[Los Angeles] China Cafe at the Grand Central Market
Categories: Cheap eats, Chinese
Address: 317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Hours: Mon-Sun, 9:00am – 6:00pm
Parking: Free 1-hr parking with validation
Price: < $10 (cash only!)
Date visited: October 2013
Verdict: Not the most authentic but the wontons are hearty, delicious and fulfilling nonetheless. For the price and portion size, you really can’t complain.
One thing I appreciate about living in LA is that you have a plethora of choices when it comes to dining out. I love food (duh, that’s why I write about it), but contrary to what it may seem like, I really don’t spend a fortune every time I go out (I can’t afford to and I wouldn’t want to anyway). What’s amazing about this city is that it’s rife with delicious cheap eats—restaurants that won’t break your bank but will leave you fully satisfied at the end of your meal.
The Grand Central Market has been around for almost 100 years. Known for its “back-in-the-day comfort food and retro prices,” the market is a beautiful hodgepodge of ethnic food. Here, you can find anything from authentic Mexican tacos to Chinese lo-mein, Japanese bento boxes, Middle Eastern kababs and more.
Pretty much every entrée or dish sold at any vendor is under $10.
However, the GCM is currently undergoing a makeover. A variety of new vendors are opening up to cater to the exploding urban population in downtown LA (or people who are looking for more relatively upscale and urban eateries in the area). These new openings are a little pricier, but don’t worry, they are still mostly wallet-friendly.
One of the oldest stalls here, the China Café, is a small and unassuming kiosk at the center of the GCM that is most famous for its wonton dishes and chow mein. Its U-shaped counter, which forms around the tiny kitchen, seats around 15 people. You can also eat it at the cafeteria-styled dining area or take it to-go.
Yes, the service is a little chaotic, but for the price, you really can’t complain. The restaurant only accepts cash, but there’s no tax on the food.
FYI: The wonton bowls don’t come with noodles but you can add it in your bowl for just an additional dollar. The broth is surprisingly clear, and not too salty or MSG-heavy.
House Wonton Soup ($5.50): chicken, shrimp, char siu (pork), boiled egg, cabbage and minced pork wontons.
Seafood Wonton Soup ($6.50): scallops, shrimp, boiled egg, cabbage and minced pork wontons.