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Good Chinese restaurant NOT in SGV?

s
silverlainy May 8, 2013 06:34 PM

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

thanks!!

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  1. JAB RE: silverlainy May 8, 2013 06:44 PM

    One of the Hop Li locations.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JAB
      barryc RE: JAB May 9, 2013 12:42 AM

      +! for hop li in chinatown

    2. ipsedixit RE: silverlainy May 8, 2013 07:12 PM

      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
        c
        carter RE: ipsedixit May 8, 2013 08:35 PM

        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
          p
          pley RE: carter May 8, 2013 09:21 PM

          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
          s
          silverlainy RE: ipsedixit May 8, 2013 09:03 PM

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

          1. re: silverlainy
            ipsedixit RE: silverlainy May 8, 2013 09:04 PM

            Nope.

            Even the more discerning cockroaches have left.

            1. re: silverlainy
              i
              ilysla RE: silverlainy May 8, 2013 11:13 PM

              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
                j
                jgilbert1000 RE: ilysla Aug 14, 2013 02:18 PM

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

                1. re: jgilbert1000
                  ipsedixit RE: jgilbert1000 Aug 14, 2013 06:22 PM

                  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
                    TripleAxel RE: ipsedixit Aug 15, 2013 03:50 PM

                    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
                      ipsedixit RE: TripleAxel Aug 15, 2013 04:00 PM

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

                      1. re: ipsedixit
                        Chandavkl RE: ipsedixit Aug 15, 2013 08:30 PM

                        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
                          ipsedixit RE: Chandavkl Aug 15, 2013 08:37 PM

                          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
                            Chandavkl RE: ipsedixit Aug 15, 2013 08:44 PM

                            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
                              ipsedixit RE: Chandavkl Aug 15, 2013 08:48 PM

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

                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                k
                                kevin RE: ipsedixit Aug 16, 2013 12:07 AM

                                If its delicious eye candy, then so be it.

                                1. re: kevin
                                  b
                                  bulavinaka RE: kevin Aug 16, 2013 12:25 PM

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

                                  1. re: bulavinaka
                                    TripleAxel RE: bulavinaka Aug 16, 2013 01:56 PM

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

                              2. re: Chandavkl
                                k
                                kevin RE: Chandavkl Aug 16, 2013 12:06 AM

                                And this shit makes me hunger for Sea Harbour.

                                1. re: Chandavkl
                                  TripleAxel RE: Chandavkl Aug 16, 2013 07:39 AM

                                  Has anyone tried their uni crab XLBs?

                                  1. re: TripleAxel
                                    k
                                    kevin RE: TripleAxel Aug 16, 2013 01:33 PM

                                    uni crab xlbs ?

                                    That means I have not been there in some time.

                                    1. re: TripleAxel
                                      k
                                      kevin RE: TripleAxel Aug 16, 2013 01:34 PM

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

                                      1. re: kevin
                                        TripleAxel RE: kevin Aug 16, 2013 01:57 PM

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

                                        1. re: TripleAxel
                                          k
                                          kevin RE: TripleAxel Aug 16, 2013 02:35 PM

                                          those are some pricey xlbs .

                                          1. re: TripleAxel
                                            Chandavkl RE: TripleAxel Aug 16, 2013 03:42 PM

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

                                        2. re: TripleAxel
                                          Chandavkl RE: TripleAxel Aug 19, 2013 03:19 PM

                                          Link to Clarissa's description of uni crab XLB

                                          http://www.kcet.org/living/food/the-n...

                                    2. re: Chandavkl
                                      k
                                      kevin RE: Chandavkl Aug 16, 2013 12:07 AM

                                      'Nuff Said.

                      2. p
                        pley RE: silverlainy May 8, 2013 08:13 PM

                        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
                          TripleAxel RE: pley Aug 13, 2013 08:37 AM

                          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. Chandavkl RE: silverlainy May 9, 2013 08:02 AM

                          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
                            ipsedixit RE: Chandavkl May 9, 2013 08:13 AM

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

                            1. re: Chandavkl
                              p
                              pley RE: Chandavkl May 9, 2013 08:52 AM

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

                              1. re: pley
                                g
                                Galen RE: pley May 10, 2013 07:24 PM

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

                              2. re: Chandavkl
                                TripleAxel RE: Chandavkl Aug 13, 2013 08:39 AM

                                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. Chandavkl RE: silverlainy May 9, 2013 08:50 AM

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

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Chandavkl
                                  c
                                  Clinton RE: Chandavkl May 9, 2013 09:11 AM

                                  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
                                    b
                                    bulavinaka RE: Chandavkl May 9, 2013 03:24 PM

                                    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?

                                  2. Ciao Bob RE: silverlainy May 9, 2013 09:34 AM

                                    Agree that this is a hard request, and that I am about to get hammered by the hounds on this board, but...
                                    I have found that there are places on the Westside that can get it "close-to" right, which may not be right enough for your family, if you -- or someone who speaks Mandarin if you don't -- calls in advance, explains what dishes you would like and they make it special.
                                    Your best bet is probably
                                    Palace Seafood & Dim Sum
                                    11701 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
                                    Brentwood Plaza Shopping Center
                                    (310) 979-3377 () ‎ · palaceseafooddimsum.com

                                    33 Replies
                                    1. re: Ciao Bob
                                      Chandavkl RE: Ciao Bob May 9, 2013 10:54 AM

                                      Yes, but it'll take 30 minutes to get your car from the valet. (Or in my case, one hour.)

                                      1. re: Chandavkl
                                        f
                                        foodiemahoodie RE: Chandavkl May 10, 2013 03:51 PM

                                        I've never had that experience. 1-10 minutes. But I'm a decent tipper (that's what $5 bills are for) so the guy usually parks my car up front.

                                        1. re: foodiemahoodie
                                          n
                                          ns1 RE: foodiemahoodie May 10, 2013 04:17 PM

                                          must...resist...jokes...

                                          1. re: foodiemahoodie
                                            Chandavkl RE: foodiemahoodie May 10, 2013 04:21 PM

                                            Ten minutes is more the standard in that lot. And one time they misplaced my car key for an hour. They gave me a ride back to my office, while my wife waited for them to find the key.

                                            1. re: Chandavkl
                                              ipsedixit RE: Chandavkl May 10, 2013 09:18 PM

                                              How is that acceptable in any reality? Alternate or otherwise.

                                              How does a valet misplace car keys.

                                              That's like a bartender misplacing her cocktail shaker. For an hour. During happy hour.

                                              WTF.

                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                Chandavkl RE: ipsedixit May 11, 2013 11:47 AM

                                                Attendant eventually found the key in his jacket pocket.

                                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                                  Chandavkl RE: ipsedixit May 11, 2013 11:49 AM

                                                  Tampa Garden is good for the San Fernando Valley, which means you're so happy to see the dishes on their Chinese menu that you don't particularly care how they taste.

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                                    Chandavkl RE: ipsedixit May 11, 2013 11:55 AM

                                                    Well you have to get to downtown first (Santa Monica Fwy. east) before you can get to the SGV. My co-worker makes the daily drive between WLA to Monterey Park. It's an hour to an hour and a half on any weekday, probably longer on Friday. I know the 405 south is also rotten, but perhaps there are alternate routes to the freeway to get to Sea Empress.

                                                    1. re: ipsedixit
                                                      Chandavkl RE: ipsedixit May 11, 2013 11:56 AM

                                                      They do have fish maw soup!

                                                      1. re: Chandavkl
                                                        TripleAxel RE: Chandavkl Aug 13, 2013 08:40 AM

                                                        Any thoughts about the Hop Li on Santa Monica Blvd. near Bundy? When I worked in West LA, I used to go to Hop Woo for some quick Chinese fix.

                                                        1. re: TripleAxel
                                                          Chandavkl RE: TripleAxel Aug 13, 2013 09:01 AM

                                                          Hop Li was a severe comedown from J.R. Seafood. The two saddest moments in WLA Chinese food history were the closing of Royal Star, the Ocean Star branch in Santa Monica, and J.R. Seafood turning into Hop Li.

                                                          1. re: Chandavkl
                                                            k
                                                            kevin RE: Chandavkl Aug 13, 2013 10:50 AM

                                                            I remember Royal Star in what is now the Douth location, right ?

                                                            Anyhow. I guess I'm guilty as charged since I never visited the joint.

                                                          2. re: TripleAxel
                                                            k
                                                            kevin RE: TripleAxel Aug 13, 2013 10:52 AM

                                                            I do like Mandarin Kitchen though.

                                                          3. re: Chandavkl
                                                            TripleAxel RE: Chandavkl Aug 13, 2013 08:42 AM

                                                            I noticed a relatively new Chinese restaurant that took over the spot where Winchell's Donuts used to be in the mini-mall on the southeast corner of Sepulveda and Santa Monica. Has anyone tried this place?

                                                            1. re: TripleAxel
                                                              Ciao Bob RE: TripleAxel Aug 13, 2013 08:58 AM

                                                              New Moon Chinese.
                                                              Awful.
                                                              I stopped in to peek, and -- foolishly -- picked up an order of pan fried dumplings before a band rehearsal. The usual Westside Cheapo Garbage that is supposed to pass for Chinese food. The pan fried dumplings were terrible, the sauce was a sweet-and-sour sugar fest. Only the chili oil I asked for had any flavor. The menu is the same as any of the others around town. I believe I read somewhere, probably Yelp, that it is owned by Hop Li.

                                                              1. re: Ciao Bob
                                                                k
                                                                kevin RE: Ciao Bob Aug 13, 2013 10:52 AM

                                                                Thanks for taking one for the team.

                                                                Even though you and me probably both knew that it would stink.

                                                                1. re: Ciao Bob
                                                                  Chandavkl RE: Ciao Bob Aug 13, 2013 03:58 PM

                                                                  Actually it's called Moon House, so not as to besmirch the name of the historic New Moon chain here in Los Angeles. Moon House may have some possibilities. I had the cha shu bao and it's definitely among the top 5 in WLA. Wait--can you get cha shu bao at five places on the Westside? Maybe not. But they are planning a Chinese language menu, so who knows. (On the other hand they don't appear to have a Chinese name.)

                                                                  1. re: Chandavkl
                                                                    k
                                                                    kevin RE: Chandavkl Aug 13, 2013 04:00 PM

                                                                    Probably you can only get it at two places in W. LA ?, right.

                                                                    i still have to try that fish balls restaurant in wla, i think it was an ayce joint.

                                                                    1. re: kevin
                                                                      Chandavkl RE: kevin Aug 13, 2013 06:24 PM

                                                                      Yes, the fish balls are still at Union Buffet. Mackerel, too. But the place changed ownership, raised prices $2, and isn't quite the same. I still go there once in a while.

                                                                    2. re: Chandavkl
                                                                      TripleAxel RE: Chandavkl Aug 13, 2013 06:14 PM

                                                                      They do. If I remember, it seemed to be Fuk Man Low... not to be confused with the long gone Man Fuk Low on San Pedro in the flower district....

                                                                  2. re: TripleAxel
                                                                    k
                                                                    kevin RE: TripleAxel Aug 13, 2013 10:51 AM

                                                                    It looks like it would suck.

                                                                    1. re: kevin
                                                                      Ciao Bob RE: kevin Aug 13, 2013 10:54 AM

                                                                      I was really hoping for something decent near-ish to West LA Studio Services on Pontius...I get tired of Zankou weekly.

                                                                      1. re: Ciao Bob
                                                                        k
                                                                        kevin RE: Ciao Bob Aug 13, 2013 11:07 AM

                                                                        There's always Shunjis. :)

                                                                        1. re: kevin
                                                                          J.L. RE: kevin Aug 13, 2013 06:04 PM

                                                                          Like many Hounds, Ciao Bob & I try out new eateries every now & then.

                                                                          Like many Hounds, Ciao Bob & I feel that many new eateries are not very good, and leave a less-than-favorable impression.

                                                                          Unlike many Hounds, Ciao Bob & I then go to Shunji's to erase these bad experiences from our palates.

                                                                          1. re: J.L.
                                                                            n
                                                                            ns1 RE: J.L. Aug 13, 2013 07:10 PM

                                                                            must be nice to be a whale-hound (and I mean that in the nicest way possible)

                                                                            1. re: ns1
                                                                              J.L. RE: ns1 Aug 13, 2013 07:13 PM

                                                                              :-)

                                                                        2. re: Ciao Bob
                                                                          k
                                                                          kevin RE: Ciao Bob Aug 13, 2013 11:08 AM

                                                                          Is that the joint around the corner from Javan restaurant ?

                                                                          1. re: kevin
                                                                            Ciao Bob RE: kevin Aug 13, 2013 11:34 AM

                                                                            No
                                                                            It is on the East Side of the 405

                                                                          2. re: Ciao Bob
                                                                            mucho gordo RE: Ciao Bob Aug 13, 2013 12:14 PM

                                                                            I haven't seen it mentioned so, it may not be there anymore but, if it is, Sesame House, on San Vicente in Brentwood is your best bet for Chinese food in the area.

                                                                            1. re: Ciao Bob
                                                                              TripleAxel RE: Ciao Bob Aug 13, 2013 06:15 PM

                                                                              Have you been down to the Hop Woo at Olympic and Sepulveda?

                                                              2. re: Ciao Bob
                                                                blimpbinge RE: Ciao Bob May 9, 2013 12:34 PM

                                                                "or someone who speaks Mandarin if you don't"

                                                                ...or cantonese.. since most of the recs are cantonese seafood/dimsum places.

                                                                1. re: blimpbinge
                                                                  Ciao Bob RE: blimpbinge May 9, 2013 01:26 PM

                                                                  che che

                                                                2. re: Ciao Bob
                                                                  b
                                                                  bulavinaka RE: Ciao Bob May 9, 2013 03:27 PM

                                                                  We went here for a banquet about 1 1/2 years ago. It was actually pretty good for non-SGV. And as you mentioned, arranging with the manager in (I think it was) Cantonese is a plus.

                                                                3. raytamsgv RE: silverlainy May 9, 2013 11:52 AM

                                                                  Your options are limited, but if you want to improve the odds, talk with the manager/owner at the restaurant you choose. Inform that person that your Chinese family wants *authentic* Chinese food, not the Americanized versions. Either ask what they can prepare or choose the items yourself. If it's not on the menu, just ask if they can cook it. Order in advance so they can prepare the ingredients properly.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: raytamsgv
                                                                    PeterCC RE: raytamsgv May 9, 2013 01:48 PM

                                                                    That's a great idea.

                                                                    1. re: raytamsgv
                                                                      ipsedixit RE: raytamsgv May 9, 2013 06:50 PM

                                                                      In theory this is a good idea, but there are two problems in practice that make it, well, unlikely to be a good idea.

                                                                      1. Being able to cook an "authentic" dish does not, ipso facto, mean that they are able to cook the "authentic" dish well.

                                                                      2. Ingredients. Lots of times restaurants of this ilk will not have the necessary ingredients to make "off-the-menu" dishes.

                                                                    2. J.L. RE: silverlainy May 9, 2013 12:05 PM

                                                                      Hop Woo (Olympic & Sepulveda), or Hop Li (on Santa Monica Blvd., same plaza as Kotoya Ramen)

                                                                      1. y
                                                                        yogachik RE: silverlainy May 10, 2013 08:36 AM

                                                                        New Moon on 9th Street at Los Angeles. They're now open for dinner on Thu-Fri-Sat (was always only open for lunch)

                                                                        1. polldeldiablo RE: silverlainy May 10, 2013 12:00 PM

                                                                          It's a tad late for me to respond to this considering you're planning graduation dinner tonight but depending heavily on the type of cuisine you and your family want, I would choose Tampa Garden Chinese Delight. It is located in the middle of Northridge which is comparable to the distance to downtown Chinatown but the 405 is pretty empty as long as you're north of the 10. It is Szechuan cuisine and most reviews talk about the dumplings which are very good but most people don't talk about the non-dumpling Szechuan cuisine which is better than most Szechuan I've tried except for 1 place in NYC(Great sichuan) and Vegas(Shaanxi Gourmet). The main drawbacks to the place that might be an issue considering the size of the party is that the parking lot holds 15 cars maybe for 15 businesses and the decor of the inside is comparable to most Sam Woo's in a bad way. I unfortunately have no idea how busy the place is on a Friday night, busiest I've ever seen was 2pm on a weekend with 3 tables out of 12ish, those 3 being Chinese+mainland Chinese visiting. You should street view the address so you can fully comprehend the parking before you decide upon it though.

                                                                          Sorry for the Wall of text.

                                                                          Tampa Garden Chinese Delight
                                                                          8241 Tampa Ave
                                                                          Reseda, CA 91335

                                                                          16 Replies
                                                                          1. re: polldeldiablo
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                                                                            ilysla RE: polldeldiablo May 10, 2013 12:12 PM

                                                                            "but the 405 is pretty empty as long as you're north of the 10."

                                                                            No offense, but traffic on the 405 northbound btw the 10 and the 101 in the evening is some of the worst in the country and can easily take you 30-45 min just to reach Sherman Oaks from UCLA (I know b/c I used to make that commute on Tuesday evenings) plus another 20-30 min to reach Northridge beyond that (assuming traffic going up Balboa isn't a mess).

                                                                            Additionally, if the OP's family is Cantonese (don't recall if the OP clarified this), the central-China style of food Tampa Gardens will most emphatically not work for dinner.

                                                                            1. re: ilysla
                                                                              y
                                                                              yogachik RE: ilysla May 10, 2013 01:20 PM

                                                                              Especially tonight, since the 405 is closing at 9PM

                                                                              1. re: yogachik
                                                                                J.L. RE: yogachik May 10, 2013 02:52 PM

                                                                                :-O

                                                                              2. re: ilysla
                                                                                polldeldiablo RE: ilysla May 12, 2013 07:04 PM

                                                                                Eh, that was my fault, I typically post driving times based on the way I drive, which is far shorter than 99% of drivers.. Worst traffic I encountered was from Sylmar to San diego via the 405 at 4:30pm on friday(rush hour) and it took 3 hours. That all being said, assuming the OP/driver is an average driver, yeah it'll prob take at least an hour to get there. If you don't want to drive too far, I'd prob take ipsedixit's suggestions as he's pretty knowledgeable about Chinese food in that area/east of there.

                                                                                1. re: ilysla
                                                                                  westsidegal RE: ilysla Aug 13, 2013 01:27 AM

                                                                                  i was on the 405 heading north just this week.
                                                                                  there is some kind of roadwork being done that had everything locked up.

                                                                                2. re: polldeldiablo
                                                                                  TonyC RE: polldeldiablo May 10, 2013 09:16 PM

                                                                                  Is this some kind of joke? There's nothing Sichuan about Tampa Garden. The room is worse than a Panda Express, and the dumplings are mediocre at best.

                                                                                  OP is looking for a celebratory graduation dinner, not a ratchet dinner for a single Chinaman who can't find a date on a Saturday night.

                                                                                  1. re: TonyC
                                                                                    k
                                                                                    kevin RE: TonyC May 10, 2013 09:55 PM

                                                                                    This post cracked me up.

                                                                                    1. re: TonyC
                                                                                      polldeldiablo RE: TonyC May 12, 2013 07:15 PM

                                                                                      You do realize I'm not comparing to Monterey park/SGV, this is about what the OP requested which was something that is a reasonable distance which has good authentic Chinese food. The OP didn't specify for the place to have tablecloths and excellent service as prereq's. I'm commenting purely on food quality and authenticity. As far as saying it's nothing like Sichuan cuisine and comparing it to Panda Express, yes if you order the Americanized food, it tastes just like Panda Express but that's simply because when you have a bad location with mostly non-Chinese nearby, You have to cater for the average customer or else you'll have a highly authentic restaurant that goes out of business. If you go to a authentic restaurant and order Americanized food, then you're basically ordering Pakistani cuisine at a strictly Hindi(vegetarian) restaurant and then complaining about it.

                                                                                      As far as saying there's nothing Sichuan about the place, tell that to my 99 year old grandmother from weihai that lived in HK for 20 years and typically only cares about restaurants that look good and are busy, and yet she still admits the restaurant is 'very good'.

                                                                                      1. re: polldeldiablo
                                                                                        g
                                                                                        Galen RE: polldeldiablo May 12, 2013 08:05 PM

                                                                                        For graduation dinner "no". Food's okay for the area. I was one of the first to recommend the place. Besides, the husband wouldn't be able to fill orders for a party of 15 quickly. The kitchen gets overwhelmed with just 2 or 3 tables with only parties of 2 to 4. Plus after a while you get tired of Mama nicely pushing her suggestions of food on you. Haven't been there in years now because of these reasons.

                                                                                    2. re: polldeldiablo
                                                                                      j
                                                                                      jotfoodie RE: polldeldiablo May 13, 2013 09:53 PM

                                                                                      I am sorry, but I have to agree with TonyC on wondering where you have gotten the impression that it was a Szechuan place. I second what Galen has stated. Like Galen, I was one of the first to try this place, when it was first opened. They had just moved from New Jersey then, and if I were not mistaken, originally from Henan (河南), China. This is definitely not a place for graduation or any special occasion. They cannot handle traffic and you will somehow get your food within reasonable time, if you were the only customer. The reason is the kitchen is too small, and they do not have enough stove/burners to handle the orders, and that comment came directly from the mom. The last time I was there was a year ago, I was rooting for them in the beginning, but with what Galen had already said, it has somehow not been in our rotation for pretty much the same reasons.

                                                                                      The Tampa Garden Chinese Delight thread was started back then by our beloved David Chan:

                                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/667376

                                                                                      1. re: jotfoodie
                                                                                        polldeldiablo RE: jotfoodie May 15, 2013 06:48 PM

                                                                                        Ah, I have never been there when it was busier than 3 tables(including ours) so my view of the service is obviously not accurate.

                                                                                        So, do you have a suggestion for another Chinese restaurant that is reasonably authentic to any regional type anywhere within 20 miles from San Fernando Valley? I can drive to SGV easily but I hate driving down from pasadena since there are no highways that go there from pasadena.

                                                                                        1. re: polldeldiablo
                                                                                          Chandavkl RE: polldeldiablo May 15, 2013 08:11 PM

                                                                                          Is Agoura Hills too far away? Hot Wok, Szechuan Place and Green Onion have authentic items on their menu. Junk, too.

                                                                                          1. re: polldeldiablo
                                                                                            n
                                                                                            ns1 RE: polldeldiablo May 15, 2013 09:09 PM

                                                                                            eat thai, go to 626 for chinese. problem solved.

                                                                                            1. re: polldeldiablo
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                                                                                              ilysla RE: polldeldiablo May 16, 2013 07:29 AM

                                                                                              Was the issue that it was "inauthentic?" I only went to Tampa Gardens once a few yrs ago, but I thought the food was quite good (and "authentic," whatever the heck that means).

                                                                                              Don't know how other people on the board feel about this place, but I think Mandarin Deli (on Reseda, across from CSUN.... Can't remember the x-street) is completely respectable, as well.

                                                                                              1. re: polldeldiablo
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                                                                                                jotfoodie RE: polldeldiablo May 16, 2013 03:16 PM

                                                                                                How about Hot Wok Cafe in Northridge on Reseda and Nordoff (NW corner), where Vons anchors that plaza.

                                                                                                It is not the same owner as Chandavkl, suggested one with the same name in Agoura Hills.

                                                                                                I have been going to this Chinese restaurant for years. The current owner is from Taiwan, and has become a good friend of my extended family through years of patronage. They have a Chinese special menu for folks who want more 'authentic' Chinese dishes, and they also list their more current Chinese dishes on a white board stand, which you will see, as soon as you enter the restaurant, before you reach the front desk.

                                                                                                Some of the dishes you may be surprised to find them here, are chicken roll (雞卷-Jī juàn), pickled cabbage with lamb( 酸菜羊肉 - Suāncài yángròu), cumin lamb (孜然羊肉 (zī rán yángròu), Mui Choy with Pork Belly (梅菜扣肉 – mei chai kou ruo), etc. You can even order Red Cooked Pork Hock (紅燒蹄髈/走油蹄髈 Zǒu yóu), if you give them a 2-day notice.

                                                                                                Give them a try, and please report back your experience if you decided to go.

                                                                                                9135 Reseda Blvd Northridge, CA 91324
                                                                                                (818) 886-1168

                                                                                                http://hotwokcafe.net/

                                                                                                1. re: jotfoodie
                                                                                                  polldeldiablo RE: jotfoodie Aug 11, 2013 05:04 PM

                                                                                                  Thanks for the replies, sorry for the uber late response as my mind was for some reason really messed up that day when I labeled Tampa garden as sichuan, must of had some 'bad' chinese fast food'.

                                                                                                  Hot wok sounds good, I'll give it a try as my current chinese restaurant outside of SGV is pretty far (Hop Woo/Tien Woo down by west L.A.). I noticed how super close it is to Cal State Northridge so is there a time of day best to go if it's frequented by college kids or not?

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                                                                                            Thor123 RE: silverlainy May 10, 2013 03:06 PM

                                                                                            Your best bet, by far (if you dont want to go far) is Joss Cuisine/Traditional. Its on Santa Monica Boulevard between Westwood and Beverly Hills. Nice for a graduation too.

                                                                                            http://www.josscuisine.com/home.php

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Thor123
                                                                                              ipsedixit RE: Thor123 May 10, 2013 04:39 PM

                                                                                              Joss is your best bet if what you want is a losing bet.

                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit
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                                                                                                Thor123 RE: ipsedixit May 12, 2013 10:59 AM

                                                                                                Ouch!

                                                                                                1. re: Thor123
                                                                                                  ipsedixit RE: Thor123 May 12, 2013 11:15 AM

                                                                                                  Y'know it's nothing personal.

                                                                                                  But Joss (whether you like it or not personally) just doesn't fit the OP's stated criteria. It just doesn't.

                                                                                                  It's like this. I might like The Hat, but recommending it to the OP in this thread would be a losing bet.

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                                                                                              silverlainy RE: silverlainy May 10, 2013 07:48 PM

                                                                                              OP here. Thanks everyone for the suggestions...maybe I will scope out some of the nearby places for lunch and see. To clarify, the dinner is for next friday. It looks like, traffic wise everything is about an hour (including ctown, Gardena (50 min), and SGV) based on googlemaps for today at 7. If the 405 closures are next week also, I'll have to eliminate Gardena and northridge.
                                                                                              A friend of mine bit the bullet and booked a restaurant in monterey park...I am considering it now. My family eats most types of Chinese food so that at least isnt a concern.

                                                                                              12 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: silverlainy
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                                                                                                nosh RE: silverlainy May 10, 2013 08:47 PM

                                                                                                Are you familiar with Mandarin Kitchen? It is right nearby, on the east side of Westwood Blvd. just south of Santa Monica Blvd. in the same strip mall as Eduardo's. Admittedly, I'm a gringo and don't mind the "Americanized" Chinese food. I like this place for their lunch combos -- good hot'n'sour soup and better-than-average Mongolian beef or shrimp with garlic sauce. But when they changed ownership three or so years ago(?) they had some specials written in Chinese on the walls, they offer some lobster specials, and their menu includes some unusually "authentic" dishes for the westside.

                                                                                                Only a mile or so from campus, so check them out and talk to a manager or a chef. Note -- smallish and no real decor.

                                                                                                Note: Trying to get from the UCLA area to the SGV or even Chinatown on a Friday evening is just an invitation for delay and frustration. Have you checked whether the Dodgers are home that evening? Graduation is a celebration of you for your family -- the food for that evening can be secondary. Save your nerves and plan an awesome dim sum brunch the next morning when the trek to the SGV will be easy and you can impress your family with the food then.

                                                                                                1. re: nosh
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                                                                                                  ilysla RE: nosh May 11, 2013 09:52 AM

                                                                                                  While I don't agree w/ the Mandarin Kitchen rec (simply based on what I've read about it chowhound and the OP's stated criteria), I do agree that's it's *complete* lunacy to try to drive outside of the immediate area on a Friday evening.

                                                                                                  Trust me, once your family sees what traffic is like in the area (if they haven't already), they'll probably be willing to compromise.

                                                                                                  1. re: ilysla
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                                                                                                    ns1 RE: ilysla May 11, 2013 10:06 AM

                                                                                                    such is life on the westside.

                                                                                                    1. re: ns1
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                                                                                                      bulavinaka RE: ns1 May 11, 2013 10:48 AM

                                                                                                      Getting around or out of the Westside on fridayPM is doable. It's getting out of UCLA, Westwood Village and then Westwood that kills most options for the OP.

                                                                                                      1. re: bulavinaka
                                                                                                        ipsedixit RE: bulavinaka May 11, 2013 10:49 AM

                                                                                                        Call LAPD and tell them someone in your party is about to go into labor and their doctor is at Huntington Memorial and get a police escort.

                                                                                                        Once you hit the 710 FWY mark, call it off and apologize for the false alarm.

                                                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                          J.L. RE: ipsedixit May 11, 2013 10:58 AM

                                                                                                          Huntington calls will get the OP routed to the 110-N. Best bet for the SGV is to say Garfield Hospital... :-P

                                                                                                          Either that, or everyone in the graduation party (yes, grandma too) rent a motorcycle and have a lane-splitting party. Just make sure you're all insured.

                                                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit
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                                                                                                            NAspy RE: ipsedixit May 11, 2013 06:22 PM

                                                                                                            And that will earn you a misdemeanor for making a false police report, which will will at least ensure that dinner conversation won't be lacking

                                                                                                          2. re: bulavinaka
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                                                                                                            ilysla RE: bulavinaka May 11, 2013 02:02 PM

                                                                                                            Wow, if you think getting around or out of the westside on a Friday is doable (I'm talking 5-7PM), you must have the patience of a saint! ;) On a bad day, it's taken me 20-30 min just to reach the 405 from Bundy/Wilshire. =(

                                                                                                            I agree w/ the rest of your statement. ;) That's why the Palace rec isn't bad, assuming the food is above average (I've never been, even though I'm only about 1 mi away). You can head south on Veteran, use the leftmost right turn lanes (which gets you around all the horrific traffic trying to get onto the 405) and then be there in 15 min.... I know the OP wants good food, but I just worry that the time needed to get high-quality Chinese food will put the entire party in a foul mood (I know it would for me....).

                                                                                                            1. re: ilysla
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                                                                                                              bulavinaka RE: ilysla May 11, 2013 04:36 PM

                                                                                                              Westwood and West LA are the worst traffic areas in the Westside, particularly at PM rush hour. High density residencies, lots of businesses, office highrises, and UCLA. The rest of the Westside is not nearly as dense nor traffic as bad. I recently was stuck on Santa Monica blvd at rush hour. Creeping along, it took 30 minutes to get from Barrington to the 405. This is why I neither live in nor work in this part of the Westside.

                                                                                                              I mentioned upthread that it would take about 55 minutes from UCLA to Sea Empress, and the OP confirmed it via google. I live in the southwest part of the Westside, and it takes approximately 25 minutes to get to the same destination. Most places we need to or want to go are not more than 20-30 minutes from our home. If it's beyond that....

                                                                                                              Unfortunately for the OP, he has so many constraints to contend with. My wife is Malaysian Chinese, so I'm familiar with how the food becomes a big issue with the parents. They eat almost exclusively Chinese with variations and inclusions based on their family's origins and country's cultural influences. Outside of that, food choices don't stray far from East Asia - and it has to closely approximate the quality of what is "back home." I think most Chinese could accept a multi-course Cantonese banquet for a celebratory meal. Unfortunately, the Westside has no grand Cantonese restaurants. The closest to this, IMHO, is The Palace. They have banquet menus at graduating levels, they have seperate dining rooms, a valet service and it's close to UCLA. It's not Sea Harbour or Elite, but it's also approximately 90 minutes closer at that time of day. I'd present these choices to the parents and ask for their input.

                                                                                                    2. re: silverlainy
                                                                                                      Mr. Roboto RE: silverlainy May 10, 2013 09:24 PM

                                                                                                      Next Friday, as in May 17th? Good luck!

                                                                                                      I believe that's also USC's graduation day, the freeways will be a mess and you know the Trojans have already booked up all the good places.

                                                                                                      1. re: silverlainy
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                                                                                                        ilysla RE: silverlainy May 10, 2013 11:06 PM

                                                                                                        Depending on the exact time of the evening, the SGV will take you more than an hr. On a normal evening, it takes at least 45 minutes from the traffic sign on the 10E to get to Downtown. And it'd probably take you at least 15-20 min to get to that sign from UCLA. Figure 1.5 hrs at least for Monterey Park....

                                                                                                        If you're going to drive all that way, why not book in San Gabriel/Alhambra/Rosemead? Monterey Park is where the good Chinese food was... 20 yrs ago. =(

                                                                                                        1. re: silverlainy
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                                                                                                          raizans RE: silverlainy May 11, 2013 11:24 AM

                                                                                                          yeah, either go to the sgv, or drive down to gardena on western.

                                                                                                        2. k
                                                                                                          kevin RE: silverlainy May 10, 2013 09:58 PM

                                                                                                          For the Westside, I am probably in the minority on this one, but I really really really like Mandarin Kitchen.

                                                                                                          But I have a feeling that most of the rest of the crew hates it.

                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: kevin
                                                                                                            ipsedixit RE: kevin May 10, 2013 10:04 PM

                                                                                                            Here's the thing, it's not about whether you like Mandarin Kitchen or whether the hoi polloi hates it.

                                                                                                            It's about what the OP is looking for.

                                                                                                            Let's review:

                                                                                                            >>>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). <<<

                                                                                                            Now tell me, regardless of how much you *like* Mandarin Kitchen, how does that place fit the OP's criteria? I don't believe Mandarin Kitchen has -- as a very basic criteria -- whole fish, right?

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                                                                                                              nosh RE: ipsedixit May 11, 2013 02:33 PM

                                                                                                              Actually, I think there is a good chance they do. And if the OP arranged a few days in advance, the surely would have whole fish.

                                                                                                              1. re: nosh
                                                                                                                ipsedixit RE: nosh May 11, 2013 07:25 PM

                                                                                                                Just checked their menu. No whole fish, and certainly not of the fresh variety, which is all that really matters.

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                                                                                                            New Trial RE: silverlainy May 11, 2013 12:11 PM

                                                                                                            No promises as to how many of your criteria it will actually fill (other than distance and not too divey) but I recently saw in Eater that there is a new place opening on Monday on Sunset near Doheny (next to RivaBella and part of the same company) that might be suitable. It is called Chi-Lin and here is part of the menu:

                                                                                                            http://la.eater.com/archives/2013/05/...

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: New Trial
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                                                                                                              Thor123 RE: New Trial May 17, 2013 01:48 PM

                                                                                                              Chi-Lin is a jv with the Riva Bella/Boa Group and the original founder of Joss. Have not eaten there yet (next week), but it is a spectacular looking space. Looks like its going to compete for the very high end with the likes of Mr. Chow. The soft opening began this week on Monday.

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                                                                                                              silverlainy RE: silverlainy May 11, 2013 02:09 PM

                                                                                                              Thanks everyone for the feedback, I didn't realize USC's graduation was the same day..that sounds like even worse traffic that usual. You have sufficiently convinced me to do dinner on the westside and SGV lunch the next day.

                                                                                                              I'll check out some of these westside options for lunch when I get a craving for chinese food and cant make the drive east.

                                                                                                              12 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: silverlainy
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                                                                                                                nosh RE: silverlainy May 11, 2013 02:51 PM

                                                                                                                There are two westside chinese combo lunches that are part of my regular rotation, and I've tried a bunch. Hu's (now closed on Monday) offers a decent hot'n'sour soup (not much sour or hot -- I add chili oil and soy -- but a lot of stuff in it), a small chinese chicken salad (a great addition, sweetish dressing, the reason I go more often than Mandarin Kitchen), and a large entree with rice (I like the twice-cooked pork (no tofu), the kung pao chicken (extra sauce -- their kung pao sauce is great), or the eggplant (with pork, done spicy). Do not get the sour chicken or bell-pepper beef or sweet and sour -- the chicken or shrimp are in a thick insipid batter. $7.45++ Hu's is on National -- take Westwood south until you hit National and follow it as it bends left past Overland and then it is where National takes a 90-degree turn east -- on the right.

                                                                                                                Mandarin Kitchen is on Westwood just south of Santa Monica Blvd. in the strip mall south of the carwash on the left (east). They serve a hot'n'sour soup with a bit of bamboo shoot but it is a bit spicy and tangy -- nice flavor. Also big portions with rice. I've liked their mongolian beef and the shrimp with assorted vegetables -- I ask for lots of spicy garlic sauce. The veggies include some flat pea pods, bok choy, and broccoli. Their kung pao or black bean dishes have been meh. $5.99 or 6.99++.

                                                                                                                Yes, I've done Hop Li (both locations), Chang's, California Wok, Cheng Du (used to be a favorite a decade ago), Hop Woo, Jin Jiang, Soybean, the one on Lindbrook in Westwood Village, and a BUNCH more....

                                                                                                                1. re: nosh
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                                                                                                                  kevin RE: nosh May 11, 2013 04:34 PM

                                                                                                                  Mandarin Kitchen does have an assortment of jellyfish dishes, whole fish (at least tilapia - though that would not be quite traditional), other fish dishes, congee, among other dishes that are not exactly firmly rooted in Americanized Chinese cuisine.

                                                                                                                  1. re: kevin
                                                                                                                    echoparkdirt RE: kevin Aug 11, 2013 06:12 PM

                                                                                                                    Hu's is repulsive

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                                                                                                                      kevin RE: echoparkdirt Aug 11, 2013 07:16 PM

                                                                                                                      Hu's Szechwan on National and Motor. ?????

                                                                                                                      I thought they had a couple decent ones either beef or fish ????? Maybe. Though just for the Amoericanized Chinese.

                                                                                                                      1. re: kevin
                                                                                                                        echoparkdirt RE: kevin Aug 11, 2013 07:28 PM

                                                                                                                        Hu's is Chinese government revenge on whites for the Opium Wars

                                                                                                                        1. re: echoparkdirt
                                                                                                                          J.L. RE: echoparkdirt Aug 11, 2013 08:52 PM

                                                                                                                          I just wish they'd put some of that opium in their food...

                                                                                                                2. re: silverlainy
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                                                                                                                  ilysla RE: silverlainy May 11, 2013 05:41 PM

                                                                                                                  "You have sufficiently convinced me to do dinner on the westside and SGV lunch the next day."

                                                                                                                  That sounds like a VERY good idea (and what I do myself, when I want the good stuff). ;) Just make sure you really do travel to the SGV around lunch on Saturday b/c Saturday evening traffic is also bad (on the freeway; the surface streets are relatively clear).

                                                                                                                  I come from a Chinese family where some of the extended family is pretty picky, as well (or, at least, we wouldn't want to embarrass ourselves by taking them to something less than excellent). However, they're also relatively pragmatic and would probably agree to something close by once they take a look at the multi-cityblock line just to get to the on-ramp for either the 405 N/S (since having to stay in traffic for 1.5-2 hrs would likely start a war w/i the family and would shame you more than having sub-standard Chinese)....

                                                                                                                  1. re: ilysla
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                                                                                                                    silverlainy RE: ilysla May 12, 2013 01:36 AM

                                                                                                                    haha yeah I told them I found a restaurant near my place and they were ok with doing SGV on saturday. Traffic on the 10 will horrify them

                                                                                                                    traffic near ucla is pretty awful but I have some side routes that make it a little better...

                                                                                                                    1. re: silverlainy
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                                                                                                                      ilysla RE: silverlainy May 12, 2013 08:37 AM

                                                                                                                      If you do end up going to the Palace (or any other place closeby), do post a review, so I wouldn't mind finding a decent Chinese place in the area....

                                                                                                                  2. re: silverlainy
                                                                                                                    Chandavkl RE: silverlainy May 11, 2013 08:44 PM

                                                                                                                    RIP Royal Star. That's where we went when my kids graduated from UCLA.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Chandavkl
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                                                                                                                      kevin RE: Chandavkl May 11, 2013 08:48 PM

                                                                                                                      Oh. Yea. Royal star. Isn't that where South is at now ?

                                                                                                                      1. re: Chandavkl
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                                                                                                                        nosh RE: Chandavkl May 11, 2013 08:50 PM

                                                                                                                        Something jinxed about that spot -- pretty big restaurant with a bar, some limited devoted parking, and yet another successor to Royal Star (South -- have there been others?) has bitten the dust.

                                                                                                                    2. s
                                                                                                                      Sgee RE: silverlainy May 13, 2013 07:49 PM

                                                                                                                      You should seriously consider an alternate cuisine on the west side. Your parents will just be annoyed if they are picky and expect authenticity.

                                                                                                                      Go for Japanese or Korean or Thai instead.

                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Sgee
                                                                                                                        ipsedixit RE: Sgee May 13, 2013 07:56 PM

                                                                                                                        Of just postpone dinner until Saturday.

                                                                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit
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                                                                                                                          Sgee RE: ipsedixit May 13, 2013 08:00 PM

                                                                                                                          Yeah! Go to King Hua on Saturday. Give them a call couple days in advance and request a bunch of "order in advance" items. That will make them happy.

                                                                                                                          Lukshon may be a good alternative if you are still hell bent on Friday.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Sgee
                                                                                                                            westsidegal RE: Sgee Aug 13, 2013 01:35 AM

                                                                                                                            in my experience, lukshon is jammed from 7:30 to 9:00 on friday nights

                                                                                                                      2. westsidegal RE: silverlainy Aug 13, 2013 01:32 AM

                                                                                                                        somewhat OT, but if you have the money to afford a limo to do the driving, the whole transportation issue becomes more civilized.

                                                                                                                        yes, you'll be on the road the same amount of time, but everyone will be in back of the limo and be able to converse with each other and the time will go more quickly.

                                                                                                                        to make this food related: i had a wonderful dinner at elite on atlantic in monterey park about a week ago.

                                                                                                                        1. J.L. RE: silverlainy Aug 13, 2013 01:55 AM

                                                                                                                          So where did you end up?

                                                                                                                          1. TripleAxel RE: silverlainy Aug 13, 2013 06:18 PM

                                                                                                                            Have you tried ROC (formerly ROC Dumpling Kitchen or ROC Kitchen) on Sawtelle? I went when they first opened a year ago and thought it wasn't bad. Also, Pingtung Eat-In Market is pretty good for being on Melrose....

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