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Best Dim-Sum in Chinatown (downtown)

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When people ask about Dim sum the consensus wings out to SGV. But I can't get out there and will have some time to kill on the weekend downtown -- any suggestions specific to Chinatown? I never used to care much for all that greasy meat, but seem to have lowered my standards recently. We enjoyed ABC I think it's called? Any other options? I don't suppose anyone ever makes vegetable dim sum....

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  1. Check out the Empress China on Hill St (2nd floor in a shopping complex very close to the 110 freeway exit/entrance. A little pricey but good dim sum. I hope you're bringing someone who speaks mandarin, though, as you'd need them to get the most out of the experience.

    1. The Empress Pavilion is probably the best in LA Chinatown right now, Most of the old dim sum houses and even the old take outs have all but disappeared. The Empress Pavilion is located on Hill Street in the Bamboo Plaza on the 2nd floor of the parking structure. Kind of crowded on weekends.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Clinton

        2nd this place. Its probably the best i've had in Chinatown

        1. re: Mando

          I'm not a huge fan of Empress Pavilion. After a nightmare (dinner) dish of fried scallops with ABOUT A QUART OF MAYONNAISE I decided to give them a second chance and try the dim sum.

          I went on Thursday at around 11:45, and the place was already about half full. I didn't really see the variety I wanted -- they had all the standard stuff: shu mai, pork buns, pork/shrimp/chicken rice noodles, fried rice. I sat and waited for something exciting to come along. Finally I looked around and found the waitress who was skipping all the tables with white people at them, got up and accosted her. She delivered an absolutely fabulous little dish of beef and tripe in 5-spice sauce. I contented myself with that, a dish of white rice, and some taro cake that I probably won't order again.

          So that one dish was good, but everything else looked really boring. Perhaps there were other waitresses who were avoiding the white-people section? Or maybe they bring out more variety on the weekends?

          If I go again, are there any dishes that they do really well there that I should try to track down?

      2. I like CBS on Spring north of Ord. They even have free parking. If you want to avoid crowds, best to get there by 10 on the weekend.

        4 Replies
        1. re: hpcat

          The fried pork chop and that huge shrimp & crab ball at CBS are worth the wait.

          1. re: hpcat

            I tried CBS yesterday and enjoyed the experience. I started out with some congee and a plate of steamed chinese broccoli, both of which were pretty good (but I was really in the mood for soup and vegetables, so they tasted fabulous).

            The service, on the other hand, sucked. As usual, the really interesting carts avoided the table with the white guy at it, but I had to ask a record three times before someone brought over a dish of the chicken feet that I had seen almost everybody eating when I walked in. They arrived after I had all but finished the rest of my meal. At least they were tasty, braised in a spicy bean sauce.

            (My friend was right, though, when he told me that chicken feet really are nothing special. Good to try once, but I probably won't order them again. Unless I'm really in the mood.)

            1. re: Bjartmarr

              Odd, because I've generally gotten good service at CBS. I'll take them over Empress any day, since the latter seems to be running on long past glories.

              Ocean Seafood used to be decent but the last few trips have been bummers...cold food, lousy service, limited selection.

              1. re: Bjartmarr

                A further word of warning: I've been to CBS several times in the past few weeks (Jury duty...). Twice I got a deep-fried item, and both times it was as greasy as it could be. They need to increase the temperature of their oil or something; until they do I'll be avoiding the deep-fried stuff.

            2. Thanks, all -- we'll try Empress China; done the CBS/NBC/ABC thing. It whetted our appetites, so we'll try the second floor (cable?) next time.

              6 Replies
              1. re: aliris

                empress pavilion. we use to have dimsum/champagne breakfasts. awesome place. they never charged us any corkage.

                1. re: TBird

                  Empress has slipped so much over the past few years, they seem to have stopped caring about the quality of food they turn out. The last couple of times I went most of the dumplings we tried were waterlogged and flavorless.

                2. re: aliris

                  Last two visits there were disasters and have been afraid to go back. Really a case of falling from the penthouse to the outhouse. Please give a report when you come back.

                  1. re: aliris

                    It's Empress Pavilion, not Empress China. And it's been kind of just ok from the very start. They never did have much variety. DO NOT get a cup of that iced boba/coffee/tea thing that they come around with. It's horrid, tastes like some really bad powder mix, with L.A. tap water.

                    1. re: aliris

                      I think Empress has really gone downhill. If we dine in Chinatown, we much prefer CBS. I don't understanding lumping CBS, NBC, and ABC into the same category; they're much different. Is it just because their names have letters in the titles? I'm not familiar with the food at NBC, but ABC is far inferior to CBS. I don't think they're even in the same league.

                      1. re: Faulkner99

                        CBS is where we go when we're in chinatown for dimsum.

                    2. The Empress Pavilion has gone through several management changes over the years. When they first opened, it was THE premier dim sum place in Chinatown. Years back, one of the partners was asked to open up the Seafood Empress in Gardena (formerly Kawafuku's in the Pacific Square) and brought class to the city which lacked a good high-class Chinese restaurant. Now that he's retired, things have started to slip just like they did in Chinatown.

                      1. We went to the Empress Pavillion on a lark yesterday and we were both really impressed with the selection and quality of the dishes. The only thing we didn't see were the baked bbq pork bao baos we love so much. Everytime we asked we were told 'later'. The shu mai and hargow were hot and flavorful.

                        1. From reading all these blogs, I got another idea; Seat yourself directly next to a table of Chinese customers, and the waitresses will have a harder time not stopping as she passes near your table! --JET

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Jet

                            Empress Pavilion has lost it's quality over the years. Growing up in Chinatown, that was the only place my parents took us. Recently it changed ownership, and just yesterday I heard they were shut down by the health department.

                            And to respond to waitresses avoiding "white" tables, they are actually intimidated because they can't speak English well or can't explain how and what each item is made of.

                            Being a Chinese American and growing up in Chinatown, I rarely eat dim sum in Chinatown anymore. The San Gabriel Valley is filled with new venues with quality food, however, this comes with a price. Once in a while i still crave for some "authentic" Chinese dim sum and stop off at Chinatown. It's true what they say, "You get what you pay for..." and dim sum is no exception.

                            1. re: Pig

                              I'm asian too and have experienced horrible service at Empress Pavillion. Long, inefficient waits......very hard to flag people for simple glasses of water or to order off the menu....I didn't get to try a wide variety of their dishes because after their incompetent, comically bad service I told everyone in my party that I had enough trying to get service, food and even a simple acknowledgement and we were going to eat somewhere else. So I closed the bill out and jammed out of there to eat elsewhere. I think I ended up calling take-out from Sam Woo BBQ for everyone. The bill for the 8 people ended up being like only 18 dollars and that was AFTER a 30 minute wait or so to get in.

                              I won't go back again. Its SGV or bust.

                          2. Ocean Seafood. Eleven of us dim summed there for Chinese New Year of the Rat. Everyone loved the food, ate to their heart's content for $20 apiece which included a generous tip.

                            1. We like The Golden Dragon, FWIW. Its big, noisy, funky, the kids love it, the women pushing the carts barely speak English, they have a great eggplant dim sum, is a quick walk from the Gold Line stop, and the tea they put on the table hits the spot.

                              1. Express Pavilion was just closed down last week by the city. For what reason? I don't know. Best place for Dim Sum is Golden Dragon on N. Broadway. It's very busy there so you might have to wait for a while if you go at the peak hour.