For many Japanese Americans growing up in LA, the Far East Cafe in Little Tokyo was the bastion of Chinese cuisine for more than 60 years. The Northridge Earthquake put an end to that reign, leaving thousands of loyal patrons stranded and hungry. But fortunately for the grumbling horde, the son of the original owner of the Far East has run a quiet outpost of the restaurant in East LA for several years.
Eating at the New Formosa Cafe is far from a “new” experience but a re-acquaintance with an old standby. Almond duck, seaweed soup, tomato beef- all the old favorites we loved and that mystify traditional Chinese foodies are there. Everything is hearty, saucy, and earthy- the kind of food that makes you want to sop it all up with a bowl of white rice.
The food certainly does not surpass the glorious imports in San Gabriel nor does it even represent the best of its genre (that would be Wong’s in Garden Grove). Nevertheless, the New Formosa Cafe is history in the present and a reminder of all things we loved growing up.