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Best Chinese Food In The World In The San Gabriel Valley?

Chandavkl Apr 8, 2013 10:51 AM

Well that's what the heading of this L.A. Weekly article seems to state. Probably a more accurate statement of the content is that we have some of the best Chinese food in the world. But heavens--I was skewered from end to end when I wrote an article that said LA Chinese food was far superior to that in New York.

http://blogs.laweekly.com/squidink/20...

  1. v
    Victor Lieberman May 15, 2013 10:53 PM

    La all the way. I could spend a week in Sgv and just eat.

    1. a
      AlkieGourmand May 13, 2013 06:02 PM

      Best in the U.S. No way the food in the SGV is better than the best food in China.

      1. c
        cfylong May 13, 2013 02:13 PM

        Wayne Wang is a movie director. Why is anyone here outraged by his comments, which were made in an interview and was filled with caveats? He never made himself out to be the definitive Chinese food critic in this article. He merely responded to general questions and I found his comments quite reasonable under the circumstances.

        1. c oliver May 13, 2013 10:34 AM

          I think that it's contradictory (is that the word I'm looking for?) that he said you have to go to Millbrae etc. when in the SFBA but he didn't differentiate between LA and SGV.

          3 Replies
          1. re: c oliver
            c
            Chandavkl May 13, 2013 11:11 AM

            One possibility is to emphasize that historically "San Francisco" was seen as a locale for outstanding Chinese food, whereas nobody has ever said that about "Los Angeles" unless you're talking to out-of-staters who don't distinguish between LA and the SGV.

            1. re: c oliver
              raytamsgv May 13, 2013 11:33 AM

              Many people in the Bay Area make a careful distinction between "The City" and everywhere else. But they see everything south of the Grapevine as "LA".

              1. re: raytamsgv
                c oliver May 13, 2013 11:54 AM

                As a former SFer and frequent visitor, I'm sure I saw it that way also. But a couple of years ago while house exchanging in Laguna Beach, we had the absolute pleasure of having dim sum at Elite Restaurant in Monterey Park. That showed me the error of my ways. Best dim sum *I'VE* ever had. When life slows down a little - it's a lot of working being retired - I should look for a house exchange in SGV. Eat Chinese food EVERY DAY!

            2. Will Owen Apr 9, 2013 06:09 PM

              With all due respect from one who couldn't tell "authentic" if it bit him - okay, when HE bit IT - unless he'd been coached with this dish or that … I have to say that one of my best coaches is the only US-born child of a Cantonese family whose parents were trained cooks and ran restaurants there and here, and he told me some years ago that tourists from HK were coming over to do food tours of the SGV. It could be because it's so much cheaper here, but I suspect that the quality of the ingredients has something to do with it too. So reading this just told me what I'd heard already.

              And could we all PLEASE stop trying to strip anyone of Food Cred the instant we learn he likes the lowbrow version too? Julia Child said in her 90th birthday interview that she carried constantly in her purse a list of every In-N-Out between Santa Barbara and San Diego. So we throw out our "Mastering the Art …" books and declare her a phony? Or accuse her of not knowing what a good Burger is?

              11 Replies
              1. re: Will Owen
                n
                ns1 Apr 9, 2013 06:17 PM

                I take that as affirmation that she knows what a good burger is.

                ;)

                1. re: Will Owen
                  l
                  Lau Apr 9, 2013 07:52 PM

                  that would be very strange and interesting to me about HK tourists although idk tourists from Asia like to do weird stuff, so maybe i could see it as a novelty

                  any re: quality of ingredients, the quality of ingredients in HK is much higher than what you get in the SGV especially when it comes to seafood. I'd actually say generally i prefer the quality of seafood there to what you get in the US. Beef i like better here, pork i could go either way and i think some of the free range chicken there is really good

                  also, i dont think that anyone is trying to strip him of his "Food Cred" b/c of the fact that he likes Americanized Chinese food, I don't have any issue with that, but rather the statement that it's the "best in the world" is sort of outlandish and probably fairly uneducated. I can't say this factually but I'll bet he has very little experience eating in Asia otherwise i think he would have a hard time making that statement

                  1. re: Lau
                    c
                    Chandavkl Apr 9, 2013 08:58 PM

                    Actually the explanation may be simpler. When Chinese tour groups go to places like Europe, they usually eat Chinese food despite the fact that it's not very good. It's still preferable to eating what the natives eate. Probably the same when they come to the US, with the added dimension that the Chinese food here can be reasonably good.

                    1. re: Chandavkl
                      ipsedixit Apr 9, 2013 09:09 PM

                      Actually what I believe Will was referring to are tours that come here specifically to eat the Chinese food.

                      I know of tours that do that. Some do it to scope out business/investment opportunities. Others do it just because, well, they want to eat Chinese food half a world away and because they have money to burn.

                      1. re: Chandavkl
                        blimpbinge Apr 9, 2013 09:14 PM

                        I'm not sure about the chinese tour groups that go to europe, but in LA, when they take tourists to asia or bring tourists from asia, eating at chinese restaurants is a cost concern since meals are occasionally included in the tour package price. That's why you usually see tour buses at the same restaurants all the time.

                        I'm not sure about the west vs east ingredients it really depends on the dish imo.

                        1. re: blimpbinge
                          ipsedixit Apr 9, 2013 09:43 PM

                          When it's a cost issue the restaurant of choice is an AYCE buffet of some sort, not an order off the menu place of any repute, incl such pedestrian places like Hunan Chili or Yang Chow

                          1. re: ipsedixit
                            blimpbinge Apr 9, 2013 09:48 PM

                            I have a feeling we are having the same conversation yet talking about 3 completely different things

                            1. re: blimpbinge
                              ipsedixit Apr 9, 2013 09:49 PM

                              But of course! :-)

                            2. re: ipsedixit
                              Gypsy Jan Apr 10, 2013 06:11 AM

                              I am not sure if this enhances or confuses the discussion, but years ago, our favorite Japanese restaurant in Costa Mesa would host busloads of Japanese tourists after their day at Disneyland.

                              It wasn't AYCE sushi, but I was told that the tourists loved it because the quality was there and the price so much lower than what they would pay at home.

                              1. re: Gypsy Jan
                                klyeoh Apr 10, 2013 06:19 AM

                                And they'd prefer something "familiar"- majority of Chinese, Japanese (and Koreans) are generally very set in their culinary preferences, *wherever* they travel in the world.

                                1. re: klyeoh
                                  l
                                  Lau Apr 10, 2013 06:57 AM

                                  haha i guess that is true, when alot of my friends from asia are here they eventually start reverting back to eating chinese etc bc i tend to get sick of american food quickly

                    2. l
                      Lau Apr 8, 2013 06:54 PM

                      i'm not one to normally write scathing things on chowhound, but what is this guy talking about?

                      i mean first why do we care what some random director spouts off in an interview for publicity about his movie?

                      i'm sure cecilia chiang is relevant historically, but was her restaurant good or just the one of the first to serve non-cantonese food in SF? (i dont know the answer to that question) In my opinion chinese food has generally only gotten better in the US and what alot of people nostalgically remember would be panned if it opened up today (i remember 80 and 90s LA chinese food and i guarantee its better today)

                      also, the last two answers like i wonder when the last time this guy ate real chinese food in HK, taiwan, singapore / malaysia, any major mainland city (shanghai etc)...like seriously "best in the world":

                      "SI: Where do you feel you could get a more authentic Chinese meal -- in Los Angeles or in San Francisco?

                      WW: In San Francisco, it's very difficult. I have a hard time finding good Chinese food unless you go to Daly City or San Mateo or Milbrae. But in L.A., there's quite a bit of it in San Gabriel Valley. The Taiwanese have opened a lot of really interesting restaurants; really, really good Chinese restaurants. I think you can get the best Chinese food there -- even more so than New York.

                      SI: So Los Angeles wins?

                      WW: As I said before, the Cultural Revolution stopped the flow of culture and tradition -- especially food. But it continued in Taiwan, and that spilled over into the San Gabriel Valley. Actually because of better ingredients and the preservation of the cultural traditions you probably have some of the best Chinese food in the world. "

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: Lau
                        K K Apr 8, 2013 08:39 PM

                        A few things.

                        Cecilia may have been a pioneer in the sense to introduce or popularize regional Chinese food (and in fact various regions from Sichuan, Shanghai, bits of Shandong) in SF, but....her son's name is in PF Chang's (the son is Philip Chiang and had some design concept input). Sorry, but that totally negates everything she worked so hard to accomplish.

                        "I have a hard time finding good Chinese food unless you go to Daly City or San Mateo or Milbrae"

                        Daly City - Koi Palace (duh)
                        Millbrae - Shanghai Dump(ling) King, other dim sum seafood restaurants that are generally average but better than South Bay
                        San Mateo - I cannot think of anything remarkable, Sun's Chinese Cuisine and Everyday Beijing are just average. China Bee is a total disgrace to Taiwanese food.

                        I bet this guy hasn't gotten around much lately either recently. I can name at least 5+ regional and Cantonese Chinese restaurants in SF that are truly great in their own way and authentic by expat standards (Cantonese and Mandarin speakers).

                        So what the hell is he mumbling about?

                        Hong Kong born? Wow this guy doesn't even know he has premium Cantonese that he cannot even find in SGV in his own backyard!

                        1. re: K K
                          l
                          Lau Apr 9, 2013 04:45 AM

                          haha good point on the PF Chang's (i respect the business aspect of that, but the food aspect...umm yah)

                          also i kind of like how the fact that he was born in HK in the 60s (which implies he moved here very young), happens to be Chinese and knows Cecilia Chiang gives him any sort of credibility. i would really love to hear what / where he has eaten in asia (ill almost guarantee the answer is something like oh i ate at this fabulous place lin heung or something garbage like that)

                        2. re: Lau
                          scoopG Apr 9, 2013 05:14 AM

                          WW: As I said before, the Cultural Revolution stopped the flow of culture and tradition -- especially food. But it continued in Taiwan, and that spilled over into the San Gabriel Valley. Actually because of better ingredients and the preservation of the cultural traditions you probably have some of the best Chinese food in the world.
                          __________________________
                          Not quite true. You can bet the political elite in China had access to the best foods - even during the worst periods of famine. Chinese food and cultural traditions suffered no disruption in places like Hongkong, Taiwan or Singapore.

                          1. re: Lau
                            bbulkow May 12, 2013 10:58 PM

                            Silly interview.

                            "Hard time finding good chinese food in SF unless you drive 15 minutes south outside of the city"

                            "Hard time finding good chinese food in LA unless you drive 15 minutes east outside the city"

                            1. re: Lau
                              c
                              condiment May 13, 2013 06:05 AM

                              I'm late weighing in here, but this is Wayne Wang we're talking about. His 1980s films set in SF Chinatown, including Chan is Missing and Dim Sum, go deep into the culture in a way nothing had or has since, and are remarkably food-obsessed.

                              Before Wang became a filmmaker, he wrote an issue-length story for the old New West with Ruth Reichl that covered essentially every eating place in SF Chinatown, a survey still worth looking at 35 years later. Laying into Wang for his lack of knowledge of Chinatown is like bashing Scorcese for his ignorance of Little Italy.

                              1. re: condiment
                                TonyC May 13, 2013 09:53 AM

                                Cept it's now 2013, and we're in LA. It's easy for one's opinion to become absolutely irrelevant in 3 decades, or after 3 Internet years.

                                1. re: condiment
                                  k
                                  kevin May 13, 2013 03:22 PM

                                  do you have a link to his old essay ?

                                  1. re: kevin
                                    c
                                    condiment May 15, 2013 09:37 PM

                                    New West never made it online, alas. Worth looking for if you're ever in a big library though. While your at it, you can poke around for Charlie Haas's cover story on California barbecue restaurants and Colman Andrews visit to every French restaurant in the state. It was a very good magazine - where Ruth Reichl got her start.

                              2. TonyC Apr 8, 2013 05:36 PM

                                Will no one actually address the shenanigans in the piece?

                                "WW: The Taiwanese have opened a lot of really interesting restaurants; really, really good Chinese restaurants"

                                Name them. Name some LA Taiwanese restaurants opened in the last decade that are "really, really good"?

                                Guppy? Cafe Fusion? Indian? Cafe 18? Bobee5? Liang's? WTF is he speaking of? Just Yujean Kang?

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: TonyC
                                  ipsedixit Apr 8, 2013 06:55 PM

                                  Luscious, Old Country Cafe, SinBaLa, Yi Mei (the OG), Huge Tree, Four Seas, Yung Ho (the OG), Dumpling 10053 (rip), 101 Noodle, Dai Ho, etc.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                    Porthos Apr 9, 2013 08:37 AM

                                    Nice list :)

                                    Good eats indeed.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit
                                      TonyC Apr 9, 2013 09:07 AM

                                      None of those qualify under the denotation of a "restaurant". They're all delis or cafes, or in some cases, more appropriately, a hovel with stoves and some chairs.

                                      While they're all enjoyable, to categorize the ilks of Luscious/Four Seas as "really really good" is a bit farcical.

                                      1. re: TonyC
                                        ipsedixit Apr 9, 2013 02:36 PM

                                        Ahem.

                                        If the public health department considers them restaurants, then so do I.

                                        As to whether they are really really good, are there better iterations out there? In such mass concentrated quantities in one given area anywhere else in the U.S.?

                                  2. Charles Yu Apr 8, 2013 04:50 PM

                                    I am lost for words!! Sure hope no one from the eastern hemisphere read this!!!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Charles Yu
                                      c
                                      Chandavkl Apr 8, 2013 06:46 PM

                                      Are you able to compare Los Angeles and Toronto? I'd say slight edge to Toronto but I haven't been there in a couple of years.

                                    2. r
                                      Robert Thornton Apr 8, 2013 04:50 PM

                                      I think you'll find New Yorkers who think there's better Mexican food in NYC just because it's NYC.

                                      I thought it was pretty uncontroversial that the best Chinese food in North America was Vancouver and second Los Angeles.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: Robert Thornton
                                        Porthos Apr 8, 2013 04:57 PM

                                        You'll find LAers claiming LA has better pizza and sushi... ;-)

                                        1. re: Robert Thornton
                                          scoopG Apr 9, 2013 05:08 AM

                                          Most New Yorkers readily agree the City is weak on Mexican and Vietnamese.

                                          1. re: scoopG
                                            Mr Taster May 16, 2013 11:48 AM

                                            Don't forget Korean and Thai :)

                                            Mr Taster

                                            1. re: Mr Taster
                                              ipsedixit May 16, 2013 04:54 PM

                                              We're not really starting a list of all types of restaurants NYC is weak at, are we?

                                              The list would be long.

                                            2. re: scoopG
                                              scottca075 May 16, 2013 05:12 PM

                                              I've never met a New Yorker who ever readily agreed to anything, let alone about other spots in the U.S. having better food regardless of the type.

                                          2. Gypsy Jan Apr 8, 2013 04:42 PM

                                            "Skewered from end to end"?

                                            Sidewise like a scallop or nose-to-tail?

                                            Did it hurt?

                                            CH inquiring minds want to know. :)

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Gypsy Jan
                                              c
                                              Chandavkl Apr 8, 2013 06:32 PM

                                              Nine pages of personal insults on a restaurant message board that I never read. NY Chowhounds were polite but combatitive (or from our point of view, defensive.)

                                              1. re: Chandavkl
                                                Gypsy Jan Apr 8, 2013 06:53 PM

                                                Ouch.

                                                Why do anonymous people feel free to sling shit like monkeys in cages?

                                                I guess I just answered my question - anonymous and envious of ...

                                            2. Porthos Apr 8, 2013 11:32 AM

                                              I think anyone that has lived in LA, NYC, SF and/or has had extensive experience with the respective Chinese cuisines from each city won't deny LA wins.

                                              He said *some* of the best in the world. So yes, compared to cities like Paris, Rome, London, etc, maybe no brainer. But compared to Hong Kong, Taipei, Vancouver, etc, probably not.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Porthos
                                                ipsedixit Apr 8, 2013 12:53 PM

                                                Best in the United States, yes.

                                                Best in North America? No.

                                              2. ipsedixit Apr 8, 2013 11:01 AM

                                                From the article:
                                                _______________________________

                                                Squid Ink [SI]: You've spent a lot of time in Los Angeles, correct?

                                                Wayne Wang [WW]: Yes.

                                                SI: Where do you feel you could get a more authentic Chinese meal -- in Los Angeles or in San Francisco?

                                                WW: In San Francisco, it's very difficult. I have a hard time finding good Chinese food unless you go to Daly City or San Mateo or Milbrae. But in L.A., there's quite a bit of it in San Gabriel Valley. The Taiwanese have opened a lot of really interesting restaurants; really, really good Chinese restaurants. I think you can get the best Chinese food there -- even more so than New York.

                                                SI: So Los Angeles wins?

                                                WW: As I said before, the Cultural Revolution stopped the flow of culture and tradition -- especially food. But it continued in Taiwan, and that spilled over into the San Gabriel Valley. Actually because of better ingredients and the preservation of the cultural traditions you probably have some of the best Chinese food in the world.
                                                ________________________________

                                                Oy vey.

                                                Don't let scoopG hear about this ...

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                                  scoopG Apr 9, 2013 05:09 AM

                                                  Wayne Wang admits in the piece that he is a fan of American-Chinese fare. Enough said.

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                                    klyeoh Apr 9, 2013 05:13 AM

                                                    Well, to be fair to Wayne Wang, he did just say "... *some* of the best Chinese food in the world." ;-)

                                                  2. b
                                                    bulavinaka Apr 8, 2013 10:58 AM

                                                    You may have been skewered, but of course it was the NY contingent skewering you with hyperbole and skewed stats. You're still the king...

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