I was in Claudine's books in Larchmont yesterday and spotted a new book - of which there were two copies, now one - which is, for once, exactly the sort of guide book I have been looking for, being mad for SGV but lacking the fine grain knowledge of Chinese food of some of the people on the board.
It is called Finding Chinese Food in LA, written by Carl Chu, released this year.
(First question: Is the author on this board? Cause I want to e-shake his e-hand.)
It contains: a brief history of Chinese immigration into L.A., (with details occuring throughout the book about which regions sent immigrants when) and brief discussions of chinese teas and wines, with an eye towards matching them to foods.
Region-by-region (and occasional by style) breakdown of China. Each region's section is about 15 pages long, includes a descriptions of classic dishes of that area, many accompanied by photographs and ALL ACCOMPANIED BY CHINESE CHARACTERS. (I am thinking of all those specials written on paper and pasted on the wall, with no English. Or those mysterious menu items at Green Valley that have no English names.) Then, recommendation of 3-5 restaurants in L.A. (almost all in SGV) for that variety of food. AND sometimes a description of historical immigration patterns through that region, with an eye towards how one region's cuisine influences another.
And, as far as I can tell, recommendations are spot on. About half of the restaurants he mentions (Green Village, Chung King, Beijing Islamic), and the other half I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF AT ALL. And I've been reading every post on this board for a while now.
I think to give you a sense of why I'm SO GODDAMNED EXCITED BY THIS BOOK, I should give you the headings of some of the chapters, starting about a third through the book:
Mooncakes for the Holiday
Desserts of Beijing
And then the regions start:
Hongkong-style Seafood House
Dim sum/yum cha
DUmplings and Noodles (Northern China)
Each of the above is about a 15 page chapter.