CLOSED: L.A.'s Iconic Dish: Din Tai Fung XLB Vs. Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles

Los Angeles is full of people who care passionately about food, and there are plenty of restaurants happy to serve us. We don't all agree on what constitutes "good," but we do know we like our burgers, our froyo, our Korean BBQ, our pizza. (That's right, our pizza. We like it.)

The thing is, we don't have one iconic dish. Nothing that we can point to and say, "This. This is Los Angeles on a plate." So now we're going to find out. KCET Food came up with 16 contenders. You vote on your favorites. Here's the third match-up:

VOTING CLOSED.
Photos by Amparo RiosXLB at Din Tai Fung: Los Angeles may well be home to the best Chinese food in the country. This is one of the most popular Chinese restaurants.

The History: The Arcadia location of this international chain opened in 2000, and expanded in 2007, right around the time people outside of the SGV were discovering the glory of xiao long bao, otherwise known as soupy dumplings. There are many dishes offered in San Gabriel Valley restaurants that are worthy of admiration, but XLBs really brought the area to the attention of a new swath of people.

The Scene: The two locations are right next to each other: the older one is small and homey, the newer one sleek and efficient. There's usually a line at both.

The Food: Given that this is just one outpost of a multinational corporation, the food can sometimes be a little too perfect -- not a lot of funk or grease here. But if you've never had XLB at one of the smaller restaurants that make it, Din Tai Fung's version will be a revelation.

Chicken and Waffles at Roscoe's: The chicken and waffles combo may not have been invented in our fair city, but it was perfected here.

The History: The small chain's first location in Hollywood opened in 1975. To this day newcomers are baffled by the combination of waffles and chicken (even though it makes perfect sense), but they're quickly converted.

The Scene: It's always busy, but the people-watching post-closing time is especially fantastic. There are security guards milling about, but at this point I think it's somewhat for show.

The Food: With chicken and waffles, you either like it or you don't. If you don't, you're wrong, but it's a free country. The combination becomes the Platonic ideal of comfort food, all carb-y with just the right hint of sweetness.

XLB at Din Tai Fung
Chicken and waffles at Roscoe's

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About the Author

Katherine's role as the Living editor at KCET.org keeps her running from farms to markets to restaurants to pop-up swaps all over SoCal. She's been living in and writing about this area for over a decade.
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