Westside Dim Sum -- I Know, I Know
I realize that a lot of people on this board won't even consider eating dim sum in Chinatown -- it has to be the fantastic chow from the SGV. We had a group going before we realized that this weekend commences Chinese New Years, and we aren't ready to make the trek to arrive by 10 a.m. or wait upwards of an hour.
The only cart dim sum I know of on the westside is VIP Seafood on the NW corner of Wilshire and Barrington, since the Royal Star (?) closed on Wilshire around 30th a few years ago. Has anyone been to VIP dim sum? Is it at least fun and tasty? Are there any other dim sum places on the westside? I know, I know that I should get in the car and head towards Rosemead and it will be worth it... I know it won't be authentic. But is it any good at all?
I actually quite like it. I'm no expert on dim sum and I absolutely hate driving so it's the place I go to most often for dim sum. I can't vouch for it's authenticity but about 95% of the patrons appear to be Chinese and I go frequently with Chinese friends so it must be alright. The food is fresh and tasty with lots of options. The service is friendly too. I certainly like it better than Empress Pavilion downtown. The fact that it's reasonably close and I don't have to wait in line for hours on an empty stomach makes for a much more pleasant experience.
I like VIP, more than I did Royal Star (I found RS to be greasier.) You'll get mixed reviews on the place here, but I like it, although I haven't been there in about eight months. You are correct that it's the only place that serves dim sum in the carts on the Westside, so you don't really have much of a choice besides driving to Chinatown or SGV!
But remember that it will be just as crowded and crazy there (maybe even more so) as Empress Pavillion or any other dim sum place will be on Sunday. If you do go, I'd suggest parking on some side street in Brentwood (Goshen or Kiowa or something) and walking. The valet is a total nightmare.
VIP Harbor Seafood was great when they opened back in 1995, particularly since they were the sister restaurant to Harbor Seafood in San Gabriel (and surprisingly better than the SGV branch). However ever since the place was sold 2 or 3 years ago (I think the current owners might be Thai instead of Chinese) it has significantly gone downhill. However, as the only dim sum restaurant on the Westside, beggars can't be choosers, and it is authentic fare.
As far as I know, they're the only lonely outpost on the Westside... As Chandvkl mentioned, they were great when they opened way back when (in Westside restaurant years) but it gets really crowded, probably because the other patrons feel the same as you do. Having recently eaten a few times at Asakuma next door, we have been the incidental victims of disgruntled customers openly complaining to the nearest bystander about how terrible their experience was - and I mean openly hostile. As for Chinese food on the Westside, we consider Hop Woo (on Olympic just west of Sepulveda) to be consistantly good and the closest thing to SGV food. It's mostly Cantonese with some decent BBQ items. No dim sum but the food is good and the portions are generous.