Cheap Chinese Food Challenge: Chinese Deli
So let’s briefly recap for those of you who have just turned in. I am fat. I am semi addicted to cheap (read: Americanized) Chinese food… and while Panda Express is one of my few fast food chain weaknesses, I feel obligated to give the mom and pops a fair shot. So, a few months ago I agreed to eat at any of the tons of these spots that litter the L.A. food landscape between Downtown and Santa Monica… provided I received a challenge from a reader. The last one was (surprisingly) good. Here is the latest…
From Lunch’er Daniel: “Huge fan, I’ve been following your blog since my days working at BusinessWeek in NYC. Anyhow, I now live in LA and currently work in Culver City and have been interested in trying this Chinese Buffet and thought you would be the perfect person/guinea pig to try it out for me :-). It’s called the Chinese Deli and it’s located at 5808 Rodeo (cross street is La Cienaga)”
Daniel, that sounds right up my alley. I accept your challenge.
Chinese Deli is a pretty typical cheap Chinese food steam table spot. Around 15 items, not too dirty (but not too clean.) $4 something gets you 1 item over rice and noodles, $5 gets you 2, and $6 gets you 3 items over rice and noodles.
They not only had fried rice, and lo mein… but also had a flat rice noodle dish as well, and they are totally willing to jam all three in the long compartment. None of them were particularly flavorful (unless grease is a flavor), but they did a good job of soaking up the other stuff. And the noodles weren’t too mushy (which is all you can pretty much hope for at these places.)
I went for the 3 item combo (would you expect anything less?) but I got the distinct impression that the girl would have pretty much given me a taste of anything I wanted for $6. That’s one of the best parts about these mom and pop Chinese food places. They’re not that packed, so they’ll do anything to get your 5 or 6 bucks and make you as happy as possible.
I went with the orange chicken (naturally), the fried chicken, and to be completely honest I can’t quite remember the third thing I got. I guess I’m not that great a food blogger. I don’t really remember how each tasted either. Then again, how serious can you really get about this shit. What I do remember is this… they didn’t skimp on the food, and I would definitely go back. (And isn’t that all you really want to know.)
Some places will give you less of each item in a 3 items combo, because how much food can fit in those containers. Chinese Deli piled it on, and put my fried chicken on the side. I like it. They’re super friendly, the food is good enough, they’ll probably give you whatever you want, and no MSG headache. What more can you ask for? The only real issue for those who work in the area… trying to decide between Chinese Deli and Louisiana Fried Chicken, right next door!
Verdict: Better than it looks from the outside. Not scary.
Good luck Daniel. Hope my sacrifice ends up being worth it for you. And if you have a Chinese food spot you’ve been curious about… feel free to email it along. No stone is too dirty and gross to be left unturned.
Chinese Deli, 5808 Rodeo Rd (near La Cienega), 310-559-7424