Dry hot pot on the Westside; iFood Chinese

Caveat that I haven’t paid a lot of attention to Westside Chinese news lately, but I don’t recall seeing or reading on the board that Dry hot pot being available at the newer Chinese places on the Westside.

At any rate. iFood Chinese (I know, :face_with_raised_eyebrow::roll_eyes:) is located on Sepulveda and National in the Vons shopping center. It took over a generic steam table Chinese place in between Vons and the photo place on the south end of the mall.

I saw the Grand opening sign and out of curiosity popped in and grabbed a menu. What caught my eye immediately was the house special listing of Dry hot pot.
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This is a low key place that has a half dozen plastic fold up tables seating four to a table. The kind of tables you grab at costco and throw in the back of your car for a picnic. After reading the menu at home, we immediately decided to go the next time we wanted a quick low fuss meal.

We ordered the green onion pancake, cumin beef, dry hot pot with chicken and the spicy beef noodles.

Green onion pancake
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Not bad. Not greasy, crispy, decent layering, but the flavor was only okay. Not a lot of green onion taste. Still for the $3.49 price, it was a good deal to scratch the itch.

Cumin beef, $12
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Liked this. again, not greasy. Good balance of flavors, tender beef and good sized portion

Finally the chicken dry hot pot, $16. This came out last and it definitely took a while. It was placed on top of a brazier to keep warm, although the flame went out mid meal.

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Generous portions of lotus root and chicken, it also had potatoes and cauliflower with the bean sprouts hiding at the bottom. The bottom of the bowl had a healthy amount of oil but everything above it was crispy and not greasy. Unfortunately we thought the chicken was heavily salted. The seasoning on the vegetables was much better but not sure why the chicken was so salty. It wasn’t inedible but certainly needed the rice to cut through it. Loved the cauliflower and lotus root.

Hot and spicy beef noodle
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This was a huge bowl chock full of meat and noodles! Amazing for $9. The broth was good beefy with a touch of spicyness in the aftertaste, chiliheads would be disappointed but most people would like the bit of heat. Noodles were a good texture. The plentiful brisket all braised to proper tenderness, could have used a bit more 5 spice for my taste, but still good. Bok choy still crisp.

Overall, I wouldn’t say this is destination by any means but it’s a hole in wall neighborhood joint I’d expect to see in SGV and shocked to see on this side of town. Peering into the kitchen, it was manned by a couple of grizzled old Chinese cooks moving with unhurried yet quick pace of a veteran cook. Exactly the kind of guys you’d expect to see at a SGV joint. The prices don’t seem completely out of whack for westside, they probably expect to do a lot of take out and seem set up for it. The portions are generous for the price and it looks like there’s several menu items geared more for mainsteam tastes

The rest of the menu for reference. I’m curious about the braised pork shank and they also had some specials up on a white board written in Chinese only. Neglected to take a pic, wish I had, looked like some fish specials.

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Curious what people think if they decide to try.

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Nice find. This general area has lots of Chinese and Taiwanese. Couples and families live in the UCLA apartments on either side of the 405. Students and recent grads live in the surrounding apartments.

I’m actually surprised it took this long for a Chinese restaurant that actually had food more recognizable to Asians to open around here.

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Thanks! I always figured it was a cost issue. These kinds of places don’t have a big margin, hard to find the right cooks to staff this kind of place while offering low enough prices and also pay the rent.

This spot is certainly a small space and sparse low cost furniture. But not sure how they’re managing the rent and getting the cooks while rents are rising steadily on the entire westside.

I’m sure a low key Sam Woo would do blockbuster business in that area. But would they be able to get enough staff at wages to still make a profit? Why would that staff drive over from SGV area?

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there is now enough of an older immigrant population on the westside that would staff those kinds of places.

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Yay! I’d drive by Ming Wok once a year hoping something new has replaced it. This answers my question about where to go for lunch today.

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I’m joining you.

I need to pick up some stuff at Vons anyway. They’re having a sale on granola.

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Looking forward to the report from such respected posters.

I for one am sad at the demise of Ming Wok. Why, you ask? Sure, on the surface it appeared to have the all the looks of your average shitty facsimile of Panda Express. But this means you were not keen to the gorgeous porky aroma emanating from the right-hand side of the heat trays, for that was where the boss made his fortune…

Geographically, Sepulveda & National, and it environs, is WestLA UCLA Grad Student housing central. To satisfy the local Chinese grad students’ palates, the chef from Ming Wok (who hails from Zhejiang) made an absolutely phenomenal braised pork dish, complete with tendon and occasional trotter. A hint of anise, and served with au jus aplenty, the braised pork was often a taste of home for lots of the Chinese students. THIS is what I loved about Ming Wok. To the uninitiated, it may have looked like a pan brown swamp goo with mystery meat behind the display case. But dump a bit of this magic over plain steamed rice, and it’s transformed into something far, far tastier than we in WestLA would ever expect of our Chinese offerings. So yes, I lament the loss of Ming Wok, and this wonderful braised pork dish in particular. Oh, and their spring rolls, which were made by hand on premises and fried on command.

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Oh, gawd, I didn’t even know about that place. Kind of sad I’m only learning about it now.

Who knew? Only actually ate there a couple of times in the past 8 years and had no idea. Sort of reminiscent of the old Bamboo Express in the former University Village by USC, predecessor to today’s Qin West, which was a Pandaesque fast food place that started a side menu as the Mainland quotient grew on campus.

Dude! You were holding out on us. I would have loved to have tried that dish. I’m in that center frequently for various reasons and the few times I poked my head in there just in case they had a hidden gem, nothing jumped out at me.

That pork dish was often sold out. I just figured all y’all already knew about this dish. It’s like the worst kept secret in town (various celeb jokes come to mind).

Only had time to try the salt and pepper fish and it was as good as any version I’ve had in the SGV. However, even more notable was the eclectic menu reminiscent of what you see these days in small college town Chinese restaurants back east. Here’s my brief take on that. https://chandavkl.blogspot.com/2018/02/eastern-us-college-town-style-chinese.html

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Sweet! Funny how things evolve. Having a small college town style Chinese restaurant make it’s way out here to LA where we have some of the deepest Chinese offerings around.

I’m going to poke around the menu a bit more.

I think you nailed it with the commute comment earlier. It’s just hard to convince good cooks to schlep from the SGV to the Westside.

Whatever! If @chandavkl didn’t know, then you can’t expect the rest of us to know! Argh! :wink: and :stuck_out_tongue:

Finally we’ve seen pigs can fly!

That Von’s/Savon strip mall on the S/E corner of Sepulveda and National has been there forever, mostly with some smaller places (video store, now bank, and perhaps the best bagel place on the westside) on the north side and a Subway and this sad steamtable Chinese place on the south with a Baskin Robbins on that exit. For something notable and good to be in that Chine place’s spot is amazing!

Unfortunately we won’t get to see those pigs in that sauce @J_L mentioned

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You’re in West LA? I did not know that, you seem all over the place. Any har gow recommendations?

I tried the Westlake minced beef soup yesterday, because of the references above, and because I’m a curious creature.

I’ve never had this before, so I have no point of reference, but I thought it was pretty darn good. It reminded me of hot and sour soup, but without the hot and sour. The predominant taste was white pepper, with a sesame oil background. For some reason I thought the “minced beef” would be ground beef, but no. It is honest to goodness chopped little chewy beef bits; strangely addictive.