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Mission 261

So I wanted some dim sum over the holiday, and since the word on these boards is that Empress Pavilion has gone downhill, I headed out to the SGV. Couldn't decide between Sea Harbour and Mission 261, but finally settled on the latter.

I was unimpressed. The fried seafood thingies had a good texture but were bland and didn't have much seafood in them. Vegetable spring rolls were so-so. Ditto for the steamed chicken buns. The shrimp dumplings were good but very plain, no dipping sauce, no hot mustard, nothing. A fried noodle with shrimp dish was OK but more the sort of thing I'd order for a Chinese dinner, not dim sum.

The service was quite good. But no scallops on the menu? What's up with that?

Overall, I don't get it. Is this a place for meat-eaters (my wife and I stick to fish and chicken)? Or is it just not that good?

Next time I'll try Sea Harbour because they specialize in seafood.

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  1. It's just not that good. Sometimes I feel like people rave about places just because Jonathan Gold told them it's good. To me, his taste buds are very hit and miss.

    1 Reply
    1. re: slacker

      Btw, I went when it was still fairly new so pre re-vamped menu, and good variety. Still, it just wasn't good.

    2. 261 re-vamped (well, downsized) their dim sum menu over the summer -- VERY disappointed after the change, since a lot of their signature dishes were taken off. (and yea, they used to have scallops) :(

      I won't be re-visiting for a while either.

      1. At one time I have heard that Sea Harbor and Mission 261 have the same owner - from Vancouver. Was that ever true, and is it currently true?

        I like the food at Sea Harbor, but it sported a Health Department rating of 61 on my last visit.

        1. Mission used to have some very innovative dim sum. But my previous visits have resulted in some not too hot dishes, despite the fact you order from the kitchen. It's also on the expensive side. It does have the advantage of a good space and the ability to make reservations.

          BTW you ask them for the hot mustard sauce. I have never seen dipping sauce coming with steamed shrimp dumplings.

          1 Reply
          1. re: PeterL

            I have never seen dipping sauce with shrimp dumplings, either, but in the absence of all else, I thought maybe ... ? I did ask for hot mustard, and after the waiters got over their surprise, they brought some.

          2. I went to Mission 261 yesterday and was also not impressed. While I like the idea of the food being fresher when you order from the menu (rather than sitting in carts), I miss the carts. I think there's probably high enough turnover that things will be more or less fresh when you get to point at things in carts. I also found we ordered too much when we didn't see everything and just checked off things on whim.

            Overall, I think the dumplings are too sweet there. I'm expecting a savory taste and would be hit with granules of sugar. On siu mai? Very unacceptable. I did like the mushroom dumpling though I cannot recall actually ordering them (light green wrapper).

            You can ask for the condiments.

            1. My friend had his wedding reception at Mission 261. Was not impressed. The prices are steeper than your average SGV Chinese restaurant, but the quality of the food wasn't any better. IMO 261 caters more to non-Chinese people.

              1. It's not that Mission 261 has gone downhill *recently*. The fact of the matter is they went downhill almost immediately.

                As per my January 2004 post:

                According to my Chinese mother-in-law (located at ground zero, Monterey Park), the original chef that was hired at Mission 261 split after only a month. (You might remember my heads up a few months ago.)

                She ate there during the grand opening, and said it was awesome. That right there is high praise indeed. However, she never made it back for a second visit.

                Her friends soon reported that a new chef was in town. All of them reported that the food at that point was "just average." They're now back to their regular haunts.


                1. I just went to Triumphal Palace for dim sum and I was quite impressed. I wa shocked that Mission 261 went downhill so fast. It's amazing how much chef competition goes on in these big Dim Sum palaces in the SGV.

                  1. I should have researched Mission 261 here before heading out there. My friends from Pasadena recommended this place and based on the chinese people filtering in and out of the restaurant, I was eagerly (and probably expected too much) waiting to be served. SErvice is HORRIBLE. We ordered 5 different dumplings (not too impressed - I'll go to Sam Woo any day), roasted duck (they brought us bbq pork instead) and in the middle of our lunch, they delivered chicken buns in a take out box - which left us wondering how it got there. The manager even insisted taht we ordered it and for the life of us, we really did NOT. Maybe we had a LOst in Translation moment? The manager was very rude, you'd think a big place like that will have friendlier, bilingual employees.