Los Angeles’s tremendous Chinese food scene keeps getting better and better. In addition to the stronghold of regional offerings in the San Gabriel Valley, there’s a good number of Chinese restaurants spread across the city — from Cantonese barbecue Downtown to pan-seared dumplings in Hollywood. There’s no better time to be tucking into a bowl of hand-pulled noodles or a steamy tray of soup-filled dumplings in the Southland. Here now, are the 23 essential Chinese restaurants in Los Angeles.Read More
23 Essential Chinese Restaurants in Los Angeles
Where to find the best regional Chinese delicacies in town
Hui Tou Xiang
Hui Tou Xiang is known for its namesake hui tou dumpling, a rectangular pan-fried dumpling (similar to a potsticker) stuffed with pork or beef. The restaurant’s chile oil is scratch-made and available for sale by the jar. There’s a wide variety of frozen dumplings available to-go. The flagship San Gabriel location is more barebones than the newer Hollywood location that has a full cocktail menu and a speakeasy vibe.
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RiceBox is the first hip and modern Cantonese restaurant in Los Angeles that really hits the mark. Diners can create custom rice boxes, choosing from the signature char siu (barbecued pork), black soy-poached chicken, crispy seven-spice pork belly, or a vegan special. Chef and co-owner Leo Lee uses only organic produce, as well as ethically-sourced, sustainable, and hormone-free meat. The signature char siu (barbecued pork) uses Duroc pork and is marinated using a family recipe that’s been passed down for more than three decades. The triple-roasted porchetta is marinated overnight, cured, roasted for three hours, and then smoked.
Chef Lee’s rendition of the traditional Chinese dish beggar’s chicken is only available a few times a year and sells out quickly. Beneath the proofed almond milk bao dough — beautifully decorated with Chinese characters for “rice” and “box” — is a deboned and brined whole chicken stuffed and steamed with abalone, shiitake mushrooms, steamed rice, ginkgo nuts, and marinated egg.
Silver Lake staple Pine & Crane cemented Vivian Ku’s status as one of the city’s best new-school Taiwanese chefs, but at Joy on York, she blends these flavors with quick-and-casual Chinese classics for totally unique cold salads, comforting noodle bowls, and some serious thousand-layer–pancake wraps. Nearly everyone orders the minced Kurobuta pork on rice with a soy-braised egg and pickles, along with the dan dan noodles with a sesame peanut sauce, cucumbers, and cilantro. Extremely affordable and hyper-flavorful, everything Joy dishes up is, well, a joy. The Hakka mochi dessert alone is worth braving the parking along York Boulevard.
Duck House Restaurant
The two-decade-old Duck House specializes in traditional Peking duck, which comes with thin pancakes, shredded green onion, julienned cucumber, and hoisin sauce. The duck skin is sliced thinly over a layer of fatty and tender duck meat in each bite. The bones are all removed, making it easy to make your own wraps. The Peking duck can be served three ways: sliced with the skin separated from the meat alongside pancakes for wrapping, paired with duck-bone soup, or stir-fried with bean sprouts. (Diners can also choose all three preparations.) Although the duck is the star dish, the Japanese-style konnyaku salad with garlic and chile sauce is also a must-order dish that cannot be found elsewhere. Preorder your duck at least an hour in advance.
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After running a successful restaurant in China and working at Panda Restaurant Group in Los Angeles, Tony Xu opened Alhambra’s Chengdu Taste in 2013. Angelenos quickly took notice of the restaurant’s fiery Sichuan cooking. One of the restaurant’s signature dishes is the diced rabbit with “younger sister’s secret recipe.” Other must-try dishes include the Sichuan-style mung bean jelly noodles with chile sauce, mapo tofu, and toothpick lamb with cumin. There’s an additional location in Rowland Heights for those who reside further east.
Dolan’s Uyghur Cuisine
The Islamic Uyghur cooking found at Dolan’s Uyghur Cuisine in Alhambra is a regional specialty in China. The big plate chicken, meat pie, and lamb skewers taste exactly like what one would find at restaurants in the Xinjiang region. Start off with a cup of Uyghur milk tea — a warm, salty drink to cleanse the palate. Then order off the lamb-centric menu, with dishes like goshnan (meat pie), roasted lamb leg, lamb kebabs, and leghirdaq (bean starch noodles).
The signature big plate chicken is made with stir-fried chicken, leek, and potato on a bed of hand-pulled noodles. The manta steamed dumplings are stuffed with pumpkin, while the goshnaan is filled with beef, lamb, onion, and black pepper. Don’t sleep on the Uyghur polo, a braised rice dish with carrot, onion, and lamb served with a side of red cabbage, apple coleslaw, and yogurt.
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Yang’s Kitchen is a hip and modern spot that strives to source local, sustainable, and organic ingredients when possible. The daytime and dinner menus draw from Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, and Californian influences. Yang’s Kitchen sources almost all of its vegetables from the farmers market. All proteins (meat, poultry, eggs, dairy seafood, etc.) are humanely raised with sustainability in mind. Chris Yang, the restaurant’s chef-owner, spotlights small dessert businesses by selling their pastries at the restaurant. Besides the constantly rotating desserts on hand, top dishes include the roasted squash kale salad, braised pork with multigrain rice, cold sesame noodles, chicken liver mousse, smoked salmon hash, breakfast plate, and mochi pancake.
The original Embassy Kitchen in San Gabriel has been around for decades and remains one of the most solid Cantonese restaurants in the area. (The fast-casual outlet in Alhambra has a limited menu.) The executive chef of the San Gabriel location is from the Peninsula, a famous luxury hotel in Hong Kong. Embassy Kitchen serves dim sum during the morning and switches to a traditional Cantonese menu for dinner. For dim sum, Embassy Kitchen has all the tried and true staples, but also more unique dishes like salted duck yolk turnip cake, peanut-dusted black sesame mochi, oatmeal egg custard buns, and shrimp and corn patties. Although Embassy Kitchen’s dinner options are tasty, the special menu takes the cake. There are a number of dishes that require ordering at least a day ahead, such as the crispy chicken that is deboned, pressed, and stuffed with shrimp paste.
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Jiang Nan Spring
Jiang Nan Spring specializes in Zhejiang cuisine made with lots of seafood and seasonal ingredients. Jiang Nan literally translates to “south of the river” and refers to the areas south of the Yangtze River, which includes food from Shanghai, Hangzhou, Jiangsu, Fujian, Ningbo, Shaoxing, Anhui, Jiangxi, and Zhejiang. One of the most unique items on the menu is the traditional Chinese dish: beggar’s chicken. This dish rarely appears on menus because of its complexity and lengthy preparation. Beggar’s chicken consists of marinated chicken wrapped tightly in layers of lotus leaves, parchment paper, and dough; chef Chang bakes the dish slowly on low heat. Other house specialties include stir-fried crab with rice cakes, braised pork belly, lion’s head pork meatballs, eight treasure rice pudding, and osmanthus glutinous rice balls.
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A hallmark of a true Hong Kong-style cafe is a menu with enough variety to give the Cheesecake Factory a run for its money. The menu, which varies at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, has something for everyone. The wide array of standard classics includes pork chop baked tomato rice, pineapple buns with pork cutlet, clay pot rice, congee, noodles, and scallop fried rice. The grilled steak entrees are served with either rice or pasta and come with drinks. There are also Chinese-American dishes like honey-glazed spare ribs and honey walnut shrimp, along with more traditional Cantonese-style dishes and Hong Kong-style comfort foods that became popular due to British colonization, such as milk tea and Spam macaroni soup. Alice’s Kitchen is operated by the family that opened the original Delicious Food Corner in Monterey Park.
Southern Mini Town Restaurant
Southern Mini Town is a Shanghainese restaurant that only has a few tables. The potstickers and pan-fried baos are a must. The sheng jian bao (pan-fried pork soup dumplings) are fluffy and juicy. Other must-order dishes include the winter melon soup, Chinese okra with salted duck egg, pan-fried Shanghai rice cakes, Shanghainese eggplant, pork kidney, and clam stew egg custard. The pork hock is a popular dish that falls off the bone and the fried fish with seaweed powder should not be missed. Don’t forget to finish the meal with the osmanthus sweet soup with black sesame dumplings for dessert.
Newport Seafood Restaurant
Newport Seafood is an institution in the San Gabriel Valley. Inspired by Ly Hua, the founder and head chef of the original Newport Seafood in Orange County, executive chef Henry Hua (Ly’s son) built the menu based on his father’s travels throughout Asia. The star dish is the house-special lobster that is fished from tanks and stir-fried with heaps of chopped chiles, scallions, roe, and garlic. The family-style restaurant uses Chinese, Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Thai flavors in its dishes. Signature items include the aforementioned lobster, shaking beef, crab with tamarind sauce, and sashimi-style elephant clams.
Nature Pagoda is a tiny mom-and-pop that has been around since the ’90s. The entire menu is based on traditional Chinese medicinal principles meant to balance the body for optimal health. The quaint restaurant serves traditional herbal teas and medicinal soups, but the star is clay pot rice (bao zai fan), a Hong Kong specialty. The rice at the bottom of the clay pot is crispy, while the interior rice is moist and steamed with ingredients like mushrooms, bamboo shoots, Chinese sausage, pork ribs, and salted fish with ground pork and tofu. All clay pot rice dishes are made to order, so prepare to wait.
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Ho Kee Cafe
Ho Kee is known for its roast duck and array of Cantonese and Hong Kong comfort dishes, but the true standout are its see fong choi (private kitchen dishes). These specialty menu items, which can be on the pricier side and require advanced notice, include abalone and sea cucumber, winter melon soup, steamed egg custard in crab shell, garlic-steamed razor clams, and jumbo shrimp.
Tam's Noodle House
Tam’s Noodle House opened during the pandemic selling only frozen Hong Kong-style wontons and dumplings. Now that indoor dining is in full swing, Tam’s has established itself as one of the go-to Hong Kong cafes in the area for casual Cantonese-style foods like curry fish balls, barbecue pork, beef stew lo mien, steamed rice rolls, pineapple buns, and Hong Kong-style milk tea. All the noodles and dumplings are made in-house, including three varieties of egg noodles (wonton-style egg noodles, rice noodles, and flat egg noodles).
Red 99 Grill Bistro
Red 99 Grill Bistro specializes in Shanghainese cuisine, but also has a handful of Sichuan- and Hunan-style dishes on the menu. The signature dish is the red braised pork belly prepared with soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, and other spices; the gelatinous skin and fat melt easily in your mouth. Other popular dishes include Shanghainese eel, loofa, drunken chicken, Shanghainese stir-fried rice cake with crab, and green onion scallion noodles. Red 99 also makes one of the best renditions of jiuniang yuan zi, a subtly sweet and boozy dessert soup with fermented glutinous rice, dried osmanthus flower, and chewy glutinous black sesame rice balls.
Bistro Na’s, which opened in Temple City in 2016, is the first American restaurant to serve China’s imperial cuisine. The restaurant’s recipes were originally intended for royalty and have been passed down through generations of chefs who worked in the imperial kitchen. Bistro Na’s is the U.S. branch of the Beijing-based Na Jia Xiao Guan.
The restaurant’s decor mimics a traditional Chinese courtyard from the Qing Dynasty. Diners feel like royalty once they walk into the dining room, with its carved wood paneling, jade accents, and traditional musical instruments displayed like an art exhibit. Even the physical menu is luxurious — it’s bound with a soft cloth cover and is known as “the heaven menu.” Executive chef Tian always has limited-run menus that require advanced reservations; he also creates special dishes only available for Chinese holidays.
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Mr Chopsticks Seafood & BBQ
Mr. Chopsticks has been a mainstay in the area for over three decades and is one of a handful of Cantonese restaurants that still provide free soup at the start of the meal. The lunch menu includes 40 affordable and amply portioned specials, like beef chow fun, kung pao shrimp, chicken wings, and salt and pepper shrimp. Given 24-hour advance notice, Mr. Chopsticks whips up its famous seafood winter melon soup that’s made from scratch using ingredients from the restaurant’s garden; the soup serves up to 15 people.
Lan Noodle is a powerhouse for Lanzhou-style noodles and each bowl is made to order. Customers can watch the noodle master pull eight different shapes, while throwing the strands over their shoulder and into a pot of boiling water. Each type of noodle requires a special kind of wheat flour to get the perfect QQ (chewy) texture. LAN sources local beef to make a broth that is simmered for 10 hours every day and topped with house-made chile oil.
Ma Lu Bian Bian
Ma Lu Bian Bian is a Sichuan restaurant from China with well over a thousand outlets globally. The restaurant specializes in chuan chuan huo or skewer-style hotpot. Diners first choose a broth: vegetarian, mild (classic), or traditional (spicy); the restaurant’s traditional broth contains 19 different herbs. From there, it’s a self-service experience — diners grab a basket and select meat and vegetable skewers from the refrigerator. On hand are standards like lamb, beef, corn, tofu, mushrooms, and beef-wrapped okra, along with more adventurous items like offal and pig’s brain. Ma Lu Bian Bian prepares a traditional Sichuan-style dipping sauce using a dried powder with minced chile and chopped peanuts. The servers add a spoonful of broth to the powder to create the sauce. Diners can also order side dishes from the menu. At the end of the meal, the staff tally up the number of skewers, along with drinks, broth bases, and specialty plates for the final tab.
Tai Ping Sa Choi Kee
Tai Ping Sa Choi Kee, which is located in an abandoned plaza, is the very definition of barebones with food arriving on paper plates and bowls. (Avoid visiting when it’s hot out because there’s no air conditioning.) Those willing to look beyond the surface will be rewarded with a great meal. Must-order dishes include the hand-shredded chicken and the salt and pepper wings lightly fried with garlic, chopped onion, and peppers. Drizzle the house-made spicy chile crisp over everything.
Dun Huang is known for its northwest Chinese cuisine. The signature Lanzhou beef noodles is the must-order dish. Walk up to the clear glass window to watch your bowl come to life — from kneading the dough, pulling the noodles, and assembling it with a radish-beef broth, homemade chile oil, fatty beef chunks, green onion, and cilantro. Dun Huang pulls eight different shapes of noodles, from extra-thin angel hair to extra-wide belts. Don’t forget to order a deep-fried flatbread marinated in cumin, Sichuan peppercorn, and dry chile oil. Other popular dishes include the cold eggplant salad, lamb tenderloin skewer, and sweet pork pita.
Wagyu House by The X Pot
Everything screams opulence at the X Pot, a collaboration between Xiang Tian Xia and Chubby Cattle restaurant groups. Expect luxury fine dining that includes a show as diners are treated to a traditional Beijing opera performance. Hot pots feature premium ingredients like A5 wagyu and imported fresh seafood. X Pot sources wagyu from its own cattle farm in Japan and ships a whole cow to the restaurant daily to ensure the freshest sashimi, meatballs, and more. The house-special wagyu dripping pot and wagyu tomato oxtail soup are fan favorites. Teddy bear-shaped spice can be added to any hotpot. At the end of the meal, walk through a special machine that sprays citrus perfume to avoid smelling of hot pot.