The Best Chinese Restaurants In Los Angeles – Los Angeles – The Infatuation

Greater Los Angeles is home to the third-largest Chinese-American population in the United States, so naturally, the Chinese food here is also considered to be some of the best in the country. There’s no denying that a lot of the best Chinese restaurants around can be found in the San Gabriel Valley, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t great options in LA proper too.

Both classic and newer spots in Chinatown continue to hold their own, famous chains from China and Taiwan have opened in malls across town, popular SGV restaurants are branching out closer to the city center, and young restaurateurs are opening up shop in a number of neighborhoods. From dim sum and Cantonese barbecue to Sichuan specialties, there are plenty of options to choose from, but these are our 20 favorite Chinese spots in LA.

THE SPOTS

The Prince of Poultry is back, and not to be cliche, better than ever. After a short break, Pearl River Deli has returned to Chinatown with a brand new space and expanded menu. While the excellent Chinese/Cantonese restaurant used to only do to-go orders, the new PRD comes with a cozy little dining room and dine-in service, which means dishes are served the way they were meant to be eaten—hot and fresh. Glossy char siu is cut thick and placed over a bed of egg noodles. Hainan chicken comes with a ramekin of different sauces, plus yellow rice that’s been fluffed with chicken fat. There are some upgraded old favorites, like the Macau pork chop bun that arrives on a sugar-encrusted pineapple bun that's now made in house, as well as exciting new additions, like the tenshindon, a runny crab omelet served over rice and smothered in gravy. Grab a seat at one of the worn, wooden tables—the energy in here reminds us of a Hong Kong café, where you’ll eat next to friends catching up over dumplings and families trying everything on the menu.

When a chef who worked at spots like Otium and Trois Mec opens a Cantonese restaurant, you end up with a place like Needle—showcasing not only traditional Hong Kong food, but what a Cantonese chef with fine dining training creates when he has access to all the great meat and produce found on the West Coast. The char siu made with Berkshire pork belly is one of the best in the city—it’s nicely marbled (you can choose between regular or fatty cuts), perfectly charred, and instead of the usual hoisin-based sauce, it’s lightly glazed with honey and served with mustard to cut through the richness. Meals can be enjoyed either to-go, or on their small but cozy patio out front.

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The second location of the popular—and truly excellent—Alhambra dim sum shop, Lunasia, lives in a colorful art-deco building in Pasadena. Here, you’ll find every Cantonese comfort dish one can think of: crispy shrimp rolls, hargow, and softball sized shumai stuffed to the brim. Build your meal around staples like baked BBQ pork buns and turnip cakes, then tack on a few specialties. We love the scallop dumplings, wrapped in a jet-black squid skin, and Macau-style egg custard tarts. And between the multiple stories and banquet-style tables, this is a perfect place for a large family meal, or hungover brunch with your closest friends.

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We love Hui Tou Xiang for their plump, juicy dumplings—and now, the fantastic San Gabriel noodle house has a second, flashier outpost in Hollywood. Unlike their flagship, which is quite barebones, this space is sleek, glamorous, and feels like an old-school speakeasy. Black brick ceilings arch overhead, tables are lit by red neon signs, and there are shiny surfaces everywhere you look. Did we get too into it, and accidentally call someone “doll,” for no apparent reason? Maybe. Of course, the name of the game here (literally) is the hui tou dumpling, a rectangular pan-fried block stuffed with sweet pork meat. But the soup dumplings shouldn’t be missed either, plump little satchels full of a rich, decadent broth we’d happily drink on its own.

This cozy Cantonese restaurant on the corner of Yale and Alpine in Chinatown, is a reminder that life can—and perhaps should—be slower, more peaceful. Things here are as old-school as it gets: Wonton soups are served in porcelain bowls, hot tea arrives by the kettle, and the people running the restaurant will usher you in as if you’re family. And everyone gets a complimentary soup. Will you eat the best Chinese food of your life here? No. But a meal at Zen Mei offers something just as valuable: a calm, comfortable space where emails, to-do lists, Twitter feeds, and the name "Crypto.com Arena" feel meaningless. It's a welcomed escape. Cash only.

The West LA outpost of the famous SGV spot easily makes the best Sichuan food in LA proper. They serve all the hits from the original location, including the tender tea-smoked pork ribs and boiled fish filet with rattan pepper (the version with pickled vegetables is a strong contender for those who prefer less spice). The quality of the food is on par with the SGV outpost, but the larger space means you can gather a larger group of friends for a feast. Bonus: this location also has beer and wine.

Another SGV transplant (when it comes to Chinese food, that neighborhood is number one for a reason), Tasty Noodle House also has locations on W. 3rd and Sawtelle. Personally, we prefer the second. Although rich in Japanese options, this neighborhood—and the Westside at large—doesn’t have many Chinese options, aside from the big, shiny Din Tai Fung that presides over the Westfield mall. This tiny shop specializes in the flavors of Dalian, a coastal city in northeastern China, which translates into a variety of potent seafood dishes, like jellyfish in spring scallion oil and stir-fried sea snail. You’ll also need buttery scallion pancakes, the enormous beef noodle soup, and juicy pan-fried dumplings that remind us of a Doja Cat song. Bring friends.

The Best Places To Eat In The San Gabriel Valley guide imageThe Best Places To Eat In The San Gabriel Valley guide image

LA Guide

The Best Places To Eat In The San Gabriel Valley

This small restaurant is located off the main streets of Chinatown, so it doesn’t get as much traffic as it really deserves – even though it’s one of the best in the neighborhood. Jade Wok has that typically large menu found at many older Chinese restaurants, but what keeps us coming back here is the house special tofu, a silky slab of lightly fried, homemade tofu that’s submerged in a mushroom and pork sauce – labeled on the menu simply as “homemade bean curd (best tofu in town).” To balance things out, we also like the tea-smoked duck and bite-sized Shanghai spare ribs glazed with a sweet and sour sauce, which are good to share with the whole table. On top of the good food, most of Jade Wok’s dishes are under $10, meaning you can try a lot without spending a ton. The modest dining room can fill up at lunchtime, so just make sure to plan ahead if you come by in the afternoon.

In a white, nondescript building in Chinatown stamped in curly blue letters, is ABC Seafood, an extravagant Hong Kong-style restaurant that serves dim sum, barbecued meats, and of course, seafood. The golden order here includes all the traditional favorites, like shrimp har gow, a few baked BBQ pork buns, and shumai in bright yellow wrappers. So, find your cutest tote bag (we like this one from Heaven’s Market), grab as many bao as you can, then have yourself a picnic. The Los Angeles State Historic Park is within walking distance.

After a long week, sometimes all we want is to swan dive into a large supply of dim sum. But on the days when we don’t feel like waiting in traffic on the 10 to get to SGV, Ixlb comes to the rescue. Everything here, from har gow to shumai, is made fresh daily and satisfies any dim sum craving imaginable (though they sadly don’t serve chicken feet). The translucent har gow have a bouncy skin and are filled with plump shrimp while the egg tarts have a nice, flaky crust, but you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. Ixlb primarily does takeout and delivery, but there is a tiny dining area with counter seating for those who can’t wait to get home to eat.

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LA Guide

The Best Soup Dumplings In Los Angeles

Mar Vista is a rather unexpected location for this hip Taiwanese-American spot, but Little Fatty quickly became a neighborhood staple when it opened six years ago. While it’s dubbed a “Taiwanese soul food restaurant,” the menu here also spans the gamut from Chinese-American to Cantonese dishes, like the chewy, rolled chow fun, which is the perfect vehicle for its garlicky XO sauce. And their honey walnut shrimp is the best version we’ve ever had, crispy and lightly dressed with a citrusy mayo sauce. There’s usually a wait on weekend nights, so the fact that Little Fatty is attached to one of the best cocktail bars on the Westside, Accomplice, is a big plus since you can wait for your table while sipping on an ube colada.

Maybe coffee makes you anxious, or you need a certain degree of aesthetic to feel alive. Steep, a calm Chinatown tea shop, has got you covered on both. Located in Mandarin Plaza, beneath swaying string lights and brightly colored walls, is their showroom—a cozy space with soft, minimalist touches and collections of hyper-regional teas and great Chinese/Taiwanese snacks. There are freshly brewed oolongs, black teas, and green tangerine blends, as well as small bites like scallion milk bread and bowls of chicken rice.

Tang Huo specializes in malatang, a Sichuan street food of spicy hot pot and skewers that’s become increasingly popular over the past decade but is still pretty rare in LA. The setup at this casual spot in Koreatown is similar to many Mongolian barbecue restaurants, where you pick your own proteins, vegetables, and noodles to be weighed at the counter. Tang Huo will then prepare it as either hot pot or dry hot pot to the specified spice level – just know that the mild one even has quite the numbing kick. Besides malatang, Tang Huo also serves crawfish with the same spicy mala flavor, which are 100% worth all the shell cracking.

When Hop Woo opened back in 1993, there were only eight tables in the entire restaurant. Since then, the Cantonese spot has expanded big time, first into a larger space in the building, then to its current location across the street. Run by husband-and-wife duo, Lupe and Judy Liang, Hop Woo has cemented itself as a Chinatown institution, a place where the menu is translated into Chinese, English, and Spanish, and chefs push themselves to include plenty of vegetarian and vegan dishes. Focus on the chicken egg foo young, a Guangdong-style omelet that comes with bean sprouts and a thick mushroom gravy, or combination wonton soup.

 

After leaving Hong Kong in 1977, five brothers (the Yuns) opened Yang Chow, a Mandarin and Sichuan-style restaurant in Chinatown named after their hometown. At the time, it existed below the Bing Wong Hotel, and was a casual, communal place where families could gather over lazy susans loaded with shrimp toast, egg drop soup, and pan-fried noodles. Over the next 40 years, Yang Chow expanded to two other locations (Pasadena and Long Beach) and attracts crowds for their slippery shrimp. The deep-fried concoction is made with garlic, ginger, cayenne, and yes, ketchup. How else would they get that perfect, deep orange color?

Husband-and-wife-owned RiceBox specializes in Cantonese barbecue using organic and hormone-free ingredients, updating wife Lydia Lee’s family recipes with the techniques that her husband Leo learned in culinary school. Their signature porchetta crackling combines traditional siu yuk (roast pork) and porchetta, rolling the pork belly with seven spices, letting it absorb the flavors for 24 hours, and then slowly roasting it until the skin is perfectly crispy. The porchetta crackling, along with Canto classics like char siu and soy sauce chicken, are available as rice bowls, while homemade baos filled with cheese and char siu, egg rolls, and chicken wings are each great ways to round things out on your next trip here.

Westfield Century City is home to a lot of great Chinese chains, but Hai Di Lao might just be our favorite. This hot pot spot is a little pricier than others, but they make up for it with more than half a dozen soup base options (try the spicy pork broth), and higher-end meat options including Miyazaki A5 wagyu beef, a DIY sauce station, and free desserts. Even if you’re not splurging for A5 wagyu, you can’t go wrong with the prime rib eye and roe-filled lobster balls. And if it’s your first time, the $4 charge for the “dancing noodle” may be worth the show with the staff hand-pulling the noodles to order by dancing in front of you. Plus, the bouncy noodles are great for slurping up whatever remains of your broth that’s been pulling in the flavors from your meat and vegetables throughout the meal. Or you can wait and just hope that your table neighbors order one instead.

Even though Din Tai Fung is a large international chain, it manages to keep the quality of the delicately made xiao long bao that propelled them to fame pretty consistent. The location inside Century City Mall is certainly one of the best spots for XLBs in LA, making the inevitable wait for a table worthwhile. Beyond soup dumplings, start with the refreshing cucumber salad in chili oil and make sure to order enough of the chewy, wok-fried Shanghai rice cakes for everyone to try.

This small local chain started in Pasadena in 2018, but has quickly expanded to four locations in Greater LA, including one on Sawtelle, thanks to their handmade dumplings and noodles. The star on Dan’s small menu is the dan mein – the thick, homemade noodles have a nice chewy bite to them and get stir-fried with your choice of protein in a sweet garlic sauce, which we think goes best with the tender short ribs. Besides the delicious dan mein, we like the especially crispy pan-fried dumplings and fried rice, which is prepared with a generous amount of Dungeness crab.