Sichuan Ma La Comes To Downtown, Breakfast Jian Bing, Too--Li Orient Opens in US Bank Tower

As I’ve noted before anybody looking for Sichuan food anywhere near downtown LA has been out of luck. Authentic Chinese food in LA Chinatown is exclusively Cantonese except for the Western offerings at Qin West and the popcorn chicken at the various boba shops. And with the proximity of LA Chinatown to downtown, Chinese food pickings in downtown itself are slim. There’s Peking Tavern, and then there’s, well… All of this makes the recent opening of Li Orient, midway up the the US Bank Tower downtown (originally rechristened by President Bush 42 as “Liberty Tower”) rather significant. Li Orient is not a dedicated Sichuan style restaurant, and while it does have a Panda Express type takeout section for the locals, as well as orange chicken, egg drop soup, broccoli beef and kung pao chicken, it does have a good selection of authentic Chinese dishes. The collection includes xialongbao in seven different colors, jian bing at breakfast (starting at 7:30 am), stir fried lobster balls with XO sauce, Cantonese dim sum, and Peking duck. There are a handful of Sichuan style dishes including Szechwan spicy beef, Szechwan spicy fish, numbing cold chicken, Szechwan cold noodles and Szechwan spicy noodles. This is real Sichuan peppercorn action, not watered down, and most of the diners in the sit down portion of the restaurant appeared to be Chinese. Li Orient is kind of pricey, though, with entrees starting at $18. The spicy fish dish below, as well as the spicy beef are $20 items.


Thanks, seems worth a try, since I am frequently in the area. I had assumed it was in the vein of Wokano and Triple 8. U.S. Bank Tower rents are probably not cheap!

Same owners. And yes, they also own Li Orient.

It’s not very good. Just not.

Beggars can’t be choosers.

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It’s always surprising the dearth of great Chinese restaurants in DTLA considering 626 is so close. You’d think there’d be more than a few Chinese restaurants wanting to take advantage of the accessibility of DTLA and the effect locating there would have on their reputation. It’s close enough to the 626, but able to reach mainstream LA, without selling out such as by opening in somewhere like Beverly Hill.

It actually isn’t surprising.

Between a combination of rents, lack of foot traffic during the weekend (and even weeknights for most parts of the Financial District in DTLA), and the close proximity of Chinatown, it is actually surprising that there would be any type of true sit down Chinese restaurant in DTLA proper.

Heck, if a major conglomerate-backed chain restaurant like Cleo can’t make it at a prime spot like LA Live, the pickings are going to be even slimmer for a Chinese restaurant in business-centric, lunch-driven DTLA proper.

Also, historically with many Chinatowns in the US there is sort of a DMZ immediately outside of Chinatown where there are few Chinese restaurants because access to many choices in the Chinatown is so easy.

No one seems to mention this but, Fortune, in the Far East Plaza, is an awfully good restaurant! Everything I’ve ever had there has been perfectly cooked. Although nominally Cantonese, they do have a number of Sichuan-style items like ma po tofu. Great deep fried squid with spicy salt, whole fried sole, perfect sweet and sour pork., scrambledegg shrimp, spicy ground pork in lettuce cups; the list goes on forever. BTW, they are ridiculously cheap; lunch items start at $6.95.

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If I want to stuff myself for cheap and good before a Dodgers/Kings/concert I like Fortune and Jade Wok down the street. Solid Canto food not a destination by any means but a good local joint to fill up.

Shrimp and scrambled eggs always hits the spot lol

Check out Jade Wok.

DTLA is more accesible to which part of the 626 vs. other parts of the SGV? And +1 on all the factors @ipsedixit mentioned…

I recall that they have slippery shrimp at Fortune House. Something for everybody.

DTLA might be one of the most inaccessible parts of Los Angeles.

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I like their Hainan Chicken.

And, no, it’s not called that on the menu.

Li Orient is a yawn.

It not the accessibility for those living in 626 thats the issue. Its accessibility to those living in west LA and dtla’s central locality that makes it a prime spot to reach a wider audience that geographically cant make it out to 626. DTLA is the center of LA, as far as the idea of LA having something close to a center. Theres always chinatown though, but chinese restaurants are slowly leaving there as well.

Ever part of LA is inaccessible. Accessibility doesnt exist in a city thats choking on traffic. But there is somewhat of a geographic median. The division between east and west la county is arguable the area around DTLA.

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We will have to agree to disagree. As someone who lives just west of the 405, my own feeling is that, if I’m going to go to DTLA specifically for Chinese food, I’m just going to keep going east until I hit the SGV. I’m not heading anywhere near DTLA on a weeknight (even w/ the Metro) unless someone’s holding a gun to my head. And, even then, I might prefer to be shot (since I don’t necessarily work in the same area in which I live).

On the weekend, the SGV is not that much further timewise, IMHO, given the QPR.

Which is why some (me) would consider it the most inaccessible part of the city.

LA County is 4800 sq miles. Which means that geographic mean is still, in an absolute sense, really far away from those living at one edge or the other. When I try to meet up w/ friends who live at one extreme, I either go out to them or they come out to me so that only one group is horribly inconvenienced.

Of course, YMMV.

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Fellow Westsider here. Couldn’t agree more on all points. DTLA has a ton of interesting eats now. But it’s only enough to personally tempt me over there maybe a few times a year. My time is far too precious to me to deal with this area.

DTLA’s layout, traffic patterns and parking has a serious learning curve. After a few days of jury duty, I start to kinda get it. I guess I can Uber it but that mode of transport hasn’t caught on with me yet - LAX and K-town is about it for me.

And for Chinese cuisine, drive another 10-15 minutes on the weekend and I’m neck-deep in choices. And that extra 10-15 minute drive would be eaten up if I had arrived in DTLA by way of the hassles associated with that area’s logistics issues.


Are you fucking kidding?

I live in DTLA and think most parts of DTLA are inaccessible.