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really, what is the best dim sum around?

a
akg2000 Mar 18, 2010 04:55 PM

I want one with carts and one that has great shrimp dumplings in rice paper. The more shrimp dishes with rice noodles, and veggies, the better. thanks!

  1. Chandavkl Mar 18, 2010 06:43 PM

    There's a problem with your request. Probably the five best dim sum places (Elite, Sea Harbour, Lunasia, King Hua and Happy Harbor) do not have carts. Consequently, by the time you get to carted dim sum, you're in the second tier.

    -----
    Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
    3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA

    Happy Harbor Restaurant
    1015 Nogales St # 126, Rowland Heights, CA

    King Hua Restaurant
    2000 W Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801

    1. liu Mar 18, 2010 08:24 PM

      Elite!
      Although it doesn't have carts, there are trays going around with lots of fresh items!

      23 Replies
      1. re: liu
        Porthos Mar 19, 2010 12:40 AM

        Second Elite. Used to be a fan of Sea Harbour but stopped going due to some major service issues on back to back visits. Last weekend's visit to Elite was wonderful. Try to snag some paper baked spareribs if you see them circulating. I think they're off menu and oh so good.

        For dinner, Elite is easily superior to Sea Harbour. Especially if one is jonesing for some king crab...but I digress.

        -----
        Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
        3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA

        1. re: Porthos
          martyR Mar 19, 2010 07:58 AM

          Funny, I had the opposite experience. I went to Elite a few weeks ago and didn't have bad service, but the quality wasn't up to what I'd come to expect. So I went to Sea Harbour and had maybe my best dimsum meal ever. Talking to the manager, he said that they have a new menu, though it didn't look much different then their old one. Perhaps it was also because we got there at 10 and everything was fresher.

          -----
          Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
          3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA

          1. re: martyR
            b
            bulavinaka Mar 19, 2010 08:23 AM

            When I'm pondering Sea Harbour v. Elite, it's splitting hairs-time. We've been going to Elite a lot lately, but that's because Monterey Park is closer than Rosemead relative to where we are coming from - the Westside. We have been limited to heading into SGV after 1030 at the earliest on weekends for a while because of some commitments. I know from past experience that if we aren't past the rooster at Sea Harbour by 1015, each minute beyond that time increases the line proportionately to the Richter Scale; thus, we opt for (in my eyes) an equal but different option which is Elite. But my thoughts on Sea Harbour are nothing short of excellent.

            -----
            Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
            3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA

            1. re: bulavinaka
              Porthos Mar 19, 2010 09:15 AM

              For dim sum, I agree, the two are probably equal but different.

              For dinner, there have been several evenings where the seafood tanks at Seafood Harbour are emptied out and the selection of live seafood minimal. For king crab, Elite requires no call ahead as they usually have in stock when in season. For Sea Harbour, you will need to call ahead to confirm and request one. If you need to cancel your reservations after ordering a king crab, it becomes problematic.

              But other than that, I agree, quality is very close. I personally give Elite the edge. More for dinner than for dim sum.

              -----
              Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
              3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA

              1. re: bulavinaka
                b
                bulavinaka Mar 28, 2010 01:16 PM

                We shed our weekend commitments, allowing us to get on the 10 early and hit Sea Harbour as they opened for the first time in while. I have to say that I was very impressed with everything. I'd forgotten how clean the interior is, how nice the dining space, the linens, and the tea service is, and how truly good the food is.

                We ordered a fair amount of dishes - I think it was 10 - and everything was perfect. The true revelation came when the first item was presented - the basic siu mai. I bit into it, and the flavors and aromas took me away to Singapore, where I've had some amazing food experiences, including dim sum. It was how clean and fresh the pork and shrimp tasted. I haven't had this kind of feeling come over me in a while. It just sets in my mind that while Elite and Sea Harbour are both great options, and while Elite has some unique and satisfying items that no one else seems to have, Sea Harbour seems to have a strong focus on their ingredients. I never expected a simple siu mai to shake my metaphysical world.

                -----
                Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
                3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA

                1. re: bulavinaka
                  liu Mar 28, 2010 01:29 PM

                  Hi, bulavinaka!
                  You probably know that I am a huge Elite fan, but your post has me drooling...
                  Were you at the Sea Harbour at 3939 Rosemead Blvd. in Rosemead?

                  1. re: liu
                    b
                    bulavinaka Mar 28, 2010 05:56 PM

                    Hey liu,

                    I sure know you're THE Elite fan! :) I love Elite as well, and still do. Been - I don't know - maybe a few times over the past month and a half. I've been skipping Sea Harbour in Rosemead because it's about 15-20 minutes further (round-trip). Because we've had some morning commitments on the weekends, we would be hitting Sea Harbour around 1030 - by then, it's packed - I hate queues. Because they open at 10AM on weekends, there's a sudden rush of new diners that will be there for a while, and those queuing up will have to wait for a while.

                    With Elite, we'd show up around 1015 and seating is usually no wait to maybe 10 minutes (usually two to three of us). Because they open at 9AM on weekends, our arrival at 10-something is usually fortuitous for our small party.

                    Because I hadn't been to Sea Harbour in a while, maybe my absence "makes the heart grow fonder." But the nose often relates to one's memory better than one's eyes or ears - at least with me. And that first bite from the siu mai just transported me to a place in Singapore where I had some of the most amazing dim sum a few summers ago(I think it was called, "Bosses"). Bossees was definitely higher-end for Singapore (folks there hate paying for things like air-con, views, seats that go beyond shaky plastic stools :)), with a strong focus on sourcing ingredients as well as technique and presentation. You would love the teas there, but I digress...

                    I just found the dim sum today at Sea Harbour to be truly spot-on in every way. Everything tasted and smelled so good and fresh, and the kitchen staff seemed to be on a really good run.

                    I love the joie de vivre that Elite's dim sum menu has. Although Sea Harbour's is more traditional in many ways, their strength for me is the clean flavors that everything had. I will have to go back to Elite and then back to Sea Harbour to measure them up against each other. But I was just so wowed today by Sea Harbour.

                    -----
                    Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
                    3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA

                    1. re: bulavinaka
                      liu Mar 28, 2010 07:56 PM

                      Oh, thanks, bulavinaka, for this very detailed post; indeed, I will appreciate Sea Harbour even more! How can I not go there after reading of your transcendence to a summer's day in Singapore?

                      We'll give it another try soon.

                      -----
                      Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
                      3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA

                      1. re: liu
                        b
                        bulavinaka Mar 28, 2010 08:42 PM

                        I hope I'm not giving the impression that I'm hyping Sea Harbour. Far from it - I really like Elite, but I just couldn't get past how good of an experience I had at Sea Harbour. I hope your experience will be at least half as good as mine. :)

                        1. re: bulavinaka
                          liu Mar 28, 2010 09:18 PM

                          Not to worry, bulavinaka.

                          For years, we have been jumping from dim sum to dim sum, but we always end up "back home" at Elite. I'll not tell you how many times we have been there...I'm embarrassed, but it continues to impress us. The service is always extraordinary. This past weekend we were four, and we were four happy customers!

                          Still, we look forward to revisiting Sea Harbour.

                          1. re: liu
                            liu Apr 4, 2010 01:44 PM

                            bulavinaka --
                            We visited Sea Harbour this Saturday morning for dim sum. Without the chicken, Sea Harbour, I hardly knew ye! I also think they remodeled the interior since we were there last. It seemed brighter and more cheery inside. Although it didn't quite transcend me all the way to Singapore, it dropped me quite close...close enough to walk the rest of the way! I'd call it a very close second to Elite...and a really good other option for dim sum.

                            We arrived just minutes before 11:00am and our wait was only about 10-15 minutes. We were seated ideally with our backs to a bright wall and we faced the interior.

                            The service was extremely attentive and all the dishes were served hot. We could see steam rising from our sponge cake! I thought the shrimp rice noodles were as delicate as any I have had, and the crunchy nuts in the sponge cake added great texture. While I prefer the sticky rice at Elite, I thought Sea Harbour's was good; the quarter piece of egg yolk inside had an amazing flavor. The vegetable wraps with tofu skin were good, although perhaps not as deep in flavor as those at Elite.

                            bulavinaka, I think you perfectly described the food at Sea Harbour when you said that their food "tasted and smelled so good and fresh" and then you mentioned "the clean flavors that everything had." I quite agree that each item contained distinguishable ingredients; there was no "funky paste-y fill in any of the pieces. I thought that the shrimp in all of the dishes were outstandingly delicious, clean and fresh.

                            I truly appreciate your positive post on Sea Harbour; it gave me just the push I needed to pay it another visit...and I am glad that I did! We will, for sure, return to taste the rest of the menu!

                            -----
                            Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
                            3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA

                            1. re: liu
                              e
                              exilekiss Apr 4, 2010 03:19 PM

                              Hi liu,

                              Nice report! :) Thanks for your detailed report on Sea Harbour. Good to hear another Hound confirming that it's still great. For the "Sticky Rice" are you talking about the Nuo Mi Ji (Chicken Sticky Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaves)? If so, interesting; I thought that Sea Harbour's was just a bit better (more nuanced), not that Elite's was bad at all (it was tasty :). And I don't think anyone can top Elite's Egg Custard Tarts. :)

                              BTW, the Rooster Statues are still there - They just moved them to the back parking lot. :) (And yah, the last time we went, I also noticed that Sea Harbour did a remodel.)

                              -----
                              Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
                              3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA

                              1. re: exilekiss
                                liu Apr 4, 2010 04:41 PM

                                Whew! I was worried about those roosters!
                                (We easily found parking on a side street in order to avoid their rather cramped parking lot, so we didn't see the relocated statues.)

                                I'm not sure if we ordered chicken sticky rice...were there other kinds of sticky rice on the menu? Ours had little bits of what seemed to be pork and the quartered egg yolk. Elite's version has an abundance of little bits of pork, sometimes a shrimp, some tiny sausage slices and always a generous piece of abalone. I just find it full of flavor and texture. I also think Elite's sticky rice has a more pronounced flavor from the lotus leaf. This is curious because Elite uses a paper sheet between the leaf and the rice, while Sea Harbour's dish wraps the sticky rice right up against the leaf; I would think that the paper separation would mellow the lotus leaf flavor, but it doesn't.

                                I'm with you, exilekiss, that Elite has wonderful egg custard tarts. I also think their other baked sweets are extraordinary: specifically, their white almond snow fluffs (I can't remember what they call them) and their house sugar cake.

                                -----
                                Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
                                3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA

                                1. re: liu
                                  ipsedixit Apr 4, 2010 06:52 PM

                                  I'm still trying to figure what happened to those pair of roosters that used to be at the Sea Harbour II restaurant that was on Valley Blvd (right next to the Hawaii Supermarket shopping center).

                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                    e
                                    exilekiss Apr 5, 2010 11:30 AM

                                    Hi ipsedixit,

                                    Wow, I had no idea there was a Sea Harbour II restaurant. Was there not enough business and they were forced to close down?

                                    -----
                                    Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
                                    3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA

                                    1. re: exilekiss
                                      ipsedixit Apr 5, 2010 11:47 AM

                                      Probably. Dunno for sure.

                              2. re: liu
                                b
                                bulavinaka Apr 4, 2010 06:31 PM

                                Not enough to take you all the way to Singapore? Then you got there too late! :) Glad it measured up to your tastes. I don't want to change your pecking order relative to Elite, but I'm glad that Sea Harbour gets the nod from you!

                                -----
                                Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
                                3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA

                            2. re: bulavinaka
                              Kitchen Queen Mar 28, 2010 09:23 PM

                              I'm so glad to read these posts as I too face the same quandry. Sea Harbour is really special to me and I go w/no more than 4 of us. When there's a group, we love the variety so it's Elite.

                              -----
                              Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
                              3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA

                          2. re: bulavinaka
                            e
                            exilekiss Mar 29, 2010 10:13 AM

                            Hi bulavinaka,

                            Yokatta! :) I'm glad you enjoyed your visit to Sea Harbour (and that it's still great). It's my favorite Dim Sum restaurant in So Cal (with Elite being 2nd (but still great :)). Your thoughts on the most basic, classic Siu Mai is exactly why my Dim Sum Hounds and I give the edge to Sea Harbour over Elite. It's not that Elite's is bad, it's just something about many of the dishes at Sea Harbour that just hit that perfect synergy with my palate. :)

                            But nothing tops the Egg Custard Tarts at Elite (except the former Macau Street, sigh).

                            1. re: exilekiss
                              b
                              bulavinaka Mar 29, 2010 10:27 AM

                              Hi exilekiss, it's been a while since I last hit Sea Harbour, and I was just amazed at how good the standard dim sum items are there.

                              I think Elite and Sea Harbour are just so fantastic, both with different strengths. I'm starting to liken each of them to wine regions. Sea Harbour is like France is to wines - the standard. Elite is more like California or even Australia - bolder, broader and more selections. Which is better? I think it's hard to say objectively. Luckily, Sea Harbour doesn't reflect France's wine prices. :)

                              1. re: bulavinaka
                                ipsedixit Mar 29, 2010 10:57 AM

                                Sea Harbour is the way dim sum is supposed to be.

                                Elite is the way dim sum would be if elBulli outsourced its kitchen staff.

                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                  b
                                  bulavinaka Mar 29, 2010 10:59 AM

                                  Well said. Still waiting for your 99s. :)

                            2. re: bulavinaka
                              l
                              lapizzamaven Jul 24, 2010 02:51 PM

                              Hey Bulavinaka! Your comment made think of this twist...regarding Elite...maybe "abscence makes the har gow fonder!"

                2. ipsedixit Mar 18, 2010 08:27 PM

                  As Chandavkl noted, the best dim sum around are menu-driven joints -- e.g. Elite, Sea Harbour, Lunasia, etc.

                  Now, a better question is why you want to go to a cart place? Is it for the food, or the ambiance that a cart-style restaurant provides? If the former, then ditch the carts and go menu. If the latter, then try 888 or Ocean Star.

                  Really, if you already know what you want -- shrimp and more shrimp -- then why bother with carts where you are left to whims and the happenstance of the dim sum gods as when a cart-lady with shrimp dishes will roll by? Why not just go to a menu place where you can control your own destiny and order as many shrimp items as your (poor) small intestine can possibly hold in one dim sum outing.

                  -----
                  Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
                  3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: ipsedixit
                    liu Mar 18, 2010 08:34 PM

                    ipsedixit -- Thoughtful post, as I have come to expect from you by now...and always funny!

                    1. re: ipsedixit
                      PeterL Mar 18, 2010 10:40 PM

                      My problem with menu dim sum is the pacing. The dishes all come within a relatively short period of time with the unfortunate effect that there usually are way too many dishes at the same time. Next time I'll have to remember to order a few dishes at a time, and create my own pacing.

                      1. re: PeterL
                        b
                        bulavinaka Mar 18, 2010 10:48 PM

                        The pacing was a problem for us as well, and we resolved that by keeping a menu and ordering a few things at a time as well. The first time we went to Mission 291, we must have ordered over a dozen dishes, and they brought out almost all of them rapid-fire. Aside from the table being so crowded, by the time we got a third of the way through, the other dishes were already getting cold. Never again.

                        1. re: bulavinaka
                          ipsedixit Mar 19, 2010 07:02 AM

                          Agreed.

                          I actually think it's easier to pace with menu-driven restaurants. You order items as you are finishing what's on the table. Ergo, easy to pace.

                          With carts, you are literally at the whims of the cart ladies. You've still got a table full of half eaten plates of lotus sticky rice, turnip cakes, spare ribs, gai lan, duck, etc., but that one lady rolls on by shouting out "shu mai, shu mai" ... you wonder ... do you get an order now while you're still at about 80% capacity, or do you chance it and wait for the next round knowing full well that she may never come around again ... decisions, decisions ... can really make pacing quite the culinary challenge and conundrum.

                          With menus, you are the driver.

                          1. re: ipsedixit
                            Tripeler Mar 19, 2010 07:20 AM

                            This post is yet another example of why "ipsedixit" is such an excellent guide to dim sum, among other great executions of Chinese food. Ipse is such a brilliant source of useful information that really helps you make good decisions.

                        2. re: PeterL
                          wilafur Mar 19, 2010 09:29 AM

                          yep, you need to pace the meal yourself by ordering a few items at a time.

                          another vote for elite!

                      2. s
                        Sgee Mar 18, 2010 09:21 PM

                        Sea Harbour, best dim sum IMO. No Carts.

                        If you still absolutely fixated by the need to have carts. 888 Seafood in Rosemead is probably the best option cartwise.

                        -----
                        Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
                        3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: Sgee
                          Chandavkl Mar 18, 2010 09:45 PM

                          Not only has menu dim sum supplanted cart dim sum for quality, but more recently many of the cart dim sum places have gome to a value pricing strategy (e.g., Ocean Star, New Capital, Blue Ocean, East Gourmet), widening further the gap between menu and cart dim sum.

                          -----
                          New Capital
                          8823 Garvey Ave, Rosemead, CA

                          1. re: Chandavkl
                            n
                            ns1 Mar 19, 2010 09:21 AM

                            Can you elaborate on "value pricing strategy"?

                            1. re: ns1
                              Chandavkl Mar 19, 2010 10:14 AM

                              Generally, almost everything under $2 a plate, even lower prices on weekdays than weekends. You undoubtedly get your money's worth, but you also pay the price in terms of a lower quality and fewer frills.

                              1. re: Chandavkl
                                n
                                ns1 Mar 19, 2010 11:24 AM

                                I'll stick to Sea Harbour/Elite, thanks for the follow-up.

                            2. re: Chandavkl
                              ipsedixit Mar 19, 2010 03:27 PM

                              Ya know, I really lament the loss of quality, high-end cart-style dim sum.

                              There's something special with the din that accompanies carts and cart-ladies during dim sum that's almost never experienced at any other time, or type of restaurant.

                              Nothing wrong with dim sum ordered off the menu, but having those ladies wheel around carts (dare I say the precursor to those now ubiquitous "food trucks") shouting out "shu mai" and "har gow" and picking up little tin dishes, with metal pliers, plopping it on your table, then stamping your tab, is just sort of cool in its own very unique way.

                              It's sort of like peanut throwing at baseball games. Sure, I can still get peanuts at the concession stand, but damn it (!), I want it tossed from 20 seats, and 2 rows away, with a behind-the-back flick of the wrist, and then having the experience of placing my faith in baseball fans -- nay, really my faith in humanity -- that the money I pass down to the stranger next to me will make it to the peanut vendor ...

                              [sigh]

                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                orythedog Mar 19, 2010 03:37 PM

                                That is why I suggested Empress Pavillion. It is always mobbed and is a gigantic room. All the food is hot and fresh because it turns over quickly.

                                1. re: orythedog
                                  t
                                  taiwanesesmalleats Mar 19, 2010 03:40 PM

                                  No offense, but Empress Pavilion isn't even the best cart dim sum in Chinatown much less LA. 888 or Empress Harbor in the SGV are vastly superior.

                                  -----
                                  Empress Pavilion Restaurant
                                  988 N Hill St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                2. re: ipsedixit
                                  liu Mar 19, 2010 03:38 PM

                                  Nice lament, ipse!

                            3. j
                              jcorngold Mar 18, 2010 09:43 PM

                              When it comes to dim sum, my heart (and stomach) belong to Capitol Seafood:
                              755 West Garvey Avenue
                              Monterey Park, CA 91754-2707
                              (626) 282-3318
                              PS - They serve from carts laden with mysterious delicacies...

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: jcorngold
                                Will Owen Mar 18, 2010 10:01 PM

                                No carts = just another restaurant. It's the unpredictability and the interaction with all these different, mostly very jolly women that makes cart service such a pleasure. We've had menu dim sum at Mission 261, and it was quite nice, but not noticeably better or fresher than Empress Harbor or 888 - and they had no stewed tripe! I think stewed tripe should be a statutory requirement for having a dim sum place, just as no pizza parlor should call itself that if it had no anchovies on the menu.

                                We MUST try Capitol...

                                -----
                                Mission 261 Restaurant
                                261 S Mission Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                                1. re: jcorngold
                                  liu Mar 18, 2010 10:20 PM

                                  We used to love Capital at Atlantic and Garvey in the 99 Ranch center. The many carts are fun and the restaurant is pretty with a great busy vibe. Service is very good. Also, because they have so many different items, there are often "surprises" to be tasted...things we have never tried before. Capital can be a dim sum adventure!

                                  However, in the past year or two, we have found it to be VERY inconsistent. Sometimes it is still really good, but sometimes the dishes are served not hot; this means that they are sitting out too long or poorly stored on the carts. Luke-warm dim sum is an insult to the food!

                                  We keep going back every now and then, hoping that it will return to what it once was. Elite, on the other hand, delivers consistently week after week and we continue to return almost every weekend.

                                2. J.L. Mar 18, 2010 10:47 PM

                                  Look, the OP really wants carts, dammit!

                                  So keeping that in mind... Capitol is my fave for carts. Go early, as the food is better and warmer (and also some items run out by noontime).

                                  Shrimp with rice noodles pastry either means means shiah ren (蝦 = steamed prawn) cheong fen (腸粉 = rice pastry) or har gow (蝦餃 = Cantonese pronunciation for shrimp dumplings)... FYI

                                  Good luck!

                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: J.L.
                                    m
                                    mc michael Mar 19, 2010 01:35 AM

                                    If it's carts, carts carts you want, I suggest Full House in Arcadia. They have shrimp.

                                    1. re: mc michael
                                      raytamsgv Mar 19, 2010 09:58 AM

                                      Full House is ok, but it is really cramped. I think they would be a better restaurant if they moved to a menu-ordered dim sum simply because it is such a small location.

                                    2. re: J.L.
                                      Tripeler Mar 19, 2010 07:30 AM

                                      While J.L.'s description of "cheong fen (腸粉 = rice pastry)" is helpful, the choice of the espression "pastry" implies that the food is sweet, which it usually isn't. Most of the "chow fun" 腸粉 I have had is most certainly savory.

                                      1. re: Tripeler
                                        w
                                        will47 Mar 19, 2010 03:03 PM

                                        Not sure if that was a typo, but chao fen (chow fun - 炒粉, i.e., stir-fried rice noodles) is not the same as chang fen (肠粉), similar to Vietnamese bánh cuốn. Either way, you are right that chang fen is usually savory. I guess you could say 'savory rice crepe' or 'wide rice noodle' or something. I assume 肠(腸) refers to the fact that it's rolled in in intestine shape.

                                        1. re: will47
                                          J.L. Mar 19, 2010 06:59 PM

                                          Sorry for the confusion. English is my second language.

                                          1. re: J.L.
                                            b
                                            bulavinaka Mar 19, 2010 08:25 PM

                                            I wish my second language was as good as yours - would have never known.

                                      2. re: J.L.
                                        liu Mar 19, 2010 03:19 PM

                                        Hi, J.L.
                                        I am responding to your

                                        "Capitol is my fave for carts. Go early, as the food is better and warmer (and also some items run out by noontime)."

                                        If you are referring to the Capital at Atlantic and Garvey, I wish there were a pattern like this.
                                        We have been there many times, usually before 11:00am on a Saturday, and never found the time to be directly related to the temperature or quality of the food. Sometimes, even 11:00am is too early because some of the delicious items come out later. Occasionally, we will pay our bill around noon or even 12:30 and then see something new come out that looks good. I just fail to see any pattern; sometimes it is very, very good and sometimes it is very, very fair.

                                        1. re: liu
                                          J.L. Mar 19, 2010 06:57 PM

                                          Hmm... I've been to Capitol at least 4 times and that's the pattern I've noted from those visits. All my visits have been on Sundays, though.

                                          1. re: J.L.
                                            liu Mar 19, 2010 07:40 PM

                                            Ah, Sundays! Perhaps that is the difference in our experiences.

                                            We always go on Saturdays. We began going there many years ago. They just kept getting better and better, and we kept going there almost every Saturday morning. Then, just the past couple of years, we just never know whether the food will be good or not.

                                            Still, the service is always attentive and friendly, as are all the cart ladies. We do like the feel of the place and the room is pretty and spacious, but the food experience is inconsistent.

                                      3. a
                                        akg2000 Mar 19, 2010 07:08 AM

                                        thank you all so much!!

                                        1. raytamsgv Mar 19, 2010 10:06 AM

                                          Carts are a fun experience. If that's the experience you want, go to 888 in Rosemead or Empress Harbor in Monterey Park. Both places have pretty good food. I'm not sure about now, but it used to be that if you got your check before noon at Empress Harbor, you'd get a 20% discount.

                                          If you want the best quality (and priciest) dim sum, go to Elite for dim sum ordered off the menu. When you sit down, ask for several copies of the menu. Divide your orders and submit them at staggered intervals. Ask for more menus as needed.

                                          Almost all the dim sum places will have the dishes you are looking for. It's just a question of what type of experience you prefer and how much you want to pay.

                                          Regardless, no true dim sum gathering can be considered complete if it doesn't involve subterfuge and/or judicious use of martial arts techniques to pay the check.

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: raytamsgv
                                            Chandavkl Mar 19, 2010 10:16 AM

                                            Faking a trip to the rest room to give them my credit card ahead of time has been most effective.

                                            1. re: Chandavkl
                                              ipsedixit Mar 19, 2010 10:21 AM

                                              Amateurs.

                                              My parents have already pre-paid for out next 100 visits at all the dim sum joints in SGV. So anywhere we go for dim sum with guests, there's never any fightin' ... Just a very suave "it's already taken care of" moment ...

                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                raytamsgv Mar 19, 2010 10:27 AM

                                                Your kung fu is impressive!

                                                1. re: raytamsgv
                                                  b
                                                  bulavinaka Mar 19, 2010 10:29 AM

                                                  Wow - my kung fu is no good here...

                                                2. re: ipsedixit
                                                  J.L. Mar 19, 2010 06:55 PM

                                                  Your parents must know my parents, ipse... Top kung fu techniques passed down from generation to generation...

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                                    h
                                                    happybaker Mar 28, 2010 08:58 PM

                                                    Maybe your parents want to adopt a few round eyes? Please?!

                                                3. re: raytamsgv
                                                  s
                                                  starre Mar 19, 2010 06:13 PM

                                                  Thanks for the tip about asking for several copies of the menu. I'm going to Elite soon and it's just 2 of us I don't want everything brought out too quickly and all at once

                                                  I've read the custard tarts are best warm MMMMMMM

                                                4. orythedog Mar 19, 2010 10:22 AM

                                                  With carts: Empress pavilion

                                                  Without carts: Elite

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: orythedog
                                                    z
                                                    ZoeZ Mar 19, 2010 12:12 PM

                                                    Without carts: Elite
                                                    With carts: New Capital Seafood in Roland Heights - fabulous selection that just keeps coming. Fullerton Ave exit on the 60, NCS is upstairs in a very busy strip mall but to be part of the Saturday morning rush is a Zen experience.

                                                  2. Kitchen Queen Mar 19, 2010 11:34 AM

                                                    Thank you all for this imput. I too couldn't decide which is the better route. I LOVE Sea Harbour but thought I'd give Elite a try. Rosemead for me however, is far closer than Monterey Park. Then my friends, love the cart experience esp w. the youngin but, I prefer the quality of food over the delivery.

                                                    So in all this, my question is: WHO USES MSG AND WHO DOESN'T????

                                                    -----
                                                    Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
                                                    3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Kitchen Queen
                                                      ipsedixit Mar 19, 2010 02:18 PM

                                                      They all do.

                                                      Don't believe anything said to you otherwise.

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit
                                                        j
                                                        jkao1817 Mar 19, 2010 03:07 PM

                                                        and that is the bottom line.....no if, and, or butts about it!

                                                    2. w
                                                      Wonginator Mar 19, 2010 04:40 PM

                                                      My favs for cart dim sum are Ocean Star, Empress Harbor, and New Capital.

                                                      Ones that have been recommended that I don't like are Capital Seafood, 888, and Full House. My experiences at these places have been mediocre.

                                                      -----
                                                      Ocean Star Seafood Restaurant
                                                      145 N Atlantic Blvd Ste 201, Monterey Park, CA 91754

                                                      1. w
                                                        Wonginator Mar 19, 2010 04:41 PM

                                                        Adding links.

                                                        -----
                                                        Ocean Star Seafood Restaurant
                                                        145 N Atlantic Blvd Ste 201, Monterey Park, CA 91754

                                                        Monterey Park Empress Harbour
                                                        111 N Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754

                                                        New Capital Seafood Restaurant
                                                        250 W Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                                                        1. h
                                                          happybaker Mar 28, 2010 09:09 PM

                                                          I'm not a professional like you all, but I confess, I like Hong Kong Palace in Rowland Heights. Cart service - so there is much excitement and drama, and the food is way better (to me) than Ocean Seafood downtown.

                                                          And their fried squid is divine : )

                                                          -----
                                                          Hong Kong Palace
                                                          19101 Colima Rd, Rowland Heights, CA 91748

                                                          Ocean Seafood Restaurant
                                                          747 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: happybaker
                                                            liu Mar 28, 2010 09:24 PM

                                                            Hong Kong Palace used to be our favorite...back several years ago!
                                                            I am so glad to read your post, happybaker, that it is good once again.

                                                            When it was good, it was the best, and then it took a very steep dive...concurrent to a dive in its health rating. We had our worst dim sum experience there just a few years ago, and that was our last visit.

                                                            I would like to try it again and will do so with your recent post in mind.

                                                            -----
                                                            Hong Kong Palace
                                                            19101 Colima Rd, Rowland Heights, CA 91748

                                                            1. re: liu
                                                              h
                                                              happybaker Mar 28, 2010 09:50 PM

                                                              Lui, my fingers are crossed for you!

                                                              I don't know how good it once was (we've only been going for a few years) but we went after trying Ocean Seafood (okay but not great) and another place in Monterey Park that was nice but VERY expensive. Hong Kong Palace's prices have risen a bit since we first started - but they still give us great bang for the buck.

                                                              And they don't laugh when I get an order of chicken and rice in lotus leaf - and don't touch it, I order it just to take home and don't know how to specify just carry out! It's SO good.

                                                              I hope Hong Kong Palace is good for you again as well!

                                                              P.S. As I discovered when I identified a recent blog joke photo, Eddie Lin, the blogger who writes at Deep End Dining, cites HKP as one of his favs as well.

                                                              -----
                                                              Hong Kong Palace
                                                              19101 Colima Rd, Rowland Heights, CA 91748

                                                              Ocean Seafood Restaurant
                                                              747 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                                              1. re: happybaker
                                                                liu Mar 28, 2010 10:19 PM

                                                                I am hopeful, happybaker!
                                                                I'd love to have Hong Kong Palace back in my life again!

                                                          2. f
                                                            Fru Apr 10, 2010 11:36 AM

                                                            Will Owen's post reflects my sentiments exactly. I've been to Triumphal Palace and Mission 261 to order off the menu but I still like the anticipation and atmosphere of the cart dim sum palaces. I want to try Elite and Sea Harbor but am probably going to try Capitol this weekend. I looked at Elite's menu on line. I know it is not complete and only representative but do they make many baked varieties? It doesn't look that way from the pictures. You know, things like the puff pastries with bbq pork, curried pastries or baked bao vs steamed? Forgive my descriptions. What about fried turnip cake?

                                                            -----
                                                            Triumphal Palace
                                                            500 W Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801

                                                            Mission 261 Restaurant
                                                            261 S Mission Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                                                            10 Replies
                                                            1. re: Fru
                                                              ipsedixit Apr 10, 2010 12:58 PM

                                                              Yes.

                                                              In fact, the baked pork buns at Elite are outstanding. If you like turnip cakes, make sure to try the baked scallop turnip cakes if you go.

                                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                f
                                                                Fru Apr 10, 2010 01:49 PM

                                                                Mmmmm. My mouth is watering. Thanks ipsedixit. I think I've made my decision. Should I expect a long wait at 11 on Sunday morning? I guess it doesn't matter. We'll be that much hungrier.

                                                                1. re: Fru
                                                                  b
                                                                  bulavinaka Apr 10, 2010 02:12 PM

                                                                  You'd be hitting prime time at 11, but depending on the size of your party, the wait will vary from walking right up and being seated to maybe 30 minutes. Most don't linger at dim sum, even at places like Elite, so the turnover is pretty good.

                                                                2. re: ipsedixit
                                                                  b
                                                                  bulavinaka Apr 10, 2010 02:10 PM

                                                                  We had the baked scallop turnip cakes on our last visit and they were fantastic. For sweet bakes, you can't go wrong with their dan tat.

                                                                  1. re: bulavinaka
                                                                    f
                                                                    Fru Apr 10, 2010 02:13 PM

                                                                    Scallops. Another one of my favorite things.

                                                                    1. re: Fru
                                                                      b
                                                                      bulavinaka Apr 10, 2010 02:20 PM

                                                                      I think this particular scallop dish will be unique and tasty enough that it will haunt you for days beyond. You'd better get a dozen to go. :)

                                                                      1. re: bulavinaka
                                                                        ipsedixit Apr 10, 2010 02:24 PM

                                                                        Unless you eat them in the car on the way home, they really don't re-heat well at all.

                                                                        Of course, there is NOTHING wrong with eating them in the car ...

                                                                        :-)

                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                          b
                                                                          bulavinaka Apr 10, 2010 02:42 PM

                                                                          We've had less-than stellar results reheating them as well. The unique pastry that is like croissants on steroids will hold up for a while as long as you don't let them steam in the container or bag. If you have a reasonable ride home, put them in the the oven or toaster oven immediately after getting home, it ain't half-bad. The pastry has an effective life almost as short as nigiri-type sushi.

                                                                          1. re: bulavinaka
                                                                            ipsedixit Apr 10, 2010 03:04 PM

                                                                            The best method I've found is to give it a quick 30 second whirl in the microwave then about another 30 seconds in a toaster oven.

                                                                            This way you heat the thing up both inside and out (in the microwave) and then use the high heat from the toaster oven to re-awaken the "crunch" factor of the pastry shells.

                                                                            Not perfect (or even great) but passable as "edible food".

                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                              b
                                                                              bulavinaka Apr 10, 2010 03:20 PM

                                                                              Thanks for the tip - always been gun-shy about putting food like that in the microwave.

                                                              2. f
                                                                Fru May 6, 2010 06:09 AM

                                                                Ok, we did go to Elite a couple of weeks ago. I'm sorry that I didn't report back immediately because it was very, very good. And even though everyone was initially disappointed that I surprised them with a menu driven restaurant, we were unanimous in that the food was better and served at the proper temperature. Yes, their baked buns are delicious. As I am not Chinese, I only know from what I have eaten in the past. Ipse, the pan fried turnip cake or "carrot cake" as my Taiwanese friend calls it was not to be found. I think I ordered everything else on the menu that either had taro or turnip and they were all delicious, especially the dish that looked like stir fried rice cake. I will go back but I still have a very, very soft spot for Ocean Star-as well as the long gone Miriwa and longer gone Man Fook Low. I recently have tried Hop Lee and Full House in Arcadia a couple of times each. I will say that Hop Lee has some of the best duck we've had. Other than har gaow, that is what my 11 year old requests. Now, we are trying to figure where to go for Mother's Day (for me). My inclination is to go to Ocean Star because it is familiar and yes, we've been back since the value pricing and change of ownership. However, I'm "considering" Capitol Seafood. Hong Kong Palace sounds interesting but too far of a drive. We are coming from Pasadena and SFV. I will try Sea Harbor when there is not so much weighing on what to expect. I know that since Ocean Star and cart driven locations are out of vogue, we won't have as much of a wait, especially for Mother's Day.

                                                                -----
                                                                Hong Kong Palace
                                                                19101 Colima Rd, Rowland Heights, CA 91748

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: Fru
                                                                  ipsedixit May 6, 2010 07:04 AM

                                                                  You can just ask for the turnip cakes (even though it's not on the menu necessarily).

                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                    f
                                                                    Fru May 6, 2010 07:13 AM

                                                                    When we were leaving, I spoke to a manager (while complementing the restaurant) and told him that all though delicious, the turnip items that he suggested weren't what I was describing. And yes, I said pan fried turnip cake and held my hands out to suggest the shape. He smiled and said they don't have that. Unless I bring someone with me next time who speaks the language, I don't know how else to convey what I wanted. No big deal...I can always satisfy that craving at any number of places and I got to try a couple of great dishes new to me.

                                                                    1. re: Fru
                                                                      J.L. May 6, 2010 05:37 PM

                                                                      Next time, try asking for "Luoh Buo Gao" or (蘿蔔糕, lo bak go, in Cantonese).

                                                                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turnip_cake

                                                                      I admire your persistence, Fru...

                                                                      1. re: J.L.
                                                                        f
                                                                        Fru May 6, 2010 06:56 PM

                                                                        Thank you J.L..

                                                                2. f
                                                                  Fru May 9, 2010 04:01 PM

                                                                  Went to Capitol Seafood today for "my" day. As to be expected with cart style, some dishes that you would hope to be served warm were not. The duck and bbq pork were being served on plates wrapped in cello-Meh. We had the fried squid and it was definitely room temperature at best but the taste was still yum. I can only imagine what it would have tasted like just fried. We still polished it off. We had a bun that I had never had before. It was baked but it was white and it was filled with bbq pork. The bun was soft and relatively thin with a crunchy exterior on the sweet side. Ladies were bringing them over on trays piping hot. OMG! I could have a major craving for them but I'm afraid of being disappointed the next time I go and they come luke warm T hat would be a major disappointment. Of course part of the attraction to cart style is the unpredictability of what will be available. I was disappointed to not see any pan fried turnip cake in sight! Interesting that their har gow had jalapeno pepper in it. Delicious. Love their chili sauce too. The dessert of taro, coconut and red bean was the best I've ever had. I know cart style doesn't trump menu driven but I would definitely go back to Capitol. As you know we really enjoyed Elite a few weeks ago. I still have a soft spot for Ocean Star and kind of feel guilty that we haven't been there in a while.

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