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Dim Sum for mom's 80th

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My mother is celebrating her 80th birthday and wants to drive up for the best dim sum experience in the san gabriel valley. She like to choose off the carts so that is the only real criteria. Oh and it has to have an A rating. Thanks for any help that is provided.

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  1. If my 80 yr old Mom would request cart style dim sum in SGV with an "A" rating, I would take her to NBC on Atlantic. The cart style Dim Sum there is pretty good. The place had a complete makeover (both exterior and interior) as well as new owners. I think everyone will also be impressed with the all white tablecloths and seat covers. There is more variety to their weekend dim sums compared to weekdays, though.

    1. It's too bad that you want carts, because I had my 40th birthday today at Elite. The food was fabulous and the restaurant really did a great job accommodating us (mainly people unfamiliar with dim sum and some with dietary restrictions).

      6 Replies
      1. re: Jwsel

        Believe Elite has a "B" rating.

        1. re: monku

          The "B" rating means more flavor!!!

          On a serious note, getting a bad rating doesn't necessarily mean the food is bad. More than half the criteria inspectors check have nothing to do with food.

          I would reccomend Sea Harbour but it is not the cart style. : /

          1. re: A5 KOBE

            Thanks for the tips. The A rating is more important than the carts. I convinced them that the food is what counts not the delivery system.

            1. re: steveburstein

              Using restaurant ratings will severely limit your options.

              Both Sea Harbour and Elite -- two of the finest dim sum places in SoCal, and both menu-style -- have an 89 and 88 score, respectively. Or, in other words, they have a "B" rating.

              Maybe you could convince your mom that dim sum places don't ever want to get an "A" rating because they consider it, um, bad luck?

              1. re: steveburstein

                Like many have said, I would opt for either Elite or Sea Harbour. Both are head and shoulders above the rest.

                Ocean Star has decent dim sum, not sure what the rating is.

                1. re: A5 KOBE

                  lots of downhill reports on ocean* lately

        2. I believe 888 is an A - at any rate, it's my favorite of the cart places.

          1. From an old Chowhound post about LA Chinese restaurants usually getting a B rating and not an A rating.

            From poster DForm who worked for the health departments take:
            "I actually joined LA County Environmental Health for a few inspections in Chinatown. What I learned was that the majority of violations for asian establishments are from food temperature and the amount of time products sit out. The inspector who was Chinese and the owner of the establishment both agreed that a lot has to do with cultural differences and cooking preferences.


            4 Replies
            1. re: monku

              Not disagreeing about the cultural differences (which manifest themselves most starkly in bakeries), but for those (like the OP's mom) who care or rather are really anal about food safety, the temperature of cooked foods are a major issue generally.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Many deductions in points are things such as :

                -2 points for not enough sanitizer buckets
                -2 points for towels too close to cutting boards
                -2 points for unclean drains
                -4 points for temperature of prepped foods not within specific temps (especially dairy)
                -2 points for food not being 8 inches from the ground

                You could have nasty rotten food in the walk in and can get a 90+ rating.

                1. re: A5 KOBE

                  That's so true. Most consumers don't really understand how the rating system works. It is a good general guide, but it has many shortcomings.

                  1. re: raytamsgv

                    That's really true. I had a friend who owned an Italian restaurant that got a B rating. He was furious because the deciding factor in the rating was that his ultra-expensive Italian espresso/cappuccino maker had a stem that was too long according to some guidelines. I never fully understood why that was an issue, but supposedly it was presumed that the longer stem couldn't be kept clean.

            2. I second Elite and Sea H. Both really excellent but with B rating. As of last I went Ocean Star and Full House were both A's but it's been a while. Last time I went to both were maybe early last year. They're both cart style dimsum places, so call them to ask of their rating or if any of our Chowhounds know. If not any of these places then try DIn Tai Fung. Not cart-style but A rating (last time I went this year-at least the newer location in the back). They have delicious dumplings that are worth the wait. But if its a bigger party, it might not be a good idea as seats are limited.

              1. 888 meets your criteria (“A” rating/carts), the restaurant is beautiful inside and the dim sum is excellent - some argue that it is the best in the SGV. Please note that 888 "only" scored 90 points, the minimum score for an “A” rating.

                My favorites, exclusive of your criteria, are Sea Harbour and Elite, in that order. Personally, I pay virtually no attention to ratings for ethnic establishments.

                888 Seafood Restaurant
                8450 Valley Boulevard
                Rosemead, CA 91770

                888 Seafood Restaurant
                8450 E Valley Blvd, Rosemead, CA 91770

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

                7 Replies
                1. re: degustateur

                  +1 on degustateur's recs. 888 hits all of the OP's criteria as well as great Chow factor.

                  Standing in line behind others who've chimed in about Sea Harbour and Elite. Both have great food, but Sea Harbour has a certain crisp freshly ironed feel to it that the OP's mom might sense as well. The table linens literally do have that feel, the maitre d' is always decked out in a nice suit (I can easily see him picking up a microphone and singing some martini music to the diners:)) and the tanks displaying live seafood specimens are always pristine.

                  The OP might benefit from reading this somewhat recent thread on dim sum. Lots of good info on both cart- and menu-driven places.


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

                  1. re: degustateur

                    Agree on 888 as a solid choice for the criteria listed. A few tips if you decide to go:

                    1) Try to arrive between 9:45 and 10:15. Any earlier, and you'll wait around forever for the sweets carts at the end of your meal; any later and it's a madhouse.

                    2) If you do arrive at madhouse time, you'll have a much easier time parking on the east side of the building (and walking west through the short corridor) than trying to park on the west side near the 888 entrance

                    3) There's one cart where the not-for-the-squeamish stuff tends to be aggregated (tripe, pork's blood cubes, chicken's feet etc.) and the lady pushing it will tend to steer away from non-Chinese folks, so if you want some of that stuff and don't look Chinese, you might need to be a bit more assertive...

                    1. re: Bradbury

                      Actually, I would argue that you SHOULD get to 888 at a later time when the place is busy and packed -- this ensures that the cart-to-customer ratio is at it's highest, which ensures max selection of dim sum items.

                      As for waiting for carts -- dude! -- be proactive. Don't wait for the carts to come to you, go to the carts. Hunt them down like your forefathers did before they learned how to cultivate the land! It's all part of the dim sum cart-style charm (this along with screaming children/babies and the incessant fight for the check at the end of the meal).

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        All points well taken, but if you make the mistake I once did of arriving when the place opens at 9, you'll still find that the sweets don't even leave the kitchen until after 10.

                        Thus, hunting them down proactively would mean, in my case, a big hungry 6'7" chowgeek marauding the 888 kitchen in search of egg custard tarts and sweet tofu soup ... so I imagine someone would probably call security ;-)

                        1. re: Bradbury

                          Well having consulted with my father we have decided on Sea Harbour. mm's eyesight at the age of 80 is not what it use to be so we should be ok. I will report back when we actually go, i do appreciate the great discussion and have actually learned quite a bit. Thanks to all who have posted.

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

                          1. re: steveburstein

                            That's the right choice in my book.

                            Here's a tip.

                            If I recall correctly, the LACPH Grade placard is posted on the left glass door at Sea Harbour. If you approach the restaurant from one of the side stair steps, your grandmother won't notice the placard as it is difficult to pick up from that skewed, side angle.

                            Then as you approach the door, be the gentlemen and caring son that you are, get in front of her and hold open the door with the placard. Thus, when she enters the restaurant, at most she will only see the backside of the placard, and not the front showing what grade the restaurant received from the LACPH.

                            Problem solved!


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

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              An alternative would be to stand between your mother and the sign.