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Sep 20, 2009 08:15 PM

Jasmine Seafood Restaurant - best of the worst?

I read on here that Jasmine would be a good bet for dim sum, and it was appalling. My standards were even lower given that it has been so long and I was dying for dim sum! The congee was totally bland and soupy, the shui mai was mealy where it wasn't rubbery and tough, the rice rolls weren't terrible, but the sauce was so diluted that it was splashing off the plate on the way to the table! The only decent thing was the deep friend pork dumplings but even then, the shell was too thick to be chewy. I am afraid to try China Max or Emerald. Has anyone been there recently and noticed a dip in quality?

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  1. I don't even really like dim sum, but every girlfriend I have had loves it. So go I must. Jasmine is usually a place none of my family or friends ever go to. Not sure why. Emerald is usually where we always head. China Max lately, just because I like not having to fight the cart ladies. You order it and they bring it in. Funny enough I just had it yesterday, and my lady's best friend who just came back from Hong Kong said they mostly do it that way over there as well. She should know, her family over there (tons of them) kept taking them out every day, so she had dim sum about twice a day lol.

    Never was a fan of dim sum, but having traveled to San Francisco about 10 times in the past couple years, I had the wonderful opportunity to eat at Yank Sing and now must visit it every time I go back. If they had the same quality down here, I'd eat it more often.

    1. I think the best dim sum is way up in Rancho Bernardo at Pearl. The congee at Pearl is like 10 times better than at Jasmine. I do like Jasmine, but it is very uneven. I think they have like two good chefs and whatever they make is good the rest of the stuff mediocre. I was just there and had a very good sticky rice and an excellent white tripe. The chicken feet is very good some weeks and downright bad others. I tend to avoid the sui mai and har gow, because they're usually pretty average, I think they let the Jr. Chef in training make it.

      And I like the carts, they interject a bit of randomness to the meal. China Max's dim sum doesn't seem to benefit from kitchen service.

      1. I'm not sure where you got the impression on here that Jasmine has good dim sum b/c it's always been at the very bottom of a very short list of dim sum places in SD for us. We wait until we go to Vegas or the SGV for dim sum.

        16 Replies
        1. re: daantaat

          At the top of a very short list.

          And we wait until we go to San Francisco Bay area for great dim sum, but we still go as do thousands in San Diego. When was the last time you didn't wait at Jasmine, Emerald, or China Max at high noon?

          1. re: thirtyeyes

            I know, I should wait until I can get to even the SGV but alas, the craving is a calling I can't resist!

            1. re: thirtyeyes

              We haven't waited at any of them b/c quite frankly, I'll wait for good dim sum. I have an extremely hard time eating bad to average dim sum and am fine spending my time, $$ and calories on better food along Convoy.

              1. re: daantaat

                Well would you mind sharing the chinese spots on convoy that you will consecrate your time and money to? I would also prefer to not wait in line for mediocre food given a choice.

                1. re: toutefrite

                  Ba Ren (a fave on the board and all around good)
                  Dede's (deep fried chicken w/ dried chili peppers are excellent)
                  Dumpling Inn (decent but not mind blowing potstickers. we like the stir fried ong choy and their salt and pepper fish)
                  Tapioca Express (not really an eatery, but I like their boba tea)

                  The other places we hit on Convoy are Korean and Japanese. If you want the ultimate in Asian eateries, look up KirkK's blog,

                  1. re: daantaat

                    thanks for those recs. I was looking precisely for salt and pepper fish. Kirk's blog is also where I read that Jasmine was good.

                    1. re: toutefrite

                      When I go to Jasmine, I am there before 10:15 a.m.(it opens at 9) and everything is fresh, never mealy or tough. Last time I was there was in August and I did not notice any dip in quality.

                      1. re: toutefrite

                        I don't think I said it was "good", I think I said it was not bad, I've had not so great meals there, but never appalling. I did write that my wife thinks Jasmine has the best chicken feet in San Diego. I also think I wrote that I was surprised the service was good based on previous visits. Though on subsequent visits it was back to the same old "Jasmine" service. There are items that are decent to good on any single visit. SF or LA it is not, though I've had some pretty lousy Dim Sum in LA and SF as well. Whomever makes the steamed dumpling wrappers at Jasmine needs to be replaced, they are too thick and sticks to everything, often tearing apart.
                        I did also write: "Singularly, the most bland, boring, and thin Jook I've had in a long time"

                        Every dim sum restaurant I've been to in San Diego is wildly inconsistent, which is why we don't go out to eat it more often. But I've never been appalled at my Dim Sum...... Which is of course subjective. Maybe if I found an "inedible" bug doing the backstroke in my jook.....

                        1. re: KirkK

                          Oh how I miss Ton Kiang in the Richmond. Some of the best I've had on the west coast.

                          1. re: KirkK

                            :) ok, a backstroking bug would better warrant my response, but damnit, I was disappointed! And really, I guess I have been spoiled by my Vancouver, BC, San Fran and LA experiences, because it really was the worst dim sum. Ever. And I didn't see your Jook comment because if I had, I would have put faith in you! I enjoy your blog.

                2. re: daantaat

                  I could have sworn I read that people recommended Jasmine as being the best on Convoy, with China Max having gone down in quality. Pearl in RB is better, but I was hopeful that there was better to be found.

                  1. re: toutefrite

                    I think that you are correct in your position. Jasmine is OK but as thirtyeyes posted above, it's very uneven, probably on the weekends when they are pumping out a lot of dishes, the quality might suffer. When I used to go there regularly, I always tried to get there no later than 10:30 to get a table and to get the freshest dishes.

                    ChinaMax is also OK, but did change hands. I love dim sum and really could eat it everyday if it was convenient for me to do so.

                    I have never like Emerald's quality or selection.

                    That being said, my wife and all of my friends that I have introduced dim sum to at Jasmine, now favor Pearl in RB.

                    1. re: araknd

                      China Max changed hands? I know the quality has been off, but didn't know the reason. The wait staff is still the same, but it's been a whiles since I've seen the middle-aged woman who seemed to be the manager/owner. She would often come to our table while we were ordering and suggest dishes that were similar to what we were ordering but were, in her opinion, higher quality.

                      1. re: Divamac

                        I haven't been there lately, but I read it here on CH in another post.

                        1. re: araknd

                          Personally I think the quality of the dim sum at China Max is about the same as its always been. I didn't even really notice the management change until I read about it here.

                          Can't comment on the quality of the non dim sum dishes though but what exactly has suffered quality wise that everyone is complaining about?

                          1. re: mliew

                            I was there today and the dim sum was the same as always. It was as crowded as usual for lunch.

                            The last few times I went for dinner, I found the dishes to be sweeter, less spiced and the seafood not as fresh (shrimp and scallops were distinctly fishy). They also changed some long-standing dishes - the House Special Pepper Steak doesn't seem to be on the menu any longer (the one on the special smaller menu that was served with asparagus) and the Yeung Chow fried rice has less "stuff" in it than normal.

                            They also have a "stimulus" menu that is lower prices but lower quality. I ordered "spare ribs" from that menu than consisted of breaded pork chop bones in a sticky sweet sauce with some gristle and meat on them obviously left over when they trimmed off the meat for another dish. It was a barely edible embarrassment of a dish.

                            Truthfully, their dishes have always been a little inconsistent, I guess depending on who is cooking. I am willing to stick with them, hoping they straighten out the missteps. I only know of a management change from this board. Not sure if it's confirmed.

                3. I agree my experience was terrible, food was under par service was horrible.It took over 35 min to get first course, then when we were ready to leave the entire staff sat down in the middle of the dining room to eat ! Classic.

                  1. Don't avoid Emerald's dim sum! They always surprise my wife and me with old favorites and new selections. The two of us always spend between $50 and $60 on each visit. Saturday and Sunday yield the best selections and variety, but it's best to call ahead and put your names in. This is advantageous to just walking in.