JThur01's July 2019 SGV Update Including Ying Ji Cheng Fan

I find a separate posting for each update is necessary because Eater’s crazy filing system makes it impossible to find all of Jim’s updates doing a Google search. Of note is the opening of Ying Ji Cheng Fan, branch of a Guangzhou based restaurant chain, which I believe is the first such Guangzhou headquartered chain to open up in the LA area, not counting Fifty One in Culver City which no longer serves anything peculiarly identified with Guangzhou. I visited the Bay Area branch of Ying Ji this past spring and was amazed to find a rice noodle roll centric restaurant until I saw their rolls were burrito sized and could serve as an entree. The Ying Ji opening also raises the issue of what “Mainlander” food encompasses since it has in the past excluded Cantonese food which was sourced either in pre-PRC, Toishanese Chinatowns, or Hong Kong style Cantonese food. Now that we have Cantonese food with a Guangzhou flair, is this now Mainlander fare? I guess so.

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There’s a Fifty One location in Buena Park inside The Source complex. We walked in to find a modern appointed place with a full bar. We also walked into a restaurant that wasn’t busy (only 3 tables were seated), had 4 FOH staff, an empty 8-top full of dirty dishes, and when they seated us, there were plates that still had dried out rice still stuck on it. We promptly left. What should have tipped me off was their all day dim sum menu, but it wasn’t my choice to try and dine there.

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Fifty One is an enigma that I just don’t understand. When they opened up last year as Ooak Kitchen they truly brought something we haven’t seen here before–Cantonese vegetarian food from Guangzhou itself. Their vegetarian shaking beef was fantastic, made out of a huge mushroom imported from China. Unfortunately, with locations in Culver City and Buena Park, that format went over like a lead balloon with the locals there. I spoke with the Ooak Kitchen general manager, who has since moved on to Capital Seafood in Beverly Hills, who said they deliberately avoided opening in the San Gabriel Valley because they couldn’t charge enough in that market for the offerings they wanted to serve. I don’t know what Buena Park looks like these days, but Culver City seems to be doing passably serving a mixture of Chinese and non-Chinese clientele a combination of vegetarian and non vegetarian and Cantonese and non-Cantonese dishes, with discounted vegetarian and non-vegetarian dim sum on weekends, with no indication of its Guangzhou roots.

try bookmarking: https://la.eater.com/search?q=thurman (it’s how i check to see if a new article has come out, as we’ve all discovered that eater does a poor job linking jim’s articles to eater’s SGV pages)

and as i already commented in another thread, i’m more intrigued by the reopening of wang jia; is it the original family (who moved back to china, then returned and opened a shanghai-ese restaurant in the old dalian small stone location which morphed into shanghai bistro before it eventually went the way of all flesh…) or the most recent owners of wang jia? if the former, that’s worth getting excited about IMO.

Sadly, I went there one evening to try their so-called “house made” dim sum, where half of the items ordered tasted like it was from pre-packaged/frozen product. Since that dinner, I have never been back – for the fear being underwhelmed and ripped off.

as for yin ji, there are long lines now, but i’ll be interested to see if there’s enough demand to sustain the business. delicious food corner does enough business to have prompted them to expand recently. i see their patrons as being the demographic YJCF is going for. perhaps there’s enough to go around.

‘mainland’ is a less than optimal choice of term to describe chinese regional cuisine with which the typical westerner will be unfamiliar. perhaps those coining the term lumped HK & cantonese into the same category?

So why did Chengdu Taste (Rosemead) close? It was good and packed the last time I was there…

I think “Mainland” is a self-description. I was chatting with a restauranteur who is Cantonese but runs a Sichuan style restaurant and he referred to himself as a “Mainlander.”

if the other choices are HK & taiwan, that makes sense. but given that cantonese is spoken in HK, there’s going to be some crossover - and some cantonese speakers will make the distinction of being from HK rather than the mainland. i imagine i would if it came to that, though my toisan would put the lie to that! if you speak toisan in HK, they look at you like; “you just swim over or what?”.