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L.A. Lawyer Decides Best Chinese Restaurants Are In L.A.

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David Chan, a 64-year-old lawyer and accountant based in L.A., has wandered the US for the majority of his adult life documenting the country's Chinese restaurants. He's been on the quest to find the best since his first gig at a local accounting firm, where he began exploring with his coworkers who hailed from Hong Kong. It's helped him connect to his heritage, and has also turned him into somewhat of a Chinese cuisine encyclopedia. But there are two very surprising things about this aficionado: he doesn't use chopsticks, and he's about as thin as one himself.

Chan has used Chinese food as a way to see the world. So far he's visited 6,297 restaurants, and he's still going strong. Says the L.A. Times:

In 1985, he hit 86 restaurants in the Los Angeles area and around the country. The next year, 119. Before long he was trying more than 300 restaurants every year. In Toronto, he hit six dim sum restaurants in six hours. When he traveled for business in Florida, he zigzagged the state to sample 20 Chinese restaurants.

Chan had always wanted to travel to all 50 states, and Chinese food gave him an excuse. In places he would have never imagined, he found Chinese people with their own version of Chinese food...In New England, he encountered a chow mein sandwich topped with gravy. In St. Paul, Minn., he found a burger with egg foo young for a patty. Throughout the South, he came across a sweet, stir-fry dish called Honey Chicken.

But he's also used it as away to connect to his heritage. Chan is a third generation Asian American, and when he was growing up, the Chinese population wasn't nearly as robust or as widely accepted in Southern California. His parents refrained from teaching him the language in hopes of helping him "fit in," but eventually he became inspired to learn about the culture through food.

Chan is incredibly organized, and has documented his findings via one giant spreadsheet. His top 10 restaurants includes picks from a couple of picks from SF and Toronto, with a whopping six favorites from Los Angeles: Sea Harbour in Rosemead; Elite Restaurant in Monterey Park; King Hua in Alhambra; Lunasia in Alhambra, Din Tai Fung in Arcadia; Seafood Village in Monterey Park; and 101 Noodle Express in Arcadia.

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