Where Filipinos go for Chinese Food in Los Angeles

Where Filipinos go for Chinese Food in Los Angeles

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    When you go out for culturally genuine food, what kind of restaurant do you look for? Would you go to Frau Schmidt’s for French cuisine, or Giuseppe’s for Chinese food? How about Pedro’s for sushi, or Betty and Wilma’s for Thai? Heck no! You’d expect to be served German cookery at Frau Schmidt’s, Italian food at Giuseppe’s, great Mexican or other Latino foods at Pedro’s and caveman food at Betty and Wilma’s… unless you live in Los Angeles or New York City, where fusion cuisine is all the rage, if only to keep the populace in a constant state of confusion.

    One of the great exceptions that does not qualify as a fusion restaurant is Mayflower Seafood Restaurant in Chinatown, Los Angeles (679 N. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90012; 213-628-0116). Granted, the name might give the impression that they serve either New England fare or English food (and anyone who has eaten in England knows that English food is worth avoiding, unless your taste buds were destroyed in some freakish accident when you were a child and, as you have no sense of taste at all, it doesn’t matter what you eat, though the thought of eating kidney pies and blood sausage may still freak you out), but rest assured that this is an authentic Chinese restaurant, though the usual clientele may further confuse you.

    For reasons that remain a mystery to me, the Filipino community of Los Angeles flocks to Mayflower every day and night of the year.

     

     As a Chinese seafood restaurant, the astoundingly vast menu of Mayflower features mostly seafood dishes, though you will find a nice mix of other meats, vegetarian fare and a wide assortment of fabulous appetizers. Still, if you don’t order seafood, you’re missing the proverbial boat. Like most customers, you should start with one of the many fine seafood soups (I recommend either the House Special or the Mayflower seafood soup; both are excellent); you’ll have to order a large serving bowl, as individual cups are not sold, but you’ll want seconds.

     

     The first appetizer that virtually everyone orders is the fried sole, which is out of this world, especially when dipped in the sauce that comes with it. Also, while the calamari isn’t the best around, it’s pretty good; not as good as that you can find in ABC Seafood across the street, but far better than battered and fried dirty shoelaces.

     

     When it comes to entrees, take your pick from the couple hundred on the menu. I’ve sampled a couple dozen of them, and each was spectacular in its own way (I’m especially fond of the baked-salt spicy pork chops, which are not remotely spicy or even baked, and the chicken with scallops dish). Be advised that when they label something as spicy, it ain’t necessarily so; but every table has a container of their homemade chili oil, which will add a nice bite to anything you order.

     

     A fortune cookie follows every meal, of course, but if you have dinner there they will also serve you a bowl of a very sweet, soupy tapioca desert that my wife—a Filipina, of course—cannot resist (she always eats mine, too, no matter how stuffed we are).

    The service is perhaps too good, as they tend to serve almost all of the food simultaneously, but the prices are impressively affordable. My wife and I usually dine with another couple and spend no more than $70 for a huge meal with plenty of leftovers to take home.

    Mayflower is open every day and doesn’t shut its doors until 2 AM, making it an excellent place to stop by for a late dinner following a night at the symphony Downtown, a full day of touring Chinatown or after a ballgame at nearby Dodger Stadium.

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