While there's a whole world of Chinese food in the San Gabriel Valley, it's a common complaint among residents of the rest of Los Angeles that the sketchier stuff can be difficult to find. I'm talking about the kind of crappy but delicious Chinese food that's incredibly common in most American cities, which comes from a buffet or via delivery. Sticky, gloppy, familiar and fun.
This dearth of decent Chinese delivery is especially true in the area of Silver Lake, Echo Park and Los Feliz, where there are a few options, but most of them are simply too godawful to contemplate. But now there's another contender, and it's a gimmicky one at that.
Secret Chinese Delivery is a delivery service that launched last Friday, serving Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Echo Park and Glassell Park. The gimmick is that we don't know where the food comes from, or who's cooking it.
What it's going for seems to be an authentic cheap Chinese delivery experience - but with some genuine differences, to cater to picky L.A. eaters. "Prepared in an approved facility with an 'A' rating but striving for an authentic 'C,'" the menu reads. "No msg, no food coloring, no corn syrup, no refined sugar, gluten-free soy sauce. Thanks to maryschickens.com and realtimefarms.com as well as all the local organic farmers and ranchers." Yes, your General Tso's is made with free-range Mary's chicken, and the menu explains whether things are vegan or gluten-free; many items are.
The menu reads as if the restaurateurs are trying for that perfect lowbrow/highbrow mix: sourdough shrimp toast served with homemade NYC "duck sauce"; beef and broccoli made with grass-fed brisket and organic broccolini; even "kids lo mein": "butter tossed noodles with ... ... ... ... nothing." There's also a five-spice chocolate budino.
The secrecy aspect is cute but also a little puzzling. The whole point of crappy Chinese delivery is that you don't know (or care) where it comes from and, in fact, you'd probably rather not know. So, because of the very fact of its secrecy, this may become a rare Chinese delivery place for which anyone cares about its location. Maybe.
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I'm going to mainly refrain from commenting on the quality of the food for now, given that we ordered from it within hours of launch. Service was fantastic. The food was not life-changing. We'll try again in a few weeks - whether or not anyone cares at that point where this place is and who's running it.
You can check out Secret Chinese Delivery for yourself at secretchinesedelivery.com.