Decades before Michael Chow opened his new restaurant, Eurochow, in Westwood Village, there was his original "Mr. Chow" restaurant in Beverly Hills. While Eurochow may have more flash, many critics say the food is better here at the Mr. Chow in Beverly Hills.
And the celebrity-spotting can't be beat.
The first Mr. Chow opened in London in 1968, at the height of Beatlemania, and sure enough, the Beatles (along with Mick Jagger, Marlene Dietrich and Jackie O) were among the regular customers. A few years later, in 1974, this Beverly Hills branch opened , and from day one it has been a celebrity haunt. (Not surprisingly, Mick Jagger was one of its first guests.)
You would assume that three decades later, the luster might have worn off. But you'd be wrong. This is one celebrity restaurant where the show biz types often outnumber regular diners. Celebrities, it seems, like to hang out with their own kind, and this is one of their favorite places to hide from the rest of us.
Recent celeb diners include Tobey McGuire & Kirsten Dunst, George Clooney, Robert DeNiro, Jennifer Lopez and Sean "Puffy" Combs, Jim Carrey, Elizabeth Taylor, Nicolas Cage, Kirk Douglas, Meg Ryan, Tobey Maguire, Al Pacino, Madonna, Johnny Carson, Mariah Carey, Sean Penn, Demi Moore, Warren Beatty, Jacqueline Bissett, Sean Connery, Quincy Jones, James Caan, Paula Abdul, James Woods, Cher, Rosanna Arquette, Rosemary Clooney, Lauren Holly, Don Johnson, Joe Pesci, Ron Howard, Christina Applegate, Billy Bob Thornton, Rose McGowan, Gina Gershon, Tyra Banks, Jennifer Jones, Phil Spector, Henry Winkler, Rupert Everett, Debbie Allen, Elton John, Babyface, Uma Thurman and Clint Eastwood.
And this is one celebrity restaurant where the food is great.
Mr. Chow introduced upscale Chinese food at a time when most Chinese food was inexpensive take-out. Some people say it isn't very Chinese, but others say it's Chinese as it should be. It was avant garde for its day, but the menu has remained essentially unchanged over the years.
Everyone agrees, though, that the spicy Imperial Beijing (or "Chinese royalty") food here is wonderful - and dazzling to behold. Green prawns, squab with lettuce, hand-pulled noodles, chicken satay, Peking duck...
Certainly the restaurant's decor is not traditional Chinese - no red lanterns here. You won't find chopsticks on the table, and the waiters are Italian. The sophisticated, contemporary decor features walls lined with modern art, and is complimented by round, black & white "kites" overhead (not to mention the floor show put on by the noodle-maker). It's a busy, jumping restaurant, especially at lunch, so make reservations before you drop by.
Another regular, Randy Quaid, says he never even bothers to look at the menu; it's not unusual for Mr. Chow diners to let the waiter create a personal menu for them.
Barbra Streisand & James Brolin not only met during a dinner party at Mr. Chow in 1996, they chose their wedding date to commemorate that meeting.
The restaurant has even been immortalized in song. Steely Dan's lyrics, from their tune "Glamour Profession," say
me at midnight at Mr. Chow... Szechwan dumplings after the deal has been
Years back, the late Mae West got a standing ovation here when she walked into the restaurant.
But things did cool down for a while. In the 90's, "There were about five years there when you could have shot a cannon off in the place and no one would have heard it," says the owner. But Mr. Chow has made a phoenix-like comeback, and is now once again a hot spot for the younger Hollywood set, as well as its older regulars.
It has even become a generational tradition. Kiefer Sutherland, a regular now, was introduced to Mr. Chow a decade ago by his father, Donald Sutherland. Both George Clooney and his aunt, singer Rosemary Clooney, enjoy the restaurant. And when Gwyneth Paltrow won her Oscar in 1999, she joined her mom (actress Blythe Danner) and family to celebrate the occasion at Mr. Chow.
Lunch is served Monday through Friday; dinner is served every day.
As you might expect, this is not an inexpensive place to dine.
Getting there: Mr. Chow is located on Camden Drive, just one street west of Rodeo Drive, a half block north of Wilshire Blvd. From Rodeo, just go south to Wilshire, turn right (west), then turn right again (north) on Camden (a one-way street). The restaurant will be on your right (east) side.
[You can access Mr. Chow's official website at: http://www.mrchow.com.]
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Copyright © 2013-Gary Wayne
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