Paul's Kitchen has been around for decades upon decades doing things that are figuratively thousands upon thousands of miles apart from the goings on in the San Gabriel Valley where there is an attempt at the traditional even tough they are literally less than a mere dozen miles apart.
You step inside Paul's K and you think you have just left the bustling, modern, fashion district of Downtown LA for a Canton Chinese cafe on the outskirts of Sheboygan. There's a textbook perfect counter, over a dozen seats long, and above the counter stands a wall literally filled and cluttered with celebrities, politicos, and other assorted public figures and officials.
The top of the menu states the Tommy Lasorda special which amounts to a grab bag of gloppy, corn starchy, saccharinely treacly and overly sweet American American Chinese dishes that would not feel out of place on a Panda Express menu in Arcadia or Trenton, New Jersey for that matter.
Regulars seem to love this place and they slowly trickled in considerable numbers. But to me, Paul's Kitchen seemed to be more a mausoleum, or a museum to be fair, to old-fashioned Chinese Cuisine circa 1950s Main Street USA than anything verging on the possibility of being confused with the traditional.
The hot tea on every table was a friendly touch to get through what can only be described as not so good food. The kicker that left me flabbergasted was red bottle that looked like it would house ketchup. I did the proverbial double-take and thought to myself that there was no way that could be ketchup. It must be hot sauce.
Hence, I took it upon myself to do what an veteran researcher would do and squeezed a bit on the side of my plate. Sure enough, a dumbfounded kevin was proven wrong. Ketchup indeed.
I never thought I'd see the day. Ketchup.
The service was cordial and garrulous and no nonsense in the classic Chinese take out joint fashion.
The prices were quite hefty considering that they accept cash only.
The enthusiasm of the regulars was contagious and possibly inspiring, or perhaps despondently depressing considering that they could have dishes that are so much better just a few miles away.
Will I return ???????????????????????????????????
But only when I feel like visiting a museum and have forgotten to make a reservation at the Getty, LACMA, or MOCA, or MOJT.