With four locations around Los Angeles, Hop Li has been around town. The good news is that after having eaten at the Chinatown, Westside, and new Santa Monica location, I can honestly say that they have somehow managed to bring authentic good Chinese food to neighborhoods that used to rely on fast food delivery as both the epitome and stereotype of take out cartons.

Hop Li does not deliver. Period. Believe me, you will go and pick up take out if you really want to eat at home because the convenience of delivery will be quickly forgotten once you taste their food. Having grown up in a Chinese restaurant (literally) I am very very picky about what really good Chinese food tastes like, and Hop Li is one of the best in Los Angeles. They do things like fresh crab with ginger and scallions ($30) that make you want to do the work of finding the meat underneath the shell even if it takes you an hour. (The order I got had more than one crab…unless crabs now have four claws and eight legs.) The corn starched coating on the chopped up pieces of crab makes the sauce slightly thick and tasty enough for you to want to lick the container.

In traditional Chinese fashion, they include the tamale, so if you love this rich part of the crab, you will get it in your order (if you don’t just offer it to your closest Asian friend who will act like you just offered them caviar).

They also have a deft touch when it comes to vegetables like sauteed Tender Greens with garlic ($7.75).

If you are feeling the recession, order one of their lunch specials (starting at $5.75) and although you might feel hungry later, you will feel happy that you ate well (and you can always order extra food so you can have leftovers later).