Located in what looks like the decrepit mall they used in Dawn of the Dead, Private Party is a restaurant that boasts bubbling hot pots, cheap animal skewers and an impressive decor. Oh yea, it's also COMMUNIST THEMED! Oh the humanity...
To kick things off, the hot pot world is one that I wasn't very familiar with, so here's some context on the fiery dish.
Popular in China, Malaysia, and other regions of Asia, the hot pot has been going steady and filling bellies for over 1,000 years. Plus, it's exactly what it sounds like: a giant fiery cauldron of broth, where diners cook up an assortment of fish, vegetables and beef. Picture a classier version of fondue, sans the cheese.
And as for all the communism that was promised in the brochure? Well, they certainly don't skimp on it in this part of town. The decor is red, the workers are seemingly happy (like any good communist should be) and the themed aesthetic runs deep in every corner. Walls are aligned with propaganda posters and, of course, good ol' Chairman Mao watches over you as you eat, making for quite the appetizing dining experience.
And the waiters are a sight to behold, bar none the best part about this place. Fully decked out in green Chinese army apparel, arm bands and starred hats and boots, they swiftly take your order and retreat to a corner for a good stare session. This makes it feel like you're an inmate at a real communist prison, but with much better food.
They seem like they're sorta in on the joke, but I use the term "sorta" pretty loosely. Nothing regarding the commie theme is acknowledged one bit during your meal; no "Welcome to the communist party!" introduction or attempts at bad acting here. These are regular people working waiter jobs and treating it like any normal dining experience, which makes it all very surreal.
And lastly-- partially because I pay little attention to this part when it comes to gimmick restaurants-- there's the food.
Now, I can't have so a lot of fun at places like this (non animal eater here) so I can't say whether the food was good or not, but I did appreciate two delectable things: The toping buffet-- featuring a huge assortment of hot sauces-- and this refrigerator, filled with random skewers that cost a few bucks a pop.
I'd like to say I was completely surprised when this opened up, but the San Gabriel Valley is hotbed for oddly themed restaurants such as this throwback and the now defunct Magical Restroom Cafe. So what makes East LA the hot spot for these strange culinary experiments? The world may never know.
To sum Private Party up, I'd call it awkward dining all around, which is probably how it feels to eat dinner in Communist countries anyway. Come for the skewers and laughs, but don't steal any of the artwork.
HOW THE HELL DID THIS HAPPEN?
Apparently, communist-themed eateries are all of the rage in Northern China nowadays, which ed Jessica Zhang and her three co-owners to open Private Party in bustling Monterey Park.
Per LA weekly, the reasoning for Zhang was simply: "It's fun." Bravo!