My father immigrated to the States in 1980, and like most Chinese immigrants, a lot of them resided in Chinatown. Makes sense right? My dad lived right across from Phoenix, so you can imagine how often he ate here. There's a server there, that has been working for Phoenix in Chinatown since 1981. That means my dad has been there longer than he has.
Our whole family would come dine here pretty often for their signature Phoenix boneless chicken. Not knowing much as a child, I didn't know how precious the food actually was. When people ask me, what's a good authentic Chinese cuisine, I would have a blur. Like.. Besides white rice? Because I know we eat that. Without that we would die. But after many food adventures, I always find my most comforting Chinese food memories, besides my parents cooking, but to be kept here.
It was a late dinner this past weekend, and my brother David and his girlfriend Angela were coming home after a vacation trip to New York. As tired as we were, we couldn't say no to a family dinner at Phoenix. I finished a Taco tasting for Tacos Tu Madre that day, had 3 drinks, then edited and blogged for 4 hours. Yeah I was pretty tired.
I didn't think I was hungry until the menu items were thrown around. Phoenix chicken... Salty Sour pickled cabbage... Fried intestines... I don't need anything to have my palate awake and read to eat.
At the Phoenix in Chinatown, here is where you will find dishes that are not served at other locations.
This is one of ours, and definitely my dads favorite dish. This may sell out sometimes depending if they have the pickled cabbage or not. The owner of Phoenix still makes the cabbage, in house, himself. The dish is also sweet which marries nicely with the sourness of the cabbage. The portions are also pretty hefty.
I grew up eating their boneless chicken, but have come to realization that I love this with bone in so much more. And honestly, I like to pick at the bones for the meat. So much more flavor, and besides, I am a professional at his. Ask people who know me. By the way, this was a half order.
One of our favorite veggies (I know everything is a "favorite"). As mentioned before, the leaves soaks up so much flavor of the Malay sauce (or any sauce you pick). The stems has a nice snap. I love chewing this with my rice. The rice soaks up the sauce, scoop one big bite, veggie, bite of chicken. Pretty damn perfect.
I love this dish! Only if made correctly. I'm not sure if they make the sauce in house, but assuming they do because it turns out slightly different sometimes. It's a little tangy, and has a nice round of sweet notes from the tangerine. The pineapple and green peppers are a good palate cleanser. And, these aren't as crispy. A lot of Chinese food, is breaded so it can adhere to sauces better. Like a lot of different cultures, this technique is widely used.
Squishy interior, crunchy ext. What more can I say? This is, however, an acquired flavor. I'm not expecting everyone to be popping a few of these in their mouths and enjoy the flavor and texture. But if you can get pass what you are eating, you just might, actually fall in love. Hey, eating this is like white rice to me. It's hella normal and it's not disgusting at all. A salad with no meat is disgusting. Sorry.
Another specialty you will only find here. A big Cantonese cuisine that was also made in our household. The oxtail is braised for hours in Asian spices like 5 spice and ginger, probably 50 kinds of soy sauce, till its fork tender. Though I think this needed a good 1-2 more hours, it was still very flavorful. And look at all that tail.
Ummm yeah this was for me. Always order this with your food. I eat the Jalapeños and everything.
Going back to my dad. It's amazing and scary how time flies. I know I'm young, have so much ahead of me, but being here just makes me feel some of the most important memories are passed.
My dad and the waiter that had been working there for over 30 years, were discussing past workers at Phoenix. Some retired. Some passed away. My dad would think some workers were young, but those memories were long gone as they are 85 now.
If you are ever in Los Angeles, and want Chinese, Cantonese, food, come here. To this location in downtown. And take a look around. It may seem updated because it had been renovated not too long ago, but there's still a warmth here that you won't find anywhere else. The veteran that has been there for 30+ years is basically, the only history we have left of that place.
And always, look at their menu board for their specials. It's written in Chinese, but I'm sure you may ask a server to assist you.
Now go bond with your family and loved ones. Moments like these are not only for the holidays.
301 Ord St, Los Angeles, CA 90012