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Jun 21, 2009 08:11 AM

Dim Sum in San Diego

Any good dim sum from Lamplight District to Carlsbad?

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  1. Is "Lamplight" another form of "Gas Lamp"?

    Not sure there is anything of note along the coast. A bit inland in Kearny Mesa, the big two are Emerald Seafood (which most people prefer) and Jasmine. More inland in Rancho Bernardo, there is Pearl.

    4 Replies
    1. re: RB Hound

      How about the Dumpling Inn in Kearny Mesa? Sounds pretty intriguing.

      1. re: flavrmeistr

        The food at Dumpling Inn is pretty good, but it's not dim sum. Dim Sum is a southern Chinese thing, and Dumpling Inn serves northern-style food. If you're at Dumpling Inn and you are looking for dim sum, you might as well go next door to Jasmine.

        1. re: zompus

          Went to the Dumpling Inn, but the line was out the door and into the parking lot. We were hungry, so we went to the Emerald up the street. No dim sum there, either, but we had great platters of crispy squids in five-spice, Peking duck and baby bok choi with garlic. Convoy Street has a number of very interesting Asian restaurants. Can't wait to come back.

          1. re: flavrmeistr

            Emerald has dim sum every day through lunch time. Maybe someone else here knows the exact hours.

    2. I'd recommend a short flight to SFO.

      10 Replies
      1. re: cstr

        or even closer, a 90 min drive up to the San Gabriel Valley to King Hua in Alhambra. We stuffed our faces and brought home enough for another 2 meals...

        China Max on Convoy also does dim sum but I don't know how it compares to Emerald.

        1. re: daantaat

          The few times I've had dim sum at China Max it was solid. The big difference is that you order off an order sheet instead of dealing with carts. I kindof enjoy the chaos of carts, but if folks didn't want to deal with that process, China Max would be a good alternative.

          1. re: Ed Dibble

            I think we'll have to bite the bullet and go there one of these days. King Hua is also an "order off the menu" place and surprisingly, it worked pretty well. They had pictures of all their items and the big plus was that everything came out hot and fresh. The did have some waitstaff walking around w/ platters of dessert and marinated veggies that don't require the "hot off the stove" deal and that suited us just fine.

            1. re: daantaat

              Personally I could do without the carts. I guess for some people that go to dim sum for the novelty the carts make it more of an authentic experience. However most of the time with carts the food ends up being cold or overcooked due to the fact that it's been sitting. I would much rather have my food fresh from the kitchen.

              1. re: mliew

                The novelty of the cart has also worn off on me. Hate seeing something I want pass by on a cart one row over, never to appear again. The dim sum style menu item at China Max are pretty good.

                1. re: stevuchan

                  Ironically, the last time I was in Hong Kong, I was told they have abandoned the cart system there in favor of the "order off the menu" system. Novelty aside, the menu system does allow for better quality control, and lets them design the dining room without having to consider carts.

                  1. re: zompus

                    The only down side with ordering off a menu is that everything arrives at once. I guess a group could place the order a few items at a time to minimize that, but I haven't .

                    1. re: Ed Dibble

                      That's what we did at China Max, Ed. We ordered a few things, and told them we'll be ordering more later so they left a menu. It was my daughter's first time having dim sum, so they were not only accommodating in our multiple orders, but also very helpful with suggestions for her.

                2. re: mliew

                  It sits on a steam cart or it sits on a steam table in the kitchen. Not so different really.

                3. re: daantaat

                  In LA, SF, Vancouver and Toronto all the best dim sum is menu driven. Diners get fresh dim sum and restaurant owners don't have to leave large spaces between tables to let carts roll through. That's what you call "win win".

          2. Here's my list in order:
            1. Pearl in Rancho Bernardo. It's the best in San Diego, stacks up well with the best of the SF Bay area, but maybe not as good as Koi Palace (I still think they do carts).

            2. Jasmine on Convoy. Very good. They have a take-out counter also.

            3. Emerald on Convoy. Same owners as Pearl, but nowhere near as good.

            4. China Max on Convoy. Just okay, and the place to go when Jasmine is very busy. They don't have a lot of variety, just the basics on the menu. I think if you speak Cantonese you can get other stuff.

            5. Lucky Star on 54th and University. Just okay.

            6. Yum Cha Cafe on Linda Vista. Take out only. Often disappointing food quality, and not for the timid when it is busy.

            I think that's it. Any others I've missed?

            I really prefer carts, because you can allow luck to drive your meal. On the other hand, I get made when the lady with the chicken feet doesn't make it to me early, and when they run out of mango pudding. My other pet peeve is when they bring you tea without asking your tea preference. I have yet to hit any places in LA/Orange County, but I'm looking forward to it.

            3 Replies
            1. re: thirtyeyes

              I haven't been to Lucky Star or Yum Cha Cafe, but do agree with the ranking of 1-4. Also been to the Jasmine Bistro in La Mesa/El Cajon, but not recommended.

              1. re: thirtyeyes

                You missed Imperial Mandarin on Convoy. Its clearly above China Max...and probably better than Pearl (which I have found to be quite inconsistent).

              2. I've eaten at Jasmine and Pearl. Neither are what I would call world class but both are serviceable. I'd give a slight nod to Pearl.

                1. Dim sum seems to be a polarizing subject. I like the process, and I enjoy the food adventure that is dim sum, so I am usually happy with my meal.

                  We were going to Lucky Star last weekend but when we got there the building was closed and a "for Lease" sign was plastered on the wall. We wanted dim sum so we went to Jasmine instead.

                  I thought the selection was good, and the individual dishes were tasty. I thought the cold dishes were very nice! I was surprised they served Boba tea from a cart, as well as congee and creamy tofu. This I have not seen before but I am not complaining. I was also impressed that the place was FULL and people we're waiting outside... An indication to me that they must be doing something right.

                  I will be trying China Max and Imperial mandarin (although the name makes me think of Northern China and not Southern, but what is in a name?)!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: jill kibler

                    I'd stay away from China Max. The food is hit or miss (with the frequency of misses a direct function of how busy they are), its waiter service not cart, the variety is low....

                    I've got a review coming of Imperial Mandarin in CityBeat in a couple of weeks. Preview: good! But not always for the same stuff you'd expect to be good at Jasmine or Emerald.

                      1. re: magardiner

                        Again,magardiner thanks for the heads up about China Max. We went to Imperial Mandarin on Sunday. We did not have a reservation, but they could seat us promptly as it was 11. We ordered a plethora of dishes, some traditional, some not. The overwhelming conclusion was that the food was great! I thought it was the most authentic tasting Chinese food I have had since leaving China! Also, our bill was reasonable (comparing to Jasmine which was twice the price for less food!) The waitstaff was very accommodating as well.

                      2. re: jill kibler

                        Another vote for Pearl. Best I've had in SD, and I make it there at least twice a month.