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Aug 27, 2013 11:48 AM

The "Chinese Stomach" Comes To Los Feliz

For those of you who have read my recent articles on the Chinese stomach, the phenomenon where Chinese tourists prefer bad Chinese food to any kind of local food, and which explains things like Din Tai Fung opening up in South Coast Plaza, we have another precinct reporting. The good stuff is now in Los Feliz at the previously horrid The Palace on Hillhurst, to serve Chinese tourists visiting Griffith Park. See Clarissa Wei's article in the L.A. Times.

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    1. There is a "reverse Chinese stomach" phenomenon I have observed during my travels in China.

      I was on a private tour in Beijing, and asked my driver to take me to a place popular with local Beijingers for zha jiang mien. With trepidation, my guide told me that most of his European or Americans clients wouldn't want to set foot in that place - "It can get very crowded, and the floors are tiled and there is fluorescent lighting," explained my tour guide. I said that I'm not like most Europeans or Americans - If the food is good, then it's worth waiting for, and I'm game. Who cares about the flooring or lighting?

      The story has a very happy ending, where I (along with my driver and tour guide) gorge ourselves on heaping bowls of the best zha jiang mien I've had since Taipei.

      But the point is: I learned that many foreign tourists visiting China don't try the local cuisine as well...

      16 Replies
      1. re: J.L.

        Okay, so I'm not gonna be embarrassed to say that I didn't know what zhajiangmian is, so I googled it. And since the Wiki explanation was largely consistent with what I read in a number of other sites, I hereby share it with the similarly uninformed:

        (Traditional Chinese:醡醬麵, Simplified Chinese:炸酱面. Literally "fried sauce noodles") is a Chinese dish consisting of thick wheat noodles topped with a mixture of ground pork stir-fried with zhajiang (醡醬), which is salty fermented soybean paste.

        So today I learned something new. Doesn't happen everyday.

        1. re: Wayno

          Apologies about not giving enough background on the food involved before launching into my story...

          1. re: J.L.

            Honestly!! You guys need to remember that some of us are Westside gringoes for *€%# sake!

            1. re: Dirtywextraolives

              More of that Coastal (East or West - it doesn't appear to matter) Confusion it looks like...

                      1. re: Servorg

                        Coats and coasts are so very close, my cycling friend.....

        2. re: J.L.

          This is true. It takes some hard work - even if your hosts are true friends - to get past many natives' fear of making a guest uncomfortable and get them to show you the really good shit in Asia.

          1. re: Ciao Bob

            "...if your hosts are true friends - to get past many natives' fear of making a guest uncomfortable and get them to show you the really good shit in Asia."

            Or here in the US of A - for that matter.

          2. re: J.L.


            At the risk of being sent to the Asia boards, what are the places in Beijing and Taipei that you are referring to? I'm going to be there in a month.

            Gracias and xiexie

            Mr Taster

            1. re: J.L.

              yeah, i ate a diet of solely french fries when i was in china years ago.

              1. re: kevin

                Do you now regret the missed opportunities?

                1. re: JAB

                  (shrug of the shoulders)

                  it was pre-chowhound days.

                  which was not too too long ago.

                  but yeah, missed opportunities most definitely.

              2. re: J.L.

                +1 wherever I travel I see a lot of American tourists in the windows of Macdonalds and Burger King. It's not just Chinese tourists that like to eat familiar foods.

              3. Apparently Clarissa needs a lesson on local geography if she considers Los Feliz to be a part of East L.A.... sigh.

                25 Replies
                1. re: TripleAxel

                  Actually this is the new parlance which the L.A. Times wrote about last year,with true Eastsiders (e.g., Boyle Heights, ELA) being offended by the term "Eastside" used to describe Silver Lake and Los Feliz. Personally, as a resident of Los Feliz I'm with them. But I think we're swimming against the hipster tide.

                  1. re: Chandavkl

                    I don't know how anyone can consider Los Feliz and Silverlake to be the "Eastside", particularly since both are north and slightly west of Downtown LA!

                    1. re: TripleAxel

                      Makes sense to me.... They are east of me. Hence, everything is the eastside from here....

                      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                        Westside Mentality... just like anything south of the 10 is South Los Angeles...


                          1. re: Dommy

                            Also, I kind of resent what you are implying. Although, I agree it's a Westside mentality, I don't have a problem with it, as a) it's factually correct in that EVERY LA neighborhood is on the east side of me except for Venice and, b) I lived on the Eastside of town for almost ten years.

                        1. re: TripleAxel

                          Yes, but Western Ave. is not part of the Westside, though it once marked the western boundary of Los Angeles.

                          1. re: Chandavkl

                            if i recall correctly, a friend told me this came up at the meetings. he said many a h**ster was grinning with glee at their ever increasing success at making everyone's lives miserable.

                            assad's got nuthin on these people, i tell ya.

                            1. re: Chandavkl

                              SilverLake/Los Feliz may be the Eastside to me.

                              But I can never buy it as East L.A.

                              Maybe I'm just one of the few that is geographically-challenged.

                            2. re: TripleAxel

                              Well, it depends where you are when you mention "East." There's now West Hollywood, Hollywood and "East Hollywood." So, certainly, Los Feliz is East of East Hollywood (or maybe it's part of it).

                              1. re: TripleAxel

                                I had to read that twice.

                                And then I did a double take.

                                Scratched my brow-beaten head.

                                And then swigged a shot. (ok, maybe i didn't have a shot).

                                1. re: TripleAxel

                                  Maybe I'm way off but I assumed that "Eastside" referred to neighborhoods like Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Echo Park, etc. while "East L.A." covers the actual East L.A. plus Boyle Heights and environs.

                                  I've lived in Silver Lake for over 12 years. NYC transplant.

                                  1. re: JeMange

                                    Same here.... But be glad they won't accuse you of Westside mentality.....

                                    1. re: JeMange

                                      Eastside being Los Feliz et al is a very recent phenomenon, at least to somebody who's lived in L.A. for so long. That's why the East LA crowd is so upset about the Eastside reference.

                                      1. re: Chandavkl

                                        It certainly doesn't help that it was CW who made the mistake, since there's already a lot of old-time Chowhounders who question her credibility.

                                        I've lived in LA for sixteen and a half years, and it's awfully weird to my sensibility also to have the concept of "eastside" redefined by people who were in elementary school when I moved here. Danged whipper-snappers! (shakes fist in air)

                                        Mr Taster

                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                          Change = Bad. Old stuff stay same = Good.

                                          Got it.

                                          1. re: JeMange

                                            For some things, that's true. There is undisputed value in tradition, and in a city with far too many people trying to reinvent themselves, whose idea of permanence is as solid as the Pacific, we need more traditions to ground us and bind us together as a city (and as Angelenos)-- not fewer. Rebranding old neighborhoods only serves to further divide an already ungainly, sprawling and fragmented metropolis.

                                            Mr Taster

                                          2. re: Mr Taster

                                            Well, it's her editor who made the mistake.

                                            And I am shocked that an LA Times employee let that fly.

                                          3. re: Chandavkl

                                            I remember Zev Yaroslasky(sic), one of the county sups, reportedly ordering his executive assistant not to make any afternoon appointments for him "on the eastside", meaning downtown la and it environs, as traffic back was horrendous.

                                            1. re: cfylong

                                              Maybe ol' Zev should have consulted with the LA Times


                                              Mr Taster

                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                Though you might conclude that anything East of Mid-City would be Eastside and West of Mid-City to be Westside


                                                1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

                                                  One might, if one didn't already have a clearly drawn map from an authoritative source indicating that LA's "Eastside" is demarcated by the LA River.

                                                  And no, the irony of CW's mistake having been published by the same entity providing the authoritative maps is not lost on me. Where's that danged ombudsman when you need him? (Hopefully (s)he wasn't laid off with all the budget cuts...)

                                                  Mr Taster

                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                    >> Concept: Comfortable Chinese restaurant in East L.A. slick enough for a first date...

                                                    One more clarification/rant. Remember, this isn't a discussion of the term "Eastside" versus "East L.A.". That got muddled in the discussion, since CW didn't use the term "Eastside".

                                                    She specifically referred to a restaurant located in Los Feliz as being in "East L.A.", which to my mind is as absurd as referring to Warsawa as being in Monterey Park. It's factually incorrect, unless you want to make the argument that there are two East LAs... the "official" Latino East LA (the one you can actually find on maps, with words marking the location) and the unofficial, rededicated, Hipster East LA-- but in my opinion, that's at best confusing, and at worst it's just dumb.

                                                    If she meant "East LA" as a descriptive term, it's still sloppy writing because of the brain jolt it causes when you read it. Good journalism is about clarity, not confusion.

                                                    Why not just say The Palace is in Los Feliz? Because THAT'S WHERE IT IS.

                                                    >> Concept: Comfortable Chinese restaurant in Los Feliz slick enough for a first date...

                                                    Was that so hard?!


                                                    I'm better now.

                                                    Mr Taster

                                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                                      Now, leave the same comment to her article... ;-)

                                      2. has anyone had anything from the "secret" menu of authentitude? is it as bad as the normal menu stuff?

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: linus

                                          Well, it appears that Tony's secret menu isn't in writing. If you want something they'll make it for you, and presumably they have some kind of set menu for the Chinese tour groups that come by every day. I had the citrus fish which was OK, good enough to satisfy me if I lived nearby. (Oh yeah, I do live nearby.) But with Los Feliz prices you're much better off paying for the extra gasoline and driving to the SGV.

                                        2. Has anyone eaten here yet ?
                                          I tried about 2 months ago on a friday night. We got seated and the scent of that industrial pine sol cleaner was to much that we left.
                                          I've lived here in los feliz 22yrs and the whole eastside westside debate still cracks me up