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El Segundo Eats: Northern Cafe

This eatery features authentic Chinese cuisine from the country’s Northern region, including hand-formed dumplings and pastry.

By Jenifer Antonelli

Clockwise from top left: Beef Roll, Dan Dan Noodles, Chicken in Spicy Chili Oil; closeup of Chicken in Spicy Chili Oil; closeup of Dan Dan Noodles; closeup of Pork Wontons in Spicy Chili Oil. Photos by Jenifer Antonelli

My daughter is obsessed with dumplings—so we’re thrilled about the new Chinese dumpling house in town. Northern Cafe is the newest addition to the El Segundo restaurant scene and is conveniently located in Plaza El Segundo/The Works at 700 S. Allied Way. Maureen and I jumped at the opportunity to try their authentic Chinese food and speak with their General Manager, Cynthia Yong. Cynthia explained that Northern Cafe keeps its menu steeped in tradition while most other Chinese restaurants have been Americanized. Northern Cafe specializes in handmade dumplings and pastries from the Northern region of China. Its chefs have been perfecting their recipes for the last 20 years, and the eatery has 20 locations in Los Angeles. The El Segundo location just opened last month.

We sampled a couple of their specialties—namely, the pork wontons in spicy chili oil and a beef roll. The pillowy soft pork wontons were made from scratch, by hand, and were so flavorful paired with the house-made fragrant chili oil. The beef roll featured thinly sliced, marinated beef wrapped inside the eatery’s most popular pancake. That crispy and flaky pastry offers a nice crunch when you take a bite of the tender beef coiled inside with green onions and fresh cilantro.

Exposed brick wall, high industrial-style ceiling, well-lit dining space in Northern Cafe in El Segundo
Northern Cafe interior in El Segundo

Northern Cafe prides itself on offering good-sized portions of authentic food at reasonable prices. Cynthia explained that the sauerkraut stew is a classic Northern Chinese dish that is unique to their menu. The braised chicken, eggplant in garlic sauce, and beef noodle soup are additional customer favorites. We tried a couple more of their traditional dishes in addition to their pastries. The chicken in spicy chili oil was bursting with flavor without being too intense for sensitive palates. The tender chicken was thinly sliced, bathed in chili oil, then topped with green onions and chopped peanuts. The cafe’s Szechuan dan dan noodles were coated in a rich and creamy peanut-butter sauce, so they were slightly sweet with a hint of heat from a drizzle of chili oil. The noodles were topped with ground pork, chopped peanuts, and sliced green onions.

Marinated, thinly sliced beef coiled up with cilantro and green onion in a handmade pancake. Half of the roll is in a hand and half is on a plate. Northern Cafe napkin beneath
Beef Roll at Northern Cafe in El Segundo

We’ll definitely be taking our families back soon to try more dishes, including the newest addition to the menu: personal hot pots. Northern Cafe is open for lunch and dinner from 11am to 9pm daily and can be reached at 310-616-3003.

This story appears in the June 2022 issue of The El Segundo Scene.

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