Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >
May 8, 2013 06:34 PM

Good Chinese restaurant NOT in SGV?

I know SGV is much better but I am planning a graduation dinner for a Friday night and traffic will be awful from UCLA. So I'm trying to find something a little closer to the westside, such as in Chinatown. I couldn't find much on the boards about non-SGV options so here goes:

My family is Chinese (and picky!) so it has to be authentic, not americanized Chinese (or at least, places that offer plenty of authentic dishes, and whole fish). Within a 15 mile radius from Westwood. Preferably not too divey since its for a graduation, but as long as its reasonably clean that's fine. Decent parking is always a plus. 4-6 people.

I would appreciate suggestions for places or comments on these places that I looked up. Thanks!

Sam Woo - Van Nuys (have only had Sam Woo in SGV and its just ok)

Chinatown: (the only place I've been to in Chinatown was empress pavilion for an event and it was just ok. Definitely looking for something better)

Chinese Friends
Fortune Gourmet
Yang Chow
Mandarin Chateau
Master Chef


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. One of the Hop Li locations.

    1 Reply
    1. Best bet in Chinatown would be one of these 3 options in Chinatown: JR Bistro, Hop Li or Full House.

      None will please, much less wow, your family, but when life gives you shit to work with, you try to wipe your ass as quickly and cleanly as possible and just move on.

      25 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        Full House is not the same Full House it used to be.
        J.R. might be as good as Chinatown gets.
        If OP prefers to stay further west, Hop Li, in the former JR location, might be the best by default.

        1. re: carter

          JR is def an option in ctown, but I find their cooking to be a little - heavy, not very good on the wok hei. But their crispy fried chicken is prob the juiciest around, but also pretty greasy.

        2. re: ipsedixit

          goodness ipsedixit, that bad? I thought ctown would be decent...

          1. re: silverlainy


            Even the more discerning cockroaches have left.

            1. re: silverlainy

              You also realize that Chinatown, while considerably closer than the SGV, will also likely take an 1hr+ to reach from UCLA, esp on a Friday night? =(

              1. re: ilysla

                I've never been, but someone recommended Xian in Beverly Hills. Is it any good?

                1. re: jgilbert1000

                  Xi'an is pretty good, unless you want Chinese.

                  (And this is not to be confused with Xi'an Kitchen in Rowland Heights, which does a pretty good version of cumin beef and can hold its own when it comes to hand-pulled noodles. Just FYI in case anyone is paying attention.)

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    What about Joss in BH? Didn't one of its chefs moved over to Chi Lin along with the chef of Yujean Kang?

                    1. re: TripleAxel

                      Joss would definitely be better than Xi'an, esp. for Chinese food.

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Chi Lin is better than Joss and obviously better than Xi'an. But to put things in perspective, Chi Lin is not as good as Tasty Garden, at three times the price.

                        1. re: Chandavkl

                          Yeah, but Chi Lin does over-the-too gaudy interior decor better than Shanghai No. 1, at only about 1.5x the price.

                          Quite the bargain.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            Yeah, but it's a little too dark in Chi Lin. At least you can see where Shanghai 1 spent their money.

                            1. re: Chandavkl

                              That assumes that I actually *want* to see the decor.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                If its delicious eye candy, then so be it.

                                1. re: kevin

                                  ?? Shanghai #1 decor = eye candy? NOT! The inside looks like Wild Wild West meets Haunted Mansion in Macau.

                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                    Or a brothel from the World of Suzy Wong... but their XLBs and Pan Fried Pork Buns are pretty darn good.

                              2. re: Chandavkl

                                And this shit makes me hunger for Sea Harbour.

                                1. re: Chandavkl

                                  Has anyone tried their uni crab XLBs?

                                  1. re: TripleAxel

                                    uni crab xlbs ?

                                    That means I have not been there in some time.

                                    1. re: TripleAxel

                                      They are at Sea Harbour right, or Shanghai No. 1 ?????

                                      1. re: kevin

                                        Chi Lin.. at $15 an order (reduced from the initial price of $17) of 3 or 4, I believe...

                                          1. re: TripleAxel

                                            Passed on them. Was disappointed in the ROC XLB so I wasn't going to risk any more money on Westside XLB.

                      2. I'd go with Master Chef in CTown. Previously I would have easily said Golden City, but the owners (also own Full House), turned it into an HK cafe, replaced the waitstaff with a bunch of youngsters, and the food was really disappointing.
                        Full House is god awful, even though it still gets a lot of business.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: pley

                          MasterChef ain't that good either. When it comes to noodles (won ton or chow mein), I think New Dragon is pretty good. They're hit and miss with other dishes, but not bad salt pepper calamari...

                        2. Wow! Talk about the tallest midget in the circus! J.R. Bistro, Master Chef and Golden City are the restaurants I'd go to if you put a gun to my head. Maybe Mayflower but that's cash only. Forget Chinese Friends, Yang Chow and Mandarin Chateau.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Chandavkl

                            That tall midget is still going to be ... ugly.

                            1. re: Chandavkl

                              Mayflower?? I'd have to have more than a gun to my head to go there.

                              1. re: pley

                                Mayflower's food is okay but the service is always unbelievably horrible every single time I went.

                              2. re: Chandavkl

                                Chinese Friends is my guilty pleasure for 2 dishes only: kung pao chicken and mu shu pork. I think it has to do with falling in love with those dishes when I first tried them there (and at Hunan Restaurant and Green Jade Restaurant) as a tween/teenager...

                              3. How about Sea Empress in Gardena? Better than any of the downtown places.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Chandavkl

                                  My choice would also be for Sea Empress. Lots of free open parking and they do accommodate large parties with private rooms. Stay clear of LA Chinatown. Not the same as years past and the parking is horrendous!

                                  1. re: Chandavkl

                                    Sea Empress does various levels of banquets and is pretty good. Parking is easy but my concern would be traffic. It takws us about 25 minutes from the 90/405 to that part of Gardena. Add another 30+ from UCLA at that time?