‘A huge risk’: LA’s next-generation Cantonese chefs champion their cuisine

Originally posted on FTC:


Humberto Leon says one of the biggest challenges faced by Chinese restaurants in America is the expectation that Chinese food should be inexpensive.

I mean, is that really the case in SGV or any area with a sizeable enclave? Like people know about banquet dinners. We’ve had truffle siu mai and gold leaf dumplings with caviar for well over a decade. LA’s Bakery sells $60 dried scallop mooncakes before Mid-Autumn Festival, and I’m not aware that they’re open for business any other time of the year?

But yes, in places where the only “Chinese” food is PF Chang’s and Panda Express, the expectation very much is “cheap” because that’s still more than what that shit is worth!

Bring Back Cantonese Restaurants!
I remember in the late 70’s, early 80’s (suburban NYC) when one by one Cantonese restaurants started switching over to Sichuan Hunan cuisine. I loved it at first but soon began to miss my favorite Cantonese dishes. Now the same restaurants are Pan Asian offering something for everyone, frequently not doing any one of them very well.

:grinning: But were Cantonese restaurants ever gone? Just teasing.

I would say the attitude by many in the Chinese community is cheaper is better esp in the older generation and many people still approach it as a value or deal based as opposed to looking at it like fine dining. There are definitely outliers but culturally it seems the value and cheapness component is much more ingrained and harder to separate from the cuisine itself.

Broadly speaking in America that’s probably the case too. I know attitudes are slowly shifting but like the example in the article, people will easily pay 20-30 dollars for a dish of pasta but won’t do that for noodle soup or stir fried noodles that may be just or more intensive in prep.


Onboard with you about value for the diner. We’d note that the mother of the Chang in PF Chang is the doyenne of American “Mandarin” cooking (PF, of course, also has deep restaurant roots); and praise be to Panda Express for also scaling what historically has been regarded as family-operated business into an impressively successful business delivering a consistent product that “anyone” can operate.

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I have accidentally drove by Panda Express headquarter. The sign is very golden.



well, damnit. Now I’m regretting never visiting a Panda Inn when I lived down there. I will have to make a point to do so when I’m next in SoCal.

I <3 me some sugar-chicken.

Sorry, as long as people continue to lump all “Chinese food” together despite there being so many varied flavors and traditions spanning such a huge geographic area, not much is going to change in terms of perception.

If these Cantonese chefs want to elevate their pricepoints, then they need to elevate their food quality, presentation and cooking techniques to match.

There is so much in the way of fine dining out there already, but outside of Asia or the big cosmopolitan cities there is such a lack of awareness for Chinese cuisines beyond mall food courts, which rightfully equates Chinese fast food with low quality and price points.

Build-out a restaurant with upscale decor, high-end service, a formal ambiance, and a sophisticated menu and people will be willing to pay more for the food and experience; offering the same-old-same-old but charging higher prices is just going to be a miss, however.