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Awesome Chinese food in LA Area next week - Help me choose

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I'll be in the LA area next week. I'm probably going to have only 1 chance to eat Chinese food. I'm hoping for some advice about where to go:

Specifications:

- Somewhere I have not been, so this excludes Luscious Dumpling, Hui Tou Xiang Noodle House, 101 Noodle House, Beijing Pie House, Dean Sin World and 888 Seafood Restaurant. See http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/913793 and http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/853414 for my thoughts on all of these places.

- Open on Christmas eve (lunch or dinner) and/or Christmas day (brunch/lunch). The meal is either happening Tuesday or Wednesday.

- Price of $20 per person or less.

- Really good food, preferably quality and/or items that I wouldn't easily find in San Francisco.

- Within a 1 hour car ride from La Mirada, CA. I'm guessing I'll be heading up to San Gabriel area for this meal, but if there happens to be something awesome elsewhere, it's not out of question.

- After the meal, I want to think to myself "Wow, LA really does have the most amazing Chinese food." And word of warning: I will be in Flushing, NY a few days later, so it has to compete with NYC as well.

In terms of type of Chinese food, I am pretty open. Could be dim sum, could be dumplings, could be Hunan or Sichuan or Yunnan or Dongbei. Just really good and really worth the trip. Also, if there happen to be two great places that could be combined into a mini-crawl, I'm open to that too, especially if they are close together.

Any help would be appreciated, and I promise to report back!
Dave MP

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  1. P.S. If I am sent somewhere that is on par with Luscious Dumpling or Dean Sin World, I'll be quite happy. Doesn't have to be similar style of food to these places, but I did really really like both of them, so that is the quality that I am looking for.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Dave MP

      Downhill alert on DSW. Ymmv.

      1. re: ns1

        I ate there about 1.5 years ago. Sorry to hear it's not as good :(

    2. Just curious, what do you consider really good in sf/bay area?

      1 Reply
      1. re: chezwhitey

        House of Pancake in SF, China Village in East Bay, Koi Palace, Cooking Papa are all places that come to mind.

      2. Skip Elite and Sea Harbour because Koi Palace does it better.

        Though NYC does Shanghainese well, I still would recommend Shanghailander Palace in Rowland Heights. Get the braised pork and crab sautéed with rice cake. Add the house special casserole.

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/905793

        There is no one restaurant that will show you LA does Chinese food better. For Taiwanese go to SinBala (one in Rowland and one in Arcadia). Get the fatty pork with preserved vegetables over rice, the pork braised with bamboo shoots over rice, and vermicelli with pumpkin. Doubt you'll find better versions of these in SF or NYC.

        Then try Shen Yang in SGV per Tony C's rec for Northern Chinese. I haven't been yet but damn it looks good.

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/923961

        2 Replies
        1. re: Porthos

          These ideas all sound really good!

          I realize that there's no one restaurant that will show me LA does better. I'm just looking for something different that I can't easily get in Bay Area, and something really good.

          I would be thrilled to try Shanghailander, SinBala or Shen Yang, so these ideas are great! Thanks

          1. re: Dave MP

            the *best* thing at shen yang IMO is their rendition of korean cold noodles. the quality of their other stuff had slipped IMO.

        2. A couple of suggestions for something different would be Shaanxi Gourmet (Shaanxi) and Omar's (Uighur/Xinjiang). Though they don't completely overlap, I like Qingdao Bread Food (across the street from DWS) better than Luscious Dumplings.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Chandavkl

            However note that Qingdao does not do XLB

            1. re: ns1

              but i like the fish dumplings at QBF.

          2. SinBaLa

            5 Replies
            1. re: J.L.

              The irony is that Northern California used to have an official branch of SinBaLa in Cupertino (where Tam's Café/Venus Café is now). It bombed and the quality never got close to the one in Arcadia, and eventually shut down. They were basically just reheating frozen SinBaLa sausage packets and serving their own style of rice plates and noodles. Aiya :-o.

              1. re: K K

                Ai-ya inideed!!!

              2. re: J.L.

                imo, Sinbala has been going downhill for a while. we tried their pork chop rice and chicken leg rice and a few other dishes last month and 2 months before, and it tastes heavier, more oily, total msg overload and super salty. we were disappointed. :<

                ymmv of course.

                1. re: chowseeker1999

                  Which one? Arcadia or Rowland?

                  1. re: Porthos

                    Arcadia

              3. Chengdu Taste at 828 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra.
                Think Sichuan and you will be fine.
                Be prepared to wait, even in middle of the day.
                Highly rated, and any search will prove that to be the case.

                21 Replies
                1. re: carter

                  you might have a problem staying within the OP price range at chengdu.

                  i suggest flavor garden as a much more affordable alternative without the huge crowds and 45-60 minute waits.
                  various hounds have raved about different things on their menu. i love their beef roll, their shrimp dumplings feature two pieces of shrimp each, others love their beef noodle soup. every table usually has an order of their fen zheng pai gu (pork ribs steamed with rice powder). noodles and dumplings made in house/

                  it won't knock you out, but to me you'll get your money's worth.

                  1. re: barryc

                    Are the dumplings, beef noodle soup, and beef rolls really going to show OP "Wow, LA really does have the most amazing Chinese food"?

                    1. re: Porthos

                      Well, OP knows Bay Area Chinese quite well and has been in LA frequently, so I think in this case a micro approach is valid.

                      1. re: Chandavkl

                        Yeah, the micro approach is valid. I already *do* think LA has the best Chinese food, so I'm basically just looking for places that won't make me change my mind ;)

                      2. re: Porthos

                        it's my take that part of what makes LA special is the diversity and number of holes-in-the-wall that do a single specialty - and for dirt cheap. unless you want to do a food crawl you really won't get a full spectrum of that diversity. part of it is that a lot of immigrants who come over and open places AREN'T actually chefs but they are decent home cooks who've mastered some of their region's specialties.

                        FG is IMO one of the few places that does an assortment of things pretty well - and still for a reasonable price. and i suspect that the folks who cook at FG have some training, or at the very least a culinary standard you don't see at a lot of chinese mom & pop places when it comes to selection of ingredients when it comes to meat. for example, the pork ribs are typically fairly meaty and not fatty compared to what you get when you order ribs with black bean at dim sum. the beef tendon noodle soup actually has substantial chunks of tendon in it.

                        think of it like a chinese las ruinas (i miss that place); good peasant fare, but prepared by rich people who have upgraded ingredient selection & quality accordingly - and without jacking up prices accordingly.

                        1. re: barryc

                          Wow.

                          Las Ruinas was Sui Generis for these parts, like a post of La Super Rica within the confines of sleepy Paasadena.

                      3. re: barryc

                        Thanks for the rec of Flavor Garden. I really like good shrimp dumplings.

                        Incidentally, back in 2007, I had some of the best dumplings I ever remember eating at 10053 Dumpling, which now doesn't exist anymore. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/406527 But if I could get dumplings like those, it would be exciting.

                        1. re: Dave MP

                          The reason why Dumpling 10053 (later Fortune Dumpling) no long exists is that it fell to the back of the pack.

                          1. re: Chandavkl

                            I liked Dumpling 100053.

                          2. re: Dave MP

                            If I recall, you missed out on dumplings at 101 Noodle Express which are excellent. The panfried ones are done well. I like the shrimp, pork, yellow chives and shrimp, pork, wild vegetables.

                            And I do love me noodles and dumplings...but that is very "safe" Chinese food. Doesn't really show off what makes Chinese food in LA special.

                            For something different, give Sinbala a shot.

                            1. re: Porthos

                              i dunno, i can't roll with you cats chinoisfoodexpertisewise, but i think some of the noodles and dumplings i've had out in the sgv are pretty special.

                              that said, i will agree it's worthwhile to get off the sinocarb train every now and again.

                              1. re: Porthos

                                Can you say more about the shrimp and yellow chive dumplings at 101 Noodle?

                                I will add that I can very easily eat at one place, and then order some takeout dumplings from another to eat for "dessert"

                                1. re: Dave MP

                                  Pork, shrimp, yellow chive dumplings. You can get them boiled or pan fried. I prefer the panfried for this one. Delicious.

                                  1. re: Porthos

                                    Are there any shrimp dumplings there that don't contain pork? That's what I remember from 10053

                                    1. re: Dave MP

                                      They have everything 10053 had and more. Fish dumping, shrimp, pumpkin, pork dumplings, lamb dumplings, spinach and shrimp dumplings. Website says they even have chicken dumplings although I can't verify. Don't remember seeing them but I also don't look for them. The pan fried dumplings are best fresh. The pork and bamboo and the pork and preserved vegetables from SinBala travel and reheat very well.

                                      http://101noodleexpress.com/

                                  2. re: Dave MP

                                    FWIW, 101 noodle express is across the street from flavor garden. there are actually a lot of decent places within walking distance of 101 noodle express. i'd suggest comparing the beef roll of 101 noodle express (long considered the best in LA) to that made by FG.

                                    i have plans for wednesday but i'm game to join you if you make it tuesday lunch & possibly dinner. (more mouths, more food to order & share)

                                    1. re: barryc

                                      Is there possibly a chow-meeting for lunch on tues for dumplings? I'd like to join that. My email is on my profile.

                                      1. re: nosh

                                        Hmmm. Maybe I can dro by too.

                                        1. re: nosh

                                          i'm game even if the OP isn't. you can reach me at the email on my profile.

                                          1. re: barryc

                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/928960

                                            impromptu chow meet-up tomorrow lunch

                                    2. re: Porthos

                                      Is SinBaLa possible to do half way decently without eating any pork or meat products ?????

                                      Thanks.

                              2. I happen to be writing something that's relevant to your request. On a "micro" level:

                                Tianjin baos, chive pockets, Northern breakfast, dumplings: Fortune No 1. Googling should reveal an Eater post.

                                Taiwanese: Bebe Fusion is executing at a level that is so ridiculously above anything SinBala has served in the last 10 years. Monja Taike's new branch in Rosemead shows the Taiwanese have not simply abandoned West SGV for RowHts/Chino Hills. Aga is the future of Taiwanese teahouse shacks and is powered by the next generation. Though it is a bit out of your way, La Mirada does share the same area code as Aga.

                                Chengdu Taste: take-out, eat it in the car, eat it on the curb, eat it on the motel bed, IDGAF. Just go. $20/pp will let you stuff yo face as long as you don't order the lion's mane fish because portions are huge.

                                Hunan noodles unfound anywhere else in US: NoodleS King. Again, google for Eater entry. They make Langzhou noodles scream like a lil bitch.

                                Henan homestyle: Liang's Kitchen, Monterey Park. Googling won't help unless you're on Weibo. It's Monterey Park's equiv of Henan Feng Wei, but opened later, and opened in a franchised "Taiwanese" restaurant.

                                Chaoxian: Shenyang, San Gabriel.

                                Xinjiang: Mr. Lamb, because Silk Road's FOH/BOH were both completely incompetent even during the third chance I gave 'em.

                                Hunan: Hunan's Mao.

                                Ballin' Chinese empires that are still not in Flushing: Meizhou Dongpo, soft opened yesterday. Haidilao, if you want to spend $100 on hot potting.

                                I don't know if one can actually say LA has the best Chinese food because there's still not enough English reporting boots on the ground in Flushing. You don't see folks like these http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/879742 living IN Flushing though they're happily marrying the Chinese, and tagging along physically and culturally. Maybe they're filing from Bensonhurt and Sunset Park, but it doesn't seem so. Things have clearly changed since the last decade but Manhattanites are only still taking precursory Flushing "food mall tours".

                                While I completely appreciate what Joe is doing at Edible Queens, there are no Kissena Food Dudes nor the Wong Bros of Roosevelt. Also, there's a race to the bottom in terms of pricing and quality in Flushing that is (mostly) no longer the case in SGV. Flushing still clings to 4-item $4.50 combos that were so prevalent when I was there. It's great for a single Chinese immigrant laborer (or Chinese young men with no social skills, or Chinese women who just broke up w/ their bfs), but that stuff tastes like pure tragedy. Hopefully the Manhattan board will chime it and educate us.

                                Anyway, the comparsion is completely moot. There are great bites here, and there, cuz the Communists are freaking unstoppable: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/19/nyr... .

                                I personally can't wait til China City opens: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/natio...

                                11 Replies
                                1. re: TonyC

                                  Tony is this most definitely the post of the day.

                                  Still waited to be treated to Jitlada.

                                  And what about Dan Dan mien at Dai Ho or is it past it's prime and merely just tourist crap.

                                  1. re: TonyC

                                    Are there any Chinese language bloggers in the food trenches of Flushing ?????

                                    1. re: TonyC

                                      I need more time in LA! This is great and everything sounds amazing. Will definitely be keeping this list for my next visit, too, which will likely be in March.

                                      1. re: TonyC

                                        SinoSoul, laying down the law, yet again...

                                        1. re: J.L.

                                          It was a pleasant surprise to find a Chirstmas card waiting for us at lunch today. Thanks!

                                        2. re: TonyC

                                          Yes, the Chinese population in NYC is growing (while it declines in Manhattan). It is more than just Flushing that needs to be searched though. NYC’s Chinese population is now 507,000 with 40% living in Queens and 37% in Brooklyn. One third of all Chinese immigrants now in NYC arrived after 2000. Neighborhoods with large numbers of Chinese are Sunset Park East, Sunset Park West, Bensonhurst East and Bensonhurst West (all in Brooklyn) and Elmhurst, Forest Hills and Murray Hill in Queens. The NYC Dept. of City Planning now lists a dozen NTA’s (Neighborhood Tabulation Areas) with at least 15,000 Chinese. So there are plenty of territories ripe for exploring.

                                          There are several of us who try to regularly report on what we find. Peter and Lau are very well informed and also contribute on other food fronts. Polecat and others when they have the time. Joe also leads food tours and explores the many other ethnic treats found in Queens. Dave Cook is a pathfinder on many fronts. (I’ll be spending more time now in Boston in the future but look forward to getting back to NYC as always).

                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/900578
                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/894017
                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/846262
                                          https://www.lauhound.com/
                                          http://www.eatingintranslation.com/

                                          1. re: scoopG

                                            Interestingly the Chinese restaurant density still remains in Manhattan, and particularly Manhattan Chinatown. My wild guess is that there are twice as many Chinese restaurants in Manhattan Chinatown as compared to Flushing. This is similar to the pattern in Los Angeles maybe 30 years ago where the locus of the Chinese population shift to the San Gabriel Valley moved well before the Chinese restaurant locus moved from Chinatown into the San Gabriel Valley..

                                          2. re: TonyC

                                            fantastic post tony! :>

                                            cant wait to try these places on my next trip to the sgv. i did get a chance to try fortune no.1 and loved the chive pockets (great recommendation!). the Tianjin bao... would've been delicious except they served it to us raw. :< (clearly undercooked with completely raw ground pork inside... unfortunate and gross.) when we signaled the waitress over, she glanced down at the raw pork, looked pissed / upset, did a "[Tchh!]" noise (no apologies), and took the plate back.

                                            it arrived back 10 minutes later recooked (w/ the partially eaten baos not replaced). at that point, they tasted fine.

                                            love Chengdu Taste, thanks for that rec! :>

                                            for NoodleS King, are their other noodles just as good? or just this Hunan Noodle dish you're talking about?

                                            thanx!

                                            1. re: chowseeker1999

                                              for NoodleS King, are their other noodles just as good?
                                              ---
                                              They only have Hunan noodles. The standard beef noodle soup demands ultra-wide wheat noodles, and rice noodles are perfect with spicy add-ons and a touch of offals, though 2 add-ons means a $9 bowl, expensive by SGV standards. YMMV. Perhaps ask Mr. Gold for his fave here.

                                              Sucks about FN1's bao. This place can be a real nightmare. They've lost orders, given orders away, and forgotten dishes. But I go back. For take-out, always repeat orders, always provide name (even if they don't write it down), always give them 25 minutes, and always eat the guo zi upon pickup.

                                              After many months of this, they've since warmed up, and now it's ok to laugh about the 20-minute wait for lost chive pockets.

                                              1. re: TonyC

                                                awesome! thanx Tony! :>

                                                can't wait to try the Hunan noodles then. :>

                                                for FN1 yah we figured it just happens; luckily the chive pockets you recommended were so good that it more than made up for the raw meat mistake. now i'm craving those chive pockets again! :>

                                            2. re: TonyC

                                              "Taiwanese: Bebe Fusion is executing at a level that is so ridiculously above anything SinBala has served in the last 10 years"

                                              Well, checked this out based on your rec and yelp photos of course. You are right about this place taking Taiwanese food to the next level. Thanks for the heads up.

                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/929841

                                            3. ive been to Omar's on the eve and it was great. Lamb skewers and lamp pancakes with minced lamb. Greasy as all hell but as del Oous as can be.

                                              Sea Harvour for dim sum in the daylight hrs.

                                              1. Din Tai Fung, the original one in Arcadia!

                                                1. Did you pick a place(s)?