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Aug 4, 2008 04:55 PM

Blue Ocean Seafood: New, cheap dim sum / Chinese in Alhambra

Today I was driving aimlessly through the San Gabriel Valley for lunch, lamenting the fact that Lucious Dumpling is closed on Mondays, and I saw a bunch of people outside the old MVP location on Garfield and Valley in Alhambra. Turns out it's the "grand opening" of a new restaurant there, called Blue Ocean Seafood Restaurant. I got lucky with parking and got a number for a table. It was SUCH a madhouse though, I probably would have had to wait about 45 minutes to an hour for a table. So after 15 minutes I decided to get dim sum to go instead. I got five orders and the bill came to $9.05!!! All dim sum is only $2.00 per order during the week ($2.50 on the weekend), and they are having a 20% discount "promotion". Not sure if the discount applies to any menu item or just the dim sum. But I asked how long the promotion would last and the girl said, "forever". Um, okay. (If you go there and they don't have it, blame it on the language barrier, don't blame me.) They also apparently serve dim sum from 7 am to 3 pm! Two different staff people told me this so I think it's true.

They serve dim sum in carts rather than off the menu, by the way. At 40 mostly standard items, the dim sum menu is not as wide or interesting as some other places but the price was right. I got standard dim sum: har gow, siu mai, sesame balls, mushroom stuffed with shrimp and BBQ pork rice noodle. It was delicious; as good as Elite or Sea Harbor (although the pieces might not be as large as Elite's); and better than Empress Pavilion but half the price.

The (non-dim sum) lunch menu has over 100 specials ranging from $4.99 to $6.99 and looks really good. The dinner menu looked incredible too, with lots of beautiful pictures. It seemed similar to Elite's menu, but the prices seemed more reasonable.

They also serve a late night dining menu from 9:30 to 1 am. It was a lot like the lunch menu but the specials are a few bucks more and I'm guessing come with more food.

The to-go bag says "New Capital Seafood Restaurant" on it so I'm guessing they're related (never been to New Capital or even know if it's still around.)

Blue Ocean Seafood Restaurant
1412 S. Garfield Ave. (where MVP used to be)
Alhambra, CA 91801
tel: (626) 289-3018
fax: (626) 289-7202

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    1. re: monku

      Sort of buried in my post I mentioned I got the har gow, siu mai, sesame balls, mushroom stuffed with shrimp and BBQ pork rice noodle -- it was delicious :0)

      1. re: chowmominLA

        My fault....I got caught up on what a bargain the place was.

      1. re: choctastic

        I believe the restaurant is owned by New Capital. They have dinner specials too. I went with my family (there were of 4 of us) and we each got to order 1/2 squab for only 99 cents each. A great deal.

        1. re: kure

          Yes, this is another outpost of New Capital. Clever of them to give it a different name because if they called it New Capital I don't think I, or any of the other people who had to wait to get in even at 10 am, would have rushed down there so quickly. Since it is New Capital the dim sum is ordinary--not meant in a negative manner, but merely to indicate that you won't find anything exotic or creative as with Sea Harbour, Elite, King Hua etc., and is served at rock bottom prices ($9.05 incl. tax for five items). If this suits your fancy this additional location will make you happy.

          1. re: Chandavkl

            Hi Chandavkl,

            Thanks for the info. Ack, you're totally right... if this is essentially New Capital, no thanks. :P And to make matters worse, parking and navigating that corner of Garfield & Valley is horrific.

            1. re: exilekiss

              Don't want to give people the wrong impression. This place is good--like Yum Cha Cafe is good. For value and decent to good food, these places can't be beat.

              1. re: Chandavkl

                If it's anything like New Capital, it's gotta be horrible. I've had my share of price-cheap dim sum. You really do get what you pay for.

                1. re: slacker

                  I actually think Yum Cha is better than New Capital. Well, count me out too. LOL

                  1. re: choctastic

                    I think part of the reason you consider Yum Cha Cafe better than New Capital is expectations.

                    At Yum Cha, it's basically take-out. Walk-up to the counter, fight the crowds, wait for your number to get called, order up, and chow down on styrofoam plate settings. You're not expecting to be "wow-ed".

                    At New Capital, you're seated at a table, with table cloth, real utensils, tea from a tea pot, table service, carts, etc., or in other words the whole shebang. So you're expecting more.

                    So even if the food at New Capital and Yum Cha are the same, the former will seem inferior simply because of the expectations.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      No, it's because of the prices. If New Capital sold their dim sum for a dollar an order like Yum Cha does, maybe I would like it more. Honestly even for a dollar an order, I think I kind of like Yum Cha's version better. *shrug*

                      1. re: choctastic

                        Well, having never eaten at either Yum Cha or New Capital, I can't weigh in on how this place compares to those two, but I will say I've been to lots of good dim sum places in SGV (Sea Harbor, Elite) and found Blue Ocean to be comparable and great for the money. I think for example it is better than Empress Pavillion and Ocean Star and VIP on the Westside, and as good as Elite or Sea Harbour but for less money. It's aboput the same cost as Won Kok but better, and obviously includes the white linen and tea service. Perhaps I will go again right now and provide another report!

                        1. re: chowmominLA

                          Okay, now you've piqued my curiosity and I am going to check it out before judging it. Strange concept, I know. Hey the price is right.

      2. Well, we drove by last night around 9:00 on our way from Noodle House to Fosselman's, and it was packed inside (you could totally see through the windows) and people were waiting outside. So if popularity is any indication, they must be doing something right. Oh wait, there are lines at Cheesecake Factory too!

        1. I enjoyed my one visit to New Capital, so I'll give Blue Ocean a try. I think we may have driven by it and spotted the Grand Opening sign over the weekend. Thanks for the info.

          8 Replies
          1. re: Wonginator

            Currently the other dinner specials are:
            gyeoduck and 1/2 a lobster per person for $.99 with purchases of $30 or more.

            The wait on opening nite (August 9th) was an hour long. the 130+ person wedding party happening simultaneously didn't help.

            Grand opening nite caused traffic backup all the way south to the 10 freeway. Not good. The fact that it's right next door from Old Country Cafe really makes me hate this place more and more, day by day.

            More important news from last week was actually the opening of Hunan Chili King's 2nd branch: Hengyang Chili King. It replaced Northern Dumpling House which had a short-lived fave: the awesome Han-style (Korean) naeng myun.

              1. re: monku

                I meant August 2nd. Idiot is me. DUH.

                1. re: TonyC

                  I thought maybe you could see in the future and I'd ask you about horses for this Saturday.

              2. re: TonyC

                "Currently the other dinner specials are:
                gyeoduck and 1/2 a lobster per person for $.99 with purchases of $30 or more." (TonyC)

                Thanks for the info TonyC! Yup, it sounds just like a branch of New Capital, IMHO the instigator of the infamous Chinese price wars in the SGV that drove down the quality of most HK / Cantonese Seafood restaurants years ago. I still remember my Chinese Cuisine Hounds dragging me to their inaugural $1.99 Live Crab (or was it Lobster?) back in the day. Sadly, so many people bit on those specials (hence the long lines)... mediocre food, terrible service, but cheap. (~_~)

                1. re: exilekiss

                  You have to remember Ben's funding his no-frills dimsum with his successful travel agency biz.. *giggle*

                  Tho at $2 per baby lobster, we had a bombtastic dinner, replete with really bad Cantonese karaoke.

                  The opening of this restaurant defines all that is wrong with Canto-Chinese cuisine in Western SGV: bottom-barrel fishing causing heinous traffic.

                  I'm over it. Bring on the Hunan/Tianjin houses.

                  1. re: TonyC

                    To add on top of that, it just makes it THAT much more difficult to get into Old Country Cafe ...

                    1. re: TonyC

                      Well said TonyC! :)

                      All of my Hounds are over it as well (years ago). Thanks for keeping us up to date on the latest interesting restaurants in the SGV (along w/ ipsedixit and chandavk and all the regular SGV CH'ersl). :)

              3. The up-side is, this place is so close I could pick up dim sum take-out there in my pj's. What time do they open on weekdays?

                God, no wonder there have been so many cars on our street this week...

                3 Replies
                1. re: CookieEater

                  Well, maybe double (triple) check on this, but I was told by two people there that they start serving dim sum at 7 am!!!!!

                  1. re: chowmominLA

                    This would be consistent with the hours for New Capital in San Gabriel, which I believe also opens at 7am.