The patrons in the lounge and dining room are distinctly different - reflective of the decor of each. Whereas the lounge is chic but casual, the dining room is formal and caters to a more upscale, older crowd (mid-late 30s and up).
As everyone else in our party wanted to try the tasting menu, we were seated in the dining room. When ordering from tasting menus, WP24 requires that they be ordered by everyone at the table, which makes sense for the flow of the meal at the table - so we finally settled on the 6-course one. At $140 per person this menu pained me physically - but I went with it since everyone else wanted to go 6 (2 wanted to go 10-courses, but there was no way I was going to pay $170 for Chinese food that I can get at Michelin star quality in Hong Kong). So first tip of the day if you're going to eat in the dining room is, make sure there is consensus among those at your table before going in - otherwise you might end up with a much larger bill than you anticipated.
Next was Today’s Dim Sum Plate - featuring Chive Crystal Dumpling, Dan Dan Dumpling, Tiny Dumpling, Scallop Sui Mai, and Suckling Pig with Quince-Apple Puree. If this was the first time in my life I'd ever tried dim sum - I might have enjoyed the novelty of this plate and the bite-sized little dumplings and cheong fun (rice noodle roll). But because I've had 'real' and really mind-blowing, exquisite dim sum in Hong Kong (and at Yank Sing in San Francisco) - this plate was a complete disappointment. Creativity and technique were both absent from this plate. Almost all of the dumplings were standard fare, and overcooked - inside and out - with the seafood much too firm, and the wrappers not much better in texture. At this level and price, the scallop/crab etc. should taste incredibly fresh, with its natural sweetness and ocean flavors coming through with each bite. Instead, the dumplings were overall too firm and bland, with the exception of the cheong fun (rice noodle roll) that had a pepper slaw on top which added some single-note heat. The suckling pig was also on the dry side and did not have the signature crispy skin.
All in all, I was not happy to have paid Michelin-star prices for a meal that didn't in my view aspire in general to deliver anything more than traditional Chinese fare, and did not even execute those dishes at fine-dining level. Is it unfair to compare this outpost of LA Chinese fine dining to masters in their country of origin? Yes, probably. But even without that measuring stick, the quality of our meal in my view did not justify the $140 - I would have much rather spent it on 5 satisfying meals in the SGV (albeit without the view and ambiance), or a really mind-blowing one from Providence. And, unlike other restaurants that have chefs of a culture not reflective of the featured cuisine, where they are using the cuisine's flavors and ingredients and being inventive and interpretive with it - so that at least you get to experience something new via their perspective - WP24 seems to for the most part just take the traditional preparations and 'introduce' them to guests at inflated prices.
I do wish for more fine dining Chinese food in LA to shift the view of Chinese only as greasy food served in chaotic, loud, hole-in-the-wall spots or staid parlors - to show that it can take a seat at the table of esteemed culinary artistry as well, as it does in Hong Kong. WP24 gets it right in terms of venue - but unfortunately the food that night left me wanting.
Food aside, the true draw of WP24 is the venue - the view is truly incredible at night - and they do offer a daily Happy Hour 5-7pm with a 3-course prix fixe menu for $24, served in the lounge only. For that deal, I would return - to the lounge. Otherwise, for my money, next time I want Chinese I'm going to forgo the curiousity with western interpretations, and sticking with the SGV.
On a 7 point scale:
Flavor - 5 bites
Presentation - 6 bites
Originality - 4 bites
Ambience - 6 stars
Service - 6 stars
Overall experience - 5 bites
Price - $$$$$ (5 bite marks)
Probability of return visit - 60% (for Happy Hour)
900 W Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, California 90015
Look for reservations: Opentable.com