Emerald in San Diego (Dim Sum)
We've already tried Jasmine's takeout dim sum, so based on comments on the board we decided to try out Emerald for dim sum on Sunday. We arrived around 10:30 and were put in the back corner where the carts go in/come out. Unfortunately for us that meant a lot of noise and being the last on the cart route.
As far as dim sum goes in San Diego, I guess it was okay. The food was lukewarm and my favorite for the day was the baked pork bun which isn't saying much. Hubby and I felt there wasn't much of a unique selection - where were the chicken feet, spareribs, squid? Perhaps we weren't presented with all their offerings. We had to hunt down the tofu-fa cart after she passed us a few times without stopping, and we noticed upon leaving that there were several carts with items we hadn't been given the opportunity to try.
Pros were the decent dim sum, lovely hot tea and the servers who were very descriptive about the cart offerings.
Cons were the lack of selection and lukewarm food.
Next time we'll try Jasmine's sit down service.
We used to love going to Pearl, Emerald's sister restaurant in Rancho Bernardo, but the last visit was disappointing. Several of the shrimp items tasted old/fishy, the lo mein was bathed in a gloppy sauce that was too sweet, and the char shu bao had a definite factory made quality about them. I guess we could try again, but I'm wondering if perhaps the owner hasn't stretched herself and her resources a little too thinly with two restaurants.
A couple of weeks ago, I was at Emerald at 10:30 and had excellent dim sum. Everything was hot and tasted very fresh. I didn't see the squid either, but pork ribs and chicken feet were certainly there. I should mention that I have learned to be somewhat aggressive with the cart ladies and make sure that they show me everything - as they are often reluctant to show chicken feet, for example, to non Chinese diners.
On another occasion, I made a special request for the squid and within a few minutes some of the best tasting, crunchiest tentacles in the world were at my table.
Right after the fire, the dim sum seemed to have declined a bit in quality, but on my last visit, I thought it was as good as it had ever been.
Perhaps you should try the dim sum off the menu at China Max.
Maybe at some point, we'll give it another try. I don't think we'd do China Max simply because it's off a menu. It just doesn't feel like dim sum to me!
Sorry you had a less-than-great time at Emerald's. It's our go-to place for dim sum these days. However, we've learned not to accept a table behind that huge column in the front of the room or one hidden in a corner. Sadly, it is hit or miss, as there are some times when you don't see your favorite dishes and some when you get everything you wanted and quickly.
We didn't like Pearl as much, the flavors seemed off, which I thought was funny since they're the sister restaurant to Emerald's. However, I do like their picture menu because you can point to it and ask for dishes if you haven't seen them on any carts recently.
We've been snubbed and ignored by the dim sum carts too often at Jasmine, so we haven't been back.
China Max does have good dim sum. I agree that it's not the same if you're not picking it off a cart, but it's still good food.