The Champagne trolley at Mr. Chow, where Laurent Perrier rosé Champagne is a staple
As Angelenos embrace a renewed interest in Chinese food, they are often left to ponder what wine to order with it. This can be perplexing to both veteran lovers of Eastern cuisine and venerable oenophiles. But at three of LA’s top Chinese restaurants, in-house vino virtuosos will answer the question Confucius forgot to ask: “Red or white”?
“We serve our food in the traditional way found in Chinese restaurants: You share with your table, giving everyone bits and pieces of different flavors and tastes,” says Maximillian Chow of the legendary Mr. Chow (344 N. Camden Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-278-9911). The restaurant has been serving authentic Beijing cuisine since patriarch Michael Chow opened his first LA restaurant in Beverly Hills in 1974, expanding to a second Malibu location in 2012. “We pair a lot of dishes with Champagne because it is dry and just a little bit sweet, so it goes well with a variety of different flavors. It is so popular that we have a Champagne trolley. Personally, I like the rosés because of their sweet, yet dry taste. The Laurent-Perrier rosé is a special favorite.”
“Our food is a fusion [of California and Chinese cuisines], which adds another level to wine pairings,” says assistant manager Natalie Habif of Chinois (2709 Main St., Santa Monica, 310-392-9025), who agrees that you can’t go wrong pairing Chinese food with sparkling wine or Champagne. When it comes to whites, she says, “We love German Rieslings like Heitlinger 2010 and Sauvignon Blancs like the Araujo and the Eisele Vineyards because of their fragrance and juicy lightness. You can do reds [too], specifically Pinot Noirs, Syrahs, and even Chateauneuf-du-Papes and reds from the Rhône area, because they hold up without overwhelming.” One dish that pairs particularly well with a Pinot Noir: the Cantonese duck, which is served with a house-made plum sauce.
Chi Lin (9201 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 310-278-2068) embraces a modern take on traditional Chinese fare, describing it as Hong Kong cuisine. Bar manager Aaron Alvarez carries this blend of current and classic to the glass. “I still think some of the traditional favorites like Cabernet or Riesling are great because of their balance of sweet and dry, but I also like other whites like VouvrayChenin Blanc [because of their minerality],” says Alvarez, who suggests pairing the Vouvray with dim sum or Chilean sea bass. His red of choice is a right-bank Bordeaux called Château de Pez. “It is fantastic with our tangerine beef and our three pepper chicken,” he says. “It has a clean, velvety texture that can go with either red meat or a chicken dish.”