Wonder What Chinese Restaurants Out Of Towners Like To Visit in the SGV

Since I’ve been eating at Chinese restaurants, the worm has really turned. Historically San Francisco had the best Chinese food, no surprise since their Chinese community was so much bigger and the food better, while the Los Angeles Chinese community was a backwater (as in Cantonese parlance, San Francisco was merely known as “Dai Fow” or Big City). And LA wasn’t even number two–that distinction (Yee Fow, or second city) went to Sacramento. I remember as a kid in the 60s driving with my family up north to eat at the restaurants in SF Chinatown. I continued that tradition as an adult as did many Chinese Angelinos through the 1980s, though our destination wasn’t necessarily SF Chinatown, but rather the Richmond district or other suburban Bay area communities. However in the 1990s, the tide turned, LA’s Chinese food passed SF, and now Bay Area Chinese started driving down here on culinary expeditions. My presumption was that Bay Area visitors these days head straight to the restaurants that we discuss on this board–the Sea Harbours, Chengdu Tastes and other big names. But then on my Spanish tour which ended earlier this week, one of the tour members from SF readily admitted visiting the San Gabriel Valley frequently for food. But the restaurant she mentioned was shocking to me–it was Baccali Cafe in Alhambra! After the initial shock I finally see the sense of this–it’s not necessarily the best LA restaurants that would attract out-of-towners, but more guided by what they can’t get back home. In this regard, Sea Harbour might not be a top choice for Bay Area visitors, who can go to Koi Palace, Dragon Beaux, Hong Kong Lounge and places like that for equal or better dim sum and Cantonese food, but perhaps don’t have the same options for Hong Kong style cafe food, or perhaps Shaanxi or other regional cuisines up north. Any further insight on what SGV restaurants have the most out of town appeal?


Slightly related (and perhaps I should start another thread), but I currently reside near Sacramento. Where should I be eating up here for Chinese food? I have ABC Bakery and Lam Kwong Market bookmarked for egg tarts and take-out dim sum.

Hong Kong Islander, Asian Pearl, Yang’s Noodles, Szechuan Spicy House

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Chengdu Taste was great. Better than any of the Sichuan places I’ve been to in the greater SF Bay Area.

Next on my list is Szechuan Impression.

Omar was interesting but Sama in Union City is way, way better.

There are a lot of HK places up here with menus like Baccali Cafe’s. Whether they’re as good I wouldn’t know, but some of them are packed at all hours. I ended up at Shooting Star Cafe last night because it was the only place open in Oakland Chinatown after midnight (New Gold Medal having been red-tagged by the health department yesterday and Fortune being closed for unknown reasons) and was surprised at how good the beef stew was.

I was not impressed by dim sum at Sea Harbour. People on this board gave me shit for ordering wrong, but I had no such problems in Vancouver, which kicked SF’s dim sum ass.

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the population sample might be biased and require a certain amount of filtering, but recommendations/reviews on websites such as yelp & travel advisor, et al might provide a clue, but you’d have to do the legwork yourself to identify legit reviews from people outside the southland.

I think a general weakness of tripadvisor.com is that it doesn’t get reviews from locals, but if you’re specifically looking for visitors’ favorites …

isn’t that the point - to determine the places non angelenos make a point of patronizing?

Yeah, I’m just saying that this is an exception to the rule that TripAdvisor reviews are often not very well-informed about whether places are good by local standards.

I went to a packed HK style dessert place somewhere in Sunset a couple years ago. Awful!!!

I wish you would start a thread. We live in Reno and pass to and through Sacto regularly. Would love plenty of recs.


No idea about SF Chinese visitors, but for Tour Bus-riding-Mainlanders, it’s Chinese buffets.

that may well be - but it still points to places people want to go. whether they have a discerning palate or not is not part of my equation. i don’t think we’re really disagreeing about anything here.

I fear you’re right. I certainly see/hear that in Reno. Talked to a woman a few years ago who had called around to find one that included seafood. Sigh.

Chengdu Taste > anywhere else

Chengdu Taste has the most out of town appeal for us. The dishes blew us away the first time we tried it. We returned for more.
Our go-to place is Mama Lu’s Dumpling House.
King Hua for dim sum

Even the lettuce at Chengdu Taste was outstanding.

The choice of Baccali might also speak to familiarity and comfort. I think everyone has a favorite or go-to place that is hardly earthshaking or superb.

Reminds me of the time I saw a tour group filing back on to a bus after eating at the Taco Bell on San Gabriel Blvd.


Baccali does have sort of a cult following for their bargain New York steak, especially at breakfast time, so I could see a vistor wanting to hop on that bandwagon.

Why so many withdrawn posts? :confused: