Qi Steam Kitchen (Carthay Circle): A Pictorial Essay

The sign in the front touts “Healthy steamed Chinese dishes”. This humble proclamation may easily get lost among all the other restaurants in the neighborhood - It may seem like just another run-of-the-mill Chinese eatery.

But to me, after dining here, this place means so much more.

In fact, Qi Steam Kitchen, which opened just this week in Carthay Circle / Little Ethiopia, is the first restaurant that I am aware of in the entire Los Angeles area which largely specializes in the cuisine of the Hubei region in Central China. A bit of background: Hubei chefs are renowned throughout China for their use of delicate seasoning and steaming technique. This is especially true of dishes hailing from the Jingzhou region of the province.

And, as this also happens to be the type of food which my grandfather often made during my childhood, I was very excited to go and try out the menu here. Let’s go!!!

Clean, bright and cheery dining room…

“Pearl spheres” (珍珠丸) also known as steamed sticky rice-coated pork meatballs: This is the quintessence of Hubei gastronomy. Delicate and light, with marvelous textural differences. And Qi Steam Kitchen does this dish justice. The accompanying steamed vegetables burst with flavor as well.

Pork and leek steamed jiaozi dumplings (豬肉韭菜餃): In order to judge the level of finesse in the kitchen’s use of steam, I ordered this basic Chinese jiaozi to see if the filling would be too watery (a sure sign of over-steaming). I was not disappointed - This dish really shined! These are absolutely some of the best Chinese jiaozi I’ve ever had in mid-City and the Westside. The skin on the dumpling was perfectly steamed, and its filling was delicious.

Steamed wild turbot “steak” (清蒸魚排): The gentle seasoning of the fish really accentuated the delicate nature of the flesh. This is NOT a Cantonese hot oil and steam whole fish prep (which I also enjoy immensely). But rather, Qi Steam Kitchen serves a thoughtfully executed version of a classic Chinese fish dish, true to the type one would commonly find in Central China along the banks of the Yangtze and its tributaries. The turbot and the au jus on the plate match perfectly with a bowl of rice. I wish they would use a freshwater fish instead, but I suspect logistics would have been an issue. Nevertheless, it is delicious. The skill of the chef undoubtedly shows in this dish, and it is certainly a highlight of my meal.

Bamboo-steamed spiced rice-coated ribs (粉蒸排骨): Another traditional dish of Hubei, ribs are first coated with a special blend of powdered spices before steaming over a bed of sliced bamboo and potatoes. There is very little heat to these spices, but fear not, for there is also so much flavor! One can suck the tender meat right off the bones. Another highlight!

The kitchen is in its first week of business, so my dishes took a bit of time to emerge, but know that each bite was well worth the wait. My server was at first somewhat astonished that I correctly identified the dishes as Hubei-ese. She confessed that the proprietors were simply hoping that by marketing the steamed dishes as “healthy” instead of Hubei cuisine, the restaurant would attract a larger local crowd. While this may be true in this part of town, the fact remains that Qi Steam Kitchen represents a very welcome departure from the saturation of low-end mala Sichuan eateries we’ve been seeing in greater L.A. Let’s hope this opening marks a new trend in further exploration of cuisines from other lesser-represented regions of China in our SoCal dining scene!

According to the owners, if things go well, the menu here will soon evolve to include more Hubei specialties like dry hot noodles and lotus root preparations. Bring it, I say!


Qi Steam Kitchen
5966 W. Olympic Bl.
Los Angeles, CA 90036


Don’t know if they have a liquor license yet, but I can see this food (which looks great by the way) going very easily and matching great with Riesling from Germany and Alsace, especially with the pork, vegetables, and seafood dishes.

I see some of these same dishes at random regional Chinese places up here, but they don’t look as refined as Qi steam kitchen’s. There are a few more items on the menu from their website but it’s good to see them not doing too many things, yet executing nicely on a smaller scale for quality control, yet making good food that’s very accessible.


I don’t even think there is a Hubei specialist in SGV.

The rewording is fine I guess from a business point of view but serious eaters/food geeks like us really do care to seek out the specialists.


I have a place in Rowland Heights called “Qiwei Kitchen” on my to do list because @JThur01 wrote about them having Wuhan hot dry noodles. Have not been yet and forget if the full menu was Hubei-oriented…

Looking forward to trying out Qi Steam Kitchen, thanks for the write up @J_L!

1 Like

Looks like we all gotta go here before the inevitable downhill slide into non-existence.


Great @J_L !

Passed by the other eve and all storefronts were lit up accept for Qi. I figured opening week hiccups.

Typically, I’m slow to go to places and have gotten used to being scooped by Food Talkers. BUT! I should be mad at myself for getting scooped in my own ‘hood. I’m sooo glad this time. It’s great to have the knowledge before going. Nice work, soldier!

:chopsticks: :dumpling:


Funny! But stop it!

Food from my ancestral 'hood, now in your 'hood. Word.



Agreed. The marketing idea is good, but health conscious restaurants have a limited market in limited neighborhoods and this isn’t one of them. Even in the right location, there’s a million little details in the healthy marketing execution that need to be right. The only exception is vegan restaurants, success rates of those are very high relatively.

Tomorrow. Lunch. Word.


My stomach is rumbling…

Too bad we’re not home this weekend. I’d invite myself. :blush:


Thanks for identifying the cuisine. I think I had it once in Flushing but don’t remember that meal.

1 Like

Went for dinner tonight and really enjoyed it. Crazy to think there’s an option like this mere minutes away.

The rice powder covered lamb chops were extremely tender. The steamed asparagus was very nice. Everything did have a “healthy” feel to it, but mostly it just felt like everything was sauced properly. Will return soon and hope foot traffic improves.



Lunch Sat was quite crowded - the two man staff was overwhelmed (but quite friendly).
Saw some patrons grousing about long waits for attention, tea,and water (and no tea cups seemed to be an issue).

Had the rice coated pork balls (delish!) and a special of “spicy” soy sauce drum-metes (dry and not spicy). Def want to go back for other dishes.


Holy moly, it got busy!

yes - I was surprised AF.

Good for them glad a restaurant that is delivering good food is receiving support from the community!

I gotta get over there and try.

1 Like