Man vs. Mannion

Man vs. Mannion

Full House Cantonese Restaurant in Chinatown – Well Known Chinatown Restaurant Serves a Good Meal But Needs Some Work If It Wants To Shine Again

Tom Mannion

When reviewing a Cantonese Restaurant, you should see a meal where primary ingredients are the focus. A lobster will shine as a lobster - simply steamed with seasonings such as garlic, ginger, green onion and cilantro. Your dishes should be well-balanced. None of the non-primary ingredients should take over the dish (unlike Szechuan and similar cuisines). Steaming is a common treatment for seafood. When the steaming is done and wok finishing is in order, you should see minimal grease on your food after said finishing is complete.

Full House Chinatown (I do not believe that they are still connected to Full House Arcadia) is located on Hill Street in Los Angeles. If you are coming via the 110 freeway, you can simply take the left exit for Hill and you will quickly come upon Full House on the right side of the street.

We easily found street parking and walked a few yards to the restaurant. Upon entering, I had the impression that the interior had not been updated in quite a while. Duct tape and extension cords were evident in multiple locations. The waiters’ sideboard was particularly distressed and the glorious fish and shellfish tanks were dated and largely lacking a deep selection. All that I remember seeing was lobster, a limited fish selection, and Dungeness crab. Two of my favorites, geoduck clam and live shrimp, were absent. So, on a night where the sun set early, the restaurant offered a somewhat dark and uninviting feeling that extended that early winter gloomy feeling instead of offering a respite from it. I am, however, inclined to cut them a little slack as I doubt that they have much capital for renovations following the restaurant nightmare called Covid.

Now, for the really important part of all of this, the food. One of my benchmark Cantonese dishes is crab meat and fish maw soup. The soup most definitely delivered. A light rich broth that was enhanced by the texture of the fish maw (dried air bladder). When several drops of red vinegar were stirred into the soup, it really exploded in flavor.

Lobster with black bean sauce. Our waiter offered the live lobster for inspection before taking it away for cooking. The steamed lobster was cut into multiple pieces before it was finished with black bean sauce, ginger and green onion in a wok. While the pieces of lobster were cut into manageable pieces and quite flavorful, the dish was too greasy. Greasy is not something I would associate with steamed Cantonese seafood. Simple fix, less oil in the wok when finishing the dish off in a wok.

Before I go into the Peking Duck, I need to sing the praise of the waiters. Service was fast, thorough, but not overbearing. Water glasses and the teapot were always full. Clean plates were offered often, and finished platters were removed immediately.

Peking Duck was the big miss of the night. Peking Duck is really not a Cantonese dish, but the fluffy white buns that accompany it are (I prefer the flat Beijing style pancakes). Years ago, I advised Full House Arcadia to use compressed air and blow dryers to take a day off of air drying. The result of said process was a change in the health department grade from a C to a B. When preparing Peking Duck, air is forced between the skin and flesh after the end of the duck is sewed shut. The duck then receives a bath in scalding water. Further drying then takes place; either in a more modern, expedited manner, or in the time-consuming traditional way. The duck is then placed/hung in a very hot (457F) oven. After 15 minutes, the temperature is reduced to 350F for 65-70 minutes. The skin, with most of the fat layer under rendered out, should easily separate from the flesh.

The duck we received appeared to have seen a deep fryer. The skin was unusually greasy and had that taste of fryer oil on it. The skin was also exceptionally thin with no evidence of the fat layer that may have dissolved in the fryer. The meat itself was really dry and stringy, something I had never experienced before. The hoisin sauce was quite thin and tasted diluted. The reason that many restaurants require the customer to order Peking Duck in advance is because it takes time. If you don’t have a supply of fresh, finished ducks, do not try shortcuts.

Steamed whole fish (Sole) was our next dish. Ordered in a traditional Cantonese steamed style, it arrived on a large ceramic platter. The fish was nicely steamed, but lacked the essential fresh cilantro. There were several blobs of oil in the sauce on the plate – oil should not have been part of the preparation. So, nice looking, tender fish with depth of flavor and balance lacking.

We ended our meal with two superbly prepared dishes; pan-seared oysters with ginger and honey walnut prawns. Oysters were huge, flavorful and texturally on spot. The prawns were tender, juicy and well-seasoned. The pecans accompanying the prawns were perfectly sweetened and delightfully crispy.

Despite a few problems, I would recommend a visit to Full House. While the San Gabriel Valley is now home to most of our local Chinese restaurants, it can still be fun to visit Chinatown, where it all started, for a traditional and tasty Cantonese meal.

Joray Pieper


TLDR: Great Seafood restaurant not too far from campus. Go try some lobster!

Located in Chinatown, Full House is twenty minutes from campus by car. Visiting on a Tuesday night, parking was readily available although it could be more scarce on busier nights. From the moment we entered the restaurant the service was exemplary and it was evident the waiters brought their “A game”. A teapot was placed in the center of our table followed by a tiny cup of nuts for each guest. Waiting for our appetizers to arrive, I was amused trying to pick up and eat nuts with chopsticks. Soon, the onslaught started as dish after dish quickly covered our table. I captured a photo of each entree; the Lobster, Oysters, and Duck as they arrived from the kitchen.


Crab Meat with Fish Maw Soup - If you love seafood this is a real treat to start the evening as an appetizer. I recommend adding a splash of red vinegar to the soup (provided on the table). The red vinegar combined with the soup created an interesting and refreshing blend of flavor unlike anything I have ever tasted before.

Main Courses:

Braised Lobster with Pepper and Black Bean - I always wanted to try lobster and this worthy first time experience definitely did not disappoint. Every part of the lobster had meat inside, although often a challenge, working to find your food made the reward all the more deliciously satisfying. The claw provided the easiest meat to get as it just slid out when you cracked it open. I was delighted that Tom helped me discover hidden lobster meat near the head of the Lobster. The restaurant let me take a photo with the lobster before it was cooked as well.

Peking Roasted Duck - Super unexpected taste overall left me shocked. I had never imagined eating a duck before but after eating it just left me craving for more. In addition to the duck, bao buns and a special sauce were provided. The duck on its own was great, but I had fun making little sandwiches with the buns, duck meat, and the mystery sauce.

Steamed Sole Fish - This fish was an interesting eat, done right the skeleton of the fish will just slide off and provide a great meal. However, it can be a really tricky meal. I found it challenging not to swallow bones and only swallow the fish. Overall, the fish was great and I had a fun time eating it.

Oysters with Ginger & Green Onion - Completely different from regular oysters, I highly recommend trying this dish if you want to experience a very unique flavor that you can’t get from just regular oysters. I was so fascinated by the taste that I looked it up after dinner to see how the dish was made. Frozen oysters are put with green onions and ginger (obviously). However the rest is listed on this website and I recommend anyone who is debating whether to order this to definitely check it out. (

Honey Walnut Prawns - This was like a sweet treat completely distinct from every other food offered on the table. It was like eating little shrimps covered in honey, but it reminded me of eating sweet popcorn in the movie theater. Every time you took one prawn you just wanted to take another one, and another one. Eating the walnuts in conjunction with the prawns was great as well, giving another avenue of flavor to experience.


The service was amazing. I didn’t have to wait for water once, and the food was spectacular. My favorite food was definitely the Peking Duck but I would for sure have the lobster again if I had the chance. At the end of our meal we all got fortune cookies and oranges calling to a close this wonderful evening. I’d like to provide my email address and phone number below if anyone has any other questions about this restaurant, or has some requests about how I can improve my food reviews.