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Feb 14, 2007 11:03 PM

WORST dim sum in L. A. or anywhere

I love dim sum at CBS Seafood, Empress Pavilion, and ABC Seafood in L. A.'s Chinatown. I loved dim sum at Royal Star in Santa Monica but it has closed. Today my eating partner and I decided to go to Ocean Seafood at 750 N. Hill St., Chinatown.

HUGE mistake. All of the dim sum was cold and hard. Unlike CBS Seafood, the servers didn't offer to heat it up before serving. Most of the dim sum was white and sitting in a watery substance. Everything was unappetizing, unappealing and tasteless. Disgusting.

Service was great because there were very few customers during lunch. One room was closed and the room we were in was 3/4 empty.

Then the bill came. It was more than twice as much as we have ever spent at any dim sum palace.

Foodies reading this, there are very good restaurants to go for dim sum in Chinatown. Please spread the word that Ocean Seafood isn't one of them. If anyone replies that you have been to Ocean Seafood and had spectacular dim sum, we won't be going back to give it another try. There are too many good restaurants out there waiting for us.

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  1. I personally abhor Empress for dim sum. For me, it's worth the trip to go to Rowland Heights for New Capital Seafood.

    1 Reply
    1. re: SauceSupreme

      I agree about Empress. There is very little variety and the same carts come around with the same thing. I don't think their dim sum is that good.

    2. I don't know if I would call NBC the worst, but the past couple of times we've been, we've experienced some of the chicken-based dishes tasting like they had been doused with chlorine bleach. It's always been the chicken dishes. I was hoping that it was because they might have cleansed something with bleach and just didn't rinse well enough, but I am starting to have a sneaking suspicion that they were trying to "save" some "gamey"
      chicken parts? I have noticed that the quality has seemed to have slipped there...

      1 Reply
      1. re: bulavinaka

        We were at Ocean Seafood from about 12:30 to 1:15. One room was closed and the other was nearly empty. I think we were the last to learn not to go there. Really, the dim sum was mostly white, mushy, sitting in water, ice cold and hard. Disgusting. No problems like this ever at CBS, ABC, Empress Pavilion or Royal Star. Thanks for asking.

      2. What time did you go? Dim sum by 1 o'clock any dim sum place usually has no more food left. as a kid it my parents use to hurry us to get there by 10 am

        9 Replies
        1. re: mkleeh

          Same as your parents - early as possible - usually 10AM or earlier. Otherwise the lines are atrocious...

          1. re: mkleeh

            To me, anytime before 11AM is too early. You will avoid the crowds, but if there are not enough people there ordering and eating, the same items will sit on the carts for longer and not taste as fresh. I've had dim sum at 1PM often, and there is still plenty of food left.

            2PM is usually my cutoff time for not going to dim sum. 11:15AM is usually the earliest I ever attempt to go to dim sum. Even 11:30AM is sometimes too early to get the full rotation and selection of items to choose from.

            Having dim sum from 12:30PM to 1:15PM on a weekend is the perfect time to go for dim sum. If the selection and quality is poor during this time, it will be worse at any other time or day.

            1. re: Wonginator

              The Ocean Seafood dim sum from hell experience was Wed., Valentine's Day. I agree with you on the best/worst times for dim sum, but there has never been a problem at any other dim sum restaurant.

              There is no excuse for what Ocean Seafood passed off as dim sum.

              1. re: Barbara Ladden

                I agree that it sounds like a horrendous experience you had at Ocean Seafood. Haven't been there yet, and I probably won't after reading about your experience. I've only been to Empress Pavilion on a weekday, and I had a rather good experience that seemed pretty busy and crowded for a weekday.

                In general, I try not to do the weekday dim sum so much because of the smaller crowds, smaller selection of items, and slower turnover of food. Seems like the food you got sat on the carts for at least 15-20 minutes. I guess they weren't using steam carts to help keep the food heated.

                You know, after you took a bite out of the cold food, you should have asked to see a manager and complain about it. I did that once with an order of shiu mai that were cold and not cooked, and they promptly replaced it with a hot fresh order. This happened to me at China Garden in Irvine.

                1. re: Wonginator

                  The dim sum at Ocean Seafood as sitting on a steam cart, more like a day or 2 rather than 15-20min. Maybe because there were very few customers and no turnover.

                  We certainly did complain to the "manager" and he walked away. There is no reason to ever go back there.

                  We always go to Chinatown during the week, knowing how crowded everything is on week-ends. CBS Seafood is crowded most of the time and there is never a long wait. The dim sum is very good and the servers make sure it's hot. Good food, good service, good prices.

                  1. re: Barbara Ladden

                    I'd say it's average for Chinatown, service is not bad, and it is cheap.

                    I do think you're being absolutely over the top about Ocean on the basis on just one visit. I've been to places where if I picked one visit as my only basis of evaluating everything for all time, it would've been my loss. Personally I've found Ocean to be superior to Empress and most other C-town joints in the past, but the last few visits have been spotty. But really none of these places hold a candle to those further east.

                    CBS? eh, not bad, kind of salty, cheap it is, lousy parking. If I picked the worst time I went there as my only data point, I'd probably never go back...not sure what great truth that proves.

                    1. re: Barbara Ladden

                      Sounds like a last dying breath. Thanks for the warning, but a place that's half emty is never a good sign.

                2. re: Wonginator

                  Not at NBC - They're near to full from the get-go whenever we roll in there. And I totally understand your logic. What I am referring to is the chlorine bleach smell/taste that has shown up on some of their items that have chicken in them. Again - I don't want to be alarmist but something isn't right.

                  1. re: Wonginator

                    I agree... 11am is my appointed Dim Sum time... :)


                3. I had a TERRIBLE experience on a Sunday morning at Ocean Ave Seafood. The waiter was very pushy. The dim sum was utterly forgettable. And expensive for the quality. Also, a dirty place. I'm almost scared to try any other places downtown for fear they will be the same!!

                  1. My favorite dining companion, the Mongol princess, always reminds me to check the tab before paying at Ocean Seafood. Creative tallies to say the least.