Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Northern Cafe coming: One of L.A.’s most respected Chinese restaurateurs takes on Belmont Shore

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Yes, Long Beach is finally expanding its Chinese food options with the coming-soon of Northern Cafe—the largest chain restaurant of loved’n’respected Chinese restaurateur Betty Ren—in Belmont Shore where La Creperie used to be before shutting down earlier this year.

Ren’s restaurant pedigree throughout the Los Angeles is a wild one: Hailing from Fushun in the Liaoning Province of China—directly next to the Yellow Sea where China meets North Korea-she first opened Dumpling House in Arcadia in 2004 when arriving in the States. The space, highlighting Ren’s handmade dumpling varieties—from fish and pan-fried dumplings to pork and chicken dumplings—is popular to this day.

Then there’s a Golden House and Northern Cafe in Temple City, with other Northern Cafes dotted throughout the region: Cerritos, Hacienda Heights, Westwood, DTLA, Pasadena… There’s China Tasty in Alhambra…

Yes, that means a Chinese space that offers everything from handmade dumplings and hand-pulled dan dan noodles to Ren’s famed beef rolls, scallion pancakes, mapo tofu, braised pork with Chinese sauerkraut, cumin lamb…

The most promising part? Her nearly perfect 3.5 stars across Yelp! reviews on her restaurants: Dumpling House? 3.5 stars. Northern Cafe? Temple CityDTLAWestwood: all 3.5 stars.

Wait—3.5 stars? You’re kidding, right? Absolutely not.

Many in the Asian community have long upheld a Yelp theory that solid Chinese food cannot go below or above this strategic point: Above means it’s too white in its palate and bougie and below means you’re not getting the quality you deserve. The 3.5 sweet spot means Asian mothers were disappointed enough to call it “okay” (which really means good) and that white folk were upset enough by the lack of happy smiles to give it a middling score; this overall equates to greatness.

Are there exceptions? Of course—but for the most part, it works. To add this as a rule of thumb, the theory was happily confirmed by Freddie Wong in a post that eventually went viral.

Either way, the much-loved spaces throughout the region will have a much-welcomed home here soon in Long Beach so… Bring on the dumplings.

Northern Cafe will be located at 4911 E 2nd St. in Belmont Shore.

Brian Addison
Brian Addison
Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 25 nominations and three additional wins. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.

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