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Dim Sum in Orange County?

any recommendations for good dim sum for a saturday or sunday in orange county? i'm from new york and used to canton-style and shanghai-style places, which is what i'd love to find. thanks.

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    1. My favorite is China Garden in Irvine, because it's close, it's cheap, it's not too crowded, and it's good.

      Don't bother with Sam Woo on Culver (also in Irvine), I liked them for quite a while, but my last visit was a major let down. They actually seemed to have microwaved some of their dim sum...at least that's what it tasted like.

      Here are some Photos of what China Garden has to offer.

      2 Replies
      1. re: elmomonster

        I concur. The last time at Sam Woo was a let down compared to China Garden.

        1. re: cdmedici

          I also like China Garden, but I seem to go when there is always a crowd. Usually a 30-45 minute wait for me on the weekends. I probably go at the height of the busy time though.

      2. W/o driving all the way to LA, there's TEN TEN SEAFOOD on Euclid in Anaheim. The selection isn't huge, and I'm not sure if it's Cantonese or Shanghai style, but it fits the bill when I get a craving.

        8 Replies
        1. re: OCAnn

          It's Cantonese style, but if you go at any kind of "off" hour (like, say, 1 PM on Tuesday) you will be very, very, VERY sad.

          1. re: Das Ubergeek

            Thanks for the warning. I'm usually @ any dim sum place by 11:00 a.m., before the crowd hits. I guess it's like any restaurant: go early for more attentive service, no reservations necessary (most of the time), shorter waits (if any) and solid food.

            1. re: OCAnn

              It SHOULD be okay, but when it's not crowded the dumplings are warmed over. Otherwise, it's fine. I actually prefer to wait because I know I'll get fresh food.

              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                I went to Ten Ten Seafood today(Friday) at 1:30pm for dim sum. Last time I ate here was about ten years ago. I was really hoping I'd love it. Shucks! It was not crowded. Unfortunately the food was not fresh, but I'm not sure I would go back even if it were fresh. The food was mostly overcooked or the flavor was off.

                We had:
                -Har gow (oversteamed so wrappers were mushy and the shrimp was chewy and water logged, almost tasteless).
                -Shu mai (Very rough grind on the pork, very dense, which some may prefer so it's not necessarily a bad thing, and flavor was ok).
                -Seaweed wrapped pork and shrimp (very fishy flavored and way over cooked and tough). Had one bite and that was enough, left the rest.
                -Shrimp balls, deep fried (tough over cooked and tasted very much like fish sticks).
                -Chinese brocoli with oyster sauce (Yaaay, very good!).

                PS. Forgot to add that there was mix up on the bill and we were overcharged $1.60. It was corrected only after a lengthy discussion.

                1. re: GrindzHound

                  Ten Ten Seafood is one of the few OC dim sum places I haven't been to yet, and judging from the review, I probably won't anytime soon. The har gow and shu mai are what I use as standard dishes to judge the quality of a dim sum place. When these are bad, the rest usually is.

                  1. re: GrindzHound

                    See, this is exactly my point. Go on a weekday, it's miserable. Go on the weekend at peak hours, and those same crappy har gau are now sublime. It's like night and day.

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      I agree to a certain extent that fresher is much better, especially for steamed foods where sitting food will get oversteamed, overcooked and bland. I can tell you as far as my experience at Ten Ten is concerned, that the food sitting too long wasn't the reason that I would not go back. The seaweed wrapped pork and shrimp was reeeaally fishy and the shrimp balls genuinely tasted like fish sticks. I try to give accurate descriptions of the food I eat and not just give my preference personal good or bad, because everyone has different tastes. That's why I described the shu mai as roughly ground. Hopefully the har gow is much better when fresher, I just can't see going back when there is Seafood Palace and China Garden close by.

                      1. re: GrindzHound

                        I know it's old, but I just saw this reply. I have to say, GrindzHound, that your description of the seaweed pork and shrimp and shrimp balls at Ten Ten are spot on! They were brought out fresh to me on a weekend and the freshness made absolutely no difference. They ought to tweak the components of those two recipes. I can't imagine anybody liking that seaweed thing. They sell quite a few of them though. Of everything I've tried at Ten Ten, those were the worst. I have enjoyed everything else.

          2. You can also try the chinese places in and around Westminster (Little Saigon) area. Most of them are very disappointing, but you can try both Seafood World on Brookhurst/McFadden and Seafood Paradise on Westminster between Magnolia and Beach. I especially like the har gow at Seafood Paradise, they are so plump and delicious.

            1. I think the only two worth going to nowadays are Seafood Paradise in Westminster and China Garden in Irvine. Contrary to what Elmomonster said, I've always experienced crowds at China Garden, at least a 10-15 minute wait during the prime times between 11AM-1PM on the weekends, and that parking lot really gets jammed up sometimes.

              Have always had disappointing experiences at Seafood World on Brookhurst, even on weekends. I wouldn't recommend this place at all.

              Russell's Seafood on Main St in Irvine near the John Wayne airport is decent. Much better than Seafood World, but not quite up to par with Seafood Paradise or China Garden.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Wonginator

                Actually, Wonginator, you hit it right on the nose on the wait. It's somewhere between 10-15 minutes during the busiest times. And the parking lot *is* packed solid by then.

                But considering I've had to wait 45 minutes to 90 minutes at Sea Harbour and Ocean Star and other dim sum houses in SGV, I consider China Garden deserted by comparison! ;-)


                1. re: elmomonster

                  I waited two hours for Empress Pavilion in Chinatown, and it was so not worth it!

                  1. re: elmomonster

                    I usually set 30 min. as the longest wait that I can tolerate, and only if our party is so large that we can't all drive easily to another site. And now that I've compiled a list of dim sum restaurants from Chowhound, I always have 2 or 3 places as backups in case the first choice is too crowded.

                    The longest recent wait I had was at the former Sea Harbour location in Rowland Heights, which we waited about 30 min. Anything longer, and I just go elsewhere.

                  2. re: Wonginator

                    While Dragon Phoenix has fallen Seafood Paradise has risen. The shu mai, shrimp wrapped in seaweed (deep fried), shrimp wontons, pea sprouts and chinese brocoli are especiallty good. The har gow is a bit mild to bland in flavor. Overall this place is great because it's close.

                  3. I prefer Seafood Paradise quite a bit more than China Garden.

                    1. I get my dim sum from Seafood Place 2 in Anaheim as it's only 5 mins away from my house and it's affordable and tastes great without having to drive all the way to LA.

                      My favorites are the har gow , har cheung fun, and the baked meat buns (NOT the steamed white ones but the nice golden brown buns of heaven)

                      420 S Brookhurst St
                      Anaheim, CA 92804
                      (714) 808-1963

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: arisu

                        Never heard of this place before. I'll be sure to add it to my list of dim sum houses in OC and try it out sometime in the near future.

                        1. re: Wonginator

                          Forgot to mention that this place is called #2 is because...there is a #1 somewhere else! ;) If you live closer to Garden Grove, then the #1 would be best.

                          Seafood Place Chinese Restaurant
                          12201 Brookhurst, Garden Grove 92840


                          1. re: arisu

                            arisu, thanks for the post. I haven't tried Seafood Place...yet, that is...

                            1. re: arisu

                              I finally had a chance to try out this Seafood Place (the Brookhurst location in Garden Grove) for dim sum on Sunday at about 12:30PM. I didn't realize until I saw the building that I had been here before for dinner, but it was our first visit for dim sum.

                              The dining hall was only about half full, with maybe only 1/3 to 1/2 the tables ordering dim sum. Overall, the selection of dim sum items was pretty limited. They had only a few carts (1 steam cart, 1 for the noodles and char siu bao buns, 1 for the gai lan broccoli, and 1 more for the soup), and so few tables were ordering dim sum that the carts just sat on the side, and we had to flag down the server whenever we wanted to look at what items were on the carts.

                              For the 3 of us, we ordered a total of 9 items, with mostly the standard stuff, like the har gow, siu mai, rice noodles w/BBQ pork, scallop dumplings, chicken feet, pork spare ribs, sticky rice in taro leaves.

                              Overall, the place was just OK, with some items being really good, some not so good. There didn't seem to be a fresh rotation of items since so the place wasn't that busy and only a few tables were ordering the dim sum. Prices are decent for OC, with a $1.90/$2.90/$3.90 price structure for the items in the A/B/C categories.

                              I wouldn't recommend that anyone come out of their way to get dim sum here. I would still recommend the usual places like Seafood Paradise or China Garden first before coming to Seafood Place.

                              1. re: Wonginator

                                Wonginator, I tried Seafood Place out in December and I can confirm the same as you. Seafood Paradise and China Garden are still my go to's.

                        2. Avoid like ebola: Dragon Phoenix in Westminster. Trust me on this one.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Professor Salt

                            I'd rather suffer the ebola virus than to have suffered thru my experience there.

                            1. re: JAB

                              long, long time ago it was good but i got there a couple years after it started declining. now everyone tells me it's just the pits.

                              1. re: choctastic

                                All I have to say about Dragon Phoenix is ugh! Last time we went there was two years ago and after a few bites of har gow and shu mai we paid the bill and left.

                          2. S.W. Seafood & BBQ in Irvine (Walnut and Jeffrey), right next to the 5 freeway, has pretty good dim sum.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: mikester

                              Never tried dim sum at SW Seafood, as I wasn't aware that they had it. Do you have to order off the menu? Is the selection limited? I've never heard of any cart service dim sum at SW.

                              1. re: Wonginator

                                they have a small dim sum menu that you can order off a sheet that has photos. i think this place is alright for their lunches and the dim sum is not the worst i've had but if you're around at lunchtime go to china garden instead. actually i like sw seafood when it's late and no other place is serving dim sum and i must have something.

                            2. Yes, it's off of a seperate menu but, a pretty good selection. No carts. As much as I really used to like SW, I never thought that their dim sum was that good. I think that they've gone down hill in general over the last year or so.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: JAB

                                I haven't been in over a year or so, so that could be the case.

                                1. re: JAB

                                  oh crap i should have read this before replying haven't been there in a couple of months.

                                2. There is a new place in Irvine Quail Hill/Shady Canyon (off the 405 freeway) area called Crystal Jade that has good dim sum. It's not as crowded as China Garden and we've had a good experience there for our past three visits. More competition means better restaurants in the area!

                                  11 Replies
                                  1. re: Donna566

                                    Oh, so it finally opened? It's been "coming soon" longer than Ron Jeremy.

                                    1. re: Donna566

                                      That's pretty close by to me. I'll have to check this place out soon. Do you have an address for this Crystal Jade restaurant?

                                      1. re: Wonginator

                                        Here is the address that I found on the internet for this Quail Hill Village Center:

                                        6501-6875 Quail Hill Parkway
                                        Irvine, CA 92602

                                        (it is located on the left side as you enter the center near Wells Fargo)

                                        Crystal Jade phone number: 949-725-3368


                                        1. re: Donna566

                                          my co-workers and i went there during opening month, and were disappointed to discover that their dim sum is brought in each day :( not even done on premises! we were so looking forward to trying it out, and ended up waiting forever and defaulting to the main menu. if you are gonna try it, don't bother going early b/c it won't be ready (or there for that matter).

                                          1. re: brekkie_fan

                                            thank you for the heads up. did not know that their dim sum is delivered from another site. hopefully your meal was decent, however. i recently moved to laguna niguel from san francisco and am always at a loss for nearby food options!

                                            1. re: Donna566

                                              you're welcome Donna566. i'm from the Bay Area as well, and miss the crazy good sushi of Koi Palace (but not the wait!)

                                            2. re: brekkie_fan

                                              I know that their dim-sum chefs used to work at the dim sum places called "Mission 261" in Alhambra. Our co-workers at Broadcom knows him, we always have something special made for our group whenever we go there. They offer really fresh dim sum at Crystal Jade.

                                        2. re: Donna566

                                          I went yesterday on hearing your news. Dim sum was solid, no real clunkers. No shiny diamonds, either. With a smallish, straightforward Cantonese lunch menu, it's good food, but they're not reaching for grand heights like a New Concept or a Sea Harbour. It's strictly dim sum's greatest hits, with no wacky exotica.

                                          Smallish live tanks hold an obligatory inventory of a few lonely lobsters and dungeness crabs. Don't think they've really got the demand for live (expensive) seafood just yet.

                                          The newly built restaurant is attractive. They bill themselves as Chinese fine dining. This means smallish portions for higher than average Irvine prices to pay for the design bill. It's certainly a better looking room than China Garden, which can use a major renovation.

                                          Service still seems a little ragged, but that's expected in a new place. Dim sum is ordered off a menu, no cart service. Compared to China Garden, prices are higher, dim sum offerings aren't as deep, but because it's ordered off menu, everything we ate was made fresh to order.

                                          As they grow, I hope they can raise the level of their food beyond local Irvine expectations. With a large Asian immigrant population, we already have high standards and good, solid Chinese restaurants in Irvine. For the short term, my take on their food strategy is the sacrifice bunt to advance the runner around the bases. Hopefully down the road they can swing for the bleachers instead of playing it safe.

                                          1. re: Professor Salt

                                            As I remember, both China Garden and Crystal Jade have the same price on the dim sum plates, SW'S dim sum cost a little bit less.

                                            1. re: KARENVOSS

                                              We have eaten at Crystal Jade for a couple of times , we like their shrimp rice rolls, it is really fresh and soft, and I like the idea of cook to order, make sure your food are not seating in the sterno carts travelling around. Their price are a little higher than in Los Angeles, but the ambience is a lot better.