Dumpling Delight at Joyce Cafe in Beverly Hills (oops-sorry Los Angeles)

1128 South Robertson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035.

A close friend Jack Karlik told me about the Joyce Cafe Chinese dumplings and noodle house, which is close to the border with Beverly Hills, but is in fact in Los Angeles. Jack had kept hounding me to pay a visit. I am glad I did. The low key restaurant is located on a quiet part of Robertson Blvd, so I finally got the opportunity to check it out on a quiet week night, and guess what - I discovered a real little gem. The specialty of the house is Northern style steamed dumplings: pork, beef, chicken, vegetable and seafood, but the menu reflects much more. I heard that some other critic from a trendy local paper had called the restaurant too dark or dingy - I totally disagree and found it quite comfortable and unpretentious.

Formerly on the Westside, Joyce cafe has been in the current location for just over 2½ years, and the healthy food served here has struck a chord with the locals who have kept the place going, especially with their strong takeaway business. The chef, mysteriously known as Chef Woo, hails from Shanghai and can turn his skills to an eclectic range of Chinese food, all delicious and extremely healthy tasting. There is no rotund Chinese lady called Joyce turning out the food - in fact, it turns out, Joyce is Chinese a word meaning dumplings.

The dumplings are accompanied by a special house sauce, a mixture of ginger, apple, misu, garlic, green onion and soy sauce (and quite likely some additional delights). Without going on with pointless superlatives, all I can say is try them for yourself. They come in portions of eight or twelve, but there are several notable exceptions. The Crispy Potsticker Dumplings (pork or vegetable) come in 6 pieces, and a new addition to the menu, the Lobster and Spinach dumplings. These were as good as others I have tasted in Soho or even San Francisco, and a real winner in terms of freshness, lightness and taste.

A run down on the other items we enjoyed-
The Shrimp Wonton Soup featured wonton wrapped in shrimp and chicken in a chicken broth and lettuce, and the Chinese Chicken Salad came across perfect with it’s light ginger-sesame vinaigrette. Next up we went for the Ginger Salmon Fillet, a pan fried filet in lite ginger soy and mixed sautéed vegetables. The Spiced Lemon Chicken is a bit of a house specialty and is absolutely riveting, superbly fresh. Lo Mein lovers will love the choice here, with every item served with pan-fried Chinese Wheat Flour Noodles and Stir Fried Mixed Vegetables. We just had about enough room left to try the Barbecued Pork. another house specialty served on a bed of soybean

New items are constantly being added to the menu such as Chicken Jadelte (stir-fried white meat chicken with mushrooms & snow peas) or the Chilli Pepper Prawns (tiger prawns, wok tossed with green onion & fresh chilli). The owner at Joyce is also making an effort to have some quality wine on offer on the very small wine menu. None of the glorious Cloudy Bay from New Zealand on the menu yet, but a decent house wine of the month at a giveaway price of $9.95 is not to be scoffed at. Otherwise a decent California Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon will probably be available at a similar or slightly higher price.

If you want to check them out in the week at lunch then a price of $4.75 is what you can expect to pay.

Mike Hepworth, July 2000

Tel: 310-248-4818
Fax 310-248-2646
Lunch: 11.30am-3pm Monday-Friday
Dinner: 5.30pm-10pm Monday-Saturday
Dress: Casual
Parking: on Street
Price for two w/wine $35
Credit cards: all major ones accepted including American Express

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