Southern California has been deemed as one of the nation’s largest Chinese ethnoburbs—it’s a sprawling region filled with a diverse array of Chinese immigrants who have come together to make Los Angeles the best spot for Chinese food outside of China. From the fiery spices of the Sichuan province to the imperial cuisine of Beijing, there’s a spot in town to sample the vastness of culinary goodness offered by the world’s most populous and historically-rich state. And you don’t even have to leave the Southland!
From tiny hole-in-the-wall eateries to world-class dining establishments, there are approximately six to eight hundred Chinese restaurants in and around the L.A. area that each provide foodies with a mecca of dishes like egg rolls or Peking duck, as well as the full-on Dim Sum experience. Whatever your taste buds are craving, whether some mapo tofu, steamed dumplings, or spicy chachiang noodles, the City of Angels has got a place for you to pick up those chopsticks for the ultimate overseas feast. Here are eight of the best Chinese restaurants in the Los Angeles area.
8 Best Chinese Restaurants In Los Angeles
1. Szechuan Impression
With exposed-brick walls, ornate ceilings, and original art scattered in and around a modern open space, foodies will no doubt be able to experience the finest of Sichuan cuisine—all in the heart of SoCal. Opened by Chengdu natives Lynn Liu and Kelly Xiao, the San Gabriel Valley favorite is right off of Valley Boulevard and serves a selection of Szechuan dishes intended to be particularly nostalgia-inducing for ex-pats of the major Western Chinese city.
There are familiar options like Mapo Tofu and Kung Pao chicken, as well as more eclectic items including Hou Dao “Honest Authentic” dumplings, thin strips of mung bean jelly tossed in hot chile oil, a Leshan Bobo chicken pot, and “Potato Strips on Street Corner”-- a popular Sichuan street food dish that consists of packets of pan-fried, crinkle-cut potato strips tossed with chile powder, fresh chiles, and Sichuan peppercorns. After having yourself a more than smoldering and flavorful party, be sure to treat yourself to the numerous dessert options available, such as brown sugar rice cakes or pumpkin mochi wrapped around red bean paste. It’s rare for Szechuan restaurants in the area to house sweet treats along with spicy ones, so take advantage of all Szechuan Impression has to offer by getting in touch with your spicy side!
2. Lunasia Chinese Cuisine
If you’re looking for Dim Sum heaven, this is the place to go. This sprawling Alhambra-based restaurant offers the most refined, made-to-order dim sum dishes served all day every day – even late into the night. Once you place your name on that long wait list, especially on the weekends, make sure to peruse the menu to pencil off your desired dishes. Think marinated chicken feet, fist-sized pork shumai, fried radish cakes, bean curd rolls, you name it, they’ve got it.
What’s more is that there is an array of elegant cast iron tea pots for all guests to make ample use of on the gorgeous Lazy-Susan styled tables, so pair up those famous steamed and baked bites with endless cups of rich Pu-Erh or Oolong teas. Top it all off with the dim sum house's spectacular variety of dessert offerings, such as almond milk tea, a show-stopping dish of hot, sweet almond milk covered by a flaky puff pastry top, or some freshly baked egg tarts, deep fried taro rolls, fluffy mango pudding, and more.
3. Din Tai Fung
Here’s a fact: you can never ever have too many dumplings. Luckily, L.A. has no shortage of spots boasting these classic Chinese treats-- none of them, however, are more famous than Din Tai Fung, the powerhouse of soup dumplings that offers the best of the best (as well as a two-hour line no matter what day of the week it is!). Fortunately, though, the glorious xiao long bao palace recently opened a location in Glendale, in addition to its Arcadia and Costa Mesa locations, so Angelenos now have more options to choose from.
Unlike most of the mom-and-pop dumpling houses in SoCal, the West Coast version of this Taipei favorite hand crafts superbly thick-skinned dumplings packed with juicy flavor-packed fillings—all before your very eyes. Once you walk in through the door, guests are greeted with a view of the kitchen, where chefs stay hard at work crafting the delectable dumplings you’ll later be chowing down on. There are a large variety of dumplings to savor, including the exquisite truffle and pork xiao long bao, as well as some sweet red bean dessert dumplings to end a meal with. Other Chinese dishes such as fried rice, Shanghai rice cakes, as well as some of the best traditional noodle soups you’ll find in the area, are also available. Plus, you can also savor up some shao mai and spicy wontons, or sautéed mustard greens and cucumbers. The list of superb reasons to check this place out is as long as the lines outside the restaurant—so we could go on and on, but you should definitely just get in the car to get a head start waiting instead. The newest Glendale location even offers customers with a swanky app that texts you when your table is ready!
4. Elite Restaurant
Another Dim Sum hub that stands out above the rest, this bustling L.A. eatery serves delectable Chinese dim sum dishes directly to the table at its space within a small strip mall in Monterey Park. Want some flaky and buttery egg tarts or some fantastic Har Gow dumplings? Well, head on over to this local favorite—but be totally prepared to wait, even on weekday afternoons when diners line up for around half an hour at a minimum just to get inside.
Once you sit down and gawk over the array of treats however, it’ll all be worth it, as the dishes are made to order, come out piping hot, and are always oh so delicious. Unlike other joints on the Atlantic Blvd. area, this spacious SGV fave is also way higher end—clean, nicely decorated, and devoid of rushing metal carts, way too shiny red gold banners, and staff members who have a difficult time understanding English. It’s even got a picture-laden menu of other chef recommendations that you can order on the spot, such as honey walnut shrimp, dragon's eggplant, and other nifty nibbles.
5. Chengdu Taste
Surrounded by low key surroundings in the midst of Valley Blvd., this unpretentious eatery specializes in classic Chinese dishes from the Sichuan province that quickly fill the entire space with intoxicating smells that’ll have your stomach grumbling from miles away. It was opened by Tony Xu in 2013, after having run a successful restaurant in China and working at the Panda Restaurant Group in Los Angeles-- and has quickly taken the San Gabriel Valley by storm. Expects long lines and even longer waits for Chengdu-style cooking that’s terribly hard to resist.
Try the Szechuan-style mung bean jelly noodles with chili sauce, the signature diced rabbit with Younger Sister's Secret Recipe, or the toothpick lamb with cumin. If you want something more traditional, other must-try’s include slippery Dandan noodles, mapo tofu, and fried chicken cubes buried in diced hot chili peppers. There’s even a sizzling “water-boiled” fish with pickled green peppers that will satisfy even the pickiest of taste buds. And if you want to go super spicy, the huge bowl of wontons bathed in Szechuan chili oil will indeed do the trick. Really, it’s that good.
6. Yang Chow
This Chinatown family-run staple takes fine Chinese dining old-school. It’s been around for almost three decades now, having been started by a family of five brothers who named the restaurant after their hometown, Yangzhou, a city in Jiangsu, China.
Since 1977, it’s been well known for providing Angelenos with famous dishes such as its renowned slippery shrimp, as well as over a hundred of other tasty items from Mandarin and Szechuan cuisines. Try specialties like General Tseng's chicken or the Kung Pao squid. And if you really don’t want to trek all the way over to Chinatown, it’s nice to know that Yang Chow has branches in Canoga Park and Pasadena as well.
7. Earthen Restaurant
The Northeast province of Shandong is well known as the epicenter for soy and vinegar production, as well as an array of noodles, rice dishes, and dumplings. This attractive noodle shop centered within a 99 Ranch Market shopping center is the king of anything from Shandong. Green onion pancakes are to die for, as well as the crowd favorite Shandong chicken, which is boiled, then deep-fried and served at room-temperature in chili, soy sauce, and a black vinegar dressing. There are even neatly diced cucumbers tucked in underneath to create more texture and a whole heap of cilantro and scallions to top it all off.
What’s more is that the inside space is just as fantastic as the food, complete with flagstones and tons of modern Chinese art. The Hacienda Heights hotspot may be a bit more expensive than its competitors and always have a long line of eager diners, but it really is the place to go for noodles, steamed dumplings, simple stir fry’s, pot stickers, and so much more. From entire families to dating couples, to dudes waiting to catch a game or coworkers on their lunch break, this is the place to head to for any diehard Chinese food fanatic.
8. Mr. Chow
Step aside SGV because the 90210 has also got itself a culinary winner, along with other branches in London, New York City, Miami, and Las Vegas. Started by Shanghai-born Michael Chow, who specializes in authentic Beijing cuisine with a modern and creative twist, the Beverly Hills bijou is well known for serving tasty original recipes such as Chicken Satay and Ma Mignon.
Be prepared to munch on some of the best prepared Beijing duck in the world, as well as some nice and rich shrimp toast—all while staring at the vivid array of Andy Warhol artwork that adorns the chic space. The entire restaurant is high-end Chinese cuisine at its finest, complete with more-than-attentive waiters dressed like Parisian garçons and captains donning cream-colored jackets. Make sure not to miss the nightly Handmade Noodle Show as you bask in the glories of art, celebrity, style, and superb cuisine at one of L.A.’s most respected Chinese eateries. Mr. Chow has garnered a devoted fan base since opening up its West Coast shop in 1974 and there really is no question as to why.
This article was written by Pamela Chan.