Built in 1976, the Far East Plaza food mall in Chinatown has become iconic for its mix of old school and new, creating a buzz among L.A.’s foodie crowd since local chef Roy Choi relocated his first brick-and-mortar there in 2013.
Since then, this unassuming two-story space has become a top L.A. culinary destination. Visitors come for authentic regional Asian bites, restaurant-hop for a taste of everything, or hunker down in line with coffee and ice cream, waiting for service at a trendy pop-up. Communal tables arranged between stands selling knick-knacks serve the many fast-casual options along the corridor. Positioned in the heart of Chinatown, the plaza is worth checking out whether you’re a fan of traditional Asian street food or seeking out the next big food thing. And for pro and amateur chefs alike, Now Serving is a hybrid cookbook store and pop-up space that opened in January 2017.
Parking is easily found at surrounding paid lots; street parking is also available, but hard to come by with busy weekend crowds.
Sheng jian bao, Shanghai-style buns that are far less renowned than xiao long bao, each contain a ground pork patty, though you’ll occasionally find seafood or vegetable variations. These pan-fried wonders are typically studded with sesame seeds, with crispy bottoms, supple tops, and definitely have the potential to scald your tongue. Thicker skins that other dumplings or potstickers allow SJB to contain gelatinized stock that turns to steaming soup when cooking, though that element is only occasionally utilized in L.A.
The filling is normally pretty rich, so a lot of people like to incorporate tangy vinegar (and sometimes vinegar mixed with soy sauce). Either dip in the sauce or bite a hole in the SJB wall and pour the sauces directly into the core before powering through the rest. Chasing each sheng jian bao with sips of hot jasmine tea also helps cut the richness.
Keep in mind that Shanghai-style restaurants list sheng jian bao under menu translations like “pan-fried pork buns” or “pan fried bao.” Now indulge in 10 of L.A.’s best options.
Noodles are great in steaming bowls of broth, tossed with sauce. When the weather is blazing hot, it’s also perfectly acceptable to cool down your noodles. Several Los Angeles restaurants prepare interesting cold noodle dishes, many available only during summer. Read on and learn about 12 of the best cold noodle options in L.A.
It’s no secret that Los Angeles has some of the best Chinese food outside of China. A lot of the best places, however, are concentrated in the San Gabriel Valley, which is a trek for some folks. For the longest time, the best Chinese food outside of the San Gabriel Valley were mom-and-pop shops serving Cantonese cuisine with an Americanized flair. In recent years, San Gabriel Valley powerhouses like Din Tai Fung, New Port Seafood and Little Sheep have expanded west. Following them are a slew of more entrepreneurial spots like New School Kitchen for dim sum takeout and Pine & Crane for farm-to-table beef noodle soup. These days, if you’re outside of the SGV there’s no reason to complain about the lack of good Chinese food - you just have to know where to look. Here’s a guide to the top Chinese restaurants outside the San Gabriel Valley.
Discover Los Angeles
Generations of immigrants from around the world have come to Los Angeles from overseas and throughout the Americas to pursue their dreams. L.A. is truly a global metropolis because of its rich diversity. Locals and visitors alike can experience a virtual United Nations of cuisines without ever leaving the City of Angels. Leave your passport at home and start your culinary journey around the world in 21 Los Angeles dishes.
The Cantonese style of food known as dim sum - bite-sized or individual portions of food, typically served in steamer baskets or small plates - is a breakfast and brunch experience enjoyed around the world. Dim sum is associated with the ancient Silk Road tradition of yum cha (“drink tea”), so when friends and family go to a Chinese restaurant for dim sum it’s referred to as yum cha. Los Angeles, the gateway to Asia-Pacific travelers and the home of the second largest Chinese-American population, offers plentiful dim sum options. From historic Chinatown in Downtown Los Angeles to the Chinese enclaves of the San Gabriel Valley, read on for some of the best dim sum restaurants in the L.A. area.
Beef noodle soup, known as niu rou mian, is the epitome of Chinese comfort food. Found all throughout China and Taiwan, it’s a beloved dish that takes hours to make. Beef shanks must be slow-cooked for hours before they achieve their creamy texture. Noodles must be chewy, and most importantly, the broth must be rich and sustainable. Traditionally, the noodles are paired with a heaping of pickled mustard greens, which offers a crisp, sour contrast. Spicy is customizable and in some joints, used extremely liberally. It makes for a sustainable lunch or dinner and thankfully, there are plenty of places in Los Angeles to get your fix. Here are our picks.
The Chinese New Year is the start of the new Lunar Calendar and the onset of the agricultural season. For the Chinese, this date is single-handedly the most important holiday of the year. It’s a 15-day soiree - a time of reunion, a time for family. Each day has a new theme. The first day is for lighting fireworks and bamboo sticks, the fifth day is for dumplings, and so on. The common link for each day is food - the half-month is filled with an abundance of dishes. After all, food is the cornerstone of Chinese culture. Traditional dishes are steeped with symbolism – many of which are homophones for lucky phrases.
Here are eight auspicious Chinese dishes and where to get them in the greater Los Angeles area.