I enjoy being introduced to restaurants I have never tried and I really like Chinese food, so when we were invited to join some friends at the China Tea House in Torrance I was quite eager to try it out. Besides, free dinner is always good. I was told that the place always had Chinese people dining there, so it had to be authentic.

When we arrived there were not many people there and the only Asian that was not an employee or in our group was getting something to go. It was early, so I was not going to let the lack of customers influence me. We let our host order since he was familiar with the menu. We started off with some egg rolls and hot sake. The egg rolls were okay, nothing special, but there is only so much you can do with an egg roll. The hot sake was not hot. It was barely warm. They put the sake bottle in a teapot of hot water which warmed it up a little, but lukewarm sake is not very tasty.

Since Tanya can not have shellfish, we had the wonton soup with chicken and pork. It was great and my hopes were raised once again. Almost immediately the rest of the food started arriving. We had pork fried rice, beef and broccoli, celery and cashew (aka chicken and cashew) and bean curd.

Since we had just been to Benihana a few days earlier, it was inevitable that I ended up comparing Benihana’s chicken fried rice to China Tea House’s pork fried rice. It was no competition. I don’t think substituting chicken for pork would change my opinion much. The pork fried rice was unimpressive. The beef and broccoli was probably my second favorite thing we had, which is unusual because that is not normally a dish I even order. The dish I should have enjoyed the most, chicken and cashew, was very disappointing. There seemed to be a huge amount of celery and the chicken was not flavorful at all. I tried the bean curd just so I could say I tried it, but I have never been a fan so I was not surprised that I did not like it.

While I was not overly impressed with my first visit, I might return some day, but I would have to be more adventurous. I noticed items on other tables that looked interesting so perhaps use my experience as a guide on what not to order. China Tea House is located at 3314 Sepulveda in Torrance, across from the Madronna Marsh. You pretty much have to be looking for it as I never really noticed it even though it has been there for more than 15 years.

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