Regional Chinese Food Guide To Los Angeles

Chinese Regional Food Map

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The Chinese New Year festivities are kicking off on February 19 this year, and so in honor of it, I've compiled a list of all the regions of China represented in the greater Los Angeles area. Click on the links for more in-depth features. Happy eating, and remember to make your reservations. [Ed. note: In an earlier version of this story, it appeared as though we identified Taiwan as part of China. It is a different country.]


As one of the earliest developed regions in Northeast China, Liaoning has a strong agricultural history. Shenyang is the capital of Liaoning, a coastal province bordering North Korea. Like its northeastern neighbors (Beijing and Shandong), it's heavy on meat and dough with a considerable amount of Manchu and Mongolian influence. There are also strong parallels between Korean cuisine and Shenyang food. Koreans make up a sizable chunk of the population and there are many intersecting dishes between the two cultures. Zha jiang mian (pork bean dry noodles) is cooked Chinese-style and the liang mian (cold noodles) resembles Korea's naengmyeon. Pickled vegetables such as pickled cabbage are common -- vinegar is used generously and the cuisine as a whole leans toward sour and salty. And then there's Dalian, a seaside city in Liaoning. Dalian cuisine features quite a bit of sea cucumbers and jellyfish.
Popular dishes: Cold noodles, jellyfish, double-cooked pork
Where to get it:
Shenyang Restaurant: 137 S San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776
Tasty Noodle House: 827 W Las Tunas Dr., San Gabriel, CA 91776

The food is defined by a heavy use of salt, soy sauce, fermented bean paste, and vinegar. (In fact, Shandong is one of the leading provinces for soy and vinegar production in Asia.) It's one of the only areas in China that uses a variety of grains like millet, wheat, oat, and barley. Fun fact: Over 1,600 years ago in Shandong, local chefs were expected to be able to prepare more than 200 types of dishes.
Popular dishes: Shandong chicken, fish dumplings
Where to get it:
Earthern Restaurant: 1639 S Azusa Ave, Hacienda Heights, CA 91745
Qingdao Bread Food: 301 North Garfield Avenue, Monterey Park, CA 91754


Located next to Beijing, Tianjin is a coastal city in China that capitalizes on its abundant seafood and river fish. Like its northern neighbors, the dishes from this province are inundated with dough. Noodles are plenty, but unlike its neighbor Beijing, the noodle dish's ingredients are often served separately and you're expected to mix them up yourself at the table. Signature dishes include guobacai, a gravy-like soup littered with mung bean flakes and the wonderful Tianjin bun, a thick, doughy bao stuffed with meat. It's akin to Shanghainese soup dumplings, but it's the size of a fist and the skin is much thicker. Tianjin also has an interesting selection of breakfast foods that can't be found anywhere else.
Popular dishes: Tianjin bun, yellow croakers served with fresh cornbread
Where to get it:
Tianjin Bistro: 534 East Valley Boulevard, San Gabriel, CA 91776
Garage Restaurant: 123 North Lincoln Avenue, Monterey Park, CA 91755

Beijing has been the capital of China for centuries and its food reflects the dynasties that reigned there. Mongolian rulers of the Yuan Dynasty were reportedly fond of mutton, and the Manchus of the Qing Dynasty loved roast pig and offal. Accordingly, Northern Chinese food as a whole leans toward rich and salty notes; the cuisine is strong on meat and dough. Dumplings, noodles, and meat pies are common items, as are once-imperial delicacies like Peking duck and bird's nest.
Popular dishes: Peking duck, meat pies
Where to get it:
Tasty Duck: 1039 E Valley Blvd, Ste B102, San Gabriel, CA 91776
Beijing Pie House: 846 E Garvey Ave, Monterey Park, CA 91755


Shanxi (not to be confused with Shaanxi) is a northern Chinese province not all that far from Beijing. The cuisine is famous for handmade noodles -- hand-pulled, hand-kneaded, and knife-shaved, among others. In fact, it is said that Shanxi is the home of the Chinese noodle, and it's the province Marco Polo visited before he allegedly took the recipes back to Italy.
Popular dishes: dao xiao (knife-shaved) noodles
Where to get it:
New Mandarin Noodle Deli: 9537 Las Tunas Drive, Temple City, CA 91780
JTYH: 9425 Valley Blvd, Rosemead, CA 91770

Shaanxi was the home to 11 dynasties, making it one of the earliest developed regions in Chinese history. Xi'an is the capital -- a place best known for its terracotta soldiers today. The cuisine takes advantage of pork and lamb, and there's a liberal use of garlic and cumin. Noodles are a recurring theme. There are hand-torn ones, decorated with lamb, and liang pi, a bouncy noodle dish drenched with a substantial dose of vinegar and chili.
Popular dishes: pao mo, bian bian noodles.
Where to get it:
Xi'an Kitchen: 8213 East Gale Avenue, City of Industry, CA 91748
Shaanxi Gourmet: 8518 East Valley Boulevard, Rosemead, CA 91770


Shanghainese cuisine is fundamentally light in flavor. It's not inundated with spices, preservatives are used sparingly, and while soy sauce is a common ingredient, dishes tend to veer towards the sweet side. The food will leave a clean taste in your mouth. For Chinese food novices, Shanghainese food is a gateway into the wonderful world of various Chinese regional cuisines. Because of its proximity to the Yangtze River, the chefs tend to take advantage of freshwater fish and crustaceans. Steamed carp and deep-fried fish are common dishes, as are juicy pork buns, braised pork, and rice cakes (not the American diet food kind). There's nothing all that "bizarre:" It's simple, it's accessible, and most importantly -- it's scrumptious.
Popular dishes: Sheng jian bao (pan-fried bun), savory rice cake
Where to get it:
Southern Mini Town: 833 West Las Tunas Drive, San Gabriel, CA 91776
Shanghai No. 1: 250 W Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

The Jiangsu region of China is commonly nicknamed "The Land of Fish and Rice." The Yangtze River is a prominent feature of the region and so there's an array of freshwater fish and crustaceans on menu. Soup is also a prominent feature. The Jiangsu region encompasses Nanjing, Suzhou, and Wuxi (all cities in the Jiangsu province). The flavor profiles are sweet and light. Braising is a common cooking method. Head over to San Gabriel to Wang Xing Ji for a taste of Wuxi. They specialize in soup dumplings. It's much sweeter than the Din Tai Fung or other Shanghainese renditions, and for the novelty factor, try their "juicy crab and pork bun." It's so large in size, it requires a straw to suck the soup out.
Popular dishes: soup dumplings, sweet spare ribs
Where to get it:
Wang Xing Ji (Juicy Dumplings): 140 W Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

The food in Taiwan, a separate country also known as the Republic of China, is a fusion of different regional Chinese flavors. In 1949, a great number of military and political members of the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) escaped mainland China to Taiwan and brought with them the culinary cultures of Fujian, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Sichuan, Shandong, Guangdong, and Beijing. There's also a heavy Japanese influence because of colonization. A lot of the unique dishes on the island were cobbled up as a result of poverty. There's also a lot of seafood of the menus.
Popular dishes: oyster omelette, stinky tofu
Where to get it:
BeBe Fusion: 201 East Bay State Street, Alhambra, CA 91801
Jurassic Tea Spot: 15309 Gale Ave., City of Industry, CA 91745


This is the most well-known Chinese cooking style outside of China. It's Cantonese food, and that means dim sum plus an extensive repertoire of seafood. Yue-style chefs are extremely versatile and there's also quite a bit of Western influences in the cooking by way of Hong Kong. Our top pick for Cantonese dim sum is Lunasia. They combine quality with massive portion sizes. Other pluses: the decor is beautiful and the servers are bilingual.
Popular dishes: dim sum fare (har gow, shu mai, chicken feet)
Where to get it:
Lunasia: 500 West Main Street, Alhambra, CA 91801
Sea Harbour: 3939 Rosemead Blvd, Rosemead, CA 91770

Guilin is a city in Guangxi, known for picturesque scenery and sprawling rural landscapes. The cuisine tends to be spicy and sour; the land is rich in rice terraces and freshwater fish. There are restaurants in Los Angeles dedicated to their specialty noodle dish -- Guilin rice noodles. What it's made out of: rice noodles, peanuts, peppers, pickled vegetables and a protein of choice (usually fish or horse meat in Guilin).
Popular dishes: Guilin rice noodles
Where to get it:
Dandan's Guilin Rice Noodle: 600 East Valley Boulevard, San Gabriel, CA 91776

Hainan is an island off the coast of China that used to be part of the Guangdong province. While there aren't any Hainan specialists in Los Angeles, there are plenty of places that have Hainan chicken. That dish comes from Wenchang City in Hainan and has spread past its Chinese sphere of influence into Southeast Asia. What it is: Poached chicken over rice served with a scallion-ginger sauce.
Popular dishes: Hainan chicken
Where to get it:
Savoy: 138 E Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91801
Green Zone: 534 E Valley Blvd, Ste 4-5, San Gabriel, CA 91776


The Sichuan province of China, located in the southwest region of the country, is known for its bold use of chili peppers, garlic, and the elusive Sichuan peppercorn -- a spice that will literally numb your tongue. As one of the most intricate and complicated sub-cuisines within China, there are 20 different types of flavor profiles in Sichuan cooking, including dry, spicy, sour, garlicky, and sweet. Chengdu Taste in Alhambra is one of the best place for traditional Sichuanese right now. And not far is Szechuan Impression, where they're serving more modern dishes.
Popular dishes: water-boiled fish, toothpick lamb
Where to get it:
Chengdu Taste: 828 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803
Szechuan Impression: 1900 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803

The food is marked by a liberal use of spices, wild vegetables, and a mind-boggling array of wild mushrooms that are able to thrive simply because of the nearly pollution-free landscape. Yunnan is also the home to over 20 ethnic minorities groups so there's quite a bit of minority cuisines.
Popular dishes: crossing-over-bridge noodles, cured ham
Where to get it:
Yunnan Garden: 545 W Las Tunas Dr., San Gabriel, CA 91776
Spicy City: 140 W Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

Hunan is the home of Mao Zedong and the province is known for their spicy dishes. Dishes are inundated with fresh chilies in various hues of red, yellow, green and orange. They look like by-products of the holiday season but rest assured, these chilies are regular features of Hunan dishes and available year-round. Hunan food is often compared to that of Sichuan. Both provinces have humid climates, so chilies are often used to cleanse the palate and cool down the body. While they're both similarly spicy, the differences are rather distinct. Sichuan cuisine uses tongue-numbing peppercorns; Hunan food does not. Sichuan dishes use a large number of preserved and dried chilis; Hunan chefs capitalize on fresh chilies. A single bite will have your taste buds gasping for relief. Have a bowl of white rice handy, or better yet, milk. (Not water. Oil and water don't mix, so a tall glass of it won't cure the burning sensation.)
Popular dishes: Red-braised pork, fish filet in chili peppers
Where to get it:
Hunan Mao's: 8728 Valley Boulevard #101, Rosemead, CA 91770
Hunan Chili King: 534 East Valley Boulevard #2, San Gabriel, CA 91776


Hubei is a province in central China, dotted with thousands of lakes and known affectionately as the "Land of Fish and Rice." Internationally, the region is most well-known for its Three Gorges Dam -- the largest operating hydroelectric facility in the world. Water seems to be a recurring theme in its food. Because of its central location and proximity to a series of waterways, Hubei is a champion of freshwater dishes. The cuisine also skews to the spicy side; after all, its neighbors are Sichuan and Hunan, areas with cuisines that are synonymous with spice.
Popular dishes: Wuhan doughnuts, hot dry noodles.
Where to get it:
Happy Tasty: 140 W Valley Blvd., Ste 209, San Gabriel, CA 91776
Tasty Dining: 301 West Valley Boulevard, San Gabriel, CA 91776


The term 'Himalayan cuisine" is awfully broad. It's used in reference to type of food made by the countries hugging the 1,500 mile-long mountain range. That includes Tibet, Nepal, and the northern edge of India. Even so, the cuisine is hard to come by in the Southland. There are only a small handful of Himalayan cafes -- most of them owned by Nepalese immigrants. Defining characteristics: an abundant use of yak, barley, mutton, and spices. While yak may be unconventional, it's more sustainable than cows: The animals require less food than cattle and the taste isn't too far off from beef.
Popular dishes: Yak dumplings, yak curry
Where to get it:
Tibet Nepal House: 36 E Holly St, Pasadena, CA 91103

Xinjiang, an autonomous region in China, is the home of multiple ethnic groups including the Uyghurs and Mongols. (An autonomous region is similar to a province, but it has more legislative rights. These regions often have a high concentration of ethnic minorities.) In Xinjiang, those minorities are mostly Muslim, so naturally, restaurateurs abide by halal standards and omit pork from their menus. The region also takes culinary cues from its neighbors: Russia, Afghanistan, and India. In fact, the cuisine has more in common with Central Asian and Turkic cuisine than typical Chinese food. What that means: lots of mutton, hand-pulled noodles, spices, dairy products, eggplant, and various meats. Pilaf (a rice dish cooked in seasoned broth) is also abundant.
Popular dishes: Cumin lamb noodles, lamb skewers
Where to get it:
Silk Road Garden: 18920 East Gale Avenue, Rowland Heights, CA 91748
Omar's Xinjiang Halal Restaurant: 1718 North New Avenue, San Gabriel, CA 91776