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The Best Chinese in LA

The May issue of LA Magazine digs into Chinese food in Chinatown, in the SGV, and elsewhere. It's a nice review and has a few debatable picks in the top 10 listing but it's generally in the ballpark. Perhaps the most useful aspect is particular dishes selected at various restaurants. The interesting thing is with all the places listed, they only scratched the surface.

OK, you wanna know their top 10.....

Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant

Hunan ChiliKing

Kam Hong Garden

Blue Ocean Seafood

Mr. Chow [!? Where's that interobang when I need it?]

Duck House

Tasty Garden

Gourmet Vegetarian

Dumpling 10053

CBS Seafood Restaurant

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Tasty Garden
1212 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007

CBS Seafood
700 N Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Dumpling 10053
10053 Valley Blvd Ste 2, El Monte, CA 91731

Kam Hong Garden
848 E Garvey Ave, Monterey Park, CA

Duck House (Lu Ding Ji)
501 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754

Mr. Chow
344 N. Camden Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Hunan Chilliking
534 E Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

Blue Ocean Seafood Restaurant
1412 S Garfield Ave, Alhambra, CA 91801

Gourmet Vegetarian Restaurant
140 W Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

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  1. Leafed through that issue... Indeed, more for the neophyte than the initiated.

    I prefer sticking to the Hounds' advice, thank you.

    1. Thanks for putting the list up. It looks as if LA Magazine is asymptotically approaching a solution.

      2 Replies
      1. re: raytamsgv

        At least they did not include Yang Chow in the top ten.

        -----
        Yang Chow Restaurant
        819 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

        1. re: mc michael

          In this list, they *should* have included Yang Chow ... would've done laps around places like Mr. Chow and probably even CBS and Blue Ocean.

          -----
          Yang Chow Restaurant
          819 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

          Mr. Chow
          344 N. Camden Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210

      2. Re: Mr. Chow, here you go

        By the way, I've never been there, but have heard nothing but near-universal derision and scorn from non-famous people about Mr. Chow. What exactly is it about this place that makes it such a dreadful experience for non-famous/wealthy people?

        Mr Taster

        -----
        Mr. Chow
        344 N. Camden Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210

        7 Replies
        1. re: Mr Taster

          Perhaps it's because it's one of those places that seems to have paparazzi permanently parked outside in hopes that someone famous will walk out. (Same is true at the Ivy - both the one in WeHo and the one in London - but at least you get a >30% chance of a decent meal at either which is more than you can say for Mr Chow)

          I secretly suspect that, after a heated argument, the LA mag editors forced him to include at least one place west of La Brea, and Mr Chow was added out of spite...

          1. re: Mr Taster

            From personal experience: rotten food that is disgustingly expensive. Hearsay: very pushy servers try to inflate your bill.

            1. re: Chandavkl

              I'm curious-- what sort of rotten food? Can you go into more detail? I'm more interested in your first hand experiences than the hearsay bit. Do you go to Mr. Chow with any preconceived ideas?

              Mr Taster

              -----
              Mr. Chow
              344 N. Camden Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210

              1. re: Mr Taster

                Fortunately my memory has been expunged of that meal so I couldn't tell you what I ate. My only meal there was for lunch in the spring of 1997, and all I recall now is thinking "never again".

                1. re: Mr Taster

                  At Mr. Chow, think PF Chang's with gussied up ingredients, at about 3x the price.

                  Sad to say, but Mr. Chow probably isn't even the best "Chinese" (using that term loosely) in Beverly Hills. In the battle of the worst, Crustacean probably edges out Mr. Chow for the title at least worst in Beverly Hills.

                  No one goes there for the food. If you do, that's a "you" problem.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Interesting. Thanks for your perspective, ipse.

                    Mr Taster

              2. Hi - I was just looking through that issue last night too. I notice that you are quoted pretty frequently in the email digests for this site; it seems that you are pretty familiar with the food scene here.

                Your profile says that you are in Pasadena. My fiance works in Pasadena and we are starting a dinner group there. If you can stand to be at a table full of attorneys, you'd be welcome to join us. In the alternative, if you know of any other dinner groups (Pasadena or east), would you mind sharing? We're huge foodies but don't know many people here b/c we just moved from Chicago last year. I hope this is not too innappropriate a use for this board, but I am not sure how to actually meet other foodies. Thanks everyone for understanding.

                5 Replies
                1. re: lifelong foodie

                  If you are speaking to me, my name probably shows up some because I've been hanging around here for years. Sad to say I don't know of any food groups although there are these traveling dinner things I've heard about that hit a mess of places in one evening. I'll post if I get details of something coming up.

                  1. re: lifelong foodie

                    Trying to wake up and think like a foodie, you might want to check the site for Noir Food and Wine and see what Claude Beltran is up to. He does some interesting things. Not cheap but he has a good cellar.

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                    Noir Food & Wine
                    40 North Mentor Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91106

                    1. re: lifelong foodie

                      There are several LA meetup groups that focus on dining. Groups range from different ages to income levels. I'd say go on Meetup, sign up and start poking around.

                      One of the regular contributors here Pleasure Palate has run a well respected Meetup dining group for a few years. She regularly posts her experiences. Her blog and group would be a good start. Or you could try organizing a chow get together here yourself to meet up with some people and try out a place. There are some very specific guidelines on how to do that using this board. Read up on the stickies. Past get togethers seem to have been very positive. Reporting back on the food is always good data for the board.

                      1. re: lifelong foodie

                        lifelong foodie - my wife and I just moved from Minneapolis few months ago. Would love to join your dinner group if it's not too late. Let me know if it's a possibility and we can get in touch.

                      2. As I posted in another thread, they did a much better job of finding the really good Chinese restaurants in the SGV than in the past (as compared, say, to their recurring restaurant listings which have no SGV Chinese restaurants at all). While there may be lots to quibble about as far as individual inclusions or omissions go, the fact is that there are so many Chinese restaurants in the SGV (400? 500?) that few of us are able to make the complete rounds.

                        21 Replies
                        1. re: Chandavkl

                          Why doesn't Sam Woo BBQ Monterey Park ever get mentioned.
                          I could eat there everyday.

                          1. re: monku

                            No kidding. It's not the best place around but it is such comfort food for me. Yang Chow fried rice and beef brisket chow mein, dry crispy. Drizzle the chili oil on top and I'm good to go. Can't forget the roast duck either.

                            -----
                            Yang Chow Restaurant
                            819 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                          2. re: Chandavkl

                            That list is most definitely "a much better job of finding the really good Chinese restaurants in SGV than in the past."

                            The fact that they included restaurants in SGV does not make their choices "better".

                            What's good at Blue Ocean? Bottom tier dim sum at best.

                            Dumpling 10053? It no longer is even the best restaurant in the strip mall that it's located in.

                            And, really, could you say with a straight face that either Tasty Garden, Hunan Chili King, or Kam Hong are amongst the "best" Chinese restaurants in LA? While I like Tasty Garden for it's Hong Kong fare and Kam Hong for some of its noodle dishes, I wouldn't miss either if they shuttered tomorrow b/c there are probably at least 3 or more substitutes that are either as good or better.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              Well I did say there were a lot of individual details to quibble over. Actually I'm more offended by the inclusion of CBS Seafood in the top 10. I've known the guys for decades, but I don't eat there anymore because even by Chinatown standards it's ordinary at best.

                              -----
                              CBS Seafood
                              700 N Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                What's worse? CBS or Mr. Chow?

                                Seriously, I think any place west of the 710 should be disqualified from this list.

                                  1. re: Chandavkl

                                    So which is better in the battle of the networks: CBS, ABC or NBC?

                                    1. re: mc michael

                                      NBC by a mile. In its heyday (1984-1999) ABC was the best Chinese restaurant anywhere in the LA area, but with new owners and chefs it's just another Chinatown restaurant.

                              2. re: ipsedixit

                                Blue Ocean is truly a shock. I went there once for dim sum with my extended family, including the token non-Asian. Everyone thought the food was terrible. Even my seven year old son said (in Cantonese), "Daddy, I don't like this food. Next time, instead of coming to this restaurant, can we go eat dim sum?"

                                1. re: raytamsgv

                                  OK, that was my first laugh-out-loud moment of the day. Thanks raytamsgv

                                  Mr Taster

                                2. re: ipsedixit

                                  I'd say that about Hunan Chili King. It's the best Hunan food I've had in the SGV.

                                  -----
                                  Chili King
                                  10623 Hawthorne Blvd, Inglewood, CA 90304

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    Be good to mention names to back up your assertions so that we know what "tastes" you are basing your disagreement on. Otherwise it's just talk.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      Dumpling 10053? It no longer is even the best restaurant in the strip mall that it's located in.

                                      And, really, could you say with a straight face that either Tasty Garden, Hunan Chili King, or Kam Hong are amongst the "best" Chinese restaurants in LA? While I like Tasty Garden for it's Hong Kong fare and Kam Hong for some of its noodle dishes, I wouldn't miss either if they shuttered tomorrow b/c there are probably at least 3 or more substitutes that are either as good or better.
                                      By ipsedixit
                                      - - - - - - - -

                                      Be good to mention names to back up your assertions so that we know what "tastes" you are basing your disagreement on. Otherwise it's just talk.

                                          1. re: dharmathug

                                            Ho Ho Kitchen in unit #8 at 10053 E. Valley Bl. in El Monte is better than Dumpling 10053 in unit #2. Dumpling 10053 is living off its past reputation, probably established under prior ownership.

                                            -----
                                            Ho Ho Kitchen
                                            10053 Valley Blvd Ste 8, El Monte, CA 91731

                                            Dumpling 10053
                                            10053 Valley Blvd Ste 2, El Monte, CA 91731

                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                Happy to serve as your mouthpiece.

                                                1. re: Chandavkl

                                                  Hope your Phoenician friend likes Kam Hong.

                                        1. re: dharmathug

                                          There is a large measure of randomness in the Los Angeles Magazine selections. Most Chowhounds would put Sea Harbour and Elite as 1A or 1B as best Chinese restaurant, depending on their particular preference. Yet Sea Harbour gets a top ranking while Elite only gets a passing mention. Yes, Tasty Garden is good. But is it that much better than Garden Cafe, Face Cafe, Harbor Kitchen, or any number of other Hong Kong cafes?

                                          -----
                                          Tasty Garden
                                          1212 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007

                                    2. Sea Harbour also gets my vote, for best dim sum and best overall Cantonese seafood banquet experience. Even on good days, others don't often come close.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Pei

                                        PEI! Oh my god, it's been so long since I've seen a post of yours around these Los Angeles parts, after your move up to the Bay Area!! When I first saw the above post, I actually clicked on your name just to make sure you were who I thought you were! And you are! Sorry for the temporary tangent...

                                        To make this somewhat relevant, I'd agree with Chandavkl that yes, at least CBS serves Chinese food.

                                      2. I have not had YK 's food in years -- driving from West Hollywood to Pasadena puts me way too close to the SGV to stop for less exciting Chinese food. But Kang has been reliable over the years for good ingredients, decent technique and only-slightly dumbed-down-for-whitey-food.

                                        What places do you worry about upsetting your stomach in the SGV, tf1? I know many people share the same concern about a larger place - it is called China. Yet somehow billions survive, with happy tummies, there.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Ciao Bob

                                          Now, now. Only 1.3 billion. A billion more than us.