Chu’s Kitchen Is Disgusting… And I Love It

Chu's Chinese Kitchen

I discriminate against no Chinese food.  I can’t help it… from chicken’s feet and tripe in the SGV to orange chicken at Panda Express, there is a place in my heart for all of it.  Thinly sliced Sichuan beef tendon in chili oil?  Yes please.  Crappy all you can eat Chinese buffet? Now you’re talking!  (Oh, and did I mention my love of Panda Express orange chicken?) So when our inaugural profiled lunchers recommended Chu’s Chinese Kitchen (111 W 9th St, Downtown) as one of their goto lunch spots, I was immediately intrigued.

Chu's Chinese Kitchen

While most people would be turned off by the *ahem* minimalist decor of a place like Chu’s, I kind of loved it.  From the old school sign, to charming (read: old and run down) interior I felt right at home.  Open since 1971?! How could it be bad?  The pre made food looked pretty terrible, and they have a list of “specialties” that are cooked to order- but I can’t resist a good deal (or a bad Chinese food steam table) so I saddled up to the counter.

Chu's Chinese Kitchen

I went with 4 choices for $5.95- 3 is only $4.75, and you can even get 5 (!?!)… that is if you can five things that look good.  I went with noodles over the rice, with BBQ pork, salt and pepper shrimp, and orange chicken.  The noodles were tasteless, greasy, and completely mushy.  The BBQ pork was too chewy, but the salt and pepper shrimp were a standard buffet version of this dish.  (Not good, but not terrible… although I liked that the heads were still on.)  But the worst dish of all was the orange chicken.  The best you thing you could say about it is that it wasn’t overly sweet, but sadly it was covered in this gloopy gravy that was neither sweet nor tangy, neither salty nor tasty.  It was just gloopy.  Terrible (and a testament to why Panda Express is one of the few fast food chains that I kind of love.)

Chu's Chinese Kitchen

As for their house made chili sauce that Lunch’er Shawna praised… it is indeed a force to be reckoned with. A spicy, oily force… and improved the noodles a great deal.

Sounds horrible, right?  But would I go back?  Hell yeah!  This ain’t no destination restaurant, and I wouldn’t go more than 5-10 mins out of my way for lunch at Chu’s.  But how can you not love an old school place like this… plugging away in their relatively deserted corner of Downtown after almost 40 years?!

I saw people at a table next to me eating a tasty looking version of chow fun… so clearly ordering off the menu is the way to go at this place.  Has anybody else been?  Are Shawna and I the only crazies who want to love this place? What should I order on my next visit?  Oh… and if anybody can recommend a brand of aspirin that works well on MSG headaches, that would be helpful as well.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • Because sometimes you just want some cheap, gross Chinese food… and the cookie cutter/antiseptic Panda Express just doesn’t cut it
  • Homemade chili oil FTW!
  • The stuff you order off the menu is far better than their steam table

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • Worst… Chinese Food… Ever
  • It’s tough to find 3 things on the steam table that look (or taste) appetizing
  • Shrimp heads?  You’re gross!
  • Cue the MSG headache in 3…2…1…

Chu’s Chinese Kitchen, 111 W 9th St (btw. Spring & Broadway), 213-624-8928



  • Wow, that’s a sad looking plate for $6.
    I like hot chili oil too. Always handy for dim sum!

  • 1980′s Chinese food takes me back to my childhood. Next time ask if they’ll show you their mogwai. I believe they’re real. Unlike MSG hedaches.

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    I recently rediscovered Chu’s. I used to work across the street from them at the California Mart. Chu’s was always our go to Chinese place for many years. That was close to 20 years ago. I am now working in downtown again and have eaten there twice and had take out twice.

    Order the Egg Foo Young…it’s a fabulous dish..I get the pork version. I am sure the others (shrimp or chicken) are all excellent. It’s freshly made and there is no MSG.

    I also have had the War Won Ton soup, which is very good.

    I haven’t ordered the ready made “stuff”…but why would I when I know the Egg Foo Young is an “out of the park home run”.

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