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So Cal Chinese


hhlodesign
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I was looking for a thread devoted to Chinese food in Southern California, and amazingly enough, couldn't find one. (I'm sure if I didn't look hard enough, the dictators at eG will merge this into one :hmmm:) So here it is.

I just got back from a quick trip to see the family. We had a wonderful meal at Ma's Islamic Chinese Restaurant in Anaheim. The Sesame Bread is phenomenal! Think of a cross between Indian naan, scallion pancakes, and Chinese sesame biscuits (shou bing). You can get these in either the thick or thin form. I prefer thin as the pan fried crispy exterior to soft bready interior ratio is perfect (the thin version is pictured in the linked review). The thick version is about 1.5" thick and has about 5 more layers of interior soft parts. Other items we really enjoyed were the 5-spice flavored chicken, the hand cut noodles with 3 meats, the lamb with scallions, and the spicy ox tripe.

One other place my (very picky) family was raving about was a Szechuan place in San Gabriel. They called it by a Chinese name so my best interpretation is Chong Ching Szechuan Restaurant. (Some help here RJ?) I didn't get to go, but you have to understand, my godparent's are from Szechuan and are also very into good Chinese food. They'll drive 2 hours for a great Chinese meal. In fact, when they visit me in Seattle, they drive up to Vancouver for Chinese rather than subject themsleves to the shit we have here. So when they say a place is great, I believe them! Just thought I'd pass the recomendation along and see if anyone else has been? RJ?

My mom was also of the opinion that Ding Tai Fung in Arcadia doesn't hold a candle to the one in Taipei. Her theory is that the air is too dry in So Cal, as oppsed to the INSANE humidity levevls in Taipei! So when the steamed buns are exposed to air in Arcadia, they dry out too quickly. My godmother is not a fan of either because she feels the skins are too thin and she doesn't get the "bite" of dough she's looking for in a good Shou Long Bau. Thoughts?

Edited by hhlodesign (log)
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One other place my (very picky) family was raving about was a Szechuan place in San Gabriel. They called it by a Chinese name so my best interpretation is Chong Ching Szechuan Restaurant. (Some help here RJ?) I didn't get to go, but you have to understand, my godparent's are from Szechuan and are also very into good Chinese food. They'll drive 2 hours for a great Chinese meal. In fact, when they visit me in Seattle, they drive up to Vancouver for Chinese rather than subject themsleves to the shit we have here. So when they say a place is great, I believe them! Just thought I'd pass the recomendation along and see if anyone else has been? RJ?

I haven't been, but I think the Szechuan restaurant your family loves might be Chung King in Monterey Park (in the heart of the San Gabriel Valley Chinese community). The former chef of Chung King is the current chef of my favorite Szechuan restaurant here in San Diego, Ba Ren. My dining buddy and fellow eGullet member mmm-yoso mentions Chung King in his writeup on Ba Ren in his blog. Extrapolating from the menu and food at Ba Ren, I would expect Chung King to be similarly excellent, with no "dumbing down" of the menu for non-Asian tastes whatsoever. I keep meaning to hunt Chung King down on one of my sporadic trips up to LA, but alas, so many restaurants, so little time ... :smile:

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Chung King -- 206 S. Garfield Ave., Monterey Park, (626) 280-7430.

But I like Din Tai Fung.

And speaking of dim sum, here are a few of our very favorites:

If you want some tooth to your xiao loon bao, and you don't mind a joint, you might give "Dumpling Master" (423 N. Atlantic Blvd., #106, Monterey Park, 626.458.8689) a try. One of the two best handmade noodles in the SGV. The pan fried dumplings, steamed dumplings and scallion pancakes are truly excellent as well. The other place for noodles being "Heavy Noodling" (153 E. Garvey Ave., Monterey Park, (626) 307-9533). Heavy Noodling's menu is not as rich as Dumpling Master, and the place has NO ambience. But Dumpling Master has still less.

Still at the "joint" level, there's Ocean Bo aka Hoi Bo (3944 Peck Rd

El Monte, (626) 452-1818) on Peck, just north of Valley in El Monte. Very much a family place. Dim sum served all day by waiter -- no carts -- just like Sea Harbor. If you can bust through $40 for four people you're eating a lot of food. Surprisingly good.

At finer levels of dim sum, we like Sea Harbor (3939 Rosemead Blvd, Rosemead, (626) 288-3939); Mission 261 (261 S. Mission Drive, San Gabriel, (626) 588-1666); and New Concept 700 S. Atlantic Blvd., Monterey Park; (626) 282-6800. Come when they open the doors or at the tail end of lunch service, otherwise prepare for a long wait -- weekdays too.

And don't forget the evergreen and ever reliable Ocean Star in Monterey Park. Ocean Star serves the classics in classic Hong Kong style -- big rooms with snakes of steam carts slithering between the tables. Ocean Star moves 'em through pretty quick, but if you're going for Sunday brunch bring the paper.

Rich

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hh, rj here. The discussion thread is hidden in the China & Chinese forum, for some reason. :hmmm::hmmm: Here it is: LA Chinese Restaurants

Personally, this thread should be merged and moved to the California forum, ...hint, hint ... Thanks hhlo for starting this up!!

Recently, I 've been doing some dim sum research (and then some :raz: ). I'll post later, with photos.

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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My mom was also of the opinion that Ding Tai Fung in Arcadia doesn't hold a candle to the one in Taipei. Her theory is that the air is too dry in So Cal, as oppsed to the INSANE humidity levevls in Taipei! So when the steamed buns are exposed to air in Arcadia, they dry out too quickly. My godmother is not a fan of either because she feels the skins are too thin and she doesn't get the "bite" of dough she's looking for in a good Shou Long Bau. Thoughts?

We ate at Ding Tai Fung (Arcadia) once and my SO also said that it wasn't as good as the one in Taiwan. I read somewhere that the owner even admits the quality differential and blames the pork that is available in the US. Taiwan pork is apparently more fatty and flavorful than most of what we have here, which isn't surprising.

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FWIW, I love Dumpling Master, and keep trying to think of excuses to go there when I visit LA. Haven't managed to get there in a while, but I dream about it... Indeed, it's a "joint," no atmosphere whatsoever, but you'll have your eyes closed in noodle rapture most of the time anyway.

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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[...]

Indeed, it's a "joint," no atmosphere whatsoever, but you'll have your eyes closed in noodle rapture most of the time anyway.

In that definition, many of the Chinese restaurants in the US soil are "joints". Unlike how they depicted it in Hollywood, most Chinese restaurants are not where you want to take your first date to give an impression.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Group,

I say we all meet at Lu Din Gee and discuss this more thoroughly. Or, maybe dim sum dinner at Ocean Bo -- so much cheaper. Or ... whatever.

Tangentially, I tried recommending Lu Din Gee to someone who asked for a recommendation between LAX and Norwalk and she thought I "dissed" Ann Arbor when I described their duck as "Toto, we're not in Michigan anymore." Ultimately she apparently decided to go to a mid-scale Mexican place in Torrance in part, I suspect, because of my inferred rudeness.

What's your reaction? Do you think there's anything comparable to the Chinese restaurant cluster of the SGV in Ann Arbor? Dis? Or truth?

Rich

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What's your reaction?  Do you think there's anything comparable to the Chinese restaurant cluster of the SGV in Ann Arbor?  Dis?  Or truth?

I don't know. I have been to Chinese restaurants only in places where I know there is a large Chinese population, such as Chicago, Boston, D.C., NYC, Philly, Seattle, Portland, and a few cities in SoCal and the Bay Area. There are good ones to be found, provided you know where to look. But more often than not I was met with disappointments. I dare not even to bother, unlike my FIL who insists on Chinese food wherever he goes, in my travels to other places with less Chinese population. It's not to say they don't have good ones. I was surprised by one Chinese restaurant in the heart of Orlando - mostly patronized by tourists - that they offer great dim sum. So for places I haven't been to, Ann Arbor for example, I could not tell if theirs are great or not until I have tried it.

And I am speaking as a guy who had been eating dim sum for over 40 years. :biggrin:

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Oddly enough, Chinese is the one Asian cuisine I've never eaten in LA -- I'd better rectifiy this next time I'm there! I do remember my SIL saying, as we drove to the St. Gabriel Mission, that Alhambra and San Gabriel are their destination towns for Chinese.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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  • 3 weeks later...
What's your reaction?  Do you think there's anything comparable to the Chinese restaurant cluster of the SGV in Ann Arbor?

Well, I'm a long-time Ann Arborite, and a restaurant geek whose wife is a food blogger, so (as it happens :smile: ) I've been to every Chinese restaurant in Ann Arbor. In my opinion, Ann Arbor has one excellent Hong Kong-style restaurant (Great Lake Chinese Seafood), and that's it. The other places aren't anything truly special, though some are certainly quite good and worth eating at if you live here. So if you have something you can describe as a "cluster" of excellent Chinese restaurants, you're ahead of us. But that's no shock, since you've got one of the largest urban areas in the US and a HUGE Chinese population.

That out of the way, my wife and I are going to be in LA for a couple days, and I'm hoping to get advice on three things. We won't have a lot of time, so it's pretty much one shot on any single type of restaurant:

1. The best (as in most authentic) Szechuan restaurant in the area (we're willing to drive) -- is this Chung King? (Had the cuisine in Beijing, hooked for life...)

2. The best (as in not only most authentic, but we'll see things we haven't seen before -- and we've traveled a lot) place for Dim Sum in the area

3. What I really should be asking about in Chinese restaurants -- i.e. is there a restaurant with a regional style available here that I haven't even thought to ask about? (I see that Islamic Chinese restaurant mentioned above, for example... we had some Islamic Chinese food in Zheng Zhou and in Xian, but I recognize this might be better).

Thanks for any help you can give!

Edited by jmsaul (log)
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2.  The best (as in not only most authentic, but we'll see things we haven't seen before -- and we've traveled a lot) place for Dim Sum in the area

New Concept in Monterey Park is a Nouveau-Cantonese style restaurant that has a lot of unique items on the menu. Here's a recent review.

3.  What I really should be asking about in Chinese restaurants -- i.e. is there a restaurant with a regional style available here that I haven't even thought to ask about?  (I see that Islamic Chinese restaurant mentioned above, for example... we had some Islamic Chinese food in Zheng Zhou and in Xian, but I recognize this might be better).

I'll refer you to a recent Chowhound discussion. In particular pay close attention to a post near the bottom by "Jerome," one of the resident experts on Chinese restaurants.

Edited by sheetz (log)
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Anyone know of some decent chinese on the westside. I live in santa monica and while I def. will make the trip out to SGV for good food it's a bit far for regular trips. I've been looking for decent hunan style food on the westside and I've been missing scallion pancakes. Can't seem to find them here, I've been told (while in a chinese restaurant) that they are chinese food and that's why they don't have them. Upon clarification I was told they are chinese food for chinese not for white people lol. Any help?

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Anyone know of some decent chinese on the westside. I live in santa monica and while I def. will make the trip out to SGV for good food it's a bit far for regular trips. I've been looking for decent hunan style food on the westside and I've been missing scallion pancakes. Can't seem to find them here, I've been told (while in a chinese restaurant) that they are chinese food and that's why they don't have them. Upon clarification I was told they are chinese food for chinese not for white people lol. Any help?

JoshEKG,

Welcome to eGullet Society, California forum!!

Sorry, I'm not much help with Chinese food on the Westside. I live over in Glendale and I'm about 15 minutes away from Chinatown. I do recall from driving along Wilshire Blvd. and Santa Monica Blvd. (over on the Westside) that there are some "Chinese Chinese restaurants." I suspect that they may be more Cantonese-style food. Scallion pancakes tends to be more Northern Chinese. Of course, there is that pseudo-Chinese place called Chinois on Main. Eating dinner there on Chinese New Year (Year of the Dog) was an experience!

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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  • 2 weeks later...

I don't think you are going to find great Chinese food on the West Side. There is a neighborhood Szechwan restaurant on Washington at Abbot Kinney in MDR/Venice, but it is only adequate, although very inexpensive. I go there often because I can walk there, but it's not comparable to what you can get in Monterey Park. It's also difficult to find Vietnamese food on the West Side. If all you want is scallion pancakes, those should be very easy for you to make yourself. I tend to make Chinese food myself rather than bother to go to a restaurant for it. It's really one of the easiest cuisines to make. I also make dim sum but admit that it is more labor intensive.

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One Chinese place that I really like that serves really good dumpling is Dumpling 10053. Their seafood dumplings are to-die-for. I also love their freshly made Rock Cod fishball soup.

Dumpling 10053

10053 Valley Blvd., #2 (2 blocks east of Baldwin Ave.)

El Monte, CA 91731

(626) 350-0188

Recently, I recommended a few of my Chinese friends (from China) there and they loved it.

Asian food and cooking recipes: http://www.rasamalaysia.com
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  • 2 weeks later...

repost from another different thread

i went to bin bin konjac once. got two of their drinks. both were very good. different from the usual tapioca. but i didnt go there just for that nor would i recommend going out there just for the drinks. they are just chopped up konjac in the usual tea/fruit mix/slush whatev.

however, if you are REALLY going to go all the way out there, go get dinner at sinbala first. primo taiwanese food. best pork chop rice and delishy snausages. snacky stuff mostly. then get a drink at binbin. or get a drink while you wait for a table (because you will often find that you will have to wait at sinbala).

i also cannot recommend enough the claypot rice at may mei which is in the same mall. this place is homestyle cantonese. very well made there. get a hot cup of hk milk tea while you are at it.

the strip mall which contains all these restaurants is at:

639 ish through 651 ish w duarte rd

arcadia, ca

"Bibimbap shappdy wappdy wap." - Jinmyo
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