Archive for 'Chinese'

The Food Courtification of 101 Noodle Express is Complete

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Back in July the Westside was cautiously optimistic extremely excited about the opening of 101 Noodle Express in the Fox Hills Mall (sic). The original branch has been on JGold’s essential restaurants list for 5 of the past 6 years, and to be able to get their beef rolls without driving to the SGV is good news for those of us who live and work west of La Cienega. Of course excitement quickly turned to indifference when the branch turned out to be less than essential. The beef rolls are there, and pretty delicious (if you’ve never had the original) but too much other food court nonsense (and a menu in obvious flux) kept anybody from declaring it a worthy replacement of the original.

Well, I was back at the mall again last week doing some holiday shopping and it looks like they have finally settled on a menu, and are offering 15% off to celebrate their official “Grand Opening”. The changes are shocking but inevitable in equal measure… and let’s just say, there’s good news, bad news and more good news.

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101 Noodle Express Solidifies Westfield Culver City As Best Mall Food Court in L.A.

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If there is a better work day lunchtime set up than the mall food court, I haven’t seen it.  What other place can you go with your co-workers (or family for that matter) and everybody be able to get what they want.  You’re in the mood for a turkey sandwich but I want shitty Chinese food?  Food court can make it happen.  You want a salad, but I’m in the mood for- oh who am I kidding.  I always want the shitty Chinese food.  Point is, food courts have got something for everybody.

Recently food courts have taken to looking outside the standard fast food joint model that has dominated the scene for decades.  The Westfield mall in Century City is well known for their upscale food court, which features a number of interesting and kind of upscale options.  And I’ve explored the hidden mysteries of the Santa Monica Place food court.  But nothing could adequately prepare me for the announcement that 101 Noodle Express, the San Gabriel Valley institution famous for their beef rolls, was now open in the Fox Hills Mall Westfield Mall Culver City.  Could this be the Chinese food savior the westside has been praying for?

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King Buffet Proves That Hollywood is Hungry For AYCE Chinese

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When I moved from Boston to Los Angeles in 2004 the change was predictably jarring.  The weather?  Amazing.  People smiling? That’s crazy pants.  And the movie theater in Los Feliz?  Packed on a Tuesday at 2pm.  I love this town.  But there was one negative thing that loomed large in my stomach’s subconscious.  The lack of all you can eat Chinese buffets.  It may surprise you to learn that Boston has a ton of all you can eat Chinese buffets. It’s probably less surprising for you to learn that I really loved those buffets.  And moving here left a giant hole in my all-you-can-eat loving heart.  (Moving here also led to an immediate loss of 10 pounds; a coincidence, this is not.)

So when I read last month on Eater that a new Chinese food buffet had opened up on Western just south of Sunset (around the corner from where I used to live!!!) I got pretty excited.  The early word on Yelp sounded pretty bad, but clearly I needed to check it out for myself.  You know… for science.

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Hop Woo is a Solid Chinese Food Option For the Westside (If You Order Right)

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Living and/or working on the Westside has its obvious positives. You’re close to the beach. Santa Monica’s Farmers Market. Sang Yoon and Roy Choi have set up shop here. There’s great Indian food in Culver City. Japanese food fans have Sawtelle. Even Mexican food fans have Mariscos Chente, Monte Alban and Juquila. But Chinese food? Where the hell can you get some good Chinese food on the Westside? Can you even name one place?

The news that 101 Noodle Express has opened in the Westfield Culver City Mall is huge for San Gabriel Valley fans, no doubt. But that’s just noodle dishes and beef rolls. What about some straight up “Chinese” food? Enter Hop Woo BBQ & Seafood.

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Destini Cafe Makes Me Rethink My Beliefs About Asian Restaurants

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Being wary of jack-of-all-trade Asian restaurants is a rule as old as not eating the bread at an all you can eat buffet.  Red flags always fly when I see sushi paired with Thai food under one roof, or Vietnamese followed by the words “and Chinese Food”.  And living in L.A. has made me even more fanatical.  Now it’s not even good enough for a place to be just Korean, or just Thai, or just Japanese.  They should specialize in one particular region or dish or style of food- like boat noodles at Sapp, or ramen at Daikokuya, or the bosam at Kobawoo. But recently I discovered a place in Playa del Rey that turns all that on its head. Meet Destini Cafe.

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China Catering Unlocks the Mystery Behind General Tso

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I love me some dim sum, and had every intention of checking out  the newish Bao Dim Sum House on Beverly yesterday for lunch. But naturally I ended up being drawn to the dingy little Chinese take out spot next door.  China Catering is not unlike most of the typical cheap takeout Chinese food places in L.A.  $6 lunch specials, assorted meins (lo, chow, etc.), and deep fried meats covered in a sticky sweet sauce that is supposed to resemble any one of a number of different citrus fruits.  Standard in pretty much every way- until I saw these words under the chicken section:

General Tso Chicken (New York Style or Chinese Style)…………………… $7.50

“Chinese style” General Tso’s Chicken? Who knew such a thing even existed! Now you have to understand I have an unhealthy obsession with general tso’s chicken.  And I don’t mean unhealthy in that cutesy “I’m a fat food blogger, and I love to eat pork belly!” kind of way.  I mean, unhealthy- it sent me to the hospital back in college- unhealthy obsession.  So… clearly I needed to try both versions of China Catering’s general tso’s (you know, for science.)

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The Hidden Delicious Mysteries of the Santa Monica Place Food Court

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When the brand new Santa Monica Place opened up back in August everybody seemed pretty focused on all the new restaurants.  Not me, though.  I’m strictly a food court man.  Sure, I’d sneak a dinner in at Pizza Antica, and I guess I’m mildly intrigued by the dim sum at Xino.  But for lunch, if I’m anywhere near a mall I find it hard to avoid the food court.  In fact, food courts are kind of the perfect group lunch- a fact I discovered as a child when my brother, father and I used to spend Tuesday nights at the Dadeland Mall Court in Miami.  No arguing over where we were going to eat dinner when the food court was the destination.  I could have my lo mein (made to order in a wok behind the counter!) from the random Chinese restaurant whose name I can’t remember, my brother could get his matzoh ball soup from Bain’s Deli, and my dad could get whatever he wanted (I can’t really remember what was in his rotation.)

I’m all growns up now, but the same theory still applies. Food court with co-workers is the perfect compromise.  Sally from accounting can enjoy her boring salad or sandwich, while you decide between crappy Chinese food, crappy Japanese stir fry, or Hot Dog on a Stick.  (Fresh squeezed lemonade and a corn dog FTW!) So last week, when I decided to meet a chicken loving friend in Santa Monica for lunch, there was one perfect option that stood out from the rest:  the Santa Monica Place Food Court.  And even though I usually go straight for the cheap Chinese food (old habits die hard), we managed to discover a few hidden secrets that aren’t obvious from an intial walk-around.

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