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The wife and I stopped at Hollywood East Cafe on the Boulevard on Sunday, expecting the line to stretch out the door as loyal patrons flocked to the dim sum palace one last time before owner Janet Yu takes her forced hiatus. We were surprised —- and a little saddened —- to discover that we could waltz right into the half-empty Pepto-Bismol-colored dining room and start picking our way through the parade of carts.
Let me emphasize that we were only a little saddened. Because we were starving.
We over-ordered, as always, but came away with the distinct impression that Hollywood East’s cooks were letting it rip on the day before the joint’s official closing on the boulevard. There were dim-sum items that I hadn’t seen before, or maybe just overlooked, like beef chow fun and braised short ribs.
Even better, almost everything we sampled, from those short ribs (peppery and appropriately chewy) to the savory sticky rice (lusty with pieces of pork) to fried shrimp balls wrapped in bacon (need we say more?), were good enough to put a lump in my throat. I mean that in the best way possible. How else to describe the feeling of emptiness that came across me as I thought about two months (or more) without Hollywood East?
The place’s rebirth in the Westfield Shopping Center won’t come until August, and you know how opening dates go. As we paid our tab, I took a picture of the last dim sum bill I’ll ever receive at Hollywood East Cafe on the Boulevard.
It’s at moments like these that I feel less like a food writer, and more like an amateur archivist.