Looking for great Chinese in Monterey Park (not dim sum)
We are not sophisticated in terms of Chinese food. We will be in Monterey Park, which we understand is the home of great Chinese. It will be a dinner meal. Please give us a recommendation not only of the restaurant, but of dishes that are recommended because when we eat Chinese, we are usually intimidated by the menu. We like virtually everything "normal" like pork, seafood, fish, chicken, beef, vegetables. We are squemish about ordering things like sea snail, or sea cucumber, or the like. In terms of cost, we are looking for something "moderate". Would prefer to leave the deed to the house at home. Thanks.
I would do either Sea Harbour or Elite, with Seafood Village as a close second.
As to what to order based on your stated preferences at Sea Harbour or Elite go for the fresh steamed fish (but ask BEFOREHAND how much the fish is PER POUND), the roast duck, braised tofu, claypots, ong choy, pea shoots, and steamed prawns.
At Seafood Village (in Temple City), for your purposes I would recommend the House Special Fish and Crab, the chicken in lettuce cups, the french style filet mignon, the green beans and the house special chicken.
Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770, USA
As ipsedixit mentioned, these dim sum places are usually full-service Cantonese seafood restaurants. Cantonese people celebrate births, weddings, and special events at dinners, not dim sum. Elite, for example, has a fix-priced, 10 course meal for $2,888 or some ridiculous amount like that.
My opinion is that "dim sum" has a coolness factor about it: it sounds semi-exotic and is easy to pronounce for English speakers. There is no equivalent for dinners. I think the skill and preparation required for cooking dinners surpasses those required for dim sum.
"Elite, for example, has a fix-priced, 10 course meal for $2,888 or some ridiculous amount like that."
And that's for just ONE table, or 10 people. Per person, that comes out to $288 before tax and tip, which is approaching Urasawa territory.
218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
It would be helpful if you could narrow it down to some specific regions; I know you may not know what specific regions you're looking for, but there are a lot of types of "Chinese" food in that area. There are also a lot of existing threads that have discussions of these places, including the kind of specifics you're talking about (in terms of what to order).
In addition to the recommendations already in this thread for HK / Cantonese banquet style food, you might consider trying a Shanghai style place; these days, Shanghai Yu Yuan is pretty good.
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/691360 has some specific recommendations of stuff to try.
While some places are more helpful than others, another good approach is simply to ask what's good, and / or look around you and point to stuff that looks tasty. Of course, what looks tasty might just turn out to be sea cucumber.
If you can eat spicier food, you may also want to try one of the Sichuan or Hunan places in the area. Search the board for some recommendations.