Thursday, July 18, 2013

LA: Travel, Eat, and Repeat

Growing up in typical Chinese-immigrant fashion, I spent all day, everyday in my parents' Chinese restaurant.  Every (seriously, every) time we traveled in North America, the first stop was always Chinatown / Chinatown facsimile followed by an elaborate, multi-course Chinese meal.  I used to wonder (and whine) why they felt the need to have MORE Chinese food when they lived and breathed it at home.

Fast-forward to college.  Being plied with food at all angles back at home, going to college and having to feed myself was a novel concept resulting in rapidly losing 13 lbs while others were gaining their freshman 15.  That was when I realized how good I had it at home and how much I missed Asian food.  So, minus the restaurant, my husband and I became my parents.  Every destination is an excuse to try more food.  And though we stray from Chinese to other Asian cuisines (haha, the apple doesn't fall that far from the tree), we always visit whatever China / Japan / Korea town facsimile nearby.

I know, that's a lot of words to say, "this is what we ate in LA.  It was primarily Asian in nature.":

Newport Tan Cang
Chinese-style seafood, 2.5 hour wait, uber popular with the locals.  We wound up ordering while waiting and our dinner was served within 10 minutes of getting seated.
Salt & Pepper Crab

Newport Special Lobster 

Clams in Spicy Sauce

Our family feast also consisted of Beef Loc Lac, Steamed Whole Fish, Salt & Pepper Shrimp, Seafood Soup, Kung Pao Chicken (surprisingly good for such a common dish) and kid-friendly Fried Rice :)

We didn't get this guy, but the crabs in the tank were larger than my children.

If you would stretch the crab from claw to claw, he would dwarf my daughter.

Hakata Ramen Shin-Sen-Gumi:
We didn't have time to eat a full meal here so we all got 1/2 orders of ramen.  It was the best broth I've ever had in my life.  Forget those wimpy broths that taste of bouillon cubes and water, this broth was the real deal.  As in patiently-stewed-and-simmered to get ALL the porky flavor you can handle.  If you want broth with depth, look no further.  If you want to learn more about ramen broth, I found this wonderfully informative blog post
I wish looks alone could convey it's deliciousness.

Have you ever started a meal where the first bite is amazing and each subsequent bite pales in comparison to the first?  This was out of this world from beginning to end.

Sushi Gen:
Originally reviewed here for their $15 Sashimi lunch, we went back for a Chirashi dinner.  Insanely fresh as always.

Yi Mei:
Yummy Taiwanese breakfast on our way home
Beef Sandwich - flavorfully marinated

Pork Belly Sandwich

Savory Rice Roll

Xiao Long Bao, nicely thin skin and decent amount of broth, 10 for only $5.50!

Scallion Pancake

My dining observations between SF and LA?  SF is fantastic for dim sum, cha chaan teng (Hong Kong cafe) eats, and general Chinese food / bakeries / desserts.  LA shines for ramen, sushi, Taiwanese eats / milk tea, and fusion cuisines.  If you have a recommendations for either area, please share!


  1. Wow! I wonder if every Chinese-American feels the same way. I hated eating Chinese food every single day until I went to college in a little town that wasn't very ethnically diverse. Then I realized I missed Chinese food like crazy!

    Luckily, so cal is full of great asian food. Shin-sen gumi is amazing!

    1. Too funny! I had no idea others felt the same way - I completely assumed it was the restaurant, but it makes sense that other Chinese parents would seek out familiar tastes when possible too

  2. I shouldn't be reading this post while I'm hungry. Everything looks so good! Have you tried Ramen Underground in SF yet? The place is extremely tiny (smaller than my room), but my boyfriend & I had a great experience there.

    1. I still need to, but am hardly ever in that area of the city! We mostly stick to the Richmond area where all of the newer Asian eateries / bakeries are located.

  3. I think growing up, I definitely tried to stay away from Chinese food as often as I could just because every family gathering resulted in a table of 8-9 Chinese dishes, especially lobster, we seem to have that very often. As I grew older, going to college, and trying different types of food, I don't seem to mind it as much since it is relatively cheaper and still very filling. Now I try to eat healthier and more homemade dishes, but my favorite cuisine would still have to be Malaysian food or Japanese. I have a weakness for sushi and ramen :)

    1. Sushi and ramen are weaknesses of mine too :)

  4. ahhh i miss good chinese food!

    1. Aw, I hope you find a hidden gem somewhere close by!

  5. i didn't appreciate chinese food until I went off to college too! now it's pretty much what my husband and I eat everyday. i love seeing your food pics -- i'm drooling over that ramen!

    cute & little

  6. Yum! Funny how we appreciate Chinese food and all it has to offer (other than the typical fried rice and chow mein)after we leave our parents' homes!
    Your photo of the pork belly bun is calling my name! I just had one of those today. When you have time, (unless you've already tried these) try Chairman Bao's (food truck) or Spice Kit (brick & mortar, but I think they have a food truck as well?)
    Take care and please keep posting food pics!


    1. Ooh, thanks for the recommendations! I need to find more food trucks for sure. I went to the Food Truck park once, but it didn't have as many as I thought there'd be - maybe an off day?

  7. I may be that I still live within easy driving distance of my parents, but I can't say that I miss Chinese food too too much. There are still a few restaurants that I love though! And, despite all these treats, nothing compares to the real deal.

    7% Solution​

    1. Haha, I think it's definitely deprivation that triggers it :)

  8. Funny how you complained about all the Chinese food as a kid but now seek it out yourselves! We can only take a few days eating western food without NEEDING Chinese food. Plus, GREAT Chinese food is hard to find, for us anyways, so we always enjoy it when we have it at a local restaurant. That crab and lobster looked amazing and I have only had one authentic Japanese ramen in the States so I'm so jealous of your photo! Oh and don't even get me started on the complete lack of Taiwanese representation in most cities!!!

    1. YES on Taiwanese food! REAL Taiwanese milk tea is amazing - there's this depth of flavor I can't find in other teas. I've only had it in LA, and weirdly, in Oklahoma City


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