Northern Cafe – Westwood

The news had spread like wildfire in the Chinese community at UCLA. A mere four days after opening, Northern Cafe, a Chinese/Taiwanese restaurant, was packed at 3pm on a Saturday. All the diners were Asian (at least as far as I could see), which was a good sign. We returned the next day for a very early dinner, at a time which usually only brings out the white-haired folks.

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Northern Cafe in Westwood took over the spot previously occupied by the Mongolian BBQ place (Mongolian BBQ places seem to be on the wane these days). It’s a counter service restaurant so you order at the counter, get a number and find a table.

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Everyone in line has black hair.

As with the previous day, almost everyone was Asian (with the exception of four people), and predominantly Chinese. I would probably guess that they were all Chinese but didn’t get to hear if everyone spoke Chinese so I’m not sure.

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Boiled Fish and Chive Dumplings

The fish and chive dumplings arrived first. Boiled, which is healthier though less delicious than fried, they tasted mostly of chives and had a very mild flavor. They really needed the dipping sauce that they were served with (and a kick from the chili garlic sauce that was in a jar on the table.

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Fish and Chive Dumpling – mostly chives

Next came the potstickers. They were a odd shape, a lot longer and narrower than what you usually see.

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Potstickers. For you Attack on Titan fans out there, yes, those are the Wings of Freedom in the background.
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Potsticker

The dumpling wrapper was a little thicker and chewier too, and the meat filing was very small, only occupying maybe a third of the dumpling.

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Inside of the Potsticker

 

Shanghai Fried Noodles typically are very greasy, one of those dishes that leaves you with a shiny ring around your mouth. The noodles here were surprisingly free of excess oil, which I liked.

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Steamed Juicy Pork Dumplings

The dish I was most excited about ordering were the Xiao Long Bao, steamed juicy pork dumplings.  The dumplings here aren’t as juicy as they are over at Din Tai Fung, but it’s a lot easier to come here.

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Scallion Pancakes

I wish Northern Cafe had existed when I was at UCLA. I would have been here every week. For homesick students and those who enjoy eating Chinese food, Northern Cafe helps fill a much needed void for authentic Chinese food in Westwood Village.

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Pan Fried Shrimp Dumplings

Location: 1064 Gayley Ave., Los Angeles 90024. Additional locations in Cerritos and Hacienda Heights.
Website – http://www.northerncafeucla.com
Kid-Friendly – Yes
Kid’s Menu – No
Pesco-Vegetarian Friendly – Yes
Vegetarian Friendly – Yes
Vegan Friendly – Yes
Gluten-Free Options – Yes

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