Dim sum virgin in San Diego
Ok, I know its weird, I love all kinds of food, and have never had dim sum. My husband loved it years ago and wants to introduce me to it, but we don't know where to go in San Diego. We want to go for lunch tomorrow so please help!! Any favorite things to order would be great too!! Thanks!
About the issues with service two people reported:
Well I have to say it's not just you, I'm Chinese and have noticed service to be fairly inconsistent at Jasmine's as well for dim sum. Keep in mind on the weekends they staff up, and I notice some of the staff are brand new because of turnover. More importantly, you probably showed up after 12pm. The problem is the cart pushers are too clueless to figure out how to efficiently pass by all the new tables while avoiding the old tables. As a result, they end up skipping tables for no reason at all. That is why they are cart pushers. =) Jasmine's is a great deal as far as price for what you get, and part of that is low pay on unskilled lunchtime staff. Take it from someone Chinese who's gone 30 times over the years, go before 12pm. Better yet, see below.
If at all possible, what I suggest is to go right next door to Jasmine's Express, which is connected to their kitchen. You can get *everything* on the menu, and you don't have to pay tip. The prices for dim sum are a steal and you can get full on about $10-$12. Most of the stuff is ready right there (the common dim sum), with some of the less common items brought fresh from the kitchen. As far as dim sum quality I'd say they're rather good.
Pearl in Rancho Bernardo is even better, as are some places in LA (half of which are now closed =P). I'd highly recommend Jasmine's Express - try the turnip cake, the rice noodle beef or pork (big flat rice noodle wrapping), some of the dumplings and siu mai are great.
Whether you go to dim sum or Express, go at 11am to 11:30am on the weekend or 11am-12am on the weekdays if at all possible. High chance of no wait and much better service because it makes the cart pushers' job easy and they'll pass every table.
Pearl in Rancho Bernardo has great service and better dim sum (I believe run by same people as Emerald's), but if you go on the weekend after 11am you could end up waiting 1-2 hours for a seat on a busier day. So they must be doing something right, because the place is certainly packed.
That said, driving 45 minutes for Pearl and waiting another X minutes isn't as nice to me as driving 20 minutes to Jasmine Express and being out the door in 3-10 minutes (depending on if they have to order from the kitchen).
See reply below. I'm Chinese and I used to have this same issue all the time. That's when I noticed it's due to a combination of arriving after 12pm (when new and old tables start getting mixed) and the high turnover newbie staff. They don't have a good sense of path planning or short term memory - which is exactly why they're working at Jasmine's because Jasmine's will hire them at their pay level.
Being proactive is a solution for that, but try Jasmine's Express and eliminate service entirely. =) It's right next door, full dim sum menu in Chinese and English.
My wife being Japanese and service being paramount, I never take her to Jasmine's for this very reason. She thinks Jasmine's is wonderful - and as far as nearby-tasty-food-for-cheap it absolutely is. If I do go, I go with someone used to "minimum wage service" and arrive before 12pm. ;-)
Jasmine is a mainstay and very authentic in a Hong Kong style, large loud room able to seat hundreds at large tables. The food is usually excellent. For the full experience (read HK-like or San Francisco Chinatown) try it on the weekend, but try to get there early (around 10:30AM on Saturday or Sunday) to avoid waiting a long time for a table. The larger your party, the more variety of dim sum plates you can experience with out getting overly stuffed, so get a few friends together.
If you live in the North County, Pearl Restaurant in Rancho Bernardo has the best quality dim sum, also served on Hong Kong style from hot carts pushed from table to table. Pearl is owned by the same people as Emerald, but the food is executed better and it' s a larger restaurant, but still is crowded on weekends, but that's pretty normal as dim sum is a traditional time for sitting down with family and friends and talking and eating. http://pearlchinesecuisine.com/
I've been to China Max and personally, I like the hustle and bustle of Jasmine and Pearl, although the food was just as good.
Pearl Chinese Cuisine
11666 Avena Pl, San Diego, CA 92128
Jasmine Seafood Restaurant
San Diego CA, San Diego, CA
Emerald, on Convoy, also has good dim sum and cart service (where they wheel carts around for you to choose items from). They seem pretty accepting of non-Chinese there, although sometimes you have to make sure they show you all the choices or you might not see the chicken feet. Ummm Chicken feet.
At China Max, also on Convoy, you order the dim sum off a menu. Again, the quality is pretty good, and some folks prefer the orderliness of ordering off a menu - though usually then everything comes at once.
I've only been to Jasmine for Dim Sum in San Diego, but I can definitely vouch for the taste (delicious and nicely authentic) & speed of service service (just speedy enough that we didn't get bored, but not so speedy that we were overwhelmed), but the room is a pretty boring beige box, and there were some servers that seemed to avoid us as not being Chinese enough for some items (we were a table of mostly white guys, with a couple Filipinos & one black guy who doesn't like anything but BBQ) & the parking lot was pretty sucky.
Definitely go for Lunch, that's Dim Sum time, and get there early.
re: Freddie Freelance
hey Freddie...you know...we had the same experience at Jasmine in terms of being avoided by the servers because we were not Chinese/Asian. They actually would push past our table to the next table. I have grown up in the Asian community and been to Dim Sum since i can remember. I learned to use chopsticks before a knife and fork. I have been to Dim Sum in Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco and Vancouver BC (yummy) and this was absolutely the worst i have ever been treated. Their Dim Sum isn't worth the service at Jasmine. Emerald seems to be the most user friendly and equivalent if not better in food quality and selection. We boycott Jasmine after the experience.
I have been to Jasmine for Dim Sum 4 times, including one time by myself and generally, I have found the service brusque, but no better or worse than most of the dim sum places I have gone.
On one visit. I felt like I was overlooked by one particular cart. When I flagged the woman down it turned out to have the tripe and the chicken feet. I think that they decided that we would not be interested but were very polite when I asked what they had.
One time a waiter noticed me craning my neck and when I told him I was waiting for the turnip cake cart he went over to the woman 3 aisles away and pointed to our table so that she came over afterward.
Overall, I have found that I like the Dim Sum there as well or better than Emerald or Pearl except for the taro, which I thought was sub-par.