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SGV Dim Sum Update?

While I know it's a perennial topic, and re-hashed every few months, it apparently requires re-hash every few months: "New Concept" now "Elite"? "Kitchen" being the new gunslinger in town to "Kitchen" kicked to the curb, "Mission 261" wonderful and innovative to 261 "tarted up standards for too much $$$; great if you really want to PAY for your har gow to be shaped like a rabbit".

So assuming I'm leading a bunch of non-Xmas-observers to dim sum on Xmas morning, where should I be looking at? What's the best of the new? Who (Ocean Star, NBC, etc.) is keeping their game up? Who's been a flash in the pan?


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  1. Bodhi, Here's my list:

    Reliable. Parking is a bit of a problem, but we try to park on the street. Easy to get a table. Nothing to write home about.

    Never been there - next on the radar. J Gold says it has improved since it first opened.

    Only if you can't make it to SGV.

    FULL HOUSE SEAFOOD, 1220 S. GOLDEN WEST AVE., ARCADIA, 91007, 626-446-8222
    Haven't been in a long time.

    Always the most crowded. Plan on 15 min wait in a crowded area. But once seated, the food keeps coming, and it is a good value (I suspect why it is so crowded). Had a terrible dinner there one time, which means avoid for anything other than dimsum lunches.

    Kind of got a little tired of their selective small dimsum menu. Dinner menu was extensive (when it was New Concept). First few tries was exciting to run down their list. Have not been back in a while.

    Recently went for a 10 course banquet dinner - blah food. Lunch is standard dimsum.

    SEA HARBOUR 3939 N. ROSEMEAD BLVD ROSEMEAD, CA 91770 (626) 288-3939
    Have not been in a long time.

    Can't remember.

    THE KITCHEN, 203 W. VALLEY BLVD., ALHAMBRA, CA 91801, 626-289-4828
    Been there once since it opened. Was impressed - good flavor on all items ordered. Need to go back.

    TRIUMPHAL PALACE. 500 W. MAIN ST., #A, ALHAMBRA, 91801, 626-308-3222
    Is this still open? Used to be the favorite slightly upscale dimsum restaurant of mine. Mission 21 was so overrated and overpriced that I have struck it from my list.

    8 Replies
    1. re: suvro

      Can you tell me which ones of these are cart places versus order off the menu places? My kids like the cart ones better. (New Capital our current fave.)

      1. re: BIM

        I don't mean New Capital - I mean Capital Seafood on Atlantic and Garvey.

        1. re: BIM

          From survo's list, the order-off-the-menu places are Elite, Sea Harbour, and Triumphal Palace. I think the Kitchen does both menus and carts. The rest have carts.

          Not mentioned on his list is my favorite cart-style place, Empress Harbor.

          I recently commented on Emperor Taste in another thread. Good, but not great. Not worth driving to, but good if you're already in the area.

          Haven't been to New Capital yet, although I have an addrees for it being on Valley in San Gabriel.

          Monterey Park Empress Harbour
          111 N Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754

        2. re: suvro

          Seem to be 3 New Capital links. Not sure which one is the correct one, or if these are multiple locations. Can anyone confirm which is/are the current location(s)?

          New Capital Seafood Restaurant
          250 W Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

          New Capital
          8823 Garvey Ave, Rosemead, CA

          New Capital Seafood
          7540 Garvey Ave, Rosemead, CA

          1. re: Wonginator

            The one on Valley in Focus plaza, top floor where Sam Woo seafood used to be.

            1. re: zack

              Do you know the street number? I've found 2 different addresses:

              250 W Valley, San Gabriel
              140 W Valley, San Gabriel

              I think the old Sam Woo was at 140 W Valley. So why is there a 250 W Valley address popping up in Chowhound's listings, as some other websites have it?

              1. re: Wonginator

                not sure why 250 is listed but 140 is correct

                1. re: Wonginator

                  There used to be a non-dim sum branch of New Capital Seafood in the 250 W. Valley Bl. shopping center. Similar concept to the Rowland Heights and San Gabriel locations--extra low prices, particularly on live seafood, drawing large crowds of diners. However that's been gone for over two years and indeed three other restaurants have since and come and went at the old New Capital location. The sudden closing of the New Capital branch at 250 W. Valley created quite a stir in the Chinese community since it appeared to be extremely successful, at least based on the crowds there. Rumor was that the owner had to liquidate the restaurant, along with the New Capital location in Arcadia, to pay off gambling debts. The rumor was so widespread that the owner went on Chinese radio to deny that story.

                  Also the Garvey location is where New Capital used to be prior to moving to the old Sam Woo Seafood space in San Gabriel Square.

          2. Over the past several years, we have enjoyed many of the L.A. dim sum places. There is a wide span of quality.

            Our current favorites are Elite - for non-cart service (but they do pass around trays), and Capital Seafood (Atlantic and Garvey) for cart service. Capital Seafood does not measure up to the quality of Elite (sometimes the items at Capital are not hot enough), but it is consistently good and interesting; also, the servers are extremely friendly and helpful.

            If I am interested in the food, I will go to Elite -- our favorite! If I am with a group and just want to have a fun experience, I will enjoy Capital.

            1. Sea Harbour is tops in my book.

              Avoid Triumphal Palace.

              4 Replies
              1. re: ipsedixit

                Really? Both times I've been it was at least a B plus.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Hmm. You sound pretty vehement, I'll take your word for it. Fortunately there are enough dim sum places that I can easily check TP off my list

                    1. re: rancherostyl

                      Then again, it's a thin line between vehemence and smugness. I'll give it another shot.

              2. Somewhat off topic but very much related, I would like to give the gift of going to a dim sum establishments in the SGV area to a 2 diff couples who are familiar but not hardcore dim sum eaters.

                first question: anyone know any dim sum restaurants offering gift certificate or gift card? the likely answer is no, but does anyone know?

                second question: if i were to buy an american express or visa gift card in place of the (likely non-existent) gift card, would these restaurants accept it? I'm worried it won't be taken as regular credit card.

                thank you, i appreciate all inputs.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Beignets

                  Hello, Beignets!
                  As I posted above, my first choice would be:

                  700 S. Atlantic Boulevard in Monterey Park
                  San Gabriel Valley

                  Call them. I know they take most cards, and they do speak English. Discuss your needs with them. But this is "order from pictures on the menu" style, so if you prefer carts, I would try Capital Seafood at the corner of Atlantic and Garvey. This style would allow your guests to select from the actual dishes as they roll by: #626.282-3318.

                  1. re: liu

                    Thanks! I've contacted Capital Seafood and they do not do gift cards. I doubt Elite does either but I'll call anyhow :)

                    1. re: Beignets

                      Ooh, so sorry. Perhaps you could design your own and attach a few bills. We generally eat very well at Capital for about $10-$15pp, plus tax and tip. Elite will be a little more, maybe $12-$16pp, plus tax and tip.
                      Can anyone else concur with this estimate?
                      I also might add that we usually take home some leftover items, so maybe my estimates are high??
                      Also, leftovers do very well in the micro the next day!

                      1. re: liu

                        Chinese people just give the universal gift certificate. Cash.

                  2. re: Beignets

                    Visa gift cards look just like regular cards. They just do not have the person's name on it. If the meal is more than the amount on the gift card, they must tell them how much to put on the card or it will be declined. Otherwise, it should not be a problem.

                  3. my two cents...
                    i generally like menu order dim sum.

                    my favorite is sea harbor seafood, however the wait is crazy but you can make reservations if you are 8 or above... which means you'll still wait, but less time.

                    second favorite would be elite... and one of the reasons i like going here, is i can eat salty soy milk soup and "oil sticks" just up the plaza while im waiting. (xian dou jiang and you tiao)

                    i used to like capital seafood for push cart but the last two times i went i was unimpressed with the food... maybe you have to get there early. but the food didnt taste super fresh...

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: modernist

                      modernist -- We have been having the same experience with Capital Seafood. Although I still like it -- and probably I WANT to like it more than I currently do because it has been so good in the past -- we have found that the last few times many items have been cooler than we would prefer. In contrast, at Elite, everything is hot and very fresh. Nevertheless, we still enjoy Capital because they do have a varied cart selection and their servers are quite helpful.

                      1. re: liu

                        That was the same problem I've had during my 2 visits to Capital. Everything was just warm in temperature, nothing being steaming hot straight out of the kitchen. I'd been hoping to have great quality food that others have reported, but I haven't experienced it there yet. Both times, I was there in the 12-12:30PM prime time dim sum period, where there should've been a lot of turnover of food and freshly made steamed items.

                        Nice decor, though. Probably among the nicest settings for a dim sum restaurant.

                        1. re: Wonginator

                          I agree with you, Wonginator, that the space is really pretty. Elite is also quite nice. Also, the service at both is excellent, so my preference for both of these places is a result of the total experience. For me, at this moment, there is nothing quite as good as a whole...I am waiting for the next contender!

                    2. Sea Harbor is my favorite. But I'm going to 888 this weekend because I'm taking a lot of out of town people and the cart experience seems in order.

                      1. Sea Harbour and Elite are the top two in my book. They each have their strengths and weaknesses, depending on whether you like steamed stuff better or baked/fried stuff better.

                        No more New Concept - that's replaced by Elite.

                        Never care for cart style, but I guess if you have a big group of people that are not used to dim sum it's easier and more spontaneous, and you get to see what you are going to eat first.

                        1. Another Sea Harbour and Elite fan here. Also, I like Capitol Seafood.

                          Was just at Elite with a large group. The standout faves were the sharks fin and red clam dumpling, the bean curd rolls, macau egg custard tarts, among others that I'll mention when i remember.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: choctastic

                            choctastic...Their rice noodles in XO sauce are amazing! I also like their puffy almond muffins.

                            1. re: liu

                              we tried the rice noodles in xo sauce but thought the one at koi palace in the bay area was better. weird. i'll order it again and see i like it better. we should have ordered the turnip cake with xo sauce. heard that was good.

                              Their baked buns always seem a little underdone to my taste, but i guess that's the style, since i noticed that's true of most of the vancouver style places i've been to.

                              1. re: choctastic

                                Thanks for your thoughts on all these goodies. Dim sum is such a personal experience...I think a lot of our preferences depend on what we are used to. I never know what the "ultimate" XO rice noodle or tofu skin wrap "should" taste like; I only know what I like. I also try to adapt to the flavors of the various places and just enjoy what they do well.

                                So, for this month, I think Elite is doing a great job...and I hope they can continue to keep their formula going.

                                1. re: liu

                                  Thanks for the posting liu.
                                  Based on your posts I decided to try Elite for xmas. I was very pleased. The shu mei (sp?) had a bay scallop on top! Yummy! I also really like the turnip and scallop pie. I think it is better than my recent Sea Harbour experience. It's a better value too.

                                  1. re: sugarpie

                                    Thanks, sugarpie, for your kind words!

                                    I have tried really, really hard, many times, to like Sea Harbour, based on some very good 'Hound press on these Boards, but I just don't. Elite is more to my tastes, so much so that I am overwhelmed, sometimes, when I am surrounded by so many delicious items.

                                    Usually at other restaurants, I pick and choose a few dishes that I like, but at Elite I have just been liking everything! Does this dream have to end?

                                    Also, we have had excellent, attentive service at Elite. How was your service? And everything comes to the table hot at Elite...did you find that also?

                                    1. re: liu

                                      Went to Elite with a group of 6 last Sunday....WOW...it was truly great dim sum. The thick noodle with XO sauce was divine, the shui mai - as mentioned above - were fantastic, the fried garlicky chicken knees were all crunchy goodness, chiu chow beef dumpling was also memorable A dish of tofu skin wrapped around vegetables, and har gow were gobbled up fast too. We had about 6 other dishes (including shrimp w/ runny scrambled eggs - wa ton har yen, roast pork and roast duck) and it was $128, for 6...not as pricey as I thought it would be.

                          2. Hey silverlake,

                            Good topic to double-check the latest on the best Dim Sum. :)

                            My favorite (still) is Sea Harbour on Rosemead. The Quality, Freshness and Seasonal Menu and interesting new dishes makes it my hands down favorite. It's not even close.

                            I've taken my group of hardcore Dim Sum Hounds to Sea Harbour (they grew up on Chinatown Dim Sum, then the OG standards like NBC, Ocean Star back in the day, etc.), and they all agree.

                            It's still good today.

                            As for other places recently... 888 still is mediocre (but they have great prices). I'd rather pay a little extra and get the best. :) Elite is a favorite for some people but I'm pretty sensitive to MSG overload, and Elite destroyed me. :( I can't take too much MSG.

                            Mission 261 still overrated and not worth the price. New Capital (Ban Dao) is... ugh, average Dim Sum.

                            I've been spoiled by Sea Harbour the past 2 years. It's like getting Uber Sushi, and then going back to Todai / Kabuki... I can't go back. :p

                            For Cart-style, old-school Dim Sum, I agree with Empress Harbour being a good choice. (I still lament the downfall of NBC and Ocean Star.)

                            Sea Harbour Restaurant
                            3939 N Rosemead Blvd, Rosemead, CA
                            (626) 288-3939


                            2 Replies
                            1. re: exilekiss

                              I went to Sea Harbour a couple of weeks ago and was disappointed. I think they recently changed ownership. They got rid of the rooster and the prices where higher then I remember. The name was slightly different too. I just can't remember now. Things were not cooked well, at least not how I remember it.

                              1. re: sugarpie

                                Roosters have been gone for years, now.

                                And, if you were comparing the prices pre-Rooster to post-Rooster, then yes, they are higher. Chalk it up to inflation.

                            2. Capital on Atlantic and Garvey is still very good, perhaps the best of the cart places. I was a 261 loyalist for a very long time, but it seems to have gone into a steep decline. Elite's lines are pretty intolerable, but the dim sum is good. I'd also put in a word for Emperor's Taste, and maybe half a word for Kitchen, which at its best is wonderful, but is also pretty inconsistent.

                              1. i am in hong kong right now. walking to the china club for dim sum in an hour.
                                just thought i'd rub it in!

                                aw yeah!!!!

                                1 Reply
                                1. First, a confession. No one in our (non-x-mas observer) family has had dim sum. We are thinking of venturing out Christmas Eve. Is this a good idea or a bad idea? Early dinner? Based on this thread I was thinking of Elite where we can make reservations for a party of 8. All help and advice appreciated!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: amela

                                    Dim Sum is only served for lunch/brunch.

                                  2. OK, we hit New Capital (or as someone pointed out, per their inside sign, "New Catipal"*)
                                    at 9:30 am Xmas. 40 min wait then for medium sized parties. Waiting area is less than optimal; since it's upstairs, waiting customers can't spill out into parking lot or mall open areas; as elevators full of people kept arriving, I began to wonder if the fire marshall might notr be showing up. By 10:20, they had folks lined up down the stairs.

                                    Food pretty good; probably a notch or two above NBC or Ocean Star at last visit. Service a problem; they simply did jnot have enough wait-staff to deal with the crush. Watched a near wrestling-match between two diners who'd adopted my same Peripatetic approach to seeking items (if you see it somewhere in the room, grab your card and chase down the cart lady) and the cart lady, whom, it seemed, had already sold the last two plates of steamed rice noodles with shrimp on her cart to the table she was at, and was simply trying to sauce them and uncover them. Wish I understood Mandarin, so I could repeat what was said. . .

                                    good time had by all. More food than we should have eaten, eight people, $93 plus tip

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: silverlakebodhisattva

                                      Rosemead/Monterey Park/San Gabriel is heavily trafficked now, take your patience and sense of adventure.

                                      1. re: silverlakebodhisattva

                                        Capital is the good one. New Capital's specialty is being fifty cents cheaper.

                                        That being said, a knowledge of Mandarin wouldn't have gotten you very far in those Cantonese-speaking precincts.

                                        1. re: condiment

                                          Touche re: the languages

                                          OK, so what's the street address for Capital, (not New Capital)? Is THAT 7540 Garvey?

                                          1. re: silverlakebodhisattva

                                            7540 Garvey is the former location of New Capital. New Capital is sort of the 99 cent store of authentic Chinese food. Capital is 755 W. Garvey, in the corner of the shopping center at the NE corner of Garvey and Atlantic.

                                      2. I went to dim sum xmas morning as well. What a mistake! Got to Elite at 11am, didn't get seated until 1pm. 2hr wait for a party of 5 is ridiculous. No dim sum is worth waiting around that long. Food was good but I wouldn't rank it above the other top places like Triumphal Palace, Sea Harbour, Mission 261. Tip to those of you who must try Elite, go either early or late (opens from 9am-3pm). Tables for 2 are also a quicker option as the wait is much shorter.

                                        8 Replies
                                        1. re: zack

                                          Yeah, I would have gone next door to Mandarin Deli (not affiliated with the chain of the same name) for some of their dumplings, or the Japanese ramen place at the end.

                                          1. re: zack

                                            I think your 2 hr wait was just a X-mas day issue. Was out of town in Vegas, and tried to hit 2 or 3 different dim sum places. Each parking lot looked like Black Friday shopping, and there were at least 40-60 people waiting in the lobby at each place, looking like 1-2 hr waits. Never seen it that bad in Vegas.

                                            Went back the day after X-mas, 10 people in front of us, 15 minute wait.

                                            Advice: never get dim sum on a major American holiday when everything else is closed.

                                            1. re: Wonginator

                                              Xmas eve a couple of years ago in Vegas was just as bad--we couldn't get into any Chinese restaurant and ended up at In-n-out! You're right about Xmas day because there's a double whammy involved. Not only are the authentic Chinese restaurants among the few places that are open on that day, but many Chinese restaurants located in non-Chinese neighborhoods are closed, enabling their workers to eat out in Chinatown, Monterey Park, etc.

                                              1. re: Wonginator

                                                I DON't think a 2 hour wait at 11 in the SGV on a weekend day would be astonishing, particularly if it's for a party of more than 8, and if it's at a newer "hot" spot. I now understand that I was not at the hot spot I thought I was on Xmas, but I'm guessing, by what I saw, that New Capital has a 90+ minute wait, easily, on Sundays by 10:30 or 11.

                                                1. re: silverlakebodhisattva

                                                  My upper limit for waiting is about 45 minutes, and we did that for Elite a few months back. After that, I now have 2 or 3 dim sum places as backups to go to if the wait is more than 30 minutes.

                                                  On a normal weekday, my limit is 15 minutes for waiting, X-Mas holidays notwithstanding.

                                                  1. re: Wonginator

                                                    actually, if you are 8 people or more, you can often make reservations... i know you can do this at sea harbor seafood, which in my opinion makes the best dim sum in LA/SGV. you'll still probably wait 20 minutes in the end cuz its not like theyre actually gonna hold a table for you sitting empty but you might get the next one...

                                                    1. re: modernist

                                                      I don't know if 8 will qualify, but with a large enough group (we had 10), Sea Harbour hold the private room off to the side for you.

                                              2. re: zack

                                                in fact, i would go before 9:30am. It's that bad. By the time 10am rolls around the restaurant was full on a sat.

                                              3. I ate at Triumphal Palace last week. I thought the Dim Sum and other food was very good. However, it still has a B rating and I found the Maitre D to be uptight and unfriendly.

                                                1. how many people could I feed on $700 for dim sum at a good Dim Sum place, I wonder?

                                                  Anyone know?

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: Diana

                                                    35-40 people in my experience, depending on how many big eaters you got.

                                                    1. re: choctastic

                                                      Anywhere from 35-50 can be fed for $700. I usually figure each person eating 3 or 4 items, so if you use an average of $4 per item, you can calculate about how much you'll likely spend. At some dim sum places with the $2/$3/$4 price structure, you can use $3 as your average cost per item.

                                                    2. re: Diana

                                                      If you stay away from the shark fin, abalone, and birds' nest, I'm guessing more like 45+

                                                      1. re: Diana

                                                        Hey Diana,

                                                        On my many trips to Sea Harbour (my favorite, probably the most pricey of the SGV Dim Sum restaurants), we average ~$14-16 per person (including tax/tip already). And we have a lot of hearty eaters in our groups each time we go. :)

                                                        1. re: Diana

                                                          I held my post wedding sunday brunch at Triumphal Palace with 50 people (45 adults + 5 kids) and the total was $768 including tip. There was plenty of food. No abolone or sharks fin was ordered but that was a pretty good deal because one unruly guess had two beers and ordered more than one order of the batter langostine.

                                                          1. re: sugarpie

                                                            was it a dim sum meal? Sounds good, though!