Dishes from Across the Pacific: The 10 Best Asian Restaurants in L.A.



There are so many different Asian cultures represented in the melting pot of people that make up Los Angeles that it's tough to narrow down the Top Ten Asian restaurants in our vast city. With so many choices in so many neighborhoods, there's truly something for every taste. But there are definitely some standouts among the thousands of Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Indonesian and Pan-Asian restaurants scattered from the beach to downtown and beyond. Many of the best Asian spots around the city have been serving up delicious family recipes for decades (think Crustacean, Chan Dara, Yang Chow), while others have come onto the scene more recently – like Mint Leaf and Catch. Angelenos love their Asian food so much they are even willing to travel to get the best; that's saying something in a city where traffic can really get people down. Until the first bite of dim sum you've fought the traffic to get to, that is!



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CATCH LA
Photo courtesy of CATCH LA


 

CATCH LA is the newest outpost of the popular EMM Group seafood restaurant chain that began in New York and has now expanded to Los Angeles (actually West Hollywood), Dubai and Playa del Carmen, Mexico. CATCH LA combines a super-sexy scene � think famous actors, top athletes, Hollywood executives � with some of the most mouthwatering seafood concoctions you have ever tasted. Head upstairs to the indoor-outdoor space with a view of the Pacific Design Center next door, and choose the patio or the indoor section, which on a clear evening will have its roof retracted, revealing a moonlight view. Then try selections from the various menus sections: Raw Bar, Signature Cold, Cold, Skewers, Rolled, Hot and Signature Vegan and it is hard to go wrong. Pick Hamachi Spinach with its amazing ponzu sauce, go for the light Branzino in butter, and don't miss the Truffle Sashimi.


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Ask any local to name the best Chinese restaurant in town and Yang Chow is always included. This popular Chinatown eatery now has two more outposts, in Pasadena and Canoga Park. Known for its excellent Mandarin-Szechuan menu, Yang Chow's extensive selection of classics will satisfy even the most authentic of Chinese eaters. The delectable Slippery Shrimp dish is what put them on the map, but there's a lot more to try, with other popular specialties including Kung Pao Squid, General Tseng's Chicken and Sizzling Scallops. Started by five brothers back in 1977, Yang Chow is a classic L.A. eatery with something for the whole family to enjoy.


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Chaya Downtown
Photo courtesy of Chaya Downtown LA


 

Chaya Downtown continues the legacy of the Chaya family restaurants that began in Japan in the 1600s. The family has been an important presence in Los Angeles for decades, with Chaya restaurants in Venice, Beverly Hills, Silver Lake and DTLA; nowadays, the Venice and DTLA outposts carry on the traditions of Japanese-French fusion that keep in-the-know Angelenos coming back for more. At Chaya Downtown, the sophisticated dining room is anchored by the Kaisen seafood bar, where Chef Joji Inoue creates delightful raw bar offerings and masterpieces of whole fish. They sake-steam the fish, which gives it a unique tenderness and flavor. Chaya is the place where Tuna Tartare was invented; they make it tableside, in a mouth-watering show that ends in a luscious mouthful of wonderfulness. Ask for wine-pairing ideas to go with the eclectic dishes on the menu or try one of their market-ingredient fresh signature cocktails.


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Xi'an Beverly Hills
Photo courtesy of Xi'an Beverly Hills


 

Xi'an Beverly Hills has long been a popular and heart-healthy Chinese eatery right in the heart of L.A.'s posh 90210 zip code. For more than 20 years, Xi'an (named for the ancient walled city in China that marks the beginning of the Silk Road and the home of the famed terracotta warriors) has combined flavorful Chinese classics like steamed dumplings, potstickers, won tons, garlic chicken and Moo Goo Gai Pan with a dedication to healthy eating. Of course, if you're in the mood for crispy chicken or Szechuan calamari, you'll find those more decadent dishes on the menu as well. And don't be surprised to see a famous face at a table nearby, for lots of Hollywood types love Xi'an's fine and healthy food.


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Larchmont Village


 

Thai cuisine meets Californian atmosphere at Chan Dara, and it's a well-suited match. Thanks to a casual, cool attitude and terrific, spicy Thai dishes, the place is constantly hopping. Hip crowds have filled this place for more then 30 years, kept happy by Clay Pot Shrimp and Scallops, Seared Onaga with Lemon Grass Cream Sauce, Thai Barbecued Pork and Catfish Cha Cha, which gets a kick from a spicy red curry cream sauce. Chan Dara's menu features plenty of Thai classics as well (think Mee Krob and Satays, for example), and noodle, rice and an extensive range of stir-fry dishes (including vegetarian choices) are also on offer. In fact, tasty unique and inexpensive dishes come flying out of the kitchen at a fast pace, and there's enough variety to satisfy every palate.


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Mint Leaf
Photo courtesy of Mint Leaf Restaurant


 

If you are looking for top-notch Indian cuisine, the Mint Leaf in Pasadena is the place to be. Entering the exotic space, you'll feel as if you've stepped right into a Mumbai eatery, with its golden lamps, dark leather banquettes, red tapestry chairs and burnished wood floors. Under the helm of Chef Jayanta Paul, the Mint Leaf offers everything from perfectly cooked Garlic Naan (be sure to try the Mozzarella and Pine Nuts Naan, too) to lusciously spiced dishes including a sensational Goan Salmon Curry and a classic Chicken Vindaloo. Start with an order of Shrimp Pakoras, dip them into accompanying the fragrant mint sauce and you're on your way to a wonderful meal. Finish up with the unexpectedly sweet Carrot Halwa Pudding for dessert with its fragrant cardamom spice and you're sure to be planning your next visit as you pay the very reasonably priced bill.


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For some of L.A.'s best sushi and coolest scene going, head over to Katsuya by Starck L.A. Live. This outpost of the restaurant chain helmed by Chef Katsuya Uechi and designed by Philippe Starck must be seen to be believed. But don't let the hip decor fool you; this place is serious about its sushi. Try the signature Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno and don't miss the Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna. We'd suggest simply putting yourself in the chef's hands with the omakase ($75); you cannot go wrong. And don't miss the Flaming Mandarin cocktail, for it is a taste sensation like no other. Keep your eyes open, too, for there's always a chance to see a few famous faces at the table right next to you, enjoying their favorite Katsuya delicacy.


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This Arcadia branch of Din Tai Fung, the Taiwanese chain renowned for having some of the world's tastiest Shanghai-style dumplings, looks very unprepossessing. But don't be surprised to find a long line out front, so arrive early and be patient, for it is definitely worth it. Tender steamed dumpling pillows are filled with a wide assortment of savory items �" pork, shrimp, beef and even crab. Plus, there are plenty of other Chinese choices, like pork buns, rice dishes, noodle soups and other entrees, which round out a menu that manages to be brief in comparison to most Chinese restaurants, yet still completely satisfactory and filling. Be sure to try the tofu seaweed salad and the Shanghai rice cake with your choice of meat.


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Nobu Malibu
Photo courtesy of Nobu Malibu photo by Henry Hargreaves


 

Los Angeles is where it all began for Nobu Matsuhisa, the acknowledged king of Japanese cuisine, who now has high-end eateries all over the world. His first restaurant, Matsuhisa, is a tiny place on La Cienega Boulevard; Nobu Los Angeles is further north up that same street; and the prettiest of them all, Nobu Malibu, is perched right on the sand on Pacific Coast Highway in the heart of that posh beach community. Malibu gets our vote for the best of three solely on location, for the gorgeous ocean views and sleek restaurant design somehow make Nobu's signature dishes like Black Cod Miso and Yellowtail with Jalapeno seem even more delicious when eaten there (and they are seriously fantastic no matter where you taste them). We suggest you visit all three restaurants, for each offers a unique culinary experience.


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Crustacean
Photo courtesy of Crustacean photo by Ian Bailey

 

Chef Helene An escaped Vietnam as the Communists overran Saigon in 1975 and the rest really is history. She carried along the secret recipes that have made Crustacean one of the top Asian fusion restaurants in Beverly Hills for decades; and she's even got a secret kitchen-within-the-kitchen where only the few in the know are allowed. Her garlic noodles with prawns are legendary, as is her huge Dungeness crab roasted in secret spices. With a recent $10 million redesign, Crustacean has reopened and is better than ever, with Chef Tony Nguyen joining An in the kitchen. There are delicious dim sum offerings too, ranging from pho soup dumplings to a langoustine spring roll and a filet mignon beef satay. The new look is open and bright, and the fish tank walkway built into the floor remains the same, thank goodness, for it really wouldn't be Crustacean without that.


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Meet Jenny Peters

Jenny Peters – aka Jet Set Jen – is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist, editor and party columnist specializing in travel, entertainment, film, food, wine, fashion and the other good...  More About Jenny

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