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Looking for Chinese...

Hey all,

As a newbie to the area, I am sorely lacking in good Chinese food. I'm not looking for extravagant nor hole-in-the-wall. Just really good Chinese where food costs (before drinks tax and tip) are under or about $40/person. I would prefer recommendations in northwestern LA area. eg: Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, Westlake, Agoura, Calabassas.

tia!

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  1. While the Los Angeles area, particularly the San Gabriel Valley, is America's greatest mecca of Chinese food, your geographic range is pretty much the Bermuda triangle of Chinese food out here. Try Peking Inn, 330 N. Lantana St., Camarillo, or Hot Wok, 28706 Roadside Dr. in Agoura Hills. There are a few other places with some good dishes, but I think these are the only two I can think of in the area you describe for which a generally good recommendation can be made.

    1. The "Looking for good Chinese food" question is very common on this board. The Common response is, "There is no good Chinese west of..." With the San Gabriel Valley within striking distance of many LA areas, most will plead you to go there, and rightfully so. The density and breadth of Chinese residents is unparalleled (probably for the whole of the US), as are the offerings and quality of various dishes from a broad range of Chinese Asian cultures there. As one radiates out from the SGV, the power of its nucleus diminishes somewhat rapidly. Because the neighborhoods you list are as far west as one can get from the SGV, the "good" places are probably slim. However, a couple of places that would be more than worthy sans the SGV factor are Sam Woo in Van Nuys (the anchor store in this minimall is 99Ranch Market - great stop) and Tampa Garden in Reseda.

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/817413

      This next thread covers "hidden strip mall gems" in the general SFV and Westside. It's peppered with lots of recs that a newcomer in these two areas should be familiar with. Hong Kong Cafe in West LA is mentioned - I haven't been in so long - but it was pretty good albeit a little oily in my experience. Other Chinese food recs can be found outside of Sam Woo and Mandarin Kitchen - I'm not familiar with them. Many other Asian recs are Vietnamese (Vinh Loi, Pho 999, Pho So 1), Thai, even Indonesian (Simpang Asia in Palms - very good). I know these aren't Chinese, but sometimes they can scratch the itch.

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/795167

      This thread is specifically requesting Chinese food in the SFV - it's a good cross-reference with the above thread:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/725974

      Hop Woo in West LA was (in my mind) a very good alternative to driving out to SGV, but they sold the place and while still good for the area, seems to have lost some of its luster. The previous owners did open another place in West LA/Westwood area called Mandarin Kitchen. It does seem similar to their Hop Woo days in some ways, and they do offer fish maw, which is near impossible to find elsewhere in the area.

      13 Replies
      1. re: bulavinaka

        And if the OP is looking for "west side" dim sum then The Palace restaurant at the corner of Barrington and Wilshire is not bad: http://www.thepalacedimsum.com/ (they even offer dim sum at night off the menu).

        1. re: Servorg

          I'll second The Palace. I took the OP literally and did not address the Westside east of Santa Monica or the SFV.

          1. re: Chandavkl

            I didn't take the geographic preference description too strictly as the OP said eg. (which to me means examples like these areas but not only these areas) in Northwestern LA.

            1. re: Servorg

              I was thinking the OP commuted between Oxnard and Santa Monica, which would be a reason to exclude the SFV and the rest of the westside. Otherwise he did a great job of isolating the places that have little Chinese food worth eating!

              1. re: Chandavkl

                Actually, I live on the PCH a couple of blocks north of Paradise Cove (just south of Point Dume) in Malibu and was hoping for food within a 35 minute-ish drive, thus the places I listed. If there are other areas I should be considering, I'd be happy to. As I said, I'm new so don't know all the areas quite yet.

                Thanks for all the recs so far!

                1. re: whiner

                  So you do live within the Bermuda Triangle of Chinese food!

                  1. re: whiner

                    I'm not so familiar with the SFV but I'm thinking Tampa Garden in Reseda would be the closest that would offer something more than non-brown sauce dishes. From Paradise Cove, I think Malibu Canyon/Las Vergenes would be the most direct route into the west SFV, then to the 101 eastbound to Tampa-north.

                    The noodle dishes and dumplings have been very good in the past. My wife believes the family name is, "Shiao," and are from Mainland China - probably from somewhere in the north, based on the more "real" menu items. The matron has always been very kind to her. She was also eager to offer dishes that are even a little deeper off the menu once my wife asked for and enjoyed things like cat ear noodles. The dining room is relatively plain. Here's there website. If you scroll down to the lower-half of their menu, you'll see the items that are definitely not on typical menus. Also, click on their gallery and the photos reemphasize many of those dishes:

                    http://www.tampagardenchinesedelight....

                    1. re: bulavinaka

                      I 2nd Bulavinaka...I luv Tampa Garden...its been awhile but "Mom" was usually making the noodles whenever i was there. Cat's ears were always nice and chewy...and the xlb, chow fun w/roast pork, soups quite good too. definitely beware of the home-style which also means not always prompt service, but they are really sweet people.

                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        I'm Chinese by heritage, but born and raised in America. I only say this b/c I'm basing what I'm about to write on information from my friend (who accompanied me during my only trip to Tampa Garden and was born and raised in Beijing). IIRC, she said that the family were "hearty" people from central China. And I vaguely recall someone on Chowhound commenting that they wouldn't expect Shanghai dishes (like XLB that they serve) to be among their stronger dishes (and it certainly wasn't the one time I went).

                        However, I did like the other items were ordered (such as the car ear noodles) and the genuine warm from the family was quite endearing. And when we ordered XLB, the mother literally pulled out the dough to make them fresh for us!

                        To the OP, if they still have a "standard" menu and a more "regional" menu, order off the regional one....

                        1. re: ilysla

                          "(such as the 'car' ear noodles)"

                          Are those also known as "tail fin noodles"? ;-D>

                          1. re: Servorg

                            Oh, dear, that's terrible! ;) I make typos all time (including at work, which is actually rather unfortunate.... But that's a conversation for another place).

                            Yes, I enjoyed the CAT ear noodles (and perhaps on occasion will have them served to be on a tail fin.... ::sigh::).

                          2. re: ilysla

                            We just moved to Northridge, and tried Tampa Gardens for the first time tonight. First caveat, the restaurant is called Tampa Gardens Chinese Delight. If you're looking for their sign, the Chinese Delight is written very large, and the Tampa Gardens written very small, so look for Chinese Delight. I think it's also listed under 411 this way.

                            It is a hole-in-the-wall, so don't count on impressing a date. However, the food is quite good, the best Chinese I've had so far in the SFV. Their native Chinese specialities are posted on colored paper taped to the wall. The menu contains their Americanized dishes. We didn't know that, so ordered off the menu, however, the food was still really good. They cook a lot of their dishes with jalapeno peppers, which may not be authentic, but gives a kind of freshness to the flavors.

                            It is an eccentric restaurant. A caucasian woman is the chief waitress and acts like she runs the place. She is friendly and helpful, but definitely gives the impression that it's her restaurant. From what I understand from other postings, I gather that's not the case. Anyway, the menu is interesting and varied, and the cooking is a departure from the tired old chinatown stuff you'll find at most valley restaurants, so definitely recommended.

                  2. re: Chandavkl

                    I much prefer Bao in WeHo to the Palace, but I understand that's farther than the OP's initial range. The Palace, as really the only dim sum option west of the 405, is really just that for me, the only option. I haven't enjoyed my food very much there or at the previous incarnation, VIP Harbor Seafood.

                    Am I gonna get lynched if I suggest Chin Chin in Brentwood? Not authentic, but consistent and serviceable, and relatively healthy. I've seen this other place around the corner, Chang's, and the menu looked not-horrible but haven't tried the food there.

              2. I'm newish to the same area. Coming from Hacienda Heights, I can tell you that it's been tough, especially if I want anything other than "gastropub" food, but there's a szechuan place (called Szechuan Place) that just opened on Kanan and Thousand Oaks in the Vons plaza that's not bad. It's definitely one of the better Chinese places in the area. Compared to what I'm used to, it's a cut below and almost twice the price, but for Agoura Hills/Thousand Oaks, it's pretty good.

                Here's the thread from here about it:
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/848033

                I agree w/ Les--the kung pao, not so good (or anything you've seen before passed off as kung pao), but I've gotten the fish with bean sauce (in pieces, since I like it that way better than the whole fish), the spicy eggplant and even beef broccoli, all of which were pretty good. Their stuff doesn't seem as spicy as it can get, so you probably don't have to worry about anything truly scary.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Joycesq

                  Or simply put, stick to the Chinese menu.

                  1. re: Chandavkl

                    Yes. Thanks, Chandavkl, for the TL;DR version. :-)

                      1. re: Mr Taster

                        As to that linked post...TL DR ;-D>

                2. Joss on Santa Monica near CC is very good as I recall