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Jun 19, 2014 06:32 PM

Formerly California Wok Opens on Westside With Authentic Chinese Goodies

Following up on a thread on some kind of changeover at California Wok on Wilshire Blvd. in West L.A., the new restaurant, whose English name is apparently Formerly California Wok (see front of menu), is open for business. The sign outside still says California Wok, but like the menu there are Chinese characters on top that say Happy Star Seafood. The menu contains all kinds of stuff unfamiliar to Westsiders, including salted fish chicken tofu hotpot, filet mignon french style, shredded potato with vinegar, crab meat fish maw soup, clam with wine in hot pot, and egg tofu with bamboo pith. Of course there's the usual egg foo yung and chop suey for the locals too. Formerly California Wok/Happy Star Seafood is at 12004 Wilshire Bl.

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  1. Wow. I drove past a couple days ago and was going to report it reopened as the old California Wok.

    When anyone has a menu, especially lunch combos, please post. Unfortunately or not, I do a lot of lunches alone.

    4 Replies
    1. re: nosh

      Well, they have 73 lunch specials. From sweet and sour pork to Hong Kong roast duck to salt and pepper shrimp in the shell. However, lunch specials are more geared to the Westside lunch crowd.

      1. re: Chandavkl

        still, you could eat there everyday week day for 14 weeks and not finish the menu.

        1. re: csh123

          Don't know if they changed it, but it certainly is cleaner, brighter and fluffier.

      2. This may be the beginning of a new naming trend for restaurants, much like the Artist Formerly Known As Prince.

        1. I think Moon House has both filet mignon and fish maw soup (as does The Palace iirc), and doesn't Jin JIang have a shredded potato app?

          14 Replies
          1. re: ipsedixit

            Mandarin Kitchen also has fish maw soup. But I think Formerly California Wok might have more authentic items than the other places. Lobster hot pot, xiaolongbao, oyster pancake, jellyfish, winter melon soup, XO sauce dishes, sea cucumber with black mushroom, lamb, snow pea leaves, ong choy, dried scallop fried rice are some of the other items on the menu.

            1. re: Chandavkl

              Surprisingly (or maybe not) Hop Woo offers many of those items, incl. other things like abalone and frog!

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Aren't those on their "secret" menu?

                1. re: Chandavkl

                  Didn't even know they had such a thing.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Gadzooks - I didn't ever think I'd see the day when I knew something that ipse didn't already know!


                    1. re: J.L.

                      I got to the bottom and I'm still not sure if that page is for April fool's or not.

                      1. re: J.L.

                        Wait, that's the Hop Woo in Chinatown.

                        I was referring to the Hop Woo on Olympic/Sepulveda. Y'know, the whole "stuff unfamiliar to Westsiders" bit ..

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          In the past I asked management in the West LA location about it. Yeah, they do the secret menu upon request in West LA as well.

                        2. re: J.L.

                          what's up with the "and many more..." at the bottom?! ... Do they have monkey...?

                          1. re: Eater15

                            Monkey is only on the "Chinese secret menu"

                            Posted only on Weibo.

                    1. re: TheOffalo

                      OK I went there for takeout tonight at Formerly California Wok (FCW). I got some XLB, some potstickers, sea cucumber with mushrooms, pea shoots, and fried rice with dried scallops.

                      I will compare FCW with its local West LA Chinese competitors:

                      XLB: FCW's XLBs (pictured below) are a tad better than ROC Kitchen's. The skin is more toothsome (I suspect Northern mainlanders are in the kitchen), and the filling is more delicate. One demerit goes to the overenthusiastic use of peanut oil I detected in the XLB filling. (I hope this was a one-time thing).

                      sea cucumber: The win goes to Hop Woo, but barely so. The sea cucumber from FCW tasted a touch less flavorful in the braising. However, Hop Woo is far more "frugal" with the amount of sea cucumber in their servings.

                      potstickers: FCW has pretty damn good potstickers. Better than ROC Kitchen's. Again, a thicker skin (me likey), with excellent filling, and cooked just right.

                      pea shoots: Hop Woo still does a better version. But not much better that FCW's.

                      fried rice with dried scallops: A virtual tie with Hop Woo.

                      They have live holding tanks - I must go back for some live fish, etc. on my next visit.

                      Thanks, Chandavkl!!!

                      1. re: J.L.

                        Fried rice w dried scallops and the pea shoots. Two dishes we like at hop woo too. Their potstickers stink tho. Sounds promising.

                        1. re: J.L.

                          Agree with jessejames, sounds promising, but unlike you, I do like thinner skins on XLB and guotie.

                  2. How funny, I was about to report (like nosh) that it was the same place but just w/ an updated sign.

                    I virtually live across the street from this place. Will have to give the XLB, potstickers, and fried rice + shredded scallops a try. Having decent XLB w/i walking distance (!) would be HUGE.

                    1. Is this the joint on the same side of the street as a McD's Jr and almost across the street from the Fatburger/Ross complex ?

                      3 Replies
                        1. re: kevin

                          Basically across the street from Ralphs/Cafe Literati...

                          1. re: kevin

                            Yes, same side. (For those over 40 who are looking for a reference point, it used to be Four Rivers chinese restaurant.)