ROC This Town (maybe not yet)
Definitely a whole lot better than anything else in shouting distance of the Pacific (at least this side of the Pacific).
At 8:45 the wait for two was about 20 minutes.
The scallion pancakes and veggies (sauteed snap peas, green beans) were spot on. Tthough they serve the pancake with a dipping sauce that is more like tempura sauce (with mirin and Japanese radish, maybe ginger too, I made my own instead with soy, vinegar and chili). Pan Fried dumplings need work -- not nearly crispy enough.
Xlb wrappers were not as good as Din Tai Fung but still pretty good. The crab filling was really good, maybe better than DTF - very fresh and high quality crab. Had a good stir fry of shrimp and shishito (again, the seafood is much better than at the average Chinese/Taiwanese joint).
Did not get the shanghai rice cakes but they looked very legit. Owners (or managers) were really nice and enthusiastic and genuinely wanted feedback. They are planning to add beef noodle soup and fried pork chops soon. I will return.
2049 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Neighborhood: West Los Angeles
It's not fair to judge ROC based on SGV standards (with DTF being the exception)
It's like critiquing Parkway Grill using Lucques, Hatfields or maybe even Craft as a baseline.
I'm not even sure 95% of Westsiders would consider a joint like Mama's Lu or Dean Sin World to be "good".
ROC's in business to stay in business, not to be authentic.
Speaking as a Westsider, I told my wife about this place. Her response: Let's just go to Dean Sin World. We did go this weekend and greatly enjoyed it. Really worth the drive for us.
Having said that, I appreciate the report from Ciao Bob and I expect to check it out soon, even if I cannot convince my wife to come. I would expect Westside Chinese food to be more expensive than their SGV counterparts. ROC sounds very promising.
My husband and I liked it when we went a few weeks ago.
We had the pork XLB, sauteed corn, glass noodles with crab, and shrimp with shishito peppers.
They were already out of the scallion pancake when we sat down to eat around 8pm.
We thought taste-wise that the dishes were more home-style than restaurant-style - like something I'd cook up at home with a few simple ingredients. The hostess said they were going for a healthier concept, part of which manifested itself in the XLB which we thought could have benefited from more fat. :)
Besides that, the main con is really just the portion to price ratio.
XLB averaged out to >$1 each and the other three dishes were a handful of food and priced at $12 and $15. The wow factor was not there for us to really justify the markup, even saving the drive to SGV. But overall a very solid effort for the westside and hoping more like it pop up and take it to the next level.
As ipsedixit stated above, taking it "to the next level" for Chinese food might fall on deaf ears on the westside (how's that for mixing metaphors?).
I agree that higher prices can be a turnoff, but solid + slightly overpriced will be enough for me. Sometimes you just need to scratch an itch....
To be fair, Din Tai Fung itself might fall into the "solid + slightly overpriced will be enough for me" category. On any given night, there's somewhere in the SGV that's making soup dumplings, Shanghai rice cakes, pork chop fried rice, etc. that's better, or cheaper, or possibly better AND cheaper. But you know that Din Tai Fung isn't going to let you down; I've been there 20+ times and never had a truly bad meal. By contrast, I've been to Dean Sin World when it was transcendent (and dirt cheap), and when it was damn near inedible (and dirty).
Unexpectedly, ROC's line was very short when we walked by on Saturday night (it got much longer by the time we left), so we decided to give it a shot. We were pretty happy with what we got. Service was less chaotic than I was expecting, although they were out of bottled water(!) and also out of everything involving fish. Xlb were pretty darn good, if a little thicker-skinned than my druthers; 3 cup chicken and chewy rice cake were also both pleasers. We also ordered a bunch of veggies: corn (delicious but laborious to eat with chopsticks), snap peas, broccoli, all tasty. They gave us a complimentary order of popcorn chicken, which, honestly, we didn't like so much, but it's not one of our favorite dishes in the first place.
Fried crab balls at another table looked delicious; will try those next time.
It is on the expensive side, as others have noted--about $70 to stuff three hungry eaters but In these days of $4 gas it's really nice to be able to get this kind of food near home. (And I agree with Bradbury's comments about DTF's pricing.) I hope the early promise holds up and eventually draws some Westside imitators!
Really, you don't like Taiwanese popcorn chicken? I mean, even KFC thinks Taiwanese popcorn chicken is a good idea.
SaMo to Alhambra is 25 miles. Assuming ~25mpg on a non-hybrid vehicle, r/t would cost ~$8 to have some good XLB. (($70)/1.1 (tax)/1.15 (tip)-8)/3 = ~$16/pp + tip/tax. I think that's still very fair, and not quite "expensive" when compared to other West LA dining options? Feel free to correct the math if it is wrong.
However, you may find yourself equally frustrated, and in need of medical attention, from waiting out on the Sawtelle sidewalk for an hour dreaming (AND STARING AT) XLB while:
-- breathing the side-stream - and mentholated - smoke of a thousand Salem Lights
-- cursing the yelping lads and ladies, who are taking up a table for several hours, while eating hardly anything at all -- just photoing, blogging, giggling and ceaselessly passing around smart phones with day-glo cases so everyone can marvel at the amazing images.
I believe they are open for business full time. Drove by a little after 3 pm and there were lots of diners. However, the restaurant closes between 3 and 5 so I couldn't get in.