Sunday, January 25, 2015

Proof Los Angeles Chinese Food Is Superior To That Of New York

As anybody who has eaten Chinese food both in the San Gabriel Valley and in New York knows,  San Gabriel Valley Chinese food is far superior.  However, there are numerous New Yorkers who have never been in the San Gabriel Valley, and hence find it implausible that anything can be better than their Chinese food.  I tried to tell them that in my Top 10 Chinese Restaurants in the United States article that included no New York restaurants, and ended up with the internet version of being tarred and feathered by irate New Yorkers.  Furthermore, given that New York has a greater Chinese population than either Los Angeles or San Francisco, the thought of either of those California cities being superior in Chinese food to New York is that much more unbelievable to the doubting New Yorkers.

Fortunately, renown food writer Clarissa Wei has come to the rescue in her article "How Los Angeles Became A Powerhouse For Chinese Food".   Her well written and thoroughly researched article documents the underlying reasons why Los Angeles has the best Chinese food in the country and why New York doesn't.  Interestingly, my first contact with Clarissa was around three years ago on this precise topic.  Clarissa was a Californian who had gone to Manhattan to attend New York University, and who began writing food stories for The Village Voice in New York and L.A. Weekly back home.  While she had a general sense that New York Chinese food was inferior, that's not exactly the type of article you'd want to submit to The Village Voice.  In the course of our correspondence concerning the comparative status of New York and Los Angeles Chinese food, I happened to mention to Clarissa about my 6,000 Chinese restaurant visits and accompanying Excel schedule and she immediately jumped on that topic, interviewing me in person and writing the L.A. Weekly profile that quickly jumped to Huffington Post, and then news and celebrity websites not only in the United States, but also Asia, Europe, Africa and who knows where else around the world.

Three years later Clarissa has written the definitive article on the topic.  In my short Menuism article on why New York Chinese food lagged California I briefly mentioned demographic factors distinguishing the New York and Los Angeles Chinese communities, such as the presence of large numbers of wealthy Chinese immigrants and their food centric "626 Generation" progeny.  Clarissa fleshes out these topics and discusses other factors, such as the arrival of highly trained chefs from China, a Chinese language foodie social media network (one Chinese language Facebook group devoted to spotting new Chinese restaurants has 4,800 members),  and competition of multiple emerging regional cuisines which raise the Chinese food bar in Los Angeles on an ongoing basis.  Clarissa notes that the 626 Night Market attracted a crowd of 40,000 on its opening night, and I may add gummed up Los Angeles freeway traffic for hours.  

While I certainly didn't need any convincing, Clarissa's article paints a picture which shows the stark difference between Los Angeles and New York Chinese food, and while there is unquestionably lots of good Chinese food in New York, and the Chinese food is particularly diversifying in Flushing, there is more and better outstanding Chinese food in Los Angeles.  We are literally in the midst of a Chinese food frenzy in Los Angeles, so the Chinese food in Los Angeles had better be the best in the country.

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