NBC is Back
I headed over this morning for dim sum. Not only is it back, it's better (and cleaner) than before. And contrary to some of the rumors there is cart service.
NBC Seafood, in Monterey Park, has long been my favorite of the giant-palace variety of dim sum places. For the past couple of years, the strip mall in which it is located has been in the process of being very slowly dismantled, and the parking lot was a complete mess. Still, I regularly braved it for the excellent dim sum. Then, about a month ago, it closed down and the rumor spread that it had been sold. When a beloved eatery is sold, I always get a nervous chill down my spine. Will it stay the same? Will the new owners ruin a good thing? Okay, it's not that there aren't plenty of other great dim sum places in LA, but NBC is something special.
Well, this week was the grand opening, so we headed over this morning to see how NBC faired. What we noticed immediately was that the place looked better. The rundown old palace had received a paint job, a new sign and some better looking linens. The old, somewhat lackluster staff had been replaced by a more attentive and service-oriented group of staffers. Rumors had been that the new NBC had forsaken carts in favor of a Sea Harbor/Elite style menu system, but carts abounded.
But how was the food? Well, it wasn't the same. In fact, it was better. Ingredients were higher quality, shrimp were plumper and the cart dim sum were much fresher. The danger of cart dim sum, of course, is that the food sits on the carts for hours, but here, the cart food seemed fresh out of the oven. Pork buns glistened; there was shen jian bao, look fun and all the old favorites along with some new. For dessert there was a much improved yellow, sponge cake and cream buns filled with a purple yam paste. The only things I missed from the original NBC were the original cream buns and the duck. NBC's duck was always succulent, greasy and dripping with fat and jus. The new duck was still good, but a bit dry.
Overall, I was very impressed by the new NBC. For the most part, it retained the good and even improved it. I'll look forward to further sampling their menu.
404 S Atlantic Blvd (south of Garvey
)Monterey Park, CA 91754
We went yesterday (Sunday) around 1pm. The plan was Elite and I wish we'd stuck with it but the line was just too hard core. We went to NBC based on this post. Unfortunately it was bad, real bad. The only upside, if you can call it that in retrospect, is it was only a 10 minute wait to get in for a table of 2. Besides the initial 2 "in your face" carts when we first sat down (I think that might be a dim sum technique because it seems to happen at every cart joint we go to.) It was slim pickins, the same two picked over carts and even those weren't too frequent. There seemed to be more action on the other side of the room, but not on ours. However once we got to eating that was okay. The Har Gow was soggy and the shrimp was sub par as was the shrimp in the rice noodle. The BBQ pork bao was fatty and unpleasantly gamy and the sauce was nasty. The Chinese broccoli, that we waited to come around for a half hour because it looked fresh and like a safe bet, was itself fine, but the oyster sauce was way overpowering. Too much fish sauce or something and it completely wiped out the delicacy of the vegetable, unlike standard oyster sauce where the mild almost sweet saltiness provides a nice compliment. I've had a lot of dim sum in my time and this was sub-par to be sure. I was so bummed to have humped all the way out to Monterey Park for this. It was worse than any of the Chinatown joints (Ocean Empress...) I've been to, even on their off days. It was worse than that joint that used to be on Wilshire in Santa Monica on it's worst days, and these are places that I consider "B" team, good at best, meh at worst. NBC, stands for Never Be Comin' back here!
The good news about NBC is welcome. I'm hoping that they can sustain this, which is always the trick for new places, as well as places that are reopening. I've been impressed in the past with the initial quality of the food in cases like this, only to be eventually disappointed later. I'm often left feeling that the initial uptick in quality was a bait & switch trick to draw me in, have me fall in love, continue to come back blindly and hope that I won't notice that said place has fallen back into their old habits. Again, thanks for the great news...