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Answering The Age Old Question Of Whether It's Worth The Drive From The San Gabriel Valley to Eat at ROC Dumpling

Based on initial my impressions, unless you're driving to visit Tsujita or perhaps Seoul Sausage in the same complex and want to take some Chinese home with you, I would say not. ROC is still in its soft opening stage, as I ordered off the menu that said "Soft Opening Menu, November 29." But at least they are open for lunch now from noon until 3pm. To be fair the items I ordered were all sort of the same ilk--onion pancake, XLB, and crispy chicken dumplings. All three were quite bland without dipping sauces, but actually pretty good with the sauces. This raises the issue of whether these kinds of items should be flavorful on their own, or whether you should allow for the saltiness in the sauce. I'm definitely a proponent of the latter. The post sauce onion pancake was a good, average quality SGV onion pancake. But at $4 for an order half the size of Earthen's, it's a poor value even if it were as good (which it isn't). XLB was OK, with an OK skin and lots of soup. Crispy chicken dumplings were interesting, fried together in a single clump, which I like. But I couldn't help wonder if they had bought the dumplings frozen across the street at Nijiya Market. (I suspect not, but I sure couldn't tell from the taste.) I'll go back later to see what else they may have. But only if I'm in the area. Address is 2049 Sawtelle Blvd.

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  1. I've never heard of a dipping sauce for onion pancakes.

    8 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Ginger soy sauce. It's actually described on the menu.

      1. re: Chandavkl

        What I meant was onion pancakes are not eaten with a dipping sauce a la XLB or dumplings.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          I think they're indiscreetly tipping the hat to Korean pajeon where there there is usually a side of dipping sauce, but I agree...scallion pancake/green onion pancake should be enjoyed on its own, and even the versions in Hong Kong that are like multi layered deep fried crispy crusts the size of a bagel don't have dip sauces either.

          1. re: K K

            I think they are actually discreetly tipping the hat to the typical American diner looking for Chinese food.

            Your typical American diner (yes, I know I am stereotyping here) will instinctively reach to some type of sauce when eating Chinese food -- be it soy, chili, sweet+sour, duck, or whatever. It's almost like Linus reaching for his blanket.

            There's a reason that over 50% of Kikomann's revenues come from those individual soy sauce packets.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              The paradigmatic blanket.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                hey man, sometimes it's chilly in the house and ranch dressing isn't warm enough.

                1. re: linus

                  You should ask Sally to come over and keep you warm ...

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    sadly, sally lives in the SGV and decided i'm not worth the trip.

      2. This can't be the the age old question because there was no question as to the answer: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8736... . Never, ever, ever. No. No. No.

        The true question remains: is SGV's XLB worth the drive after ROC opened.
        I'm saying no.

        Everyone keeps comparing ROC's prices to SGV (Earthen, 101 noodle, etc.). Stop that immediately because it's bad accounting: Sawtelle rent, LA-city English speaking labor, blah blah, blah blah blah.1 bowl of noodle at Tsujita is $10++ and they charge for green tea.

        Which leads to the final question: who's opening more edible XLB joints? Culver?

        2 Replies
        1. re: TonyC

          It was in the other ROC thread.

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8786...

          1. re: TonyC

            Not sure that's even a relevant question -- much less an age old one.

            Most Chinese restaurants in SGV view the Westside clientele as more of a nuisance than a marginal addition to the bottom line.

          2. Tried ROC recently. Unimpressed. The fact that there was dipping sauce for the tsung yeoh bing (scallion pancakes) should have been a warning sign... They need to tinker with their flavors on the XLBs, and thin down (& flavor up) those pancakes. The food should stand on its own without the dipping sauce.

            Chicken don't belong in dumplings (I'm more of a Sino-purist when it comes to that), but I suppose if you want to survive on the Westside, it's inevitable.

            Due to fortunate circumstances, I can usually walk over to Sawtelle to sample all the eateries there. But sadly, I still find myself schlepping over to the SGV for my Chinese carb fix, price & commute notwithstanding.

            Still... I have hope for the ROC. I'll check back periodically.

            6 Replies
            1. re: J.L.

              Again, I don't think its's fair or apt to compare ROC to an SGV equivalent Chinese restaurant.

              Because, to put it bluntly, ROC isn't an SGV Chinese restaurant. And it is good business acumen on their part not to be. You can't have a successful SGV style Chinese restaurant survive on the Westside. (What was it Einstein said about insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?)

              The better baseline comparison might be a place like Bao Dim Sum House or even a place like Take A Bao. If ROC is better than those places (or places of that ilk) then it should be considered a success.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                I agree with you that Westside Chinese should not be compared to the SGV. However, in reporting the opening of ROC, the food press has characterized this as a taste of the SGV coming to WLA, and indeed I believe the chef has stated this himself. Also, I think that's why the first Chowhound thread on ROC ran over a 100 posts long. Consequently, we need to weigh in on the validity of that assertion.

                1. re: Chandavkl

                  Good point.

              2. re: J.L.

                I agree with the premise that we shouldn't expect ROC to compare with the SGV establishments.

                BUT even taking this into account - As a standalone eatery, as the current offerings stand, I still can't find myself going back. As I've said, I will try to go back for periodic re-assessments.

                1. re: J.L.

                  Fair enough.

                  1. re: J.L.

                    I haven't tried it yet. But I'm overdue on a whirl.

                2. There are still some service issues here. Yet they are eager to please.

                  It seems like a small group of friends has opened the joint.

                  The pure crab dumplings were good, though not great. It will do in a pinch when the trek along the 10 seems to be too arduous and unnerving.

                  But those scallion pancakes here are great. And yes, the do taste good without the ginger dipping sauce. Some pieces I dipped and some not.

                  It is pricier than the SGV but not by much. If you compare XLBs at DTF, those will run you at least 9 bucks for the crab/pork mixture, here the same mixture will run you 9.25.

                  Though at crab fried rice here for 12 bucks will prolly run you about 9 bucks in the SGV.

                  And those scallion pancakes would most likely run you close to 4 bucks in the SGV, but then again I'm no scallion pancakes expert.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: kevin

                    XLB pricier than the SGV?, yes, excluding DTF (which is one of the bigger knocks against it). By comparison, Dean Sin World and most other places serving XLB will run in the $6-7 range.

                    1. re: JThur01

                      My bad. You are absolutely correct. Yeah, I was referring to DTF. You are probably right that Dean Sin World and others are a couple bucks cheaper. (Sadly, I have not been to Dean Sin World before).

                      Actually you are abosutely right. Just referred to the Luscious Dumpling menu, and all the items are either 6 or 6.50

                      1. re: JThur01

                        The problem with DTF isn't the price, it's that the food isn't very good (save for a few items like the chicken soup and perhaps the nian gao).

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          The fried rice and pork chops at DTF are exemplary

                    2. Tried it today after having some business to take care of at UCLA.

                      Scallion pancakes were a travesty. Flaccid, cold and oily. Not greasy, just oily. This was like eating a cold tortilla. Bad ordeal.

                      XLB with dungess crab. Fillings had no taste. The skins were undercooked and tasted like machine-grade commercial stuff you buy at the market. If these were handmade skins, the person making them needs to go back to school, or be fired.

                      Spicy fried dumplings. These were ok. The addition of the chili sauce certainly hid any of the deficiencies in these things.

                      Three Cup Chicken. This might've been the highlight of the meal. But I must first say this is most definitely not Taiwanese Three Cup Chicken. It's more like a hybrid version of fast-food Teriyaki Chicken and Orange Chicken. Three Cup Chicken is not sweet and sour, it's more salty and pungent (hence the name three cups of wine, soy and sesame oil). But that said, ROC should make this their signature dish and I have a feeling it will be one of their most popular items, but just don't call it Three Cup Chicken -- because that's not what it is. Call it ROC Chicken, or whatever. Still, like I said, this is pretty tasty shit. They should use this chicken as the filling for their XLB and dumpling, instead of crap they're using now.

                      Ok, food aside, I need to say something about the price. Yes, it's pricey, but that's ok if the food tasted good. But the food doesn't taste good -- certainly not by SGV standards, and not by any standards really. And if I am going to pay 60 for a meal for 2, I want tasty food. I did not get tasty food, except for that misnamed Three Cup Chicken.

                      So would I drive from SGV to the Westside to try this? No. I wouldn't even drive from UCLA to eat here.

                      But I will say that there is one thing that makes them very different from SGV Chinese restaurants. Service. It's really really quite accommodating. Almost too much so.

                      Oh, and their tea blows. Cold and insipid. How do you mess up tea?

                      39 Replies
                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Maybe Sergio wasn't cooking today... :-P

                        This was a similar in line to my experience there, except my tea was lukewarm, not cold...

                        I'll go try the hybrid 3 Cup Chicken next time, since I am usually walking distance to Sawtelle.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          3 cup chicken (hybrid) - one cup teriyaki, one cup orange, one cup hipsterism.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            ips is in the minority. Peeps are LOOOVING ROC right now, Asian, Chinese, or otherwise.

                            1. re: TonyC

                              Perhaps ipse is in the minority. But in general, chowhounds tend to be in the minority anyway. Many people swoon over restaurants viewed unfavorably by chowhounds.

                              1. re: TonyC

                                I will say this my scallion pancake was piping hot and I did like it too.

                                The crab dumplings, the pure crab only with nothing else, is a little bland if you don't dip it in the soy.

                                But I still think they are going through growing pains. Yet, they are also already very busy. And the restaurants looks to have a very long soft opening.

                                1. re: kevin

                                  LA Weekly informed us they "opened" on Dec 1: http://blogs.laweekly.com/squidink/20...

                                  dunno what that that actually means since they've been serving customers (albeit on and off) since Oct 19 *shrug*

                                  1. re: kevin

                                    ... Maybe I'll go back when Sergio is cooking.

                                    1. re: J.L.

                                      sergio is cooking ? for some reason, this sounds like an in-joke on coni's seafood ???

                                      1. re: kevin

                                        Hehehehe indeed... It just seems we had such different green scallion pancakes at the very same place, there must have been different chefs.

                                        Either that, or we have different taste and/or expectations about our green scallion pancakes.

                                        1. re: J.L.

                                          Well, I will say this. It was definitely piping hot. That would be a fact. It did take a solid half hour for it (once again, it's those damn growing pains.).

                                          I know most hounds don't like it, but for some reason I have a feeling it's going to get better. And it's definitely a refreshing addition to the scene on the Sawtelle Corridor. This time on the weekend, parking was not even to huge of an issue.

                                  2. re: TonyC

                                    I think Ipse has a soft spot for old school SGV/Monterey Park which explains the avid dislike for places like DTF, ROC, and yes, even Shanghai #1 :)

                                    1. re: Porthos

                                      Oh, I dunno, I'm quite fond of Why Thirsty ... which is about as "non old school" as one can get for PCR.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        We may be the only two on these boards that like Why Thirsty then.

                                        1. re: Johnny L

                                          There are people who don't like Why Thirsty?

                                          Really? What has the world come to?

                                          Next thing you know, there will be XLB west of the 405 fwy.

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            Well, Hunan Mao would apparently like to open a branch in WLA. Would that fly?

                                            1. re: Chandavkl

                                              Owner of Hunan Mao From Novermber LA Weekly " My vision is to bring this restaurant and Hunan cuisine to more Caucasian-based neighborhoods. I'm currently looking at properties in West Los Angeles."

                                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                                Don't you think one Hunan restaurant in the westside is 1 more than too many?

                                                But in all seriousness, I wonder why there is this unsatiable urge for some Chinese restaurants to expand to the westside.

                                                Wolfgang contemplated doing the reverse (Westside to Pasadena) and concluded that the whole notion was unworkable because of the demographics.

                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds"

                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                    I prefer Einstein.

                                                    "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"

                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                      Would that notion include putting those words in Einstein's mouth over and over and over again, despite the fact that the probability he said it is remote at best? ;-D>

                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                        Shush. Just don't tell Rita Mae Brown.

                                                  2. re: ipsedixit

                                                    Wolfgang ?

                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                      Seems like there's enough Chinese students at UCLA to support a westside Hunan Mao. Yeah, Ocean Star (Royal Star) fizzled a decade ago, but perhaps something non Cantonese might work.

                                                      1. re: Chandavkl

                                                        The Chinese UCLA students, from what I can tell, don't actually go out for Chinese food -- at least not the ones on campus or living in/around Westwood. Those that do, actually are commuter students who live (get this!) in/around SGV.

                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                          I would say you are very correct.

                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                            A lot of Chinese UCLA students are from NorCal, and from scraps I've seen off the Internet they do venture to the SGV for food when they can. Also I've noticed that since the present ownership took over at Union Buffet in WLA and added things like Fuzhou fish balls and whole mackerel (or similar fish) that there is a fair amount of patronage from what appears to be UCLA students.

                                                            1. re: Chandavkl

                                                              Should I visit Union Buffet ? That's in the same mini-type-mall as the Baja Bud's and the Subway ?

                                                              1. re: kevin

                                                                Even though we go on the odd occasion I can't in good conscience recommend it to anyone...

                                                                1. re: kevin

                                                                  I believe that's the same mall. I go there regularly, but it's not for a gourmet meal. Rather I go there for a large, inexpensive meal ($7.99 weekday lunch) for a handful of selections that I especially like (chicken shui mai, chicken dumplings, steamed swai, chicken nuggets). It's the best Chinese buffet outside the SGV, but I'm not sure that necessarily says much. Kind of like way the Asian patronage here is much higher than it was under previous regimes dating back to 2004.

                                                                  1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                    So if you had a choice on the food alone, money no object, would you take Union over

                                                                    1. re: kevin

                                                                      Based on food alone, very few buffets are worth a return visit.

                                                                2. re: Chandavkl

                                                                  I wonder why Fuzhou fish balls would ever be an attraction for diners (of whatever creed or race) at buffets. They're inevitably the pre-packaged, commercially mass produced frozen ones you can get from the many suppliers in/around Baldwin and Lower Azusa.

                                                                  Now, if they had the stuff that Xi Xi makes, then I'm game. I just wish Xi Xi's broth had more body and character, but I quibble ...

                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                    Probably for the same reason why when I used to work regularly in WLA I'd drive to L.A. Chinatown for lunch. Beats the alternative.

                                                                  2. re: Chandavkl

                                                                    I don't recall being able to eat like a Chowhound during my undergrad days at UCLA. Mostly, due to academics/time/resources, I was studying, doing research, or more studying. Food meant brown bagging it, vending machines or eating cheap on campus. The "feast" to splurge on a date would have been Olive Garden. I couldn't afford a car, so mobility was very restricted.

                                                                    It was only after I graduated UCLA that someone introduced me to in-depth exploration of areas south of Santa Monica Blvd., including Sawtelle.

                                                                    And yes, I did walk uphill in freezing sleet on Bruin Walk to and from class, both ways. ;-)

                                                                    1. re: J.L.

                                                                      Oh, sadly, for me I started eating like a 'hound in college.

                                                                      It was the start of a terrible relationship for the stomach and the pocket book.

                                                          2. re: ipsedixit

                                                            Well, I've never even heeard of Why THirsty ?

                                                            Btw, have you guys gone to a JGold recently reviewed joint called Tasty Dining in San Gabriel ?

                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                              ... Just 1-2 blocks west of the 405 Fwy.

                                                          3. re: ipsedixit

                                                            Well, I know a bunch of people from Taiwan that do not like Din Tai Fung at all.

                                                            Well, interestingly, ipse you do also like Dai Ho Kitchen, correct ?

                                                            1. re: kevin

                                                              Yes, I do like Dai Ho.

                                                              Some of the best lu-wei, NRM and dry pork noodles around SGV.

                                                    2. Roc is very good mostly because you get to not drive to SGV. The wait sucks, it is very uncomfortable, the tables are piled on top of each other, and it is more expensive than the equivalent places in SGV. That said, the ingredients are higher quality and they use more organic product. (And less salt and no MSG which IMHO to me makes them better with more flavor subtlety, not bland!) But from what I have seen of authentic Asian food fans on these boards, this kind of thing often does not play into decision making. My answer is no, if SGV is more convenient then don't bother.

                                                      1. According to the LA Times, it's still in it's soft opening stage and will open officially sometime in Janaury. See below for the Times blurb:
                                                        ROC Kitchen
                                                        Xiao long bao, or Shanghai soup dumplings, arrive on the Westside at ROC Kitchen, which, according to its menu, is in its soft opening, with a grand opening planned for January. Diners already are lining up out the door for steamers stacked with soupy dumplings filled with pork, Dungeness crab and pork, chicken, or Dungeness crab and chicken. Peppered beef, "three cup" chicken with chiles, scallion pancakes and sauteed rice cakes also are crowd pleasers. Crispy chicken dumplings are available on some days.

                                                        2049 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 235-2089.

                                                        1. To keep it chowish, I do still quite enjoy the pure crab dumplings as well as my piping hot scallion pancake.

                                                          1. I am not at all an expert in Chinese dumplings, but I can say whether it's worth driving from Santa Monica to ROC versus Santa Monica to Din T'ai Fung. I've been to DTF once before this week--because I had someplace to go in Arcadia. I went in late afternoon then and had virtually no line--I loved the dumplings enough to take a batch of fish dumplings home with me. This week on Christmas cousins and I went to DTF. Traffic blissfully non-existent. We got there at 11:05 and didn't get seated until about 12:50 (close to 2 hours in any case). The pork XLB were as good as I remembered. The fish were skimpy and tasted both bland and slightly unpleasant. Chicken (yes they do have chicken dumplings) was reasonably good. Worth the drive?--let's just say I had no desire to take anything to go. If I need to go to Arcadia again (not likely), I'll come back to CH and find an alternative.

                                                            Curious about ROC since I started reading about it here. After a movie at the Royal (newly and badly remodeled), friend and I came to check it out. We got there about 6:45--no line, what a thrill. Very nice owner/waiter. Pork XLB very tasty but skin is a little thicker than DTF (not as good IMO). Also ordered fish dumplings (he suggested)--very very bland, but a tad better than DTF's. Great and crisp garlic string beans. They gave us comped pancake--quite hot and good tasting (not an expert on these at all).

                                                            Two orders of dumplings, grean beans, comped pancakes, no beverage=$24.47 before tax and tip. Is it great? No, but decently good, nice service, reasonable price and NO WAIT at almost 7 on a Friday night. Would order crab/pork next time I think.

                                                            By the way, owner told us chef is from Slanted Door in SF--doesn't make him a Shanghainese dumpling expert AFAIK--maybe these are secretly Vietnamese fusion dumplings??

                                                            1. ROC Dumpling still isn't fully running. It was closed for lunch today with construction occurring inside. Meanwhile taped to the window was a "soft opening menu" dated yesterday, January 14, which indicated that there would only be very limited seating all week, presumably at dinner time.

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                So where did you eat?

                                                                1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                                  Tatsu Ramen. Yuck.

                                                                  1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                    Nasty.

                                                                    1. re: J.L.

                                                                      is that the one in the same complex as Manpuku and and Little Hong Cafe and 2117 and the korean tofu joint ?

                                                                      also, chandavkl,

                                                                      have you tried Roc Dumpling yet, personally, and I'm in the minority on this one, I like it, what i have liked so far, and all were served piping hot, at least when i visited there.

                                                                      the fish dumplings.

                                                                      the crab dumplings (thoough 99.9999% of the population will find these to be fucking crap, because it's just stringy crab with some of the crab juices but not very tasty juices)

                                                                      scallion pancakes (liked it each and every time that i have had it).

                                                                      the sauteed shrimp with shishito peppers.

                                                                      and the vermicilleli glasse noodles with crab.

                                                                      according to the latest information, that i can't seem to remember the source of, there officially opening will be febr. 3rd, but this may change once again, suffice to say.

                                                                      1. re: kevin

                                                                        Yes, my "review" started this thread, though it's gotten so long and hijacked such that the fact has been obscured.

                                                              2. Final verdict after going back for a five course meal: apples and oranges. I think part of the premise of ROC * Dumpling was to bring SGV Chinese food to WLA. In that regard I knew I was eating in WLA, even shutting my eyes and not looking at the hipsters in my midst. Food was decent and high quality, but not particularly reminiscent of the SGV. (Do they even serve kale in the SGV?) So come here if you like the food, but don't expect an SGV experience.

                                                                22 Replies
                                                                1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                  I'm one in a million, on this but after more than a few visits now, I really like there food, as far as taste is concerned.

                                                                  I really like the shrimp with peppers, the crab with vermiceli noodles, the fish dumplings, the all crab dumplings (though some will find these to be really flavorless, even more so than the fish dumplings), the scallion pancakes, the pretty good service on all the times that I have been there, and there veggie side dishes.

                                                                  but once again, i know most really don't like the joint.

                                                                  1. re: kevin

                                                                    Just went there tonight for the first time. I think it's okay for what it is (reasonably tasty Chinese food that's much more "authentic" what seems to be available in the immediate area otherwise). My partner and I had the scallion pancakes, 2 orders of XLB, siu mai, the bok choy, and the pan-fried dumplings (as opposed to the "crispy dumplings".... not sure what the difference is).

                                                                    The scallion pancake was actually good. Ours was warm, not too oily, and they tasted fine w/o the dipping sauce. The dipping sauce (which I've also never seen b/f served w/ scallion pancakes anywhere else, SGV or not) was delicious, but it completely overwhelmed the taste of the pancake.

                                                                    The dipping sauce was, however, the perfect accompaniment for the really bland (but otherwise nicely cooked) boy choy. The pan-fried dumplings (which I assume were supposed to be guo tieh?) were only one step up from frozen gyoza at the supermarket. The 3 choices of sauce were nice (the same scallion pancake dipping sauce, a plum sauce, and a sauce that seemed similar to sriracha).

                                                                    I'm actually not generally a fan of siu mai; the ROC version was inoffensive enough (using what appeared to be the same wrapper from the XLB w/ some sort of pasty filling [shrimp?] w/ a rather small full shrimp on top).

                                                                    The XLB were a disappointment. The wrappers were rather chewy (and frankly sticky on the 2nd order), there was little pork flavor coming through in the soup, and there wasn't much crab to speak of. Definitely not worth the $9.75, even taking into account westside rent.

                                                                    Price for our dishes (and one soda) was $53. Ridiculous by SGV standards, of course, but within reason for the area, I think.

                                                                    It scratches an itch, I suppose. My partner, who has little experience w/ Chinese food, thought it was pretty good (I took him to JYTH, which he thought was excellent). While I thought it was far from bad, I wouldn't go back on my own, and I live pretty close to the restaurant. For most (if not all) of ROC's intended audience, the food, price, and ambiance probably all work very well, and I'm sure they'll be very successful.

                                                                    1. re: ilysla

                                                                      I think I am it's intended audience. I really like it.

                                                                      And for some reason the SgV is not that much cheaper if you compare to din tai dung or luscious dumpling.

                                                                      1. re: kevin

                                                                        "And for some reason the SgV is not that much cheaper if you compare to din tai dung or luscious dumpling."

                                                                        Or factor in the travel cost as part of your meal.

                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                          Ok. I may a complete idiot compared to you guys when it comes to SGV Chinese food but I have never come across the $2 to $4 dumpling plates.

                                                                          As of a few months ago, I saw a dumpling plate of pork and maybe not even crab for 6.75 at luscious dumpling not head and shoulders much cheaper than the 9 bucks one would drop at ROC.

                                                                          1. re: kevin

                                                                            $9 versus $6.75 in absolute terms is not very much ($2.75) but relatively speaking it's about a 1/4 more at ROC Star.

                                                                            That's a significant margin. In other words, I could buy 4 plates of dumplings (betters one at that) at Luscious for the same amount of money I can buy 3 plates of dumplings (inferior ones at that) at ROC Star.

                                                                            That's a bad trade-off in my opinion, even with gas prices hovering around $4-4.50/gallon.

                                                                            (And FWIW, Din Tai Fung is grossly overpriced, esp. it's XLB. Even the chicken soup, which I love, is outrageously expensive.)

                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                              "(And FWIW, Din Tai Fung is grossly overpriced, esp. it's XLB. Even the chicken soup, which I love, is outrageously expensive.)"

                                                                              Agreed. As good as it may be, It always feels like i'm paying for an extra person for no real reason.

                                                                              1. re: blimpbinge

                                                                                You're paying for DTF's in-house feng shui master.

                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                  :)

                                                                                  I wonder if ROC might just have a phalanx of "feng shui master"s.

                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                    Maybe they're just paying overtime per the law? And that "legal" thing is resulting in the cost of the food? Just a thought.

                                                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                                                      You may be on to something. No joke.

                                                                                      1. re: kevin

                                                                                        Half the board is over on the Urasawa thread excoriating them for not paying their employees fairly and the other half is over here railing about a restaurant on the west side trying to cover their rent and make a profit after expenses. Hmm, "Houston. We Have a Problem"

                                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                                          I cracked up at the Irony (?) of this matter. I think I cracked up at your "Houston" comment.

                                                                                          But seriously, in all earnestness, this is no laughing matter.

                                                                                2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                  I always keep thinking where are these aforementioned $2 plates of dumplings in the SGV ?

                                                                                  Also, the scallion pancake is roughly the same price in nominal terms at $4 as the ones in the SGV which are also 4 bucks.

                                                                                  But and this is obviously a big, huge but, if you believe ROC's goods are extremely inferior to the goods at a joint in the SGV, then it does not matter if it's even a dollar cheaper or less.

                                                                                  But as the days go by, I think I'm seriously in the minority in actually liking ROC.

                                                                                  1. re: kevin

                                                                                    I have never come across $2 plates of dumplings (unless you count things like shu mai at dim sum, but we all know better than that, right?)

                                                                                    Even $4 is stretching it a bit.

                                                                                    I think the going rate for a plate of 10 dumplings in SGV is about $6 or $7.

                                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                      Ok, cool. Then I wasn't missing out something I remembered reading.

                                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                        here's that article from the LA Times:

                                                                                        "Area restaurants wear B and C food-safety grades like badges of honor, and diners line up for cheap fried pork dumplings and dim sum at $2 a plate. Tam's dumplings cost $7 and come steamed, with organic spinach wrappers." --- LA Times.

                                                                                        http://articles.latimes.com/2013/mar/...

                                                                                        1. re: kevin

                                                                                          Pretty sure that $2 is referring to dim sum, which by the way is an inapt analogy given that ROC does not do dim sum.

                                                                                        2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                          I've seen XLB go for $4.95 for 10 at a few places, but that was one or two years ago (JJ and Giang Nan). I don't know the current prices, and I'm not even going to touch the bao vs. dumpling issue.

                                                                                          However, I agree that $2 is almost certainly for a plate of dim sum.

                                                                                          1. re: raytamsgv

                                                                                            I think dumplings at Dean Sin World are about $4, and across the street at Qing Dao are $5. Just in case you're ever looking for some cheap dumplings. If you're really looking to save some money, you can pick up frozen dumplings that may get you down to $2/10 or so.

                                                                                            1. re: andytseng

                                                                                              re: DSW XLB - 4.85/8 per Yelp photo dated 9/1/12.

                                                                                  2. re: Servorg

                                                                                    I don't like DTF. ;) I honestly don't think my parents and I have ever spent more than $35 for lunch, and we all eat a pretty good amount.

                                                                                    For me, it's the travel time, not the travel cost (my car gets decent gas mileage.... ;) ). It's just not viable to drive all the way to the SGV from the westside on a weekday night (even Saturday traffic heading east is horrific).

                                                                                    Still, I'd just wait to eat at Jin Jiang on Sat or Sun lunch, if I really wanted XLB. I can't say the quality of the individual components is better at the SGV places, but the end result seems to be more than the sum of its parts (which is not the case w/ ROC).

                                                                                    ROC has decent food that will seem both exotic yet totally accessible to the westside clientele. Can't argue w/ how they've set up the restaurant, in that respect.

                                                                          2. It's a resounding no from me. Flavors are off for me (unauthentic and passionless were the words that came to mind). I ordered the one dumpling dish where the skin is melded into a crackling, the one that takes 25 minutes to make, didnt have as much flavor as I'm used to a d after the wait and lack of delivery the crispy dumpling skin was more gimmicky than delicious. Many many better options in SGV imo

                                                                            20 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Xan7hos

                                                                              Comparing apples to apples, geographically speaking, where on the west side would you recommend for these dishes if not eating at ROC?

                                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                                Sometimes, to extend your analogy, there are no apples to compare.

                                                                                If you're in the middle of an orange farm, you eat oranges. Not apples.

                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                  Are you saying the one apple tree isn't worth picking from? So I should eat oranges, even though I want apples and the apple tree is in my backyard? Seems like cutting off my apples (ouch!) to spite my branch...(fruit-o-phobia?).

                                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                                    Some apples just aren't worth eating.

                                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                      And some are worth going against the local apple naysayers and biting into...

                                                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                                                        servorg, i agree with you on that note.

                                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                                          And some are worth going against the local apple naysayers and biting into...
                                                                                          _____________________

                                                                                          Isn't that what Adam said?

                                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                            He was just trying to Eve(n) things out...

                                                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                                                              :)

                                                                                              Ok, this cracked me slightly at the old cubicle.

                                                                                      2. re: Servorg

                                                                                        I'm nowhere near an expert, but I for one do really like ROC Kitchen. I like the scallion pancakes (on the half dozen times I've tried it there it was good except for the one lone night, when we arrived late in the evening).

                                                                                        The fish dumplings are great in my opinion. But then again I
                                                                                        'm comparing it to the SGV's seafood dumplings rather than the SGV's pork/crab dumplings. And you guys know what I mean by dumplings I believe.

                                                                                        And the sauteed shrimp with shishito peppers is great. And I would order it anywhere. Great stuff.

                                                                                        So is the vermicelli noodles with shredded crab meat.

                                                                                        The only thing I didn't really like was the pickled cucumbers szechuan style which was way too fucking salty. Way too salty.

                                                                                        And for the most part the service was good too.

                                                                                        Now my real question is have they transitioned out of there soft opening phase as of yet ???

                                                                                        1. re: kevin

                                                                                          "I'm nowhere near an expert..."

                                                                                          Sometimes expertise can be detrimental to enjoyment.

                                                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                                                            Maybe not expertise per se but greater breadth and depth in experience. For the example and for the purpose of discussion, ROC may be acceptable to someone who has only tried 2 such places because it would still be top 3. Someone that has tried 50 places serving similar cuisine may not even rank it top 10.

                                                                                            I think past experiences account a lot for whether or not we feel a certain restaurant is "good" or not.

                                                                                            1. re: Porthos

                                                                                              I like to go with the Crosby, Stills & Nash approach when it comes to eating out:

                                                                                              Well there's a rose in a fisted glove

                                                                                              And the eagle flies with the dove

                                                                                              And if you can't be with the one you love, honey

                                                                                              Love the one you're with

                                                                                              You gotta love the one you're with

                                                                                              You gotta love the one you're with

                                                                                              You gotta love the one you're with

                                                                                        2. re: Servorg

                                                                                          Well, where in Mammoth Lakes would you go for a Chinese meal? I had to ask myself that question once, the question quickly morphing into "Do I really want to eat Chinese food in this town?" I ended up at KFC. Turning back to ROC Dumpling, a great deal of the criticism originates from the pre-opening implication that this would be a SGV restaurant on the Westside. It's not--it's a decent Chinese restaurant for Westsiders. No more, no less.

                                                                                          1. re: Chandavkl

                                                                                            For every minute I'm not stuck in traffic the taste of the food at restaurants near me improves by 1%...and pretty soon the food near my house tastes just as good as anywhere else in the greater metropolitan area...

                                                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                                                              It's a culinary version of beer goggles.

                                                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                Yeah, I understand. I ate last Saturday night in Chinatown because the eastbound traffic was too bad.

                                                                                          2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                            But for most hounds it is very inauthentic (though I know some don't like to use the word "authentic" and might rather use the word "traditional" perhaps).

                                                                                            1. re: kevin

                                                                                              I'm only concerned about the "in-my-mouth-a-ticity"

                                                                                          3. re: Servorg

                                                                                            I can't answer that question but my thing is just because its the only place in the area does not mean you should settle if its not up to what you and I perceive as on par. ROC is interesting to me because in the context of being on the Sawtelle Strip I had higher expectations. Even if they can't be the best at least be decent in what you do. Their XLBs just had an off flavor that I've never experienced, and I do mean off in the sense where something is lacking. Good XLB is worth having, and in the long run you probably pay about the same if you head over to the San Gabe valley as prices tend to be almost 40% cheaper and the food is authentic and delicious (factoring gas and parking)

                                                                                        3. It doesn't surprise me that the food suffers in comparison with the same dishes at restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley, but the comparison escapes me completely. I adore food; a hobby is reading menus, and I always choose the restaurant. That said, under no conceivable circumstances would I drive to SGV to eat a meal just because I think it will taste better than what I might get here.

                                                                                          If I don't go to SGV, I can still have a satifying although mediocre meal (especially if I am in a crisis situation where I need a specific comfort food such as soup dumplings) or I can eat something else. Either way, I will have a great deal of time to spend doing something else, or taking a nap. It is everyone's personal decision, but the marginal benefit of eating in SGV seems to me to be hugely outweighed by the wasted time and inconvenience of getting there. If I really wanted soup dumplings often, I might consider learning to make them myself. (Of course, I would likely fail at it, and need to go on a field trip to SGV to eat properly prepared ones, thus invalidating everything I have said.)

                                                                                          15 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: magiccat

                                                                                            The difference btw ROC and the SGV equivalent is not marginal. And I consider mediocre and satisfying to be mutually exclusive. If my only experience w/ XLB were the version that ROC serves, I wouldn't understand at all why people would be interested in eating such a thing.... So I think the ROC version is only worth having if you know what the "good" versions actually taste like....

                                                                                            1. re: magiccat

                                                                                              "That said, under no conceivable circumstances would I drive to SGV to eat a meal just because I think it will taste better than what I might get here."

                                                                                              "marginal benefit of eating in SGV"

                                                                                              huh? are you on the correct website?

                                                                                              1. re: magiccat

                                                                                                The original Chowhound manifesto

                                                                                                http://web.archive.org/web/2000051006...

                                                                                                "Everyone has one in their life: the brother-in-law with a collection of 800 takeout menus, the coworker who's always late from lunch because she HAD to trek to one end of town for the best soup and to the other for the best sandwich. Chowhounds know where the good stuff is, and they never settle for less than optimal deliciousness, whether dining in splanky splendor or grabbing a quick slice of pizza. They are the one in ten who live to eat."

                                                                                                Mr Taster

                                                                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                  Codicil added to the manifesto:

                                                                                                  "Even if the restaurant has no sign to make it easier for you to find, no matter what made up reason you ascribe to that fact, if that stops you from dining there to achieve optimal deliciousness then you aren't the one in ten who live to eat."

                                                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                    Link to the archive.org please

                                                                                                    Mr Taster

                                                                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                      lol @Servorg

                                                                                                  2. re: magiccat

                                                                                                    I haven't tried ROC yet so commenting on how they rate r.e. the notable SGV places isn't in my cards. But I can comment on how the time issue r.e. ROC vs. going to SGV.

                                                                                                    I never considered ROC to be a viable alternative because of time, menu choices and price.

                                                                                                    Going to ROC and getting a seat:

                                                                                                    - It takes me about 15-20 minutes to get from my home in the southwest part of the Westside to ROC.

                                                                                                    - Parking is a crap shoot around ROC so let's add another 10 minutes.

                                                                                                    - Waiting at peak time can be another crap shoot - let's add another 20 minutes. We're at approximately 50 minutes now. The drive back is usually 10-15 minutes.

                                                                                                    Going to SGV to eat ROC-like menu:
                                                                                                    - It takes me about 50-80 minutes via 90-405-10 freeways to get from my home to the west SGV for dinner service. The drive back is usually 30 minutes.

                                                                                                    - Because so many options in the SGV for menu items like xlb are at my whim, wait time for a seat is usually marginal - five minutes?

                                                                                                    In terms of time, the extra potential 30 minutes is in my eyes well spent for consistently great food. Consider the far more extensive menu choices and this option keeps looking better.

                                                                                                    The prices for food in SGV are unreal to me as a Westsider. Competition, labor and rent costs, and unyielding demand for price concession by the local population factor into this. I have noticed some price creep, but still - it leaves me with great guilt when considering the prices out here.

                                                                                                    The downside is my carbon footprint. I apologize for this, but at the same time, it must be marginal compared to sitting and idling in West LA traffic.

                                                                                                    >>If I really wanted soup dumplings often, I might consider learning to make them myself. (Of course, I would likely fail at it, and need to go on a field trip to SGV to eat properly prepared ones, thus invalidating everything I have said.)<<

                                                                                                    Signs of redemption...

                                                                                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                      You've neglected to mention the great bonus that the clientele in SGV tends to represent a broad demographic of families, grandparents, kids, teenagers-- the whole of Chinese Los Angeles (with the occasional foreigner thrown in for good measure) whereas the Westside/ROC crowd tends to almost exclusively represent trendy young urbanites.

                                                                                                      Mr Taster

                                                                                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                        ... and with that, you've gone and really stirred up a hornet's nest.

                                                                                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                          "almost exclusively represent trendy young urbanites"
                                                                                                          That has not been my experience at all based on four visits. I have seen a surprising number of Chiense/Taiwanese families checking it out.
                                                                                                          I am not a great fan of ROC in comapirson to SGV, but in comparison to the rest of the Chinese food availble nearby, I am a fan. It scratches an itch for me - and I can see an itch of many others who are not just being trendy as you seem to be saying, Taster.

                                                                                                          1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                                                                            I'll freely admit to having made broad generalizations here. And as with all generalizations, individuals have the will do prove or disprove the generalization. But the broader truth is in how the group behaves.

                                                                                                            I love George Carlin's line... "I love and treasure individuals as I meet them, I loathe and despise the groups they identify with and belong to." Where Carlin "loathes and despises", I'm more "bemused and annoyed" but the broad sentiment holds true :)

                                                                                                            Mr Taster

                                                                                                            1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                                                                              What time did you go? Early? Late? That whole area is like a yuppieville/college area, I see more yuppies there than anything else, day or night.

                                                                                                              What do you mean by a surprising number? I see a surprising number of japanese families there earlier in the day, but yuppies still dominate as the majority walking around/eating at any time. I also don't see many families later on at night. Then again that doesn't mean some restaurants can't buck the trend.

                                                                                                              All this hype wants to make me try the restaurant, and the cantonese chef makes it much better. (canto people put huge a emphasis on anything culinary, and you'll see many non-cantonese chinese retaurants using chefs that are cantonese)

                                                                                                              1. re: blimpbinge

                                                                                                                Where's the Cantonese chef cooking at ? ROC ?

                                                                                                                Yes, the Sawtelle corridor's yuppiedom reminds one of an emerging Williamsburg on the west side.

                                                                                                                1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                  That was just my assumption based on his surname (Cheung), a common canto last name.

                                                                                                                  After some more light reading it appears that he was raised in NYC and went to culinary school in SF.

                                                                                                                2. re: blimpbinge

                                                                                                                  I have been to ROC mostly very early - 6ish, or "very late" - for LA anyway, 9 and after. I avoid it at peak times.