This is a bit of a long one, so please bear with me.
I am a huge fan of good Italian, Japanese, and Chinese food. And I may be projecting, but I put serious time in the car up there with bad service and bad food in things I don't like about a restaurant (congestion has gotten really bad in the past few years).
In my city (L.A.), good to excellent Italian and Japanese food (and mexican) is scattered throughout the various well-off areas of the city. Although there are concentrations (Little Tokyo, Brentwood, Boyle Heights), it is possible to get very good food without a long drive (Buca di Beppo coexists with authentic Italian, for example, throughout greater L.A.). Chinese food, on the other hand, as a number of threads on the L.A. board (and personal experience) can attest, good, reasonably authentic Chinese food is not to be found within 20 miles of the ocean. Although there is excellent Chinese food in Monterey Park and east, that is a two hour round trip for a weekday dinner from the West Side.
My question, and I am looking for guidance, is why is Chinese cuisine different from Italian and Japanese and Mexican cuisine in the severity of the dropoff in quality from a few centers to the rest of the city (I have found the same thing in Boston and other major