Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Week of Dining in San Diego and New York

Last month's trip from LA to San Diego to New York produced a number of dining highlights.  Actually San Diego was mostly onsite hotel meals, with only one restaurant visit.  Del Mar Rendezvous, is a Chinese restaurant I would never had heard of except for the fact that Clarissa Wei had included it in the handful of California Chinese restaurants in her article on the 50 best Chinese restaurants in the US that she had written for CNN.   In reading Yelp their signature dish seemed to be the marinated duck breast, so we ordered that plus the Singapore mei fun.  Because the duck required preparation time, the mei fun came out first and was clearly the worst version of that dish we ever ate, moist and bland.   The $26 duck on a bed of string beans came out later, and it was OK, but certainly no better than the roast duck you could get in Chinatown or the San Gabriel Valley for much less.  Strangely the tweet I posted saying that this was the worse mei fun I had ever eaten was retweeted by a San Diego magazine and another San Diego tweeter with a large social media presence–between them the two tweeters had 10,000 followers.  I wonder whether they realized that my tweet was so negative.  I also wonder why Del Mar Rendezvous made CNN's national Top 50.

We took an afternoon flight out of San Diego for New York, and by the time we got our luggage and rode the taxi into town it was 11 pm, so I was still debating whether to eat.  However since the Halal Guys were just a block away from the Sheraton we headed there and luckily the line was short.  The chicken rice was as good as ever. 


For me, the highlight of the trip was the next morning at Tim Ho Wan in East Village.  Tim Ho Wan invented the crispy baked bbq pork bun, and the bun helped their Hong Kong location become the first restaurant in the $10pp category to garner a Michelin star.  When they first opened in New York about a year ago, the waiting time was as much as 3 to 4 hours, so I decided to get there early, at 10:30 am.  I was relieved to find that it was only half full when I arrived there.  I presume that by now that novelty has worn out, plus the fact that aside from the crispy bbq pork bun, the word has gotten out that the rest of the stuff on the menu isn’t particularly good.  I had two orders of the crispy buns which while not as good as the Hong Kong branch, or even versions of the same item in the Bay Area, were still good enough to make me happy.



Next most notable meal was dinner at Hakkasan.   The NY Hakkasan menu was largely different from the San Francisco branch, and we had the lamb wrap (similar to the now ubiquitous Shandong beef rolls), seabass with Chinese honey (the best dish of the night), and the curry seafood hotpot with fried bread, plus a bowl of chicken soup.  In addition, because they misplaced our order for a while, they comped us their special passionfruit dessert, which was a dab of passionfruit sorbet, a small chocolate square with passionfruit in the center, and a small passionfruit gel.  The $15 retail price for the dessert made for a $150 dinner in total, which while quite good, really wasn’t worth that hefty of a price. 



A nice side trip was a subway ride to Columbia University to check out the Chinese food trucks I had written about.  The ride was short from Midtown, and it took a few minutes more to figure out that the trucks were parked near the main gate.  There were a half dozen trucks parked, four Chinese though the others were also Asian.  I  spotted the Uncle Luoyang trick and had the tofu skin salad which was quite good, eating it while looking out over the main courtyard.  



Another nice trip was going out to Flushing where  we went to New Mulan Seafood restaurant as it was the only major dim sum location in Flushing I had never been to.  The bad news was that it was full up with people waiting for dim sum, but the offsetting news was they had a separate dining room that did not serve dim sum, which was largely empty and was good enough for me.  It was actually one of the nicest dining rooms I’ve seen in a Cantonese restaurant in a Chinese community.  The regular menu had a high price point, but they also had a nice menu of $10 lunch specials.  The best dish was the throwback Cantonese fillet steak, almost never seen in California before where everybody serves the better tasting French cut filet mignon instead.  Another sign of how New York Chinese food badly trails the west coast.  



The rest of the food in New York was good to average.  It was interesting going to the original Eataly in Chelsea after having visited the Chicago Eataly twice.  The pappardelle with black truffle cream was excellent, but the lasagna wasn't, as the noodles were much too thin.  Chinatown dinners at Canton Lounge and Shanghai Heping were ordinary, as was breakfast at Hoy Wong.   However, the fish jian bing at Yinwahmen, the first I’ve ever seen, was very interesting, basically like a McDonald’s filet of fish but spicy with pickled vegetables.   And Kam Hing Coffee Shop turned out to be a real gem, the only restaurant on Baxter St., a street I passed dozens of times but never bothered to check out since their signature item being sponge cake wasn't that much of an attraction to me.  Kam Hing has one of the shortest menus I’ve ever seen in a Chinese restaurant.  But in addition to the sponge cake, they have fish balls, and rice noodle logs, and they do a booming business both with sit downs and take outs.  



Last mention goes to the Lexington Ave. street fair, one of the rotating street fair locations put on by a company called Mardi Gras Productions, which ran over a dozen blocks.   Several food vendors sold arapas, a Colombian cornmeal patty made with mozzarella cheese.   Very interesting and I thought also very good.



Thursday, October 19, 2017

How Sausage and Laws Are Made--Behind Today's LA Weekly Review of Noodle(s) Time(s)


In the course of writing dozens of Chinese restaurant related articles, most of the articles are written over an extended period of time, from a few weeks to several months, though the actual total elapsed writing time is not that great.  But once in a while the timing for inception to publication is rapid, sometimes breathtakingly so.  A good example of this is my article in today's LA Weekly on Noodles Time restaurant.  I had no idea Noodles Time even existed until 2 pm on Tuesday, and it was a fluke that I found it.  While I often drive through Chinatown, I seldom actually stop because parking is so problematic, particularly on weekdays.  Occasionally I need to visit Cathay Bank, but typically go to Monterey Park or Alhambra where there's convenient parking.  But  on Tuesday I decided go to the Chinatown branch which does have parking, albeit with an inconveniently located parking entrance.  Anyway, road construction sent me off track and right by Alpine Plaza where I noticed the strange sign saying "Vegan."  So after visiting the bank I decided to stroll down the block where I found this restaurant with its unusual menu and setting.


After leaving the restaurant I decided that it was interesting enough to share, but certainly there wasn't enough for any extended kind of writeup.  I was just going to do a paragraph on the food message board about how Noodles Time had been open for a year in Chinatown and hadn't been noticed by myself or anybody else, and how remarkably different it was.   However, when I started writing on Tuesday evening it got a little bit too long for a message board post, so I decided to do a post on this blog.  But the post didn't read very well so I put it aside.

The next morning I decided to update the post to make it flow a lot better.  At this point, remembering the admonition of LA Weekly food editor Katherine Spiers as to why I hadn't submitted a prior Chandavkl blog post item to be run as an LA Weekly article, I started to think about what would be needed to make it suitable for outside publication.  Since what I had written was way short lengthwise of what would be needed, I did some additional background research about Alpine Plaza.  That's when I found out about plans to build a Blossom Plaza like project on the current site of Alpine Plaza.  Initially this was a bad thing, because it contradicted the tone of my article about how the area around Alpine Plaza had yet to be affected by the boom in Chinatown.  Furthermore, it seemed to make the story less interesting and less likely to be published since it raised the possibility that the restaurant's existence might be transitory.  However, I managed to rework the article with the new information, and into something that not only was coherent, but much better than what I had originally written.  So I sent the article in to LA Weekly on Wednesday afternoon, and it published on Thursday morning, less than 48 hours after I first became aware of the restaurant.

And that's how sausage and laws are sometimes made.


Sunday, October 1, 2017

An Afternoon In Iowa City

On my recent visit to Chicago, I took a side trip to visit Des Moines and Omaha, two of a relatively short list of large American cities that I have never visited.  Indeed, my list of target cities that I have not visited is now down to three locales--Pittsburgh, Charlotte and Kansas City.  Also, when I was a kid my mom once received a package with crumpled newspapers used as packing material, and one such newspaper was the front page of the Des Moines Register which I saved for many years.  It would be fitting if I could one day visit Des Moines and purchase my own copy of the Register..

However, the highlight of the side trip was clearly Iowa City.  Many of my Chinese dining articles have made reference to the proliferation of authentic Chinese restaurants in college towns across the country, which have arisen to meet the demands of the hundreds of thousands of Mainland Chinese college students now in the country.  While I have observed exemplars of campus adjacent Chinese dining in the past, I had not visited a true college town affected by the surge of Mainland Chinese students in the past decade.  I was especially intrigued by a lengthy CNN article  that focused on the University of Iowa in Iowa City with its student body of thousands of Chinese students.  So seeing Iowa City was on the way to Des Moines and Omaha was a bonus that overshadowed the original purpose of the trip.

I had done my homework and determined that the best Chinese food in Iowa City was at a restaurant called Food Republic, so I made a bee line there.  Unfortunately as I drove by, I saw the windows papered over with a “temporarily closed” sign.  Fortunately I remember passing a restaurant on the same street with a “Hotpot” sign, so I turned around and went to Uncle Sun instead.  I was surprised when I saw Uncle Sun’s menu because I had assumed they would have an Americanized section for the locals and non-Chinese, and a Sichuan section for the Mainland Chinese students who are largely from that area.  While there was a separate Sichuan section in back, labeled ‘Hometown Dishes”, the front part of the menu was also quite authentic, too.  At first we ordered the chicken dumplings, the fish with preserved cabbage, and the Chinese broccoli.  But when we ordered the broccoli, the waitress warned us that this was a white vegetable, which made no sense to us.  We told her we wanted the green broccoli, and she said OK.  However, when the dish came out, it was American broccoli.  Starving for vegetables, we kept the dish and it turned out to be quite good, along with the other stuff.  Still puzzled by the Chinese broccoli, I pulled up a picture of it on my Blackberry and showed it to them. They said they didn’t have that dish.  So what was their “Chinese broccoli”?  Napa?  The fish dish turned out to be a soup dish, which I had a few times in California, and was so good that I threw rice into the leftover broth to use it up.  Anyway, we were so impressed we ordered more American broccoli to take for dinner  plus fish with wood ear fungus, as this seemed to be a safer bet than looking for food when we arrived at the day's final destination of Des Moines.

We then crossed over from downtown Iowa City across Clinton St. to the University of Iowa campus, which for some reason seemed reminiscent of Cal Berkeley.  The campus was huge and we only saw a small part of it.  But I was very happy to visit the campus since I had been to all of the other original Big 10 campuses.  (Note that there's a curve ball to the statement.  I have never been to Michigan State--but that school was added to the Big 10 only after the University of Chicago dropped out, and is not one of the original Big 10.  I have been to the Chicago campus.)  Crossing back later into downtown, we passed another restaurant called Dumpling Darling, which I had assumed to be a typical Chinese dumpling restaurant.  However while there was a mix of Chinese and white customers, and served Pan-Asian dumplings, it was manned by a couple of white guys.  I decided to add to my dinner cache with an order of bison momo and steamed chicken artichoke bao.  We then stopped by Encore Life, a Chinese boba shop, for a mixed fruit drink.

Downtown Iowa City was very illuminating for me, having written about campus town Chinese food, to see how it manifests itself today, but seeing the Mainland China version for the first time.  As one of the workers at Uncle Sun, a theater arts major from Yunnan put it, there’s no “Chinatown” there, but rather the Chinese businesses were spread throughout downtown.  I guess I had expected a greater physical concentration of Chinese eating and drinking places based on the CNN story which talked about Iowa City having three times as many boba shops as Starbucks.  While a true statement, that was slightly misleading because there were 3 boba shops and 1 Starbucks in Iowa City when that was written, now 4 boba shops and 2 Starbucks, so it’s not like there’s boba on every corner.   And I suspect this is what the Mainland Chinese student presence is like in other college towns--subtle, but also unmistakable.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Enter The Dim Sum Contender (Illustrated Version of My L.A. Weekly Article)


The past decade or so has produced a sea change in Chinese dining in Los Angeles, as well as the rest of the United States.  Decades of Cantonese dining dominance have nearly evaporated as regional cuisines representing the entire breadth of Chinese cooking has come to the United States in great numbers, reflecting the migration of Mainland Chinese residents and money to our shores.  Indeed, in recent years, new Cantonese restaurant openings in the San Gabriel Valley have dwindled to roughly 10 percent of total new Chinese restaurants opening in the SGV.

However, while Cantonese food may be down, it is not out in our local Chinese community.  The toughest ticket continues to be the most popular dim sum palaces on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, and the greatest wish among Chinese diners is that despite the high quality of our local dim sum purveyors, some new dim sum player, equal to or better than the existing dim sum leaders, will open their doors.  In this regard, the past few years have been a disappointment in that we have had the same leaders of the dim sum pack for several years.   As it has for the past 15 years, Sea Harbour in Rosemead is on the top of most people’s dim sum list, followed variously by Lunasia and King Hua in Alhambra, Happy Harbor in Rowland Heights and Elite in Monterey Park, all of which date back 2008 or earlier.  The only newcomer in the top tier of local dim sum is Arcadia’s China Red, which opened in 2013, and it sits at the bottom of this top tier.

Not that new operators haven’t tried to crack the top group.  In 2014, Shi Hai opened up in Alhambra with the express purpose of becoming the top dog, dim sum wise, in the San Gabriel Valley.  However that endeavor gave up unsuccessfully last year when Shi Hai rebranded as World Seafood, with a new, lower price point menu.  Other dim sum palaces have opened in the same time period, such as Shanghai #1 Seafood Village in San Gabriel, Grand Harbor in Temple City and Pleasure Ocean in Hacienda Heights, but while certainly purveying good dim sum, they do not match up to our historic leaders.

However, a newly opened restaurant in Temple City may prove to be the new contender that everyone has been hoping for.  Xiang Yuan Gourmet opened up last month (9556 Las Tunas) and is already showing great promise. 


First of all, it serves its dim sum from a menu, as does every other restaurant listed in this article.  While romantics may gush about dim sum carts representing the true dim sum experience (although there was no such thing as a dim sum cart in Los Angeles until introduced by Miriwa Restaurant in Chinatown in 1976), the best dim sum comes from a menu since it arrives fresh and cooked to other.  Secondly, Xian Yuan Gourmet shows a creativity and imagination in some of their dim sum creations that is consistent with that found at the top tier dim sum restaurants noted above.  While it is important that a dim sum restaurant gets it har gow, bbq pork buns, beef cheung fun rice noodle rolls, siu mai, and other favorites right, it is the unusual dish that sets the top tier dim sum restaurants apart.

Here is Xiang Yuan Gourmet’s crispy bamboo shoot paste ball.



This is their mushroom filled mushroom bun (complete with partial stem at the bottom)





Deep fried shrimp rolls



Egg and seaweed rolls







Other interesting dim sum items include sauteed chicken feet with chili and ginger, crispy seafood cheung fun, spare rib cheung fun, pork blood jelly with chives, and baked almond cream bun.


One unique thing about Xiang Yuan Gourmet is their dinner menu.  Every other dim sum restaurant in this article serves Hong Kong style seafood at dinnertime, with the except of Shanghai #1 Seafood Village.  However Xiang Yuan Gourmet’s dinner fare is a mixture of Hong Kong style seafood and “Traditional Hunan Cuisine.”  Which merely shows the direction of Chinese food in the San Gabriel Valley these days.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Where’s The Chinese Food in Brazil and Argentina?



Having just returned from a 10 day tour of Brazil and Argentina this is my obligatory summary of the Chinese food portion of my trip.   And let me say at the beginning that this is going to be a very short write-up, because I only saw three sit down Chinese restaurants during the entirety of the tour of Brazil and Argentina, and I ate at all three of them.  And the only other Chinese food I saw were the two branches of Magic Dragon, a Chifa (Peruvian Chinese) chain located in the food court of two large shopping malls in Buenos Aires. 

Such a paucity of Chinese restaurants was a real surprise, as on past trips all over world, just looking outside the tour bus window or walking around our hotel would lead to numerous Chinese restaurant sightings.  But not on this trip.  When we arrived in Rio de Janeiro at our hotel on Copacabana Beach, I asked the tour guide whether there were any Chinese restaurants in the vicinity.  She said there weren’t.  However during a stroll across from Copacabana Beach, I did spot Restaurant Chinese Palace about four blocks from our hotel, and I returned one night for a late snack of dumplings which were better than I would have expected, though certainly nothing exceptional on an absolute basis.  I subsequently spoke to other tour group members who ate at Chinese Palace who indicated the food was passable for someone longing for Chinese food, but there was a clear problem with the availability of ingredients.  For example, the chow mein dish was made with dry ramen noodles.  And that was it for Brazil.

Similarly, no Chinese restaurants were seen during our bus tour of Buenos Aires or walking the area near the Panamericano Hotel on the incredibly wide 9th of July Ave.  However, returning to the hotel one afternoon, I grabbed a street map which included an advertisement for Bao Kitchen Taiwanese Bistro.  Taiwanese food in Buenos Aires?  Who would have thought that?    And it was less than a mile away from the hotel, so I walked on over there.  Sure enough, Bao Kitchen served Taiwanese items including pork gua bao, chicken gua bao, curry bao, beef noodle soup, three cups chicken along with other items.  The curry bao, with a panko crust was different and extremely good., while the gua bao were OK  The lady running the place proclaimed that Bao Kitchen was the best Chinese restaurant in South America.  She also indicated that Buenos Aires had a small Chinatown that was about 3 blocks long, around 20 minutes north of town, but that all the Chinese restaurants there were terrible.  I later read that the small Chinese community in Buenos Aires was dominated by Taiwanese, which would explain the existence of a Taiwanese restaurant downtown.  However, all of the other customers while I was at Bao Kitchen were non-Chinese, presumably ordering off of the Argentinianized part of the menu.


The last Chinese restaurant of my trip was Lung Hung, a Chifa restaurant across the street from the giant Abasto shopping mall, which we found after deciding to see what things looked like outside the mall.  I suspect it's no coincidence that three of the four Chinese eateries I encountered in Buenos Aires were Peruvian, as that's the only concentration of Chinese in South America that I'm familiar with.  The menu at Lung Hung was puzzling, as even though Mrs. Chandavkl is conversationally fluent in Spanish from her days teaching Central American students in East Hollywood, she wasn't familiar with the words describing most of the dishes.  So we decided to play this one safe, settling for the Chaufa chicken (chicken fried rice) and my requested “pollo con fideo” dish.  The rice was pretty good (of course, it’s hard to mess up fried rice) while the chow mein was so so, as it was not made with the thin noodles that I have had at Chifa restaurants in Florida.   None of the staff was Chinese, and maybe only one of the customers was Chinese.  Perhaps the most memorable part of the visit was live music, a guy playing "El Condor Pasa" on his recorder.





Monday, July 10, 2017

Italian Food Magazine Thinks David Chang Is Me (Not The Other Way Around)


few years ago I was interviewed by the Italian food magazine, Fine Dining Lovers, about my thousands of Chinese restaurant visits.   It is actually a very strange article in that while the writer interviewed me in English, she wrote the article in Italian.  Then the finished article was translated back into English, leading to some very strange wording.  (You might say something was lost in the double translation.)  However, what upset me when I first saw the finished article was that they got my name wrong, calling me David Chang, the name of the renown New York chef and restauranteur. I immediately pointed this out to them, and they dutifully made the change on their website, making me happy.

However, what I didn't realize is that at the same time they changed "David Chang" to "David Chan" in the article about me, they also had an existing page compiling all the articles they had written about David Chang, the celebrity chef, and they added my interview to that page.  So they also dutifully changed the heading on that page from "David Chang" to "David Chan."  This mixup isn't terribly important since it only matters if you're looking for stories about David Chang on the Fine Dining Lovers website.  But it is funny that all their articles about the famous David Chang are catalogued under the name of the little known David Chan, which is the opposite of how things like that usually occur.

A good example of the latter type of confusion comes from my non-existent listing in the Internet Movie Data Base.  Yes, the IMDB did pick up my appearance in the movie documentary, The Search For General Tso.  However, they added it to a listing for another David Chan, who gained some level of notoriety for being in the cast of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.   Contrast this to the other internet movie websites like The Numbers and the now defunct New York Times movie database, which gave me a separate listing for being in the General Tso Movie.  And I presume the real David Chan actor is wondering what the heck General Tso is.

Fortunately other websites containing my compilations don't confuse me with anyone else.

My Menuism Chinese Restaurant Articles

My L.A. Weekly Articles

WaCowLA Taiwanese Chinese Language Tag Page

(And thanks to PorkyBelly on the Food Talk Central message board for the ironic back reference.)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

My Embassy Kitchen LA Weekly Review With Full Pictorial Coverage

My LA Weekly review of Embassy Kitchen did not contain the pictures of the dishes I highlighted.  To fill that void, here's the original version of that article, fully illustrated.

Crowning a restaurant as the “best” Chinese or any other category of restaurant is a tricky thing, given the subjectivity of such a determination and the varying tastes among diners.  While this is certainly the case in trying to anoint a best Chinese restaurant in Los Angeles, most discussions of the topic tends to involve the same group of contenders, like Sea Harbour in Rosemead, Chengdu Taste, Lunasia, King Hua and Szechuan Impression in Alhambra, Newport Seafood and Mian in San Gabriel, and Din Tai Fung in various mall locations.  (Or if you’re Yelp, then it’s Americanized restaurants like Sea Dragon, Yang Chow and Wah’s Golden Hen. [Link to my L.A. Weekly Yelp article.])  However, the best of the bunch may well be Embassy Kitchen in San Gabriel, located directly in front of Embassy Billiards pool hall on San Gabriel Blvd., and from whence it derives its name.

Besides the improbability of Embassy Kitchen being one of the best Chinese restaurants in Los Angeles despite its status as the Chinese equivalent of bowling alley dining, equally surprising is the fact that Embassy Kitchen is still under-the-radar despite having been around for 20 years, making it senior to all the other top non-Yelp contenders except Newport Seafood, which opened in San Gabriel a year earlier in 1996.  Embassy Kitchen started as a small adjunct restaurant to the billiard parlor around 1997, even using the Embassy Billiards moniker.  It then moved to the large restaurant space in front of the billiard parlor around 1999.   

Like other top Chinese restaurant contenders Sea Harbour, Lunasia and King Hua, as well as most all of the other banquet sized Chinese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley, Embassy Kitchen serves Hong Kong style cuisine.  But aside from that, Embassy Kitchen diverges from these other Hong Kong style restaurants in many ways.  There are no tanks in the dining room full of live seafood, nor is the dining room huge, loud or boisterous.  There is not a gaudy menu with so many choices that the menu could be made into a movie, and they gladly take reservations.

But what distinguishes Embassy Kitchen from the pack is the food selection.  Yes, you will find Cantonese favorites like rock cod in corn sauce, walnut shrimp, fish maw crab meat soup, e-fu noodles, and steamed chicken with ginger and scallions, all superbly prepared.  But what you also find at Embassy Kitchen are two extremes not typically seen at most Hong Kong style restaurants in Los Angeles—complex dishes that require day in advance ordering and wonderful homestyle dishes.  To some extent most of these dishes are obscured on the Embassy Kitchen menu as they are only found on paper inserts on the inside cover of the permanent menu.  On the other hand, that might not make much of a difference, since non-Chinese faces are indeed rare at this restaurant.  There is no nefarious intent in keeping these dishes in a Chinese language supplement, as the owners indicate that they just weren’t sure how to accurately describe these dishes in English.

Perhaps the best exemplar of the complex advance order dishes is the boneless chicken stuffed with shrimp paste.  The chicken skin is light and crispy, the chicken is tender, and the shrimp paste provides a savory contrast.



Then there’s the tilapia rolls with whole carcass, one of the most unique and visual dishes you will find at a Los Angeles area Chinese restaurant, though from a taste point of view the re-stuffed fish (where the bones are removed and the fish is filled back up with fish and ground pork) might be a better choice.

One of the special items that does not necessarily need an advance order is the eight treasures stuffed duck.


Other signature dishes include the chicken stuffed with sticky rice (a traditional Cantonese dish still popular in the San Francisco area, but difficult to find in Los Angeles), and the fried rice with whole Dungeness crab or lobster.  Note that all of these dishes are large and run in the $50 range, and hence are more suited to large parties.  Indeed Embassy Kitchen has a larger quotient of large size tables compared to most other Chinese restaurants in Los Angeles.

At the other end of the spectrum are the many uncommon homestyle dishes on Embassy Kitchen’s menu.  However, be aware that these dishes are not inexpensive, as there are few items on the Embassy Kitchen menu that are under $15 and many are $20 or more.  But these dishes are generally well worth the price, particularly when considering the subtleties and complexities in the flavor of the dishes here.  At most popular Chinese restaurants, experienced diners can discern visually and by taste the main ingredients of a dish.  Yes, this dish contains dried orange peel, or five spice, or bean paste or fish sauce.  But at Embassy Kitchen this is not necessarily the case.  For example, our party was stumped by the steamed egg with tofu and seafood topping, so we had to ask them what was in it.  They replied “shrimp roe.”  Such ingredients also explain the higher price point.


Many other down-to-earth, and seldom seen at restaurant dishes are also real winners.   Steamed eggplant with dried scallop and ground pork may sound fairly pedestrian, but it is one of the best dishes on the menu, with it seemingly being a mystery how the ground pork can be cooked in such a light and fluffy manner.  

Similarly outstanding but unlikely dishes include clear rice noodles with cabbage, egg and dried scallops; stir-fried beef with flour crisp; French style beef stew (which comes with noodles at lunch time but not at dinner); and imitation shark’s fin with egg whites.   


Many people say that Embassy Kitchen is as close to actually eating in Hong Kong as you can get in Los Angeles.  However, more than any Chinese restaurant in Los Angeles, Embassy Kitchen’s quality is driven by its owner-chef, Chef Yu, which probably explains in part its lack of widespread acclaim, with the stellar reviews of his cooking being offset by pedestrian reviews by diners who happen to eat there when he isn’t in the kitchen.  But in the long run, for those who dine at Embassy Kitchen on a recurring basis, this is a restaurant, the closest thing to artisan Chinese cooking that you will find in Los Angeles, that deserves to be considered among the best Chinese restaurants in the area.