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Echo Park Chinese restaurant serves up a makeover

By BARRY LANK

ECHO PARK — Much has changed in Echo Park since Wichhica Nhim’s parents, who fled to the United States from Cambodia in the 1970s, opened Chinatown Express in an Echo Park Avenue minimall 15 years ago.  The pace of gentrification took off, rents and real estate prices have spiked and new restaurants, bars and shops have opened. Now,  Nhim’s family restaurant has changed, too.

This weekend, a grand re-opening ceremony, complete with with Chinese dragons dancers, marked the transformation of Chinatown Express into Combo A – a sleek, contemporary version of the the old restaurant.

“Everything was updated from the floors, tiles, paint, and décor to all the furniture,” Nhim said.“Our customers are here on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. We decided that we wanted to create a new space to call home for all of us.”

Before

After

The new name was inspired by the restaurant’s  popular lunch combination that’s long been a staple at the restaurant:  rice and/or noodles, plus two items from the steam table.

Despite the new look,  much remains the same.  Nhim and his family remain in charge, and, and most of the food selection — including the  Combo A deal — hasn’t changed but  some new additions are possible.

The new appearance in a way reflects the ongoing changes in the surrounding neighborhood. “Today’s Echo Park includes familiar face alongside new faces, but it remains the same tight knit neighborhood that houses the differences in each of us,” Nhim said.

Combo A is located at 1411 Echo Park Avenue.

Wichhica Nhim

Wichhica Nhim and his parents

Screenshot 2015-12-10 at 3.10.51 PM

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19 comments

  1. Congratulations! Great family and great food.

  2. Awesome! Love to see them fix the place up vs. some gentrifiers coming in.

  3. Dang that looks great. I’ll definitely give it a try.

  4. This is great. Very nice to see local merchants seizing new opportunities instead of moving out as the neighborhood changes.

    I’m going to check it out.

  5. Wow! It looks great. What a smart idea to change a little, yet still remain rooted in the past. I will definately give this place a try! Good luck to this lovely family.

  6. Congratulations Nhim Family! Slowly but surely, the longtime family-owned businesses on Sunset Blvd. have been pushed out or chose to leave: Pioneer Market, Barragan’s Restaurant, Crown Shoe Store to be replaced by “American Barber”…(hint: non-Americans not wanted). The least you gentrifying hipsters who have invaded from west of La Brea Avenue or from one of the many outside states often displayed on your license plates scattered throughout Echo Park is to spend your money supporting a deserving longtime family-owned business instead of walking around like you own the place or sipping cappuccinos with laptops at Blue Bottle. Congrats to the young Nhim for capturing a gentrifying market, updating your family business, and hopefully, generating satisfied customers for another generation…

    • Wow, soooo sensitive. How do you manage to sill live in EP? Must be terrifying for you. Be strong!

    • Iheartechopark

      . Just replace “hipster” with “Mexican” or some other group and “gentrifying” with “immigrants” and this sounds like the same thing that every Trump supporter is saying..

    • We came from west of Western dude, we’ve already gentrified clear past La Brea! Also Blue Bottle doesn’t have wi-fi so I leech the internet from Stories. Gotta get mine first!

    • wtf_is_a_hispter_anymore

      WAHHHHHHHHHH

      • thatsjustlikemyopinionman

        Why are you all so sensitive to what he’s saying? He’s making a very fair point. If you can’t come into a neighborhood and patronize the establishments that have a long history there, and instead just go to places like Dinette, you are part of the problem. I hope you enjoy your $12 avocado toast next to the bus stop and that the hypocrisy of it all doesn’t ruin the taste in your mouth.

  7. Orange chicken….

  8. This place is a lunch time staple for me and my crew. The food is cheap, fast and super tasty. Plus this family is so freaking nice. Hipster food joints in the area could really learn some thing from these people. Hope the renovations bring a whole new crowd on top of the long time customers. They deserve it!

  9. Fantastic Family! Fantastic Food! Best of luck!

  10. This is wonderful news. I’m so happy for Wich and his family. I’ve been eating their BBQ Pork since the beginning and will gladly continue to do so. Thanks for the update Eastsider.

  11. So awesome!!! Love this spot – esp Wich! he’s the best!!

  12. My Man Wich!!! congrats. He is the nicest guy. Always pretended to recognize me even though all I looked like all the other new guys in the neighborhood. I am thrilled for him and his family. Good things come to good people. Thanks for all those extra egg rolls Wich!

  13. Yup! And I designed the new LOGO! Leaving my mark in EP just like Wich wanted it!

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