Our 99 Essential L.A. Restaurants issue came out last week, and we're highlighting a few categories drawing from the list. Today: Chinese restaurants.
This is not a definitive list of the best Chinese restaurants in L.A., but it is a sampling of five that we think are each essential in their own way.
Shi Peng's knife-shaved Shanxi noodles have become respected heavy hitters in a neighborhood where pho and wonton mein are king. At JTYH Heavy Noodle II, they preside over a list of Northern Chinese dumplings cooked three ways; noodles that are either stir-fried, sauced or in soup; and a few flourishes from other regions, like a Sichuan-style, water-boiled beef and cumin-spiced lamb.
Could Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village be the most opulent Chinese restaurant in the San Gabriel Valley? Inside this Shanghai-style banquet hall, the walls are lined with red velvet and the ceilings hung with ornate chandeliers. You probably wouldn't be surprised if the restaurant started hosting murder-mystery dinners on weekends.
3. Sea Harbour
There are no dim sum carts at Sea Harbour. Instead you fill out a checklist, with your items then made fresh to order. The difference in quality is noticeable. Whether you like to gnaw on fatty, delicious chicken feet or you stick to pork dumplings, you'll be happy. You can order Chinese broccoli, pork ribs, steamed buns, dry scallop and meatball congee, all for around $4 a plate.
2. Din Tai Fung
Shanghai-style soup dumplings, or xiao long bao, dot the landscape of the San Gabriel Valley, but if you didn't know any better, you'd think famed dumpling house Din Tai Fung was the only one around. Indeed, arrive on a Sunday morning and you'll see entire families, from babies to grandparents, enduring the formidable wait for a table.
1. Chung King
There are many Sichuan restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley where you can get stellar iterations of mapo doufu, or leeks with bacon or water-boiled fish, but there's one place that we drive to seemingly without thinking, where we've been known to eat three times a week during flu season, where the booths feel about as familiar as the living room sofa we left to get there.
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