Star ratings are ubiquitous when it comes to restaurants. While a one-star Yelp rating has a far different meaning from a one-star Michelin rating, universally the rule is that the more stars, the better. However, I created my own star rating system which has nothing to do with the quality of the restaurant. Rather, under my system, each star represents a different Chinese restaurant that has operated at a particular location; a four-star restaurant location means that I have eaten at four different Chinese restaurants at that particular address.
Of course, under my system, the sky is the limit for the number of stars that can be awarded, given the rate at which Chinese restaurants close down and are immediately replaced by successors. Right now, the leader is in a shopping center on Valley Boulevard in San Gabriel where I have eaten at 14 different Chinese restaurants over a 25-year period. There are roughly a hundred four-star restaurants on my list and hundreds more with five or more stars. (more…)
In my previous articles about Chinese dining in Los Angeles, I have only incidentally mentioned the Orange County community of Irvine. However, this omission should not be interpreted as minimizing Irvine’s importance on the Chinese food scene, as indeed Irvine ranks second in the Los Angeles metropolitan area behind only the San Gabriel Valley as the preferred source of authentic Chinese food. Rather, I haven’t said much about Irvine because of its geographic distance, some 40 miles from both Los Angeles Chinatown and the San Gabriel Valley, and 55 miles from the Westside of Los Angeles. As such, Irvine’s Chinese food options are seldom appreciated by diners from these other areas. (more…)
For any city with a historic 19th century Chinatown, the original locus of Chinese dining was obviously Chinatown. However, as my series has chronicled, the best Chinese dining in most of these cities has shifted to various suburban communities. In the case of Los Angeles, the shift has been especially complex. Like an army marching onward to the next hill, there has been a continuous eastward migration of Chinese residents, followed by a like movement of Chinese restaurants. The key to this push eastward is a strong preference of Los Angeles-area Chinese Americans for new housing developments, as capsulized by longtime resident Gordon Chow, who said, “You have to go east to find newer and cheaper homes.”
For over two decades, Vancouver, British Columbia, and particularly its suburban community of Richmond, has been Mecca for Chinese food lovers in Northern America. During the late 1980s, Hong Kongers recognized that control of Hong Kong would revert to Mainland China in 1997. Meanwhile, its 1986 World’s Fair put the spotlight on Vancouver as a prime destination. The result was a mass exodus out of Hong Kong to Vancouver, turning the city into Hong Kong East, and creating an early 1990s Chinese dining nirvana. The word about the superior brand of Chinese food served in the Vancouver area spread quickly. It wasn’t long before Chinese food lovers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and other American locales started trekking to Vancouver in droves to partake of the heavenly fare. (more…)
Why choose one restaurant for dinner when you could choose dozens? There’s a food hall and farmer’s market renaissance happening around the country, and if you visit any of these locations, you’ll want to make sure you start with an empty stomach.
With the arrival of restaurants like Roy Choi’s Chego, Little Jewel of New Orleans, Scoops, Pok Pok and Pok Pok Phat Thai, Burgerlords, Unit 120, Amboy, Endorffeine, Howlin’ Ray’s Hot Chicken, Lobsta Shack, Oleego, and Ramen Champ, Los Angeles Chinatown is once again a dining destination, albeit not particularly for Chinese food. Unbeknownst to many Angelinos, however, this is not Chinatown’s first dining renaissance. Decades ago, it emerged from a dining slumber to become a culinary hot spot. (more…)
Who doesn’t love burritos? From poor college students to CEOs on the go, farmworkers to surfers, burritos are basically one of our national foods. But where do they come from? And how have they evolved?
Filet mignon and roast chicken have their place, but for more adventurous diners, it’s all about the offal.
Chinese restaurants arrived in America in the 1850s, but it wasn’t until American immigration laws changed in 1965 that the modern era for Chinese dining in the United States began. For the first time in over 80 years, large numbers of immigrants from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other parts of Asia invigorated the stagnating Chinese-American community and its pedestrian Cantonese/Toishanese dining options with new and exciting Chinese food.
At the beginning of this modern era of Chinese dining in the United States, San Francisco had by far the largest Chinese-American community, perhaps 10 percent of the city’s population. In contrast, the Chinese populations in Los Angeles and New York hovered at 1 percent or less of the total (census figures from this era are not reliable due to illegal immigration), so it’s no surprise that as changes began to occur in Chinese dining, San Francisco was ground zero. Even though the new brand of Chinese cuisine also appeared in Los Angeles’s suburban San Gabriel Valley in the mid-1970s, the Bay Area was where you would find the best Chinese food well into the 1980s. Indeed, on weekends and vacations, many Angelinos of Chinese descent would make the trek north in search of the better stuff. (more…)
Angelinos may not be aware of it, but there aren’t a lot of Chinese buffets in Los Angeles compared to other parts of the country. Yes, there are probably a few dozen Chinese buffet restaurants in Los Angeles County. But when one compares numbers of Chinese buffet restaurants to other parts of the country, the difference is striking, especially on a per capita basis. Indeed, if you look at the contiguous westside and San Fernando Valley sections of the city of Los Angeles, which encompass over two million residents, there are but a half dozen Chinese buffets covering the vast expanse. (more…)