L.A.’s best Chinese restaurants
Opened by Chengdu natives Lynn Liu and Kelly Xiao, Sichuan Impression serves a selection of Sichuan dishes in their art-lined space in Alhambra and their new outpost in West L.A. The restaurants build upon familiar options like mapo tofu and kung pao chicken, and feature items that include strips of mung bean jelly tossed in chile oil, hou dao dumplings and the “party in a pot” Leshan bobo chicken pot. Somewhat of a rarity among other Sichuan restaurants in town, Sichuan Impression offers dessert options like a brown sugar rice cake, and pumpkin mochi wrapped around red bean paste.
This sprawling restaurant in Alhambra offers refined, made-to-order dim sum served all day every day. Place your name on a wait list, then peruse the menu with a pencil to mark off your desired dishes. Along with cast-iron tea pots used to serve guests, Lunasia Chinese Cuisine serves their famous steamed and baked bites including fist-sized pork shumai and fluffy BBQ pork buns. You’d be remiss not to try the dim sum house’s dessert offerings as well, like the almond milk tea, a show-stopping dish of hot, sweet almond milk covered by a flaky puff pastry top. Don’t want to brave weekend crowds in Alhambra? There’s a newer location in Pasadena, which is smaller, but usually not as packed.
Given the concentration of outstanding Chinese restaurants in the SGV, it says something when a particularly tasty dim sum meal stands out above the rest. Elite Restaurant is located in a small strip mall in Monterey Park, and has consistently been considered a top dim sum house in L.A. If you’re looking to try their shumai or flaky and buttery egg tarts, be prepared to wait—on weekday afternoons, diners line up for around 30 to 45 minutes. It’s well worth it, as the dishes are made to order and come out piping hot. The clean and spacious restaurant offers a picture-laden menu with chef recommendations like the dragon’s eggplant and honey walnut shrimp.
After running a successful restaurant in China and working at the Panda Restaurant Group in Los Angeles, Tony Xu opened Chengdu Taste in 2013. The San Gabriel Valley—and the rest of L.A.—quickly took notice, and the lines haven’t let up since (a second location opened up in Rosemead). Fiery Sichuan dishes fill tables with intoxicating smells and an overarching red hue that indicates an intimidating level of spice. Along with featuring a lighter and cleaner, yet still spicy, style of Chengdu-style cooking, one of its signature dishes is the diced rabbit with “younger sister’s secret recipe.” Other must-trys are the Sichuan-style mung bean jelly noodles with chili sauce; mapo tofu; and toothpick lamb with cumin.
You know the name by now: Din Tai Fung, the xia long bao mecca that started in Taiwan and now has SoCal locations in Arcadia, Century City and Glendale (not to mention an OC spot as well). Each soup dumpling is meticulously made, resulting in lovely, thin-skinned pouches filled with savory pork (there are shrimp and veggie options, too, but you’ll want to go with the pork) and hot broth, then eat with a dab of soy sauce, vinegar and ginger. In Glendale, you can top them off with a slice of truffle (there’s also a full bar at the Americana location).
Chef David Kuo’s casual but soulful digs in Mar Vista keep the hits coming. The Chinese-meets-Taiwanese dim sum, small plates and noodle bowls are infinitely craveabe—and shareable—so bring a crew to tackle classics like beef noodle soup, some of the city’s best walnut shrimp and mapo tofu—along with reimagined staples (hello, General Tso cauliflower and Hainan-chicken tacos). Next door, Little Fatty’s sister bar, accomplice, offers food for take-out—plus a playful drink lineup of cocktails, punches, beer and wine.
Quality dim sum at this Cantonese seafood eatery ensures there’s always a bit of a wait, but the above-average fare (foie gras-infused minced beef, Chinese celery dumplings, shiso-fried duck kidneys) will force you to choose carefully when it’s time to tick off boxes on the encyclopedic paper menus. Don’t fret if you don’t speak Cantonese: The large, picture-filled menu offers a variety of meat, vegetable and seafood dishes that make it easy for anyone to order. With hot dishes flying out of the kitchen (there aren’t any traditional carts here), the menu features a lengthy selection of steamed buns, shumai dumplings and a variety of abalone dishes, some fetching $100 a serving. A few of the favorites include: pork fried dumplings, deep-fried tofu in abalone sauce, and fried durian pastry.
The name says it all—Beijing Pie House is all about xian bing, little meat- and vegetable-filled pies that are stuffed with anything from lamb to pork to potatoes. You’ll also find noodles, wontons, dumplings and soups at this small eatery. Just be prepared to show up early—lines are almost a given, but it’s worth the wait.
Opened in 2001 by husband and wife Alam and Grace Lam, then moved to Monrovia, the cozy dumpling and noodle soup lives up to its name by serving high-quality dumplings. Before you have a chance to choose from the variety of jiaozi, every table receives a complimentary dish of peanuts, celery and firm tofu tossed in chili oil. Along with choosing boiled, steamed or pan-fried dumplings, guests can opt for the dumpling and noodle soup combo (a cool $12.50), which comes with a half-portion of dumplings and a sizeable noodle soup. For those looking for a little Luscious outside of Monrovia, Highland Park’s Mason’s Dumpling Shop offers a limited menu but the same dumplings as its sibling restaurant.
Vivian Ku’s Silver Lake staple, Pine & Crane, already cemented her status as one of the city’s best Taiwanese chefs, but at Joy on York, her newest restaurant, these flavors blend with Chinese classics for totally unique cold salads, comforting noodle bowls and some serious thousand-layer–pancake sandwiches worth a trek to Highland Park. Trust us, the Hakka mochi dessert is worth braving the parking along York Boulevard alone.
This Tianjin breakfast spot was originally founded by Anna Wen in her garage (hence the name) and remained there until she got so popular, she moved the location to a formal restaurant in Monterey Park. Garage Restaurant offers standard soy milk and tofu breakfast options like youtiao, the Chinese doughnut made of fried dough and baked with a layer of sugar on top, along with other treats like Tianjin buns. The fresh wheat items, along with Garage’s fried dough with brown sugar; tofu jelly in gravy; and crispy mung bean gabacai are must-trys.
Newport Seafood Restaurant specializes in—surprise, surprise—Chinese seafood. 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 off his father’s travels throughout Asia. The family-style restaurant serves bold dishes—many with influences from Southeast Asia—that are meant to be shared with a large group. Their signature items include the house special Maine lobster, beef loc lac, crab with tamarind sauce, and elephant clams served as sashimi, in stir-fry and more.
When Michael Chow—that’s MR CHOW, to all of us—opened his Chinese restaurant in London in 1968, nothing like it existed in the Western world. In 1974, he launched an outpost in the stylish Beverly Hills triangle, and it’s been an institution for Hollywood’s elite ever since. The restaurant’s upscale decor, white tablecloths and modern art clue you in that you’re in for a show from the get-go: a combination of authentic Beijing and original recipes, along with popular items including the Beijing duck, MR CHOW noodles and ma mignon—and lots of fun tableside service.
The crisp, pan-fried dumplings, garlicky pancakes and thick beef rolls should be more than enough to draw you in, but we’re betting you’ll be glued to one of their massive bowls of beef noodle soup once you’re seated. The setting is no-frills, but the authentic Chinese dumplings are some of the best you’ll find tucked away in an SGV strip mall—not to mention all of L.A.
Home to its famous slippery shrimp, Yang Chow is a family-run staple in Chinatown that was started by a family of five brothers who named the restaurant after their hometown (Yangzhou, a city in Jiangsu, China). Once an old-school diner, the restaurant opened its doors in 1977 and now serves a menu of more than 100 items from Mandarin and Szechuan cuisine. A Los Angeles Times review in the early 1980s featuring the aforementioned slippery shrimp launched Yang Chow into stardom; since then, customers have come here to try the dish along with other specialties, including kung pao squid and General Tseng’s chicken. If you can’t make it to the Chinatown location, Yang Chow has branches in Canoga Park and Pasadena as well.
Devoted to their namesake, Tasty Duck offers a plethora of duck dishes, even encouraging guests to reserve a bird in advance. Their Peking roast duck dishes, which are deboned, come served three ways: sliced with the skin separated from the meat alongside pancakes, plum sauce and scallions; paired with duck-bone soup or stir-fried with bean sprouts; or diners can choose all of the above. Other specialties include the filet mignon cubes with black pepper sauce and house-made tofu dishes like the Northern tofu.
Xi’an has been a favorite for Beverly Hills locals since 1996, serving traditional Chinese cuisine with an occasional fusion twist, and an emphasis on healthy and flavorful cooking. Signature dishes range from the classic Peking duck, chicken potstickers and Sichuan string beans to contemporary versions of crackerjack crispy shrimp, kung pao chicken and Xi’an’s beef tenderloin. If you’re looking for lighter menu options, they also offer veggie, low-sodium and/or gluten-free options.