FINALLY got husband to take me to SGV next Friday for Dim Sum..now what?
Searching the bards really hasn't helped me pick where to go. We want great dim sum without paying too much, but with getting very, very full of yummyness.
I have a nut allergy, and need to be able to communicate this.
NEither of us fear trying anything deemed by the boring city majority as "weird". He does like pork, and I prefer veggies, love fish, and chicken is good.
I want to try XLB, but like sweet bao, savory bao, all sort of dumplings, noodles, veggies, poultry, scallops, shrimp, squid, sesame pancakes and such.
Also, to make a day of it, where can we go for good chinese red bean, blakc beanm, or lotus desserts. Or, should we head to fossleman's (is it close?) or perhaps hit ce fiore? I was thinking dessert for dinner, since we're dim summing lunch.
Ipse? Uber? anyone?
Help me make my husband not regret using one of his vacation days to drive from sherman oaks to SGV!
Well, NBC (my favorite), Ocean Star, and 888 seafood are popular for traditional Cantonese dim sum. Sea Harbour, Elite, New Concept, and the Kitchen seem to be the frontrunners for the new wave of dim sum that is arriving via Hong Kong. You don't really state how much exposure you have to dim sum, so it's hard to give a recommendation. As far as dumplings, pork, and various baos, I think you would have better luck at a traditional dim sum house. For dessert, you can head to Shau Mei for bao bing or Taiwanese shaved ice, on top of which you will find all manner of sweet beans and toppings.
edit: the traditional dim sum houses are cart-style. nouveau-style is usually menu driven. For a newbie, I recommend cart-style. You can see the food as it passes by and pick and choose as you please as you discover what you like and don't like.
Sorry, we have had dim sum often, but in Chinatown.
CBS and Ocean Seafood, mostly.
We want to see what everyone's talking about.
For us, flavor is the primary thing (along with not getting me into anaphylaxixs with nuts. Service and ambiance are secondary, although I love good service. We want to get there early enought o avoid long lines. Early or mid day lunch on a friday.
Finding English-speaking staff can be really touch-and-go at most of these places. Although the use of nuts isn't exactly prolific in dim sum, it can show up, especially in some of the dessert dishes. Like hch recs, ordering from the cart would probably be best as you can visually assess your choices initially, and hopefully be able to ask the hostess or manager if you have any further questions unless you're pretty familiar with what you're ordering.
If you are fans of CBS or Ocean, then to be honest, any of the dim sum places in SGV will be a step up, taste-wise and variety. Sea Harbour gets a lot of love on this board for its "innovative" style, but if you don't speak Chinese, I would avoid them since you have a potentially life-threatening condition. I was extremely surpised at the lack of English proficiency there, and my standard for English proficiency in a Chinese restaurant is pretty low. The manager himself had a hard time with the words "chicken" and "pork". I've found the service at NBC, 888, and Ocean Star to be friendly and accommodating. Like CBS and Ocean, they are also traditional dim sum houses, so you probably are more inclined to that style anyway. Go early especially if you are going on a Sunday. Saturday won't be quite as bad. On a Sunday, we waited I think over an hour at Sea Harbour and we got there around 1:30 or something like that.
Ha, totally didn't catch that in the title of your post. I'm a skimmer on these boards (these days anyway).... :D
Hopefully, somebody else can chime in on the quality/freshness of dim sum on a weekday at the various dim sum houses because from what I understand, some places might excel at dim sum on weekends and fail miserably during the week. I can't help you with that one since I've only been on the weekends....
I live on the westside and have been trying to coordinate a SGV dim sum trip with some friends, so I've been paying attention to the boards. We want cart service rather than strictly menu, and as I assess the yays and nays, I'm leaning towards 888.
I think prices in most dim sum places, even the "better" ones, can be quite reasonable to most who usually dine outside of this area. Case in point, our family of four met our friends, family of three, at Sea Harbour in Rosemead. This place is supposed to be one of the top flight dim sum places in SGV. It was very good - probably one of the best I've had outside of Asia - and the total bill for four adults and three kids (my 8-year old can eat like an adult) came to around $95. We ordered straight off the menu - oh yeah, it's one of those non-cart places if that's important - and didn't order any live seafood items so that always keeps the prices down. But if you keep in mind that you'll be eating for a mere pittance when ordering off the menu or carts, "splurging" and ordering something from the tanks will bring your check in line with places you're probably used to outside of SGV. The bonus is, depending on what you order, alot of these places will make two to three courses out of your selection - you get alot of bang for you buck.
Most probably consider Ocean Star and NBC in Monterey Park to be the more conventional order-from-the-cart dim sum palaces where the food is pretty good to excellent, depending on what you order and what time of the day it is.
888 Seafood is also in Rosemead and gets alot of love on Chowhound. But another top flight dim sum palace that is closer in resemblance to a conventional restaurant in terms of appearance and service outside of SGV is Mission 261 in San Gabriel. The dim sum is ordered off the menu, like alot of the newer dim sum places, the service is very attentive and accomodating, and with smaller seperate dining rooms, the feel is alot more intimate. I think for those who like a more homey feel to their food and atmosphere, this is not the place. But if you're looking for a nice sit-down atmosphere with very good service and very good dim sum, Mission 261 fills this niche.
Where ever you decide to go, go early, especially if it's on the weekend - I mean early enough to where you're waiting for them to open, or not too long after that. The smaller places will fill up within 15 minutes of opening on weekends, and the larger places are full within an hour.
XLB is not a traditional dim sum item.
Fridays will be more crowded than other weekday days, but less so than a typical Saturday or Sunday.
Based on your criteria, I would suggest either 888 or Ocean Star. Both are cart service and offer a wide variety of traditional dim sum fare with just enough cutting edge stuff to keep your taste buds on edge.
As to dessert afterwards, if you head to 888, then go west on Valley Blvd., until you hit Focus Plaza (SW corner of Valley and Del Mar) and you get all sorts of desserts on the first floor of that plaza.
If you go to Ocean Star, there are dessert choices at the bottom level of that structure.
Fosselman's is a bit of a drive from both 888 and Ocean Star, but well worth it if you want ice cream and good taffy. www.fosselmans.com
Ocean Star Seafood Restaurant
145 N Atlantic Blvd Ste 201, Monterey Park, CA 91754
888 Seafood Restaurant
8450 E Valley Blvd, Rosemead, CA 91770
Fosselman's Ice Cream Co
1824 W Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801
Concur. DO NOT get XLB at a dim sum house. There are many better things. If you really want XLB, leave a little room and stop at Mei Long Village or Giang-nan and order a tray (eight or ten per tray). Or make another trip to Din Tai Fung in Arcadia and try the varieties they have including the XLB.
888 seafood in rosemead is fine. If you want a bit more upscale, mission 261 is nice, but no carts - you order off a menu. The other plcaes mentioned here are fine. Enjoy your dim sum
And no pot stickers either. They just don't do them right at a dimsum house. But you have great rice noodle dishes, the nomaigai (nuo mi ji) glutinous rice with chicken in lotus leaves, the little soups, turnip/daikon cakes, etc. Just have a great time. If you're in the mood, get an extra teapot of the Chrysanthemum tea (guk-fa cha/ juhua cha).
Yeah, really -- don't order XLB anyplace except the XLB houses, because you'll be sore disappointed. As for dim sum itself, three options: cheapest is Yum Cha Cafe, but you'll be sitting in what's essentially a grocery store. For cart-style I would say 888, and for menu-style Mission 261 or Sea Harbour.
Your husband is taking a whole day to go to dim sum?? It's not THAT far from Sherman Oaks to the SGV at dim sum hours -- half an hour, MAYBE forty minutes!!
Dessert -- definitely bao bing at Shau May, but also bear in mind that your lotus, red bean and suchlike desserts are also offered at dim sum -- and if you've never tried daan taat (sweet egg custart tarts) you owe it to yourself to eat at least one. It's sweet egg custard (very eggy) with puff pastry or pie crust -- no nuts.
As for your nut allergy, most places you can communicate, but just in case, here is "I am allergic to nuts" in Cantonese.
我對堅果敏感 - ngaw deui gin gwaw man gum (all nuts)
我對花生敏感 - ngaw deui faa sang man gum (peanuts)
If for some reason you don't get there early, you need to fight your way to the front of the crowd, where someone will take your name and the number of people in your party and give you a number. Just relax and wait for your number to be called - don't panic, as it may take quite a while.
This is the system at NBC and seems typical - others may be different.