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Empress Pavilion disappointment?

I ate there this past Sunday (11-27-06) and must admit to a bit of disappointment. We were there for about an hour, and several standards did not come by, including filled steamed broad rice noodles, taro pancakes, and zongzi (steamed wrapped glutinous rice) - though I did see the latter on a far off table as we were leaving. I also felt that the dumpling we did have were not adequately differentiated in taste, reflecting an inadequate use of ginger and other aromatics.

Two questions, then:

Do you share my disappoint with Empress or not? I'm interested in a good defense of this venerable dim sum venue.

What is an excellent alternative, even if a bit pricier?

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  1. never liked empress to begin with.....so i can say i share your views =)

    1. I used to go to Empress a lot with my family about 7-10 years ago. All I remembered was the horrible wait and the over crowdedness of the place. I recently went back to try it again with my bf about 6 months ago and realized not much has changed.

      We usually go to the Sam Woo Seafood Restaurant for dim sum. (If you don't mind going to San Gabriel) I like the food better here and they have specials of $1.90 for the smaller plates (haven't been there recently though so I don't know if they still have this special)

      Located at San Gabriel Square or also called Focus Plaza (because of the dept store here) The address is:

      140 W. Valley Blvd.
      San Gabriel, CA 91776

      To get to Sam Woo, you'll have to take the elevator to the top floor in the Focus department. Enjoy!

      1 Reply
      1. re: arisu

        fyi, sam woo in san gabriel closed a few months ago. supposedly the new capital (hong kong style seafood) was taking over the space

      2. Actually, there have been a series of posts this year suggesting that Empress Pavilion has gone downhill. Here are a couple of them.

        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/319179

        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/76795

        1 Reply
        1. re: UCLAW

          Gone downhill? It was never that good to begin with. We went once only more than 9 years ago. We waited an hour for the table, and the food was not great. Just remembered some mushy wrapping on the hargow. Never went back.

          The best dim sum places are around SGV, and to avoid disappointment and long waits for your favorite dim sum items, I suggest going to one that you place the order instead of grabbing from the cart. The food is fresher that way - no excuse for mushy wrapping, or fried items that's gone cold.

          The best of the lot is Sea Harbor on Rosemead, but any of the others like Mission 261, Triumphal Palace, New Concept, etc will run circles around Empress.

        2. Empress is probably the best there is in Chinatown.

          The best dim sum in Los Angeles has definitely migrated east to the SGV. Try places like 888, Ocean Star, Sea Harbour, Mission 261, Triumphal Palace.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ipsedixit

            I've quit going to Empress and haven't been there for several years, but I think CBS on Ord can rival Empress in Chinatown. Neither can come close to Trumphal Palace, New Concept, or others in SGV.

          2. Sorry to hear about your dissapointment in Empress Pavillion. I know that sometimes the cart with the items that you want don't come right away. It is always really busy there. We usually will ask the Dim Sum ladies pushing carts what we want and they have been good about hunting down the items for us.
            I still look forward to spending my Saturday mornings there.