Westwood: Chinese Brunch at Northern Cafe
When the San Gabriel Valley seems so far away, you start looking around your neighborhood for an equivalent. Friends suggested Northern Cafe in Westwood, citing they had outposts in the SGV. Checking out the reviews seem to indicate it’s not as good as actual SGV spots but it’s good enough.
The three of us ordered a few dishes each and later did we realize it was way too much food for our brunch. We got two dumplings, two noodles and a variety of small plates.
We started out with a couple of tastes from the cold case. My friend ordered the smashed cucumbers, a classic starter heavy with garlic and vinegar. The seaweed has a similar prep. For those who have texture issues, you’re not going to like seaweed but I love it. And it’s so good for you.
I’m obsessed with chicken wings and these were fried very well. Too bad Northern doesn’t have a beer license.
The chive egg pancakes or pockets of goodness as I called them were very good. I would have had more but we were starting to realize we had ordered a lot of food and only half of our food had arrived.
When Northern Cafe opened, people on the Westside rejoiced and in particular UCLA students packed Northern Cafe for their juicy soup dumpolings (xiao long bao). However, I didn’t enjoy these very much. But if you’re on the Westside and can’t or won’t drive all the way out to the San Gabriel Valley, they’re all right. It’ll satisfy a craving.
But I did like the pork and Chinese celery dumplings. These were lightly pan fried and I would recommend these dumplings over the juicy soup dumplings. Oh, you can get these steamed/ boiled. Pan frying cost an extra $.50 cents. Hm.
We also had the Shanghai noodles. I felt these were pretty mushy and I wouldn’t get these again. I prefer slimmer noodles. Thick wheat noodles tend to get so soft quickly.
We also had the dan dan noodles (shown above). I felt they needed just a little bit more sauce and I’m not much of a sauce person. In fact I was perfectly fine with the fried chicken wings at the beginning of our meal but some might need a dipping sauce. Back to the dan dan, get them if you like lightly peanut-y noodles.
The beef roll was also just okay. I felt the beef was a tiny bit dried out. However, a good slathering of hot sauce will keep you pretty happy.
I did like the mabo tofu which had that buzzy ma la spice I look for in good Sichuan food. It’s evident they do use actual Sichuan peppercorn in this dish.
The string beans were also very good.
Overall, it was a fine meal and I would return unlike some other Chinese spots capitalizing on the fact many Westsiders don’t like driving that far for good food.
Northern Cafe1064 Gayley Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90024 — (310) 208-8830
© The Minty 2017