Restaurant: Meizhou Dongpo
Location: Century City Mall Dining Deck. (310) 788-0120
Date: September 9 & 18, 2014 and October 27, 2017 and March 8, 2020
Cuisine: Beijing/Szechuan Chinese
Rating: Good to have on the westside, and now as good as some in the SGV
My faithful readers know I frequently venture out to the SGV for great Chinese, but I’m always looking for a fix closer to him. So when I heard (back in 2014) there was an actual Szechuan place in the Century City mall I went right on over. I’ve seen been a couple of times and most recently for a 6 person dinner in March of 2020.
Meizhou Donpo (sure doesn’t roll off the Western tongue). I’ve been told this is a high end (like Houstons) chain in China that has opened a branch here. This must reflect the influx of Chinese tourists into LA. All good in my view.
Smashed cucumber with garlic (3/8/20). This was an excellent multi-dimensional cucumber salad. A bit of tangy, lots of garlic, and a little spice.
Sausage plate (3/8/20). Four different types of pork sausage. Some spicy. All very tasty.
Chicken potstickers (3/8/20). Pretty much as you imagine.
Cold chicken with ratan pepper (3/8/20). Very delicious boiled chicken with that numbing and bright green flavor.
Cold mung bean noodles with chili (3/8/20). This was a spectacular version of this Chengdu street dish. Tons of flavor and a hot of heat.
Beef tendon soup (3/8/20). I didn’t try it.
Then I had to try all the Schezuan classics: Dan dan noodles (2014). Not your totally typical take on it, as it’s fairly wet. Most authentic ones I’ve had you mix up and are a tad drier. Still, this had a nice chili + schezuan peppercorn taste. It was hot, but not really hot. Just a mild burn. Not so much of the nutty flavor.
Cold Szechuan Noodles (2014). These are closer to what I usually think of for Dan Dan noodles. They had a nice chili oil spice, but maybe no meat.
Sweet potato glass noodles in hot and sour sauce. (10/27/17). In general, I love this dish because of its spicy/tangy balance. For example at Beijing Tasty. This version, unfortunately, looks ok, but has no balance. It wasn’t that hot. Wasn’t that tangy. Mostly it was just salty. This seems to be a problem at MZDP.
Numb taste wontons (2014 and 10/27/17 and 3/8/20). They just called these Szechuan Wontons, but they’re supposed to be numb taste. Great flavor. Sauce was a little sweet but boy was it tasty.
Ma Po Tofu (lunch special) (2014). Also on the plate: rice, string beans, squash, spring roll. The beans were great, but the tofu was a bit salty (MSG I think) and not too hot or numbing. Okay flavor, but the most disappointing of the dishes, particularly given how when done right this is one of my favorite dishes ever.
Peking Duck (2014). Because peking duck is so important, I’m going to SEPARATELY write up my thoughts in 2014 and 2020. This duck is expensive compared to the SGV, although they do sell a half duck (which is what we got).
Duck soup (2014). Comes with the duck (optionally). Very straight up and dull.
Peking Duck (3/8/20). We ordered two whole ducks for 6 people! They carve it tableside.
This is half a duck. We had four of these plates. This was some of the best peking duck I’ve had in a while. About the same quality as the excellent NC Peking Duck. It’s cut in the modern style with much of the meat combined with the skin. It was super succulent and juicy. The skin could have been just a touch more crispy. But the pancakes were great and the overall combo delicious.
Condiments for the peking duck.
The duck here comes with ultra-thin pancakes — as always much better than the buns.
Bones (3/8/20) from the duck meat.
Duck bones fried with garlic and cumin (3/8/20). This was a stunning dish. There was a lot of bone, but the crispy fry was amazingly tasty.
Stir fried shrimp (3/8/20). This may look simple, but the shrimp was super succulent and well cooked. Delicious.
Sole Filet with green onions (3/8/20). Very lovely as well with nice thick filets.
Scallops with vermicelli (3/8/20). A nice dish, but not my absolute favorite of the night.
Aromatic fried chicken with chilies (10/27/17). Another typical Szechuan dish. This version wasn’t that spicy (despite all the peppers) and was notably sweet. It was still pretty good though, but the balance was off.
Szechuan green beans (2014). Tasty rendition of this dish.
Garlic Eggplant (10/27/17). A 7/10 version of the dish. Not as much super garlicky flavor as there should be, but good nonetheless.
Kung Pao Shrimp (2014 or 2017). Very nice. A bit of heat and lots of peanuts.
Overall writing in 2014 and 2017, I’m psyched to have Meizhou Dongpo, despite it being a bit blander, saltier, (and more expensive) than the SGV Szechuan places. It’s tasty enough and close. Too bad it’s inside the mall, because parking and getting into that beast is a nightmare. I hate that parking lot. It’s the biggest most confusing mall parking I’ve ever been too. Every direction looks the same. Ditto with the mall. I’m always getting turned around in there. Too bad the balance is off on the dishes. Service was a little slow/sloppy too on 10/27/17. The very first time I was here it was very nice, so maybe it’s just hit or miss.
Coming back for a 6-7 person dinner on 3/8/20 I had a vastly improved experience. Almost every dish was very good, some great. The peking duck was first rate. Really really good. Many of the appetizers were awesome too like the green chili chicken and cold mung bean noodles. Flavors were far less salty and much more balanced. Service was fairly good too and we had a nice large table outside on the terrace. They were super nice to us too, particularly about the corkage. I’ll have to try again to see if this is consistent, but I am raising my overall opinion substantially. On this particular night at least, this was as good as many SGV places (but certainly not as good as the best). Really a great option. The menu is nice, but not super large either.
The mall is also home to a mini Grom, which is a solid chain gelato place. I reviewed one in New York here.
Hazelnut on the left, cafe expresso on the right. Texture was perfect. Flavors were about 8/10. Very good gelato for America. I wish they had more flavor variety in the store though.