I love Little Fatty because of the Taiwanese food; it is so close to my heart because my mom is Taiwan-born and raised. I grew up eating her homemade scallion pancakes, braised chicken legs, and beef noodle soup. (My mom’s beef noodle soup is second to none; we’ve been trying to get her to start a beef-noodle soup food truck for ages.) To find a spot so close to my L.A. home where I can get the Taiwanese faves like zha jiang mian, but also some fusion-y concoctions, is such a win.
I live on the Westside, which is not exactly known for its Chinese cuisine. So unless I’m trekking it to Monterey Park or those environs, I knew the Taiwanese fare I love would be hard to come by. When I first moved to L.A., my friend Kyle suggested I try [Little Fatty], only a few blocks from my house, and I loved it. It made L.A. immediately feel like home and that I was fated to land here. It’s become a regular place to get takeout for me and my family.
I order the marinated cucumbers, scallion pancakes, beef noodle soup or dan dan mian, mapo tofu, Hainan chicken, and the rich and intense Taiwanese Sunday gravy. I am so hopeful we get to the other side of this crisis, so I can saddle up to the bar and eat food and drink beer at the restaurant again. //3809 Grand View Blvd., littlefattyla.com.
NPR international correspondent
I really like Joy because the food is delicious and always hits, the space is thoughtfully designed, and the staff is so incredibly sweet, warm and caring. I can never get sick of eating their food!
I think I’ve had nearly every item on the menu, but my favorites are the dan dan noodles, spicy shrimp wontons, layer pancake with egg & cheese (of course with basil & chili oil), seasonal veggies, wood-ear salad, minced pork on rice, and all the beverages. You really can’t go wrong at Joy. It’s not fussy. It’s approachable, thoughtful and delicious.
I love that Vivian [Ku], the owner, and her incredible team are putting up food they grew up with and care about. They are very inspiring, and the concept and brand they created are things that I admire. They brought their sensibilities and that Taiwanese deliciousness into Highland Park, making their restaurants part of the neighborhood fabric. It’s just smart: The price range, the approachability, the vibe, and model are such great fits for York Boulevard. I respect what they do. As an operator trying to showcase my culture and food, but from my own personal perspective, I find so much inspiration in what they do. I really look up to them. They’re Asian American, women-owned. Joy is so badass. //5100 York Blvd., joyonyork.com.
Hui Tou Xiang Noodles House
Hui Tou Xiang is so good, simple, satisfying, and consistent. The couple who runs it are great; the wife is the chef and the husband runs the back while the charming, pleasant son runs service. I believe she has no formal chef training; she just likes to cook and make her guests happy. They are terrific on a wide variety of dishes.
I order both the pork hui tou (pan-fried dumplings) and boiled dumplings, with their thick dumpling skins, which I happen to love. I also get the scallion pancake, which I think is one of the best versions in the San Gabriel Valley. I also like their spicy wontons and tasty, unique pork shumai with extremely thin skins. To mix it up, I also enjoy their cold spicy noodles and pork-hock appetizer seasoned with a super garlicky sauce. Their xiao long bao are pretty nice, too. The beef stew is also a hit and so are the cucumber salad and the marinated tofu skin.
The ingredients in each dish always are proportioned well, so it achieves a great balance — such as their addictive spicy noodle salad, with a heat that is so subtle.
I like to visit early on weekdays, around 11 a.m., so it is not too crowded. Wait too long, and they’ll get packed because they only have a few tables. Right now, they only do takeout, and I recommend buying their frozen dumplings, which cost $50 for 5 dozen. // 704 W. Las Tunas Dr., San Gabriel, and now with a second location in Hollywood at 1643 N. Cahuenga Blvd, huitouxiang.com.
Chef, LQ Foodings
Alice’s Kitchen serves traditional and authentic Cantonese items, including almost everything you need to taste at cha chaan tengs. These Hong Kong-style cafes are known for their affordable and diverse menus. They include pineapple buns with butter, milk tea, French toast, congee, curry fish balls, and much more.
You can get a daily Chinese breakfast set, complete with congee, fried noodles, and milk tea, for only $8 in the morning. At noon, they feature a Hong Kong-style cart noodle with pork intestine, pork rind, and chicken wings that comes with a choice of flat rice noodle, rice vermicelli, or instant noodles. Order the Hong Kong-style stir-fried spare ribs, chicken with chili oil, and clay pot rice for dinner.
The milk tea and lemon tea are staples on the menu, but give the crushed ice with red bean a try. As we are always there, don’t be shy and come say hi if you see us! // 580 E. Garvey Ave., Monterey Park. 626-898-1828.
Justine and Jocelyn Wong
Co-founders, Hangry Diary
Dolan’s Uyghur Cuisine
I was living and working in Beijing about 20 years ago when I was first introduced to Uyghur cuisine, so when Bryant [Ng, Cassia’s chef and Luu-Ng’s husband] and I heard about Dolan’s, we were really curious. Uyghur cuisine is really hard to find in the United States, but at Dolan’s, it’s just really delicious. You would think that it’s heavy, but it’s very well balanced without being overwhelming, so I can just keep eating it all day.
Their cooking is so good, it’s just as if I were back in China — the food and flavors are so authentic to that Uyghur identity, and open the doors to people here to another kind of Chinese food. Most people only know about Han Chinese food, but this is a non-Han Chinese cuisine created by a Muslim people. //742 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra, ladolans.com.
Co-owner of Cassia and
immigration and human rights lawyer
Esther Tseng is a food, drinks and culture writer. She has contributed to The L.A. Times, Eater, Food & Wine, Civil Eats and more. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Follow Resy, too.