LA Chinatown Hot Tip: Pearl River Deli is Very Good

Pearl River Deli (in the shopping plaza at 727 N. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012) serves incredibly delicious Cantonese food; it is worth a visit (or, in this time of the COVID-19 quarantine, a take-out or delivery order 626-400-8126).

I was first made aware of this new restaurant by the Fung Brothers. They posted a video on YouTube that will give you the gist of the menu, prices, and an introduction to the dishes being served.

Los Angeles’ Chinatown was first inhabited by people from the Cantonese “Pearl River Delta” region of South East China. The Cantonese language, cuisine, and culture were the starting point for most Americans understanding of what something “Chinese” was. China is a big country, with lots of different ethnic groups and regional variation. The Cantonese that travelled from their homeland to points all over the globe in the 19th Century, as the Qing dynasty was being torn apart, were just one of those groups. As the story of warfare, trade, and politics has developed we here in Los Angeles have seen waves of some of those other groups arrive in the county to blend and mix with the seed our first Cantonese inhabitants.

Cantonese food, in this modern Los Angeles cultural mix, is worthy of having a spotlight focused on it. In an age overflowing with Panda Express (a mainstream fast food style chain selling American Chinese dishes) and Din Tai Fung (sit-down Huiyang cuisine), Cantonese food deserves to be marketed and sold not solely as “Chinese food”, but as a regional cuisine with as much attention to ingredients, preparation, and flavors as possible in the context of the fast-casual paradigm being applied to so many different styles of food in the post-2008 economic collapse.

Since 2008, my brother and I have been to many, many, dim sum restaurants to market our (now closed) bike shop. I sell the Chinese food experience in LA’s Chinatown as a bicycle tour guide to multiple dim sum restaurants. I have spent a lot of time reading about the history of the Chinese here in the United States, and internalizing a sympathetic narrative of Los Angeles’ Cantonese diaspora. I am also married in to a family with half of its members belonging to that very same diaspora.

So, I get it, I may be over selling this place. I am perhaps too invested in wanting to see the food they sell and the culture thrive. All that aside, try to enter with an open mind and let the food speak for itself.

I recommend the Macau Pork Chop bun.

Pearl River Deli located at 727 N. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Phone orders to: 626-400-8126

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