even Koi Palace I'm talking about.

                      1. re: K K

                        There are perhaps a very small handful (or even less than 3) really good places in SF Bay Area (and perhaps LA), but the problem is, you have to order like a Hong Konger VIP spendy expat golfer....get to know the owners and chefs, have them custom design a menu, do the ego stroking thing with the staff (including red packets on new year's etc) and what not, and then you'll get a meal of epic proportions that is close enough to HK and service to boot. However this is the exception and not the norm as not everyone has an "in" to a place, and most folks these days won't stoop to that. And this is not even Koi Palace I'm talking about.
                        _______________________________________

                        This is how Jackie Chan operates when he visits Sea Harbour. Private room, enters from the back through the kitchen. Pretty cool.

                        But back to this topic, I think the BBQ pulled pork in Hong Kong just doesn't measure up to the stuff I can get in Memphis.

                    2. re: PeterL

                      Oops. Disagree. I grew up in LA, lived in bayarea for 3 years. I still travel to the bayarea for dim sum and Cantonese at Koi Palace. Koi Palace easily tops LA's best (specifically Elite and Sea Harbour) at much better prices.

                      The dungeness crab soup dumplings and the king crab 2 ways alone school LA's best. The suckling pig and the 15+ tanks of live seafood is just over the top.

                      1. re: Porthos

                        Here's my analysis. I'd take the 7 best HK seafood/dim sum restaurants from each region. (And mind you, I'd be happy eating at any of these.) Down here we have Sea Harbour, Elite, Lunasia, Mission 261, Happy Harbor, King Hua and Capital Seafood. Up there it would be Koi Palace, Hong Kong Lounge, Hong Kong Flower Lounge, Zen Peninsula, Asian Pearl, The Kitchen and South Sea Seafood Village. Koi Palace is #1, but I think the next six slots go to the LA area places.

                        -----
                        Capital Seafood Restaurant
                        755 W Garvey Ave, Monterey Park, CA 91754

                        Mission 261 Restaurant
                        261 S Mission Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                        Happy Harbor Restaurant
                        1015 Nogales St # 126, Rowland Heights, CA

                        King Hua Restaurant
                        2000 W Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801

                        1. re: Chandavkl

                          Totally agree with that analysis. Any theories why the top 2 LA guys can't elevate their game to Koi Palace level?

                          -----
                          Koi Restaurant
                          730 N La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069

                          1. re: Porthos

                            I think it's that Koi Palace works very hard to maintain their edge. It opened back in 1998, and in the Chinese restaurant world, very few places stay on top of their game for such an extended period of time as new contenders with new ideas come to the forefront. I read something about how Koi Palace keeps sending their personnel back to Hong Kong for training and to catch up on food trends. Don't know if other restaurants do that or not.

                            -----
                            Koi Restaurant
                            730 N La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069

                            1. re: Chandavkl

                              "It opened back in 1998 ..."
                              ____________________________

                              That's sort of the key. Back then, the dining mood (and economy) was much better, and people generally more receptive to high-end, quality dining.

                              Today? Not so much. Seems like every other Canto restaurant is offering $1.99 specials at dim sum or specials like "order $20 and get a free duck" at dinner.

                              Probably quite hard to sustain a restaurant of Koi's caliber in today's economy, but definitely much harder to OPEN such a restaurant today.

                              1. re: K K

                                OMG those pictures look amazing

                              2. re: Chandavkl

                                Yep, I would agree with your ranking as well. After Koi Palace, the HK restaurants in SF fall off a cliff.

                        2. The majority of first wave immigrants from Chinese Asia to the US (way back pre-Chinese Exclusion Act days) were Cantonese - all were very poor and were looking for a new chance at life in America. The The subsequent waves of Chinese Post-WWII were from all over. The huge influx of Hong Kongers into Canada was in great part due to the impending handover of Hong Kong from the UK to China in 1997. The fear of the handover that spread throughout Hong Kong leading up to 1997 - particularly to those who were very well off - was (as the saying goes) palpable - China's govt was still very Communist in attitude, the squashing of students at Tiananmen Square was still very vivid at that time and China was still getting their quasi-Capitalist feet wet.

                          The countries that were the most welcoming to those Hong Kongers (particularly wealthy ones) looking for a new place to reside were other countries associated with the British Commonwealth - Canada was leading the way. And as the quota of Hong Kongers allowed into Canada started to fill up, I recall many other desperate potential "refugees" were even seeking entry into small island countries throughout Oceania (like Fiji - another BC member), where they had hoped to even "buy" residency if necessary - anything and anywhere as long as they had safe haven from China.

                          The mass exodus of Hong Kongers to Canada (particularly the monied compenent of the immigrants) has resulted in a huge uplifting of Cantonese cuisine in Canada (along with at least an initial backlash from locals - NIMBY-ism, disdain for Hong Kong McMansions, etc).

                          As you've mentioned, the large number of Taiwanese and other non-Cantonese immigrants here in SoCal did much to uplift their respective cuisines. But a large number of these immigrants regardless of their origins - unlike their wealthier Cantonese counterparts - were more of the classic "your poor, your tired, your huddled masses"-type of immigrants. So to make my long story short, there's a reason behind everything.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: bulavinaka

                            The idea that the first Chinese immigrants to arrive in America were all poor is a myth. They were merchants, gold miners, shopkeepers, doctors, gamblers and gunslingers. By 1849, there were three Chinese restaurants in SF and one Chinese hotel in Monterey. As noted in Peter Kwong and Dusanka Miscevic's "Chinese America: The Untold Story of America's Oldest New Community (The New Press, NY; 2005) "they were no different from white Europeans." Post WWII immigration was minimal. It was not until the passage of the Immigration Act of 1965 that immigration substantially increased.

                            Edit: for more detailed information:
                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4910...

                            1. re: scoopG

                              This is one of the times I wished I paid more attention to what I was eating as a kid in 50s LA. This was before the immigration wave from Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Mainland, and when American born Chinese, almost all of us Toishanese, children and grandchildren of poor immigrants, actually were equal in numbers to foreign born. (There were no foreign born Chinese in my childhood peer group.) Our restaurant food was a strange mix of some parts what is sometimes referred to today as New York style Chinese food (thick chow mein noodles, won ton soup, chashu, spare ribs, fried shrimp); a very limited selection of dim sum (I think only five varieties, actually referred to sometimes as A-B-C-D-E, the highlight being the large (and bland) steamed bbq pork bun called "haam bao"); and some stuff I haven't seen in Los Angeles in decades, such as thin sliced pork stomach marinated in soy sauce. (This is where I wish I could remember more.) Believe me, very little of this resembles what you get in authentic Cantonese/H.K. style restaurants today.

                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                well alot of what you eat at home is quite a bit different than what you eat at restaurants.

                                Growing up (in the 80s) in LA, the cantonese food i ate with my dad's side of the family was alot different than what we got at restaurants. Although it sounds alot different than what you ate too (LA's chinese population was also much bigger when i was growing up than when you were). But, I'm quite certain that what i ate was similar to what people eat at home in HK b/c i've eaten with some of my friends' families in HK at their homes and had alot of dishes that I hadn't had a in really long time b/c you don't see them at restaurants.

                              2. re: scoopG

                                I guess I screwed up when I stated, "all." Most were, at least according to the head of the Asian Studies program at UCLA. And yes, she is Cantonese.

                                1. re: bulavinaka

                                  Of course many were poor. Do you mean the Southeast Asian Studies program at UCLA?
                                  Min Zhou, Professor in the Sociology Dept at UCLA has done excellent work in contemporary Chinese America.

                                  1. re: scoopG

                                    Going back to '81-'83. Back then, it was just "Asian" Studies.

                            2. Essentially what you're saying is that the world is round, nothing which anybody would contradict to any great degree. I'll just pick on a couple of peripheral items. I don't think there is any Hong Kong influence at all in New York--that's why Chinese food there runs a poor third to L.A. and S.F. Also, I've had some pretty bad Hong Kong style food in Toronto. Unlike Vancouver, where you can walk into almost any authentic Chinese restaurant a get a meal far superior to anything here in the U.S., Toronto's suburbs are a mixed bag--stuff as good as Vancouver, and stuff that ranks below what you get here in L.A.

                              55 Replies
                                1. re: Chandavkl

                                  Don't necessarily understand what you mean by "No Hong Kong Influence at all in New York". The fact that LA has the smallest amount of HK immigrants compared to Toronto, Vancouver, SF, NY is derived from census data and immigration statistics. You can even go further to annual immigration statistics provided by the INS which consistently shows year by year that SF & NY areas each receive more immigrants from HK than L.A. So it doesn't matter whether you are talking about old or recent immigrants, L.A. is always behind SF and NY in terms of migrating destination popularity among HKers. You don't have to go as far as comparing immigrant numbers to those in the two Canadian hot beds, even within the U.S., L.A. is behind SF & NY in terms of HK populations

                                  I am not a fan of Cantonese restaurants from the Bay Area, but I would even dare say that those that I've had there are even better than the ones I've found in SGV. I've never sampled the ones in NY so I can't comment there.

                                  Going back to Toronto, some of the HK-style that are considered low quality for Toronto or HK standards, are still better than the so called labeled ones best in L.A. such as Elite, NBC, Harbor Kitchen, Face Cafe, etc just to name a few.

                                  The lack of high quality of HK-style restaurants in SGV is easily traced to the factor of the small HK immigrant community that exist here.

                                  Good thing here is that there are many better other options outside of HK style dining I can choose from. Aside from the non-Cantonese Chinese cuisines, there are also tons of excellent Vietnamese, Thai, Korean restaurants to choose from.

                                  1. re: RAFT48

                                    Another reason that I'm guessing that might shed some light on why there are fewer Hong Kongers emigrating to SoCal is "Sprawl vs. Density." Many folks I've met from Hong Kong seem to thrive in an environment where life is dense, in your face, and frenetic. They thrive on urban life - not as we know it - but in the form that only cities like New York and to a lesser degree San Francisco can offer - high density that more vertically-oriented cities seem to offer. They seem to love hustle and bustle, night life is a given, dropping in on neighbors is expected. LA is sprawl. Far less in density - much more on the x-axis than the y-axis, folks tend to like their space (both physically and socially), and night life here shuts down much much earlier in general than in SF and NY. And of course, where LA's Chinatown has transitioned from a Cantonese culture to a variable mix including Vietnamese, the Chinatowns in SF and NY are still heavily influence by the Cantonese.

                                    1. re: RAFT48

                                      I mean no Hong Kong influence on Chinese cuisine in New York. Some poor guy last week posted on the Manhattan board looking for a Hong Kong style cafe. I don't think any locals could provide one, though I did come up with one place. Also what makes Vancouver and Toronto Chinese food so great, and to the lesser degree, LA and SF, is the continual updating of fresh culinary ideas from Hong Kong. On the other hand, Cantonese food in New York is basically the same Cantonese food that was served 10 to 15 years ago. Dim sum off a menu is almost unheard of in New York. Likewise, the innovative menu items we see at places like Sea Harbour and Elite here in the SGV are non-existent in New York.

                                      1. re: Chandavkl

                                        there is certainly cantonese influence in NY, the original chinatown inhabitants were all cantonese mainly for toi san / tai shan, so not HK but rather cantonese (guangdong), which i would consider to be somewhat different (mainly things like cha can ting and some more modern HK cantonese food). However, the state of HK-style food in NY is weak, i generally think LA has better cantonese food than NY although its not probably as big as the delta is between things like Taiwanese and Shanghainese which are light years better than NY.

                                        I agree with chandavkl's basic assessment of cantonese food in NY...however i would say i think flushing is getting better. And there is certainly almost no modern HK food available in NY.

                                        fyi there are a couple hk diner places in the city, but they're not very good

                                        1. re: Lau

                                          Prior to their closing, I thought the Sweet N Tarts were decent examples of HK-style food. Never could figure out why they closed. They were always packed when I went...

                                          Ping's on Mott was a good step below Elite and Sea Harbour but was on par with mid-level SGV/Rowland heights cantonese seafood restaurants, just much more epensive.

                                          But I agree, complaining about the horrible quality of HK food in LA is not going to get you many sympathy votes....

                                    2. re: Chandavkl

                                      I wouldn't say a poor third! Taking in the combined Chinese enclaves of Manhattan, Flushing, Elmherst and more we see a great diversity in the many cuisines of China now being offered. And most importantly one does not require a car.

                                      1. re: scoopG

                                        Sorry if I insulted your home town, and perhaps "clear third" is a better term. I do love the diversity of Flushing and the types of Chinese cuisine there that we don't see on the west coast. Certainly many of the restaurants in Flushing are of the quality of SGV Chinese restaurants. And with the sheer number of places in NY Chinatown it's a treat to try to find that diamond in the rough that nobody has discovered. But it is very frustrating and puzzling that New York (except for Chinatown Brasserie, which is not in Chinatown and not particularly geared to Chinese clientele) has totally missed the boat as far as advanced Hong Kong style dining is concerned, as introduced by Koi Palace up north in the late 1990s and practiced today at restaurants in the SGV like Sea Harbour, Elite, and even King Hua, Mission 261, Triumphal Palace and Happy Harbor.

                                        -----
                                        Triumphal Palace
                                        500 W Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801

                                        Mission 261 Restaurant
                                        261 S Mission Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                                        Happy Harbor Restaurant
                                        1015 Nogales St # 126, Rowland Heights, CA

                                        King Hua Restaurant
                                        2000 W Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801

                                        Koi Restaurant
                                        730 N La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069

                                        1. re: Chandavkl

                                          Not insulted at all! I think Flushing holds up very well to the San Gabriel Valley in perhaps the most important aspect: size!

                                          In less than five square miles of Flushing, the following Chinese cuisines are available: Cantonese, Dongbei, Fujianese, Halal, Henanese, Hunanese, Shandong, Shanghainese, Sichuanese, Tianjin, Taiwanese, Wenzhou, Xian and Yanbian (Korean-Chinese.) I am sure I am missing something....

                                          How long in a car would it take to find all of that diversity in the 200 square miles of the SGV?

                                          1. re: scoopG

                                            Flushing is certainly more compact, but end of the day i think in general the quality of the food is much higher in SGV...simply more chinese people and there is definitely more money in SGV than there is in Flushing, so i think there is some more high quality places in SGV. Have you been out there alot scoopG?

                                            don't get me wrong, i like flushing as you, i'm out there all the time, but i do think SGV is quite a bit better generally. All the new mainland food is very interesting though

                                            1. re: Lau

                                              Oh no, I have not been out to the SGV in many years! Of course you and Chandavkl may be right. Certainly there are more than twice as many Chinese in CA (1.1 million - 3.29% of the population) than NY (450,000 - 2.38%) according to the 2000 US Census.

                                              My point is the compactness of Flushing + the need for no car + number of and diversity of Chinese restaurants. How many days driving would it take to get ALL of that in the SGV?

                                              Maybe we should all be looking at Hawaii! Only 170,000 Chinese but they represent 15% of the total population. Spamland here I come!

                                              1. re: scoopG

                                                well i think you'd find the SGV to be a little less daunting if you drove around it, but the problem is that unless you live there its actually pretty far from where alot of people live in LA or OC...so getting to the SGV is more of the problem as opposed to getting around the SGV once you're there (its alot less frustrating then say driving around flushing, which is awful)

                                                Certainly flushing is reasonably convenient.

                                                Food in hawaii is awesome btw...they've got a good mix going on there bet japanese, hawaiian, chinese, korean and filipino; its an underrated cuisine (actually probably just a not rated cuisine since most people haven't had it)

                                                1. re: Lau

                                                  Good point. Folks/Tourists usually visit LA or SF, not Monterey Park, Alhambra, San Jose or Milpitas. How long would it take to reasonably explore the SGV with a car as opposed to Flushing without one? Also in NYC there are the other Chinese enclaves in
                                                  Queens: Elmhurst, Corona, Jackson Heights, Astoria and Rego Park and ...
                                                  Brooklyn: Sunset Park, Sheepshead Bay, Borough Park, Flatbush, Park Slope and Midwood.

                                                2. re: scoopG

                                                  Actually size doesn't matter that much because what makes the SGV really daunting is the number of Chinese restaurants. I really don't know exactly how many there are, but it's maybe 400-500-600, so when you have to drive out to try them one at a time it makes less difference how close to each other they are. Silly me I've eaten at over 90 percent of them, but it took me many many years (decades) to reach the point where I only need to catch up to the newly opened eateries.

                                                  1. re: Chandavkl

                                                    But still...no Fujian, Henan, Wenzhou, Shandong, or much Dongbei or even Hakka yet? (Not that there is Hakka in NYC...smashing place in SF though) It's great if you live in Arcadia, San Marino, Rosemead, Temple City, Walnut or even Diamond Bar. Tough luck if you are in LA or Santa Monica and don't have a car.

                                                    1. re: scoopG

                                                      No Fujian*, Henan, Wenzhou, or Hakka. Shandong and Dongbei freely available, (Apparently people from Fujian and Wenzhou made a bee line for New York.) A number of regional types here you can't find in New York.

                                                      *except for Foo Chow in Chinatown, which touts its connection with the Jackie Chan Rush Hour movie more than its food, though apparently they do have authentic Fujianese food on the menu.

                                                      1. re: Chandavkl

                                                        thats not true, there are a few dong bei places in LA

                                                        also i thought the people from 101 noodle express (which is awesome) are from shandong? i love that place

                                                        btw dude if u live in LA or santa monica and don't have a car you're completely screwed for anything

                                                        1. re: Lau

                                                          I guess my punctuation wasn't clear enough--I was trying to say there is Dongbei and Shandong in LA.

                                                          1. re: Lau

                                                            Of course you need a car in CA. That is part of my point. Naturally the SGV is larger and has more to offer. (Except for Fujian, Hakka and Henan it seems!) The SGV in area is just a bit larger then all off Queens. I liken it to two Food Haven Heavens. One is compact, only 5 square miles and does not require a car, while the other is 200 square miles, includes 31 cities and requires an auto. Is there a comprehensive list or CH'er who knows all of the Chinese deliciousness in the SGV: from Alhambra to Rowland Heights? From Temple City to Walnut? From South Pasedena to Diamond Bar?

                                                            1. re: scoopG

                                                              there isnt a hakka restaurant in NY? hakka food is really hard to find even in asia its hard to find, you really have to look around

                                                              dude it would take forever to list all of the SGV's restaurants, its like many many multiples of flushing, plus stuff is opening / closing fairly constantly

                                                              1. re: Lau

                                                                Well, somebody with a lot of time on their hands could take a stab at it. The Chinese Yellow Pages has a listing of Chinese restaurants by city, within each city, alphabetically by street name. It's not 100 percent complete, but on the other hand it'll also include some non-Chinese restaurants so that might wash out.

                                                                http://chineseypage.com/rest/city-la.htm

                                                                1. re: Lau

                                                                  Not that I know of - a great one exists in San Francisco that I've read about.

                                                                2. re: scoopG

                                                                  I don't fully agree. While Flushing has regional cuisines not found in the SGV, the SGV has some that Flushing does not. And while it would not be feasible to walk the "entire" area considered the SGV anymore than it would be to walk a few boroughs, one can find an amazing array of different regions represented in clustered areas all within an easy, comfortable walk: Garfield-Garvey, Valley-Garvey, the Focus-Hilton-Life Plazas, Las Tunas-Mission, Valley-San Gabriel. Heck, Valley between Garfield and Del Mar is something like 2.2 miles and has the largest concentration of restaurants in the SGV.

                                                                  1. re: JThur01

                                                                    What regional or localized Chinese cuisines does the SGV have that Flushing does not have? No one in NYC walks "a few boroughs." Queens itself, an ethno-burb of just less than 200 square miles has over 140 languages present and spoken for. You are saying that an area of 2.2 miles out of 200 in the SGV has the largest concentration of the 500 Chinese restaurants found in the SGV? Can I walk among these places between Garfield and Del Mar or do I need a car?

                                                                    1. re: scoopG

                                                                      scoopG,

                                                                      I'm not Jthur01, but allow me to clarify.

                                                                      Question 1: "What regional or localized Chinese cuisines does the SGV have that Flushing does not have?"

                                                                      It's not so much that SGV has a particular regionalized cuisine not found in Queens (or Flushing); rather, it's that for just about any regionalized cuisine that SGV has, it has them in spades. In other words, it's not just that SGV has one example of Hubei food, but it has multiple restaurants offering food representative of Hubei different regions -- e.g. Wuhan, Huangzhou, etc.

                                                                      That's what makes SGV so unique in all of the Western Hemisphere. Not just the variety of food, but the depth of each variety.

                                                                      Question 2: "You are saying that an area of 2.2 miles out of 200 in the SGV has the largest concentration of the 500 Chinese restaurants found in the SGV?"

                                                                      I think a better way of interpreting JThur01 original statement would be to say that that particular stretch in SGV has the largest concentration of Chinese restaurants per capita in the SGV. There are pockets in Rowland Heights that might have more restaurants. But then we quibble ...

                                                                      Question 3. "Can I walk among these places between Garfield and Del Mar or do I need a car?"

                                                                      You don't need a car in the same way you need oxygen to live. But a car would be preferable.

                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                        To explain to our New York friend, you're really saying in a polite manner that we actually have too many of certain categories of Chinese restaurants. For sure there are way too many Hong Kong style cafes. I'd personally put kitschy Taiwanese beer places in the same category. And there are other styles which while not overly abundant in pure numbers, probably are overrepresented. I mean do we really need four Guilin style noodle houses, six Asian Cajun restaurants, four Yunnanese restaurants or four herbal chicken soup restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley?

                                                                        -----
                                                                        noodle house
                                                                        46 W Las Tunas Drive, Arcadia, CA 91007

                                                                        1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                          or as many foot massage places?

                                                                        2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                          The East SGV areas such Hacienda/Rowland Heights, Walnut, Diamond Bar combined together has often been referred to as the new "Little Taipei" ever since the mass amount of Taiwanese packed their way out of Monterey Park & Alhambra and moved to these eastern suburbs. In addition to the Taiwanese, there is also a large concentration of Koreans in these areas as well.

                                                                          There are tons of excellent places in the East SGV serving Taiwan dishes such as "牛肉麵"

                                                                        3. re: scoopG

                                                                          >>Can I walk among these places between Garfield and Del Mar or do I need a car?<<

                                                                          I don't know why this qualification is always used by NYers. Seriously apples and oranges kinda comparison. I can turn around and ask, "So, can you find a place to park your car in New York City?" or, ""Can you find 70 degree summer days anywhere in New York?" Two different cities - one is vertical, one is horizontal; two different modes of transportation; two totally different lifestyles.

                                                                          1. re: scoopG

                                                                            "What regional or localized Chinese cuisines does the SGV have that Flushing does not?"

                                                                            Yunnan, Xinjian, Uyghur (c'mon ispe, help out here, I recall about a year ago, the same thing coming up and I believe it was you who proferred a list of what Flushing had that the SGV did not and vice versa). If that's changed and those are currently available in Flushing, scratch that.

                                                                            As far as walking "a few boroughs", I was simply making an analogy, comparing the amount of walking if one was attempting to cover the entire SGV (which, again, is completely unecessary).

                                                                            If you're familiar with the SGV, you'd realize the restaurants are primarily centered around certain intersections (those I named) or over a few block area around same. That stretch of Valley Blvd. (and Rowland Heights) have the largest concentration of Chinese restaurants.

                                                                            Can you walk from Garfield to Del Mar? Of course, why couldn't you? While I haven't walked between those two points, I routinely walk Valley between New and Del Mar and have even walked between Prospect and San Gabriel Blvd.

                                                                    2. re: Chandavkl

                                                                      There's the fairly recently opened 留香园 (Sweet Aroma Garden) on Las Tunas (across from Golden Deli etc.), which has the Fuzhou fish ball soup. Not sure if they are directly from Fujian or came via Taiwan, but the waitress claims that the boss is from Fuzhou.

                                                                      Hakka - not a lot maybe, but there is Bon Marché Bistro, which serves Hakka / New Territories style food (including pen cai / poon choi).

                                                                      The Ding's on Valley claims to specialize in Wenzhou food (based on the sign in their window), and they do have the Wenzhou style fish balls (different from the Fuzhou style ones). Given that Wenzhou really doesn't have a lot of famous dishes, they also serve a lot of typical Shanghai area food.

                                                                      I would be interested to know if there are any Hubei / Wuhan restaurants around, or anywhere that serves re gan mian.

                                                            2. re: scoopG

                                                              scoopG,

                                                              I grew up in the Outer Burroughs (Queens), and still visit Flushing once in a while, and as a long-time resident of SGV, I can say that Flushing for all of its charms falls very very far behind what's offered in SGV.

                                                              As Chandavkl mentioned, it's the sheer density of Chinese restaurnts in West SGV (Monterey Park, San Gabriel, Alhambra, etc.) and East SGV (Rowland Heights, Industry, etc.) that separates it from Flushing. Per capita, I think maybe only Hong Kong and Taiwan would outnumber the number of Chinese restaurants in the SGV.

                                                              And it's not just the density, but the quality. Yes, you get some duds (more than I'd care for), but the number of gems -- hidden or otherwise -- severely outnumber any duds that you may find. Competition is just too fierce for a truly bad restaurant to hang around very long (bad feng shui notwithstanding).

                                                              As to how long it would take to drive and sample all of these restaurants? Well, are you talking about during rush hour? Or ... oh, nevermind, the 60 and 10 freeways always seem to be packed between the 710 interchange and the Azusa exits no matter what time of the day. You're probably better off just allocating a few decades of your life to exploring and eating ..

                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                agreed with ipsedixit and chandavkl....there are SO many restaurants in the SGV, i dont think its even possible (it is totally possible in flushing), would take you years

                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                  Interesting to know you're a fellow New York transplant.

                                                                  FWITW My aunt spends a month in Hong Kong every year and a couple weeks a year on the west coast. She would be considered one that dines at a mid to lower end places. She raves about about the offerings we have in the SGV and claims it's as good if not better than HK.

                                                                  From my personal observation the epicenter of HK style dining began at Empress Pavillion. I asked for a rice bowl and someone said the thing I thought was a tea cup was the rice bowl.

                                                                  1. re: monku

                                                                    When did Empress Pavilion open up?

                                                                    I've always felt that HK style food started with the first Sam Woo BBQ in Chinatown in the late 70s/early 80s.

                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                      I think it opened in the mid '70s (IIRC).

                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                        Empress Pavilion opened up in April of 1989. Previously that was the site of the Yee Sing Chong grocery store.

                                                                        -----
                                                                        Empress Pavilion Restaurant
                                                                        988 N Hill St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                                                        1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                          ... and according to Wikipedia Sam Woo BBQ opened up in 1979.

                                                                          Surpisingly, no Wikipedia entry for Empress Pavilion ... maybe you could start one Chandavkl ...

                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                            Yes, but Sam Woo didn't move to its current (Hong Kong BBQ) location until 1986. A place called Ling Nam previously occupied that location. But what I don't know is where Sam Woo was located from 1979 to 1986--I guess I forgot to write that down.

                                                                            -----
                                                                            Sam Woo Cafe
                                                                            727 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                                                            1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                              "But what I don't know is where Sam Woo was located from 1979 to 1986--I guess I forgot to write that down."

                                                                              _________________________________

                                                                              Wasn't it in the Far East Plaza?

                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                You're probably right. Far East Plaza opened up as the Food Center in 1979, and the Sam Woo BBQ Express was there in the middle of the first floor until 1999.

                                                                                -----
                                                                                Far East Cafe
                                                                                347 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA

                                                                                Sam Woo Cafe
                                                                                727 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                                                          2. re: Chandavkl

                                                                            "Empress Pavilion opened up in April of 1989."

                                                                            I'm sure that isn't right. This says that EP is OVER 30 years old: http://www.kcet.org/socal/departures/... Perhaps they were open in another location and relocated to their present site in '89?

                                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                                              Nope, Empress Pavilion was a brand new enterprise when it opened in 1989. There was tremendous anticipation in the community when it opened up at that time. We'd go by there every few days to see if the restaurant had opened, and one day we saw the escalators powered up. I think the three decades reference is literary license of the fact that they were open in the 80s, 90s, 00s and now 2010.

                                                                              -----
                                                                              Empress Pavilion Restaurant
                                                                              988 N Hill St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                                Guess it is 1989. Sure seems like it's been there longer. That Ken Poon's memory isn't any better than ours.
                                                                                http://www.mcg-intl.com/bambooplaza/i...

                                                                                1. re: monku

                                                                                  I could have sworn we went to EP about the same time we first ate at Friends (mid '70's). Getting old is a bitch.

                                                                                2. re: Servorg

                                                                                  No Empress Pavillion before that.
                                                                                  I was familar with the family that owned the market and then they opened Empress Pavillion.

                                                                              2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                Never considered Sam Woo BBQ to be HK style.
                                                                                Is that what it is?

                                                                                1. re: monku

                                                                                  Never considered Sam Woo BBQ to be HK style.
                                                                                  Is that what it is?
                                                                                  _____________________________________________________

                                                                                  Well, this will probably stir up another hornet's nest. But the *style* of BBQ and (menu items) served up by Sam Woo is Cantonese BBQ.

                                                                                  For example, char siu is basically Cantonese style roast pork.

                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                    .....and that char siu is very similar to the char sui I get at Paul's Kitchen (Cantonese-American?) which I don't think is HK style dining.

                                                                                    -----
                                                                                    Paul's Kitchen
                                                                                    1012 S San Pedro St, Los Angeles, CA 90015

                                                                                    1. re: monku

                                                                                      Given that a majority of Hong Kong cuisine is based on Cantonese food (as well as bits of Hakka, Chiu Chow and Shanghainese), I would consider Cantonese restaurants here in the U.S. to be Hong Kong style (be they authentic or "Chinese American").

                                                                                      I'm going to go hide now, I've just stirred up yet another hornet's nest.

                                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                        "I've just stirred up yet another hornet's nest."

                                                                                        Yes and the most outspoken HK Chinese expat and Chinese American hornets (errrr hounds) have come out to buzz (and they are mad).

                                                                                2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                  I'll cast my vote for the first HK style food with Kin Kwok on 500 W. Garvey in Monterey Park back from 1976. This was an entirely different type of food from what we were used to--might have been the first exposure to thin Hong Kong style egg noodles. Or maybe it was Hong Kong Jade Garden that opened up in the upper level in the Food Center in Chinatown (now Far East plaza) back in 1979 or 1980, which may have been the first restaurant to open up in a spacious, modern location.

                                                                                  -----
                                                                                  Far East Cafe
                                                                                  347 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA

                                                                                3. re: monku

                                                                                  I can identify with that. As I've posted in the past, not knowing anybody in Hong Kong and wandering into random Chinese restaurants over there has not exposed me to much that is better than what we have here.

                                                                                  1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                    Empress Pavilion has been open forever, i remember going there many times when i was a little kid...definitely old school, i used to go to family pastry alot too, both places unfortunately went downhill a long time ago

                                                                                    Chandavkl - as much as i love LA chinese food, doesnt hold a candle to HK...that said if you were in central and just wandered into some random place i could see that happening, been there twice this year and am continually amazed at the quality of the food and the new discoveries i try everytime i go (lucky for me i know alot of people there and have spent a lot time there to know some great places). Then again this is america not HK, so i dont ever expect it to reach that type of level and LA has all types of wonderful food that HK doesnt have one drop of. I'm starting a blog right now, im going to post a ton of HK stuff up, so you can see all the food, its awesome

                                                                                    -----
                                                                                    Empress Pavilion Restaurant
                                                                                    988 N Hill St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                                                      2. Yeah, I agree with the OP here. I really miss sui mei. No place in LA makes good sui mei CONSISTENTLY. You think you've found a place, but the next time you go, it's a huge disappointment.

                                                                        I'm blessed to have great cooks in my family but there are so many HK dishes that need some crazy "wok hay" to make. And you can't do that in your own kitchen.

                                                                        If you guys haven't tried Delicious Food Corner, please do. They have pretty good HK cafe food. The congee here is BOMB.COM.

                                                                        -----
                                                                        Delicious Food Corner
                                                                        2327 S Garfield Ave, Monterey Park, CA 91754

                                                                        1. The word "HK dining" or "HK style" is quite a broad definition. So I believe it when you say nothing is good, using Vancouver/Toronto as comparisons.

                                                                          People tend to think HK style = HK cafe's or 茶餐廳. But that's just one small fraction of what is considered representative of the flavors of Hong Kong. Dim sum and seafood restaurants is also just a minor part of it.

                                                                          I will add one thing though, and that is part of HK culture and behavior. Not to say it is not happening in LA and SF but it just doesn't seem to be on that level or scale. HK business type folks love to compete and appreciate innovation. Maybe not necessarily doing things better, but perhaps inventing or re-inventing something, perhaps out of boredom or the need to stay alive, or want to have bragging rights (another HK trait, sometimes unfortunately) to be the first to come up with something (but not necessarily perfect it). I remember in 1995, I had this killer HK milk tea flavored milkshake somewhere in Toronto and it was mindblowing good. Unfortunately the shop closed down and I never saw something like it anywhere else.

                                                                          In some cases, "innovating" is confused with but equating to doing things the right way, in a world where people are doing the other way to save money, resource, labor. So the business that does things correctly (but not necessarily to perfection) is either the outcast, the underdog, or being "innovative". Or bringing back something that was out of fashion in Asia/HK but never realised here, or just waiting 5 years to bring back the latest trend or revival (e.g. eggettes).

                                                                          1. I don't really understand the point of this post... We don't have good HK food because we don't have a lot of HK people. Okay, that makes sense. I don't know why that needs to be said. Do people in Hong Kong discuss their lack of good Mexican food?

                                                                            1. I was raised in San Francisco and I can say that I've never found ANY Chinese restaurant here that satisfied. Or carries edible food.
                                                                              If you could point me in the direction of a "mediocre" place, I'd take that...

                                                                              1. Well whatever the reason, my experience has been that every HK cafe I've eaten at basically sucks. They are all the same menu-wise and structure/concept wise and while some are worse than others, the best are only mediocre.

                                                                                1. Please define "HK-style dining" and "HK-style restaurants." I'm also curious: what would you consider to be the main differences between "HK Cantonese Seafood" and "non-HK Cantonese Seafood"?

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: raytamsgv

                                                                                    I too am interested in RAFT48's answer, but I'll give you my take on this.

                                                                                    In HK, people there are blessed with so many choices just on the single spectrum of HK Cantonese. From the cheap to the expensive and in varying grades in between.

                                                                                    If we are talking about establishments that serve food, you have for example (the list is virtually endless)

                                                                                    -congee specialty shops
                                                                                    -noodle shops, and within that category there are mom & pop places that specialize in beef brisket, fishball, clear broth brisket, peddler cart noodle, won ton, meatballs, and of course places that do jack of all trades
                                                                                    -congee & noodle shops (a mish mash but not a HK cafe)
                                                                                    -cha chaan teng, "ice house" (that specializes in iced drinks like red bean ice but offers a more limited menu)
                                                                                    -dai pai dong (that specializes in stir fry, some offer seafood, all unique and delicious in their own way, but not fine dining by any means)
                                                                                    -shops that specialize in roasties (deli's) that also offer rice plates and stir fry
                                                                                    -HK cafes that include roasties and an inhouse deli
                                                                                    -upscale old school HK style western (almost like a cha chaan teng but not a dive), e.g. taipingkoon.com, and it is not a cheap place.
                                                                                    -certain non seafood restaurants that offer a specialty (e.g. Ser Wong Fun, Ser Wong Yee that are known for snake, but also baked fish guts, preserved sausage clay pot)
                                                                                    -food courts that offer cheap and very decent food, unlike our crappy mall food here
                                                                                    -fish markets that also do simple quick cooked seafood in certain remote areas (amazing what you can find out from blogs)....salt and pepper fresh abalone (yes an overkill), steamed fresh fish, steamed/blanced local prawns at very affordable prices
                                                                                    - even the big name Michelin star places like Yung Kee or the touristy Luk Yu....even if both places serve dim sum, they are not technically seafood restaurants (although YK does have the "alcohol place" in the Chinese name, depicting seafood restaurant), they offer a unique style that nobody else can imitate. Luk Yu's dinner is classical Cantonese at its prime, e.g. sticky rice stuffed fried chicken, Chinese almond, bak choy, pork lung stewed soup.

                                                                                    Once you are too used to having this kind of variety and quality, your standards are raised so high you just won't find anything else satisfying abroad.

                                                                                    For LA/SoCal, I can see that whatever that is representative of HK dining, is pretty much limited to the seafood restaurant and dim sum, then the places that offer noodles/congee/rice plates/roasties, and the HK cafes (of which there are an abundance in SGV/MP) partly because of the cheap factor and trend (HK cafes have been experiencing a revival in the last 5+ years). Beyond that, it appears there isn't anything more that others may deem noteworthy, but that's the nature of the beast in many other metropolitan cities.

                                                                                    1. re: K K

                                                                                      Saying "HK style dining" is like saying American style dining. It just spans such a plethora of choices as to be almost meaningless.

                                                                                      But however you decide to define "HK style dining" I think there is a general agreement that Toronto/Vancouver, on the whole, is superior to the HK food you will find just about anywhere in the U.S.

                                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                        Well part of that is also the result of pre 1997 flux of immigrants to Toronto/Vancouver that are loaded to the gills with $$$$, and many business owners willing to plunk down cold hard C$ to hire and retain top talent. People want to follow the money (to make more money), and/or perhaps it was easier to apply for immigration to Canada (or quicker) than SF/LA or whereever else (amongst other factors), including sponsoring chef talent from HK to come/move to Toronto/Vancouver for the chef gigs.

                                                                                        But I will say that LA has far superior Japanese and Taiwanese fare than Toronto, so that is definitely a huge plus. And no Japanese does not equal "salmon sashimi" (this is a joke to many Hong Kongsters)

                                                                                  2. "To be honest if you ask me here in L.A. if I would rather dine at Panda Express or those HK-style restaurants, I would pick the former. Just goes to show how much I dislike HK-style dining in the Greater L.A. area."

                                                                                    Really? and then you cite Newport Seafood in the next breath. And to make a claim of Panda Express over Newport or even Little Hong Kong Cafe makes me wonder, really wonder. Really, not.

                                                                                    -----
                                                                                    Little Hong Kong Cafe
                                                                                    2129 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: dharmathug

                                                                                      Please read my original post a little more carefully. I stated my claims about Newport that they are not a HK-style dining nor a HK syte restaurant. Their Cantonese dish that exist with their Teochew and Southeast asian ones are not something I would not consider HK Cantonese type. This is where the difference lies. So Newport's category does not fall in the boundaries concerning my preference of Panda Express over L.A.'s HK style.

                                                                                      Har Lam Kee is one of the worst HK style dining I have ever had. Worse than some of the mediocre ones I have come across in the SGV. Over greasy, over salted dishes for some dishes while some of the other ones such as their congee are overly watery and bland. Yuck!

                                                                                      Sea Harbour existed in Vancouver way before they opened their branch in Rosemead. And to be honest the Rosemead branch isn't anywhere close to the quality offered by the Richmond one in BC.

                                                                                      Again I am happy with the variety of high quality Asian Cuisines we have here. Unfortunately the ones of HK-style are not among the high quality ones. That is why I spend my money and time where it is worth it such as Taiwanese, Shanghainese, Sichuanese, Japanese, Korean, Thai.

                                                                                      And yes I agree Japanese and Taiwanese restaurants here are better than the ones in Toronto.

                                                                                      1. re: RAFT48

                                                                                        love newport seafood (although i usually eat at the one in santa ana / garden grove), but i agree newport seafood is definitely not HK style food it is a mix of cantonese, chao zhou / chiu chow / teochew (all the same thing) and viet. Apparently fyi even though all the newport seafoods have the same menu and the food is similar the santa ana / garden grove one is the original and not related to the others (only found that out a few months ago last time i ate there).

                                                                                        1. re: RAFT48

                                                                                          Raft48: what is your definition of "HK-style dining" and "HK-style restaurants." Are you talking about menu items? Food preparation techniques? Ambiance? Service? Etc.

                                                                                      2. Having lived in Hong Kong for several months for a study abroad program a few years ago I would say yes we do lack that skill and quality.

                                                                                        Hong Kong is a city that we dont have in America you can't compare it to NYC and I think the thing is most HK immigrants go to where they know others have gone, that is usually how people choose where to immigrate, rarely does anybody decide to go to a random city they want to move into a familiar community.

                                                                                        As for HK-cafe's I think we have a crappy situation where most of the decent ones have built up a good history with mediocre food and people have no choice and thus go back. There is no reason to better your cooking and for the most part the HK-style cafes have had the same menus for a good decade now.

                                                                                        At this point I can't really complain about what we have, we aren't Hong Kong and never will be and that's one of the reasons and the allure of travel. Having lived in a HK too for the experience I would also confirm they can live a frantic lifestyle considering that during the prime rush hour people flood the streets and nobody is going to stop for you. Restaurants are packed together in such a small area so tightly that competition can be fierce among them.

                                                                                        If there is one thing I severely miss from Hong Kong it is the seafood. From the seafood-centric restaurants to the open air hot pot places I would frequent back then its not comparable. Then again the costs of seafood in the states is much higher and the selection of fresh seafood lacks items from Asia which probably do not transport well.

                                                                                        Overall this is a fair topic to bring up but maybe if somebody opened a premium HK-cafe that was serious about cooking then would that raise up the bar or would nobody eat there because of the "high prices" (OMG $12 a plate, we getting out of here!). That is what I find sad is that the Chinese community in these parts are willing to settle for less which has kept most of the HK-style cafes in business for so long. Then again Elite charges a premium for dim sum and people line up and pack it like crazy too so maybe it would work. We just need somebody to take the risks and maybe the floodgates would open? I think there are plenty of families with ties to Hong Kong and if the restaurant environment changes to their liking we might lure some here. It's just a pipedream though.

                                                                                        1. I'm surprised to see no mention of Har Lam Kee. They do any number of HK dishes quite well. Trolley noodles, Aberdeen style fishballs (with roe), the congee is quite good, and so on.

                                                                                          If you'd rather eat at Panda King than Sea Food Harbor -- bon appetit.

                                                                                          BDL

                                                                                          -----
                                                                                          Har Lam Kee Restaurant
                                                                                          150 E Garvey Ave, Monterey Park, CA 91755

                                                                                          Panda King
                                                                                          11556 Imperial Hwy, Norwalk, CA 90650

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. new york has plenty of hk cafe's i eat breakfast at one every morning

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: AubWah

                                                                                              which ones do you like? ive never really found a satisfactory one

                                                                                            2. Have you tried Seafood Empress in Gardena? Not sure that it is HK cuisine per se', but a friend who is from Canton, along with his wife who's from HK took us there. The waiter spoke fluent Cantonese and my friend ordered strictly without looking at the menu in Cantonese. All of the dishes that arrived were amazingly unique and delicious

                                                                                              18 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: cristmh

                                                                                                Sea Empress is pretty good, but a large cut below the places in the San Gabriel Valley that the original poster does not like.

                                                                                                1. re: cristmh

                                                                                                  Sea Empress was an offshoot of Empress Pavillion.

                                                                                                  1. re: monku

                                                                                                    Sort of, but there was a nasty legal fight there. I believe Sea Empress was started by one of the original Empress Pavilion chefs. When Sea Empress opened they implied that they were all the same as Empress Pavilion, which was not true, and they had to retract that claim.

                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                    Empress Pavilion Restaurant
                                                                                                    988 N Hill St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                                                                                    1. re: monku

                                                                                                      Hong Kong Style Dining & Hong Kong Style Restaurants:

                                                                                                      1) Seafood Restaurants: 80-90% on the menu serves Cantonese dishes which includes but not limited to Suckling Pig, Shark Fin, Steamed Fish, Abalone, Lobster, etc

                                                                                                      2) Dim Sum: 75-90% of the items are Cantonese flavors such as (but not limited to) Ha Kau, Siu Mai, Lotus Leaf Wrapped Chicken Sticky Rice, Cheung Fan, Egg Tarts, Mango Pudding, etc

                                                                                                      3) HK Cafes/Cha Chan Teng (again not limited to, but rather the most common ones):
                                                                                                      a) Baked Fish Fillet, Pork Chop, Chicken Cutlet, Ox Tongue, Steak, etc: To complement these dishes you are often given a choice of pasta or rice
                                                                                                      b) Variety of Sandwiches (usually served with Fries)
                                                                                                      c) Your typical Cantonese style Soup/Noodles (i.e. Wonton Noodle Soup, Fried Rice (i.e.Diced Chicken Salted Fish), Beef Chow Fun, etc
                                                                                                      d) Chinese/Western mixtures such as Minced Beef Rice, Ham Macaroni with Soup, etc
                                                                                                      e) Milk Tea (Hot or cold), Ovaltine, Lemon Tea, etc

                                                                                                      4) BBQ: Selling typical Cantonese BBQ that can bee seen hanging once you enter which sells Cha Siu (pork), duck and then your typical Cantonese style Soup/Noodles (i.e. Wonton Noodle Soup, E-Fu, Beef Brisket,), Fried Rice (i.e.Diced Chicken Salted Fish, Yeung Chow), Beef Chow Fun, Congee (i.e. Preserved Egg & Meat), etc

                                                                                                      Again there are more to the list for each of the four restaurant categories I mentioned above. I'm basically just listing some of the most common ones that are typical of each.

                                                                                                      1. re: RAFT48

                                                                                                        Thank you for the definitions. Are you saying that SGV's restaurants lack the variety, quality, and/or service found in HK restaurants?

                                                                                                        1. re: raytamsgv

                                                                                                          Quality (as outlined on the title of the topic of discussion). :)

                                                                                                          1. re: RAFT48

                                                                                                            Sorry, your original post was a bit ambiguous at certain points to me. While my questions may seem a bit repetitive, it is because I want to make sure I understand the issue(s) correctly.

                                                                                                            Would it be correct to say that you are disappointed in both the quality of the food and the service at SGV HK-style restaurants? If so, what are some examples of the quality of food or service that you would *like* to see in SGV HK-style restaurants?

                                                                                                            1. re: raytamsgv

                                                                                                              Quality - the way the food taste. I would like to see a dramatic improvement in the taste. I have had way too many where the food is overly salty, overly greasy, bland/tastless, over watery, overcooked, and/or too hard to chew (food that otherwise is suppose to be soft and tender).

                                                                                                              But considering the small HK population we have here, it is unlikely that will improve.

                                                                                                              Thus the main equation in my argument is:
                                                                                                              Small HK population = Difficult (or nearly impossible) to find High Quality HK Restaurants.

                                                                                                              I usually don't focus too much on the service provided by the waiter/waitresses in HK style restaurants. As long as they are not rude, its fine with me. If I get super friendly service, I just take it as an added bonus. My approach towards this type of service applies to all HK Style joints in all cities.

                                                                                                              1. re: RAFT48

                                                                                                                Without a doubt, HK-style food is better when more HKers are around.

                                                                                                                I just find it rather hard to believe you would actually choose Panda Express over other HK-style restaurants. While they may not be up to your standards, Panda Express wouldn't seem to be even remotely close to your standards. But if that's your preference, more power to you.

                                                                                                                1. re: raytamsgv

                                                                                                                  "I just find it rather hard to believe you would actually choose Panda Express over other HK-style restaurants."
                                                                                                                  _______________________

                                                                                                                  Ditto this.

                                                                                                                  Whether Panda Express is good food or not, it's not even HK style dining (or food for that matter).

                                                                                                                  FWIW, I think that Panda Express is quite good in its own little niche of the food universe. I think the world would be a worse place without Panda.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Lau

                                                                                                                      Wow, he's from Jiangsu and lives in the SGV. I wonder where he goes out to eat to get his Jiangsu fix.

                                                                                                                      1. re: K K

                                                                                                                        "Wow, he's from Jiangsu and lives in the SGV. I wonder where he goes out to eat to get his Jiangsu fix."
                                                                                                                        ___________________________

                                                                                                                        At home probably.

                                                                                                                        Full disclosure: Used to work at Panda Express way back in the day.

                                                                                                                    2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                      Absolutely agreed. Places like Panda Express can definitely hit the spot sometimes!

                                                                                                                      1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                                                                                                        I too see nothing wrong with PanEx. Everyone knows what it is.

                                                                                                                        I know people who went to university in the US, went back to Taiwan, and still crave having a bite of PanEx once in a while. It's more of the sentimental value, the fact that they cannot get the mouthwatering fare from back home in the US at the time (e.g. night market street food), and somehow found solace in PanEx at whatever mall they went to.

                                                                                                                        So three cheers to the gentleman from Jiangsu.

                                                                                                                        PF Chang's on the other hand......

                                                                                                                        1. re: K K

                                                                                                                          "I too see nothing wrong with PanEx. Everyone knows what it is."
                                                                                                                          ____________________________________

                                                                                                                          Well, not everyone.

                                                                                                                          The problem with Panda Express comes when people try to judge it by something it is not -- i.e., authentic Chinese food.

                                                                                                                          Panda Express is simply Chinese-American style fast food made with good quality ingredients. Nothing more, nothing less.

                                                                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                            there's nothing wrong with american-chinese food, its not my cup of tea, but taste is totally intangible...clearly given that there are a lot of Panda Expresses and its a successful business there are alot of people who like it otherwise it'd be out of business

                                                                                                                            1. re: Lau

                                                                                                                              I was going to agree with you until I thought to myself, "What if we substituted P.F. Chang for Panda Express?"

                                                                                                    2. I don't live in LA, but I would agree with your analysis that Toronto is a mecca for excellent chinese food of every style. I go to Toronto at least 3x's a year just to eat chinese food.

                                                                                                      1. I feel it's necessary to point out that your standards are too high. I eat in a lot these days because I live in a city where a majority of the time, I can cook better food than the chefs at the restaurants I go to. Not always though, and my city has low competition, so it's not an impressive statement to make.

                                                                                                        Ipsedixit makes a good point: the pulled pork in Memphis is better than the pulled pork in H.K. It would be nice if there was a city where the best of every cuisine came to roost, but that would be nearly impossibl, especially when you get regionally specific to culinary styles.

                                                                                                        I've definitely been disappointed by medocre, overpriced, overhyped restaurants, but I don't let it ruin my life. If you really care about authentic H.K. style food and are a serious conissuer, save up for the ticket to Hong Kong. You won't regret it. Otherwise, stop expecting the best of the world to run to you just because you live in L.A. or Oakland. It's pretty abnormal worldwide to have access to the quality and choice you are demanding.

                                                                                                        Were you ever broke enough to buy cheap beer? Do you remember the days without Oregonian microbrew? Up here, we call that the human condition.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: qingofchina

                                                                                                          Most of the posters on this thread are very pleased to be here in Los Angeles with the quality and variety of Chinese food. However, the original poster is used to better, and there is no question that if you're used to Chinese food from Hong Kong, Vancouver, and even perhaps even Toronto, the Hong Kong style food here doesn't measure up.