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Sorry, but Elite isn't all that

b
buttermarblepopcorn May 30, 2010 06:16 PM

I went with my parents and grandma to Elite today for dim sum. I have to say, it wasn't mindblowing or spectacular. Yes, it was very very good, don't get me wrong. The only dish I actively disliked was the shao mai, because there was some really strong fishy flavor going on within the center of it, which isn't to my liking.

No, nothing was even close to bad -- but my point is, with the way everyone on Chowhound just raves about Elite, or at the very least kneejerk-lists Elite as the number one or two dim sum restaurant in the LA area (or top five, but you get what I'm talking about), I was really expecting like.. something *something* good! Like, amazing taste, flavors...

There was one mindblowing dish: the egg custard (dan ta). Wow. It was piping hot out of the oven, with a buttery, flakey crust that just collapsed upon touch and the most silken, delicate, nearly liquid hot custard in the center, this dish made me, my mom, and my grandma stop mid-chew and proclaim to the others how good it was.

But everything else, the chicken feet, the taro cake, the xia jao (har gow), and a few others, were just as good as most dim sum places we've been to. My parents and grandmother are all Chinese immigrants from Taiwan and my grandma lives in Monterey Park, just as a bit of background info for reference -- and yes, I'm pointing that out because my parents had been telling me they'd eaten at Elite once before and while it was good, it wasn't better than anything else they've eaten, and I just refused to believe them because of the multitudes of positive comments on Chowhound.

Now I've decided always to trust my parents when it comes to Chinese food in LA. Chowhound will still be my go-to for non-Chinese cuisine, but I've been disappointed by every Chinese-recommended place on this board. I'm not blaming anybody, and I do realize we should all remember these are just opinions being put forth here, so it's not like anybody's actually *wrong* about a single thing; I just realize now that my parents are better and more reliable sources for Chinese chow than anybody on this board. (Also, I'm biased because I love them.)

But anyway, with food quality being equal to that of other dim sums my family and I have been to, and considering the hour-long wait and the extremely high prices at Elite, I won't bother eating there again.

I just want to reiterate: this is not a negative review of Elite; it's a great dim sum restaurant but simply not worth the price. And if my parents saw me write that previous sentence, they'd say "that's exactly what we kept trying to tell you!"

P.S. Another observation is that dim sum cuisine is such that the range of quality generally isn't too great; I mean, you know, the difference between the "worst" and the "best" dim sum is pretty small, in my opinion. For one thing, it's kind of hard to seriously mess up most of the classic dishes, and conversely, I believe there is a ceiling to their deliciousness as well. Does this make sense? I feel that it's not difficult or rare to achieve extremely tasty, well-made dim sum, which is why so many dim sum places taste so equally good. And this is why I think Elite's "greatness" simply cannot be head and shoulders above the competition. Okay, I'll shut up now.

-----
Elite Restaurant
700 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754

  1. liu Aug 26, 2012 10:04 PM

    Our most recent visit to Elite last weekend was not "all that" as said by the original poster here. It was not bad...it just was not great. A few items were not hot and some items were off-tasting from previous times.

    I think we LA Hounds NOW have other good choices for dim sum: King Hua, Sea Harbour and Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village. There are others, too: Lunasia, 888. Sure, some are better than others and we can talk and talk and talk, but my point is that we have lots of choices now that we did not have just a year or two ago. Each has its own personality and attributes and flavors, but we do have many choices for good-to-very-good dim sum. How great that is!

    13 Replies
    1. re: liu
      ipsedixit Aug 26, 2012 10:10 PM

      King Hua for one reason or another is never crowded.

      This weekend, both Sat and Sun, nary a crowd. While Lunasia, Sea Harbour and 888 were packed to the gills.

      Odd.

      1. re: ipsedixit
        liu Aug 27, 2012 07:15 AM

        We have observed the same.

        Generally, we arrive at King Hua just before 11:00am on a Saturday and never have we had a problem getting a table immediately. We had a 30-45 minute wait at Elite this past weekend when we arrived at 10:40am. Elite had crowds waiting out the door.

        Yes, ipsedixit, "odd."

        But it is the hot egg tartlets at Shaghai No. 1 that currently are calling my name!!

        1. re: ipsedixit
          b
          bulavinaka Aug 27, 2012 08:56 AM

          liu and ipse,

          Any thoughts on Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village?

          1. re: bulavinaka
            liu Aug 27, 2012 10:15 AM

            Hey, bulavinaka!
            As you know, I am not the expert, so I must defer to ipsedixit to give you specifics about what to order.

            I like to have Shanghai No. 1 in my rotation. Most things are very good, and some things more-very good than others! (I know that sounds confusing, but that's how I look at it.)

            Shanghai No. 1 is a nice place to visit, although I might not want to live there permanently. If you haven't been, definitely do give it a try. You may spend a little more there, but in my opinion, for such labor intensive food, I still think the prices are reasonable.

            Oh, and don't forget to order their egg tartlets, bula~

            1. re: liu
              b
              bulavinaka Aug 27, 2012 10:26 AM

              >>As you know, I am not the expert...<<

              I beg to differ; otherwise, I wouldn't have asked both you and ipse in the same breath. My Chow cred cowers in ipse's shadow, but your tastes I highly respect as well...

              I've been out of the SGV rotation due to a busy summer, but hopefully will be back at it soon. Are Shanghai No. 1's menu and methods for dim sum similar to the Elite, Sea Harbour et al? I'm guessing they do a face-change for their PM service as well?

              1. re: bulavinaka
                liu Aug 27, 2012 05:53 PM

                "...you and ipse in the same breath."

                You made my day! Thanks, bulavinaka, for such kind words.
                My only qualification is, perhaps, that I have just been eating longer than you and ipse!

          2. re: ipsedixit
            Mr Taster Aug 27, 2012 10:18 AM

            We wound up going to Sea Harbour. This was my first time back in upwards of 8 years or so. (historically I haven't been a big dim sum/Cantonese guy, but I've been educating myself in an attempt to establish my taste for it.)

            I've made two visits to Elite within the past couple of months, so it is with the memory of those experiences in mind that I compare our experience at Sea Harbour.

            Overall impressions-- Sea Harbor's food seemed to be generally lighter, and generally sweeter than dishes at Elite.

            Sea Harbour's equivalent of Elite's snow bun (the "low fat milk bun" (which is filled with a mild milky custard versus the almond filling in the snow bun) was very good, but didn't quite reach the ethereal airiness of the snow bun.

            The House BBQ Pork bun (the baked one with a light glaze brushed over the top-- pretty much equivalent to Elite's house BBQ bun-- was a step above; it was a beautiful thing. After taking a bite, the corners of my bite mark crimped up into these gorgeous, perfect ripples. I just had to stop and admire the lovely shape of the thing, lights glistening off the domed surface and the beautiful, perfectly diced squares of charsiu pork winking at me from inside the bun.

            I missed not having the Macao pork. I *really* missed not having the Macao pork.

            The fried rice with dried scallops and egg was simply spectacular. Again, impossibly light, fresh rice, soft and airy, lightly tossed with minced vegetables and infused with a mellow, fishy, umami flavor, which somehow managed to come together relatively easily on the chopsticks. I understand an equivalent of this dish is available at Elite-- I'll need to try it on our next visit. But this was just an extraordinary dish.

            The sticky rice steamed in lotus leaf-- beautiful, perfect little packets of sticky rice & minced pork, with a bean or peanut or something stuck in there for good measure. Must order again.

            The cold diced beef reminded us of the cold dishes we order at places like 101 Noodle Express. Large cubes of beef, some all tended, some all beef, most a combination of the two. Strong five spice flavor. Be prepared for crunchy tendon if you order this.

            Tofo skin wrapped seafood-- great dish, about on par with Elite's version.

            Fried tofu in chicken sauce(?) - that's more or less what the menu says (in English). It's really little fat cylinders custardy silken tofu deep fried and topped with a sweet & sour sauce. Not bad-- the outer skin was not crispy enough.

            Marinated seaweed-- Chicago neon relish green marinated seaweed in vinegar, sugar, etc. Too sweet for my liking.

            What else did we order? Hell, I can't remember. These were the dishes what jumped to the front of me brain Overall, very good, but I think I'll be returning to Elite for my regular dim summery. We wound up paying $15.50/person including tax & tip.

            I would like to return to Sea Harbour for dinner, though. I got a feeling in my gut that it would be a spectacular meal.

            Mr Taster

            1. re: Mr Taster
              b
              bulavinaka Aug 27, 2012 10:29 AM

              Nice write-up on your take of Sea Harbour. We've done dinner a couple times there and yes, they do know how to put their evening dress on. It's all about the live seafood dishes for the most part. Many like Elite's dinner service as well...

              1. re: bulavinaka
                ipsedixit Aug 27, 2012 08:42 PM

                Dinner makes dim sum look like PF Changs.

          3. re: liu
            n
            ns1 Aug 27, 2012 09:14 AM

            Guess I'll be checking out King Hua this weekend.

            1. re: ns1
              liu Aug 27, 2012 10:17 AM

              Yes, do go to King Hua if you haven't been, ns1.

              The space is quite pretty, and everything about King Hua is very clean. Check out the size of the shrimp in your shrimp dumplings or other shrimp items! If you deconstruct one of your dumplings, you will see each ingredient...very, very clean. There are no "glumpy" fillings and no mystery ingredients.

              1. re: liu
                TonyC Aug 27, 2012 10:42 AM

                Recently visited King Hua for the first time in a couple of years (live a lot closer to Elite these days), and man, were you right about the quality of the room. It's just so much CALMER and relaxed.

                Same Cantonese diners/Cantonese managers and same Mainland servers as other dim sum houses in the area but... just... dare I say, tranquil?

                Still, I don't think the dimsum itself is any better than say, Elite -- the cheong fun was ridiculously overcooked and unmanageable with chopsticks -- but hey, I didn't want to cut myself afterwards.

                1. re: TonyC
                  liu Aug 27, 2012 10:49 AM

                  I completely agree with you, TonyC, about the feel of King Hua.
                  Sometimes I like to go to a carnival, and sometimes I like to walk through a peaceful garden. Mostly, when I eat, I like the surroundings to be serene. There is something about King Hua that is genteel and refined over most of the other dim sum places.

                  Don't hurl stones! I do like the cart action, too! It's just that dim sum and serenity are not the usual combination -- and King Hua is nice.

          4. l
            lapizzamaven Jul 11, 2010 09:30 AM

            As a recent discoverer of dim sum(cant believe i never had it before 2 years ago) i first must ask that my comments be taken w/ a grain of salt...Gold Mountain in SF's Chinatown was my first experience 2 years ago. I went with a veteran dimmer summer who'd eaten in HK, Shanghai, LA,NY and we both concluded that the dishes were superb in this large Broadway restaurant that is as regularly mocked on the SF board as LA Chnatown is poo pooed here. The shrimp har gow were plump,juicy and delicious as were the shu mai, veggies, sticky rice etc...We also "dimmed" at Empress Pavillion here in LA with similarly excellent results. We made it to Elite a couple of months ago and again, were quite delighted but the dishes did not remotely seem any better than the more traditional Chinatown meals we had. I took another friend to Sea Harbour a couple of weeks ago and, though the har gow were luke warm, generally, it was an excellent meal. The service,on a weekday morning,around 11am was excellent. When i was having some difficulty explaining to a non English speaking waitress that i wanted chili sauce, a waiter came by and helped out. I have to thank exilekiss for informing me prior to the visit that they had a fried squid dish. It was very good but not as fresh and crispy tasting as my fave up in SF(Yuet Lee). the happy surprise for me was the rice noodles w/green beans. I luv rice noodles(chow fun) but id never seen it prepared in the tube style that it came in at Sea Harbour. Im salivating as i remember it right now. I honestly must admit that i couldnt really separate any of these dim sum emporiums in terms of quality. Maybe Ive been lucky but they were all great. By the way, does Elite also serve fried squid and similar rice noodles and are these dishes available during regular dinner hours? thanks CHers!

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

            1. d
              deeznuts Jul 10, 2010 11:44 AM

              Going to have to agree with buttermarblepopcorn here. I know it's a late post, but as a person who never liked dim sum until I went to San Francisco, I came to Chow to look for a good dim sum place. I'm from San Diego, where there is no good dim sum, so you can understand why I never liked it. I didn't know the dim sum in San Diego was subpar, I just knew I never liked it. After having it at YS I was like, ok, dim sum can actually be good!
              So, with my girlfriend working in Burbank for a year, I came here at her request. Elite it was. All rave reviews. We braved the line on a super busy Saturday. This was a few months ago so I'm not 100% sure what we ordered, but all the usual suspects (I must have chicken feet, that's the one thing I've enjoyed through the years), hargow, shumai, etc. Nothing tasted bad, but the whole experience is mediocre. WE both agreed it wasn't "elite" so to speak.

              Maybe we had a bad day. But when half, yes half the dishes come out cold, you get kind of turned off. Who wants to bite into a cold dim sum plate? Not I. I'm no dim sum expert at all, so please, take my anecdotal experience with a grain of salt (or maybe fish eggs), but it didn't match up to Yank sing in SF and Yes, I know some don't even consider YS that great but it's usually up there in conversations of the best in SF (Koi Palace being another).

              We don't care about costs, so value wasn't even in the computation, as a matter of fact dont' even remember what we paid.

              21 Replies
              1. re: deeznuts
                Peripatetic Jul 10, 2010 12:07 PM

                Wow, I'd never put YS in the same category as Elite. I was astonished at how pedestrian YS was in view of the effusive praise it gets. I'm sorry to hear that half of your orders at Elite came out cold, though. I actually avoid Elite and Sea Harbour on the weekends, though, so maybe it's a totally different experience.

                1. re: Peripatetic
                  liu Jul 10, 2010 08:54 PM

                  I am so sorry to read of your less than superb experience at Elite, deeznuts.

                  We enjoy dim sum at Elite almost every Saturday and everything is served very fresh and very hot. Often, we have to wait for the dish to cool before we can try it. Peripatetic, I hope you will give Elite a try on a Saturday morning.

                  I loved Yank Sing in San Francisco; I think it is a more refined experience than Elite, as I remember. For that reason, I find it difficult to compare the two. For dim sum, I like them both!

                  1. re: liu
                    ipsedixit Jul 10, 2010 09:13 PM

                    "I loved Yank Sing in San Francisco; I think it is a more refined experience than Elite, as I remember."

                    _________________________________________________

                    Really? You find Yank Sing "more refined" than Elite? I actually find the opposite to be true.

                    I suppose Yank Sing is more fancy, but the food leaves much to be desired. It's sort of on par with, say, Mr. Chow meets Ocean Star.

                    And, c'mon, how annoying is it for Yank Sing to refer to dim sum as "deem sum"?? Do they also call it "freed rice"?

                    1. re: ipsedixit
                      liu Jul 10, 2010 09:36 PM

                      Hi, ipsedixit!

                      It might have been that we were "on vacation" in San Francisco; I remember a very leisurely dim sum experience at Yank Sing. The tea service was quite nice and the space is very pretty, open and relaxed. But do remember that we were "vacationing," so we were able to sit and sip and enjoy our dumplings for a couple of hours! Yes, I did enjoy Yank Sing.

                      In contrast, we run into Elite where the service is extremely "efficient" and usually we are done in less than an hour...and on to our Saturday errands! I love Elite, too!

                      I wish to add a note here for those who have not been to dim sum at Elite. If you wish to sit and enjoy a more leisurely meal, then you can feel comfortable here doing that. We have never been rushed out. No matter how long we wish to linger, we are always made to feel welcome. They graciously continue to fill our tea cups, long after we have finished our food.

                      1. re: ipsedixit
                        Mr Taster Aug 26, 2012 09:14 AM

                        Do you feel the same way about Dean Sin?

                        Mr Taster
                        (who is preparing for a meal at either Elite or Sea Harbour as he writes this)

                        1. re: Mr Taster
                          ipsedixit Aug 26, 2012 10:44 AM

                          Are you asking for a comparison between DSW and Yank Sing? They are not the same, almost impossible to compare.

                          1. re: ipsedixit
                            Mr Taster Aug 26, 2012 09:47 PM

                            Only referring to the creative ways in which each restaurant calls dim sum.

                            Mr Taster

                    2. re: Peripatetic
                      d
                      deeznuts Jul 11, 2010 01:37 AM

                      Funny that's exactly how I feel about YS. Different strokes. On the SF board you'll read all day about 1/2 thinking Koi Palace is all that and YS is overpriced and overhyped, and then vice versa.

                      It was very busy at Elite when we went, waited about an hour so we were VERY surprised the dishes came out cold. Not cold as in refridgerator cold, but cold as in lukewarm. You know when the first piece you ate is probably acceptable but you know darn well when you get to the last piece it will be too cold. It was Saturday around noon maybe a little earlier. It was a few months ago.

                      My lady is craving some dim sum again, so we may give Sea Harbour a try just to compare. The DEEM SUM is pretty funny. However, you cannot analogize with fried rice. Fried rice being strictly an English term. Dim sum is the anglicization of a Chinese term. I've seen dim sam as well right? It's why my buddy's last name is Tam, while his cousin's last name is Tom, even though they have the same last name. Just landed in a different line at customs in SF many years ago and therefore have two different names lol

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

                      Koi Restaurant
                      730 N La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069

                      1. re: deeznuts
                        wilafur Jul 12, 2010 11:10 AM

                        do not be afraid to send back dishes if it comes out lukewarm.

                        that sucks that your dishes came out lukewarm, however, in my 6 or 7 trips out to elite on sat and/or sun, i've not had a single dish come out short of piping hot.

                        we had to send back the steamed turnip cake dish due to it being under done on one ocassion, however, that is the extent of any boo boo i've experienced at elite.

                        1. re: wilafur
                          d
                          deeznuts Jul 12, 2010 12:08 PM

                          Oh trust me, it went back :) I'm the passive type, my lady is deceivingly ultra sweet until something needs to get done. Then she turns into dragon lady. So yes, all dishes that were cold went back after we asked nicely, and they obliged immediately.

                    3. re: deeznuts
                      Servorg Jul 10, 2010 02:02 PM

                      Did you post about your YS meal?

                      1. re: Servorg
                        d
                        deeznuts Jul 11, 2010 02:05 AM

                        Post about it where, on the SF board? No not really, why>?

                        1. re: deeznuts
                          Servorg Jul 11, 2010 04:53 AM

                          Interested in what you might have said about it at the time. Sometimes our memories play tricks on us and it's interesting to see the difference between the immediate recall right after you ate at YS, and what you feel/felt later after eating at Elite. Also it's interesting that, despite your clearly liking YS more than Elite you didn't write up your visit to YS.

                          1. re: Servorg
                            Tripeler Jul 11, 2010 05:41 AM

                            I think the reason why Deeznuts didn't write up his YS experience was that he is not a regular on the SF Bay Area board and would likely prefer to write on his home board, now San Diego. It's really that simple. I regularly read the SD board and am impressed by his postings, just as much as I am impressed by your Servorg postings on the LA board.

                            I also agree very much with your idea that immediate recall is particularly important for dim sum, since it is really a moving target. In San Francisco, where I spend some time regularly, the continual shift of talent at dim sum establishments clearly works against establishing regular levels of quality. I think that this may not be such a problem in the SGV area.

                            In any case, the postings of both of you are notable for their great information and good observational qualities. Keep on keepin' on.

                            Thanks,
                            The Tripel drinker...

                            1. re: Tripeler
                              Servorg Jul 11, 2010 05:57 AM

                              "I think the reason why Deeznuts didn't write up his YS experience was that he is not a regular on the SF Bay Area board and would likely prefer to write on his home board, now San Diego."

                              Unfortunate, if true. I find outsiders reviews even more interesting (and valuable in some ways) than reading those of the local reviewers.

                              1. re: Servorg
                                Tripeler Jul 11, 2010 06:06 AM

                                I do agree, and would encourage Deeznuts to post on the SF Bay Area Board about his dim sum experiences at YS. Some posters like Chandavakl manage to get all over California (and beyond) with some pretty insightful observations. However, many people seem to prefer to stay in their neighborhood, so to speak.

                            2. re: Servorg
                              d
                              deeznuts Jul 11, 2010 03:04 PM

                              Ok I see your reasoning for the request. Part of the reason I didn't post my thoughts on YS is really, I dont' find myself chowhound worthy about dim sum. I mean, seriously, YS was the first time I left a dim sum meal thinking, wow, that was good! I mean, I guess that is quite significant in and of itself, but I just felt it probably wasn't truly worth the mention, sort of like who wants to hear this guy's opinion, it's the first time he ever had decent dim sum!

                              I will note that I've been back to YS 4 times (me and my lady always end up back in Nor Cal for some reason, and we always make it a point to visit). Also note, I didn't write up my elite visit either, but only because I found this thread that echoe'd my thoughts about elite. The reason I found this thread was I was actually looking for an alternative to Elite to eat this weekend, saw it, and just threw in my two cents.

                              I'll note that YS was recommended by my friend who stayed extensively and ate extensively in HK, and she felt it was the best she's had in California. Of course, we can all find someone who has stayed in HK/VC and prefers X over Y.

                              And finally, me and my girlfriend visited Sea Harbour this morning and it was pretty much ... awesome. Every single dish we ordered was hot, fresh, cooked perfectly and thoroughly enjoyed. If Elite is as good as or comparable to Sea Harbour, I am 100% sure we just had bad luck that day. With so many people raving about it, I'm sure it's good, it's just that, impressions are just that, and with a great one at Sea Harbour and a so so one at Elite, SH may be our go to spot for now. We dont' eat dim sum up here enough to "experiment."

                              I want to add that Elite wasn't bad by any means. As pointed out earlier, great to decent dim sum isn't that far of a drop off. And it was good, just with the bad luck it got knocked down a bit. Did not have that experience today at sea harbor, and the rave reviews for that place definitely was well deserved.

                              Thanks for the kind words Tripeler!

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

                              1. re: deeznuts
                                e
                                exilekiss Jul 11, 2010 05:24 PM

                                Hi deeznuts,

                                I'm glad to hear you had a great time at Sea Harbour. :) It's been my favorite Dim Sum locally for a while now for many of the reasons you mention.

                                1. re: exilekiss
                                  d
                                  deeznuts Jul 11, 2010 07:25 PM

                                  It really was good. Much deserved praised for sure. The sugarcane shrimp balls were our first dish and wow, perfectly cooked, not greasy even when we let it get cold. And my gf loved the egg custard and especially the fluffy cake dish (don't know what it's called it's really tall).

                                  Now I need to find the best peking duck and XLB in LA ....

                                  1. re: deeznuts
                                    b
                                    bulavinaka Jul 11, 2010 08:55 PM

                                    Try Duck House on Atlantic Blvd in Monterey Park for duck. Xlb can be far more contentious, but J&J in San Gabriel is great, Mei Long Village in the same shopping center can be great when they are on, and Din Tai Fung is xlb 101 in a good kinda way, but IMHO lacks the soul of the previous two places mentioned.

                                    I know Elite has a huge following. I consider them very good - they score high points in the "whimsical" category. Elite has a knack for creating some fun and innovative dim sum items that put them into another category unto themselves. And when Elite is firing on all cylinders, they're very enjoyable. I have to say that my last visit to Elite on Mother's Day was so-so. Some of the dishes seemed to have been prepared ahead of time, which was a shocker to me for a place with kind of reputation. I can rationalize this since they did open extra early for the Mother's Day crowd.

                                    But as far as execution, you'll see in my previous posts on this thread that while I really like Elite, I am also in the school that feels Sea Harbour is the master of dim sum around these parts. There's just something really crisp and clean about the dining room, the professionalism of the maitré d and staff, and the food just clicks with me and all else who we have taken there.

                                    1. re: bulavinaka
                                      d
                                      deeznuts Jul 12, 2010 12:09 PM

                                      Thanks for the recs. I'll definitely check them out. Been craving both for a while now.

                      2. choctastic Jun 8, 2010 03:15 PM

                        If you want dim sum that was truly not worth the unbelievably high price, you should head over to Mission 261.

                        Personally, I think Elite is great and worth the price.

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

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: choctastic
                          b
                          bulavinaka Jun 8, 2010 04:43 PM

                          Been wondering about 261 since they reopened. Thank you for your assessment.

                        2. boogiebaby Jun 6, 2010 09:20 PM

                          We went to elite for brunch/lunch today because I was craving dim sum and wanted to try Elite. There were 5 adults and 3 kids (2 were mine who both love dim sum offerings).

                          We arrived around 1pm and were seated immediately in the back room. Right off the bat I asked for water and chilli sauce because I recalled a couple people saying they had trouble getting the waitstaff to bring them things. We ordered a number of things to try: siu mai, shrimp har gow, steamed char sui bao, potstickers, chicken wings with a sweet soy sauce glaze, japanese tofu, fried shrimp balls, sesame balls, steamed turnip cake, pork egg rolls, baked pork buns, chinese broccoli with oyster sauce, snow buns and Singapore vermicelli (mainly for my daughter who is not a big meat eater). Some of the things were ordered off the menu and others were taken from the trays the staff brought to offer.

                          We all loved the siu mai. It's the best siu mai I've had in the LA area, and a close second my favorite dim sum place in Singapore. The baked pork buns were so tender, and the har gow were full of large chunks of shrimp. The broccoli was good, as it is at most places. We liked the turnip cake, but I do prefer it fried instead of steamed. Still enjoyable though. The snow buns were very good -- something different. The pork egg rolls and potstickers were quickly gobbled up by the kids and we had to order more of the potstickers so we could try them too. The vermicelli was good, with sliced pork and huge shrimp and was a fairly large portion. My SIL said the chicken wings were very good (I don't care for wings so I didn't try them). The japanese tofu was very good, and would have been a great simple lunch with a bowl of rice.

                          Overall we were very pleased with the food and service. The waitstaff was very attentive and we had our water refilled and empty plates cleared without having to ask for it to be done. Total bill for all this food was just $90 and we had plenty of unfinished food to take home. We would definitely come back again for another great dim sum meal.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: boogiebaby
                            b
                            bsquared2 Jun 6, 2010 09:36 PM

                            Hey, I was there today too! I'm sorry, but in LA, Elite is "all that". I've had Dim Sum in HK, SF, Vancouver, Singapore and Denver. There are many good Dim Sum spots in LA (less than there used to be). But, to me, Elite takes it a step further. I also like Sea Harbour, but Elite is easier to deal with. They are both good.

                            Don't even get me started about what my parents like to eat. I"m Mexican and my grandmother likes to eat at El Torito. The rest of the family likes to eat at the Claim Jumper. I totally understand the price thing with an older generation. When we go to Vietnam, my wife's family used to think we were crazy for eating at a place that does the same thing Elite does for Dim Sum (the place is an Anthony Bourdain favorite). Once we started taking them there, changed their mind.

                            Places like Ocean Star or Empress Pavilion are still good 'cause I love Dim Sum, but as they used to say "How are they going to keep them down on the farm once they've seen Paris?". Same reason when we eat Korean BBQ, we avoid the AYCE places and go to Park's.

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

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

                          2. s
                            smiling ed Jun 6, 2010 12:21 PM

                            Elite restaurant your'e too kind about Elite I won't go back,too salty and overrated
                            especially by the cilque on chowhound. Seafood Harbour is as good as it gets for me.I'm
                            told they are part of an international group of restaurants based in China with branches
                            all over including Vancouver.

                            -----
                            Elite Restaurant
                            700 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: smiling ed
                              c
                              Chandavkl Jun 6, 2010 01:19 PM

                              Yes, Sea Harbour is one of the better Chinese restaurants in the Vancouver area, which is saying a lot. They also have a branch in Las Vegas inside Caesar's Palace which surprisingly has received the Chowhound thumbs down. Wish more Vancouver places would open up south of the border.

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

                              Las Vegas Bar
                              2343 S Bristol St, Santa Ana, CA 92704

                            2. h
                              hpsquared Jun 4, 2010 10:21 PM

                              Also, i tried Sea Harbour for the first time about a month ago. Very good. Also, I liked the vibe of the room. It's a lot more festive and relaxed feeling than Elite.

                              But for some reason we just weren't in a dessert mood that day so i can't compare the egg custard.

                              [A bit of a tangent to the original post: might anyone be able to identify something we saw at SH on a mainly-sweets cart? It was a large and unwieldy-looking fried thing, kind of like a funnel cake that received so many steroids that it got mad and tried to jump out of itself. Do you know what I am talking about?

                              Heh. We asked the woman [wo-]manning the cart, and though she was clearly thinking hard about how best to explain it to us, the only thing she could come up with was, "Meat."

                              "Meat?"

                              "Meat."

                              For the rest of the meal we would both intermittently wonder aloud what kind of meat could be fried in the shape of the ball on a medieval flail. Anyone? :) ]

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

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: hpsquared
                                ipsedixit Jun 4, 2010 10:50 PM

                                Deep fried durian rolls, maybe?

                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                  h
                                  hpsquared Jun 5, 2010 12:05 AM

                                  I don't think so, if only because it was such a large thing. Not small at all.

                                  1. re: hpsquared
                                    boogiebaby Jun 5, 2010 10:29 PM

                                    Pork floss?

                                2. re: hpsquared
                                  b
                                  buttermarblepopcorn Jun 6, 2010 12:04 AM

                                  @Hpsquared: Did it look like a ridiculously gigantic deep fried wonton skin? Like about ten inches long and five inches wide, twisty and pock-marked (from being deep-fried) and glistening all over with clear syrup?

                                  (God, that sounds kinda dirty...)

                                  1. re: buttermarblepopcorn
                                    h
                                    hpsquared Jun 7, 2010 11:39 PM

                                    it didn't seem to be glistening. nor did it remind me of a wonton skin. but it was twisty. i wish i'd taken a pic, but i only had my iphone with me and figured it wouldn't really come out.

                                  2. re: hpsquared
                                    K K Jun 8, 2010 07:27 AM

                                    I think what buttermarblepopcorn is asking is whether you saw "egg shatters" or not, aka "daan saan". or 蛋散

                                    here's an example:

                                    http://labofedibles.wordpress.com/200...

                                    1. re: K K
                                      h
                                      hpsquared Jun 9, 2010 10:49 AM

                                      hmm. that could be it. Sea Harbour's had no powdered sugar on it. it was larger than the one shown in that pic. and more spiky. but i bet that's it. thanks, guys. :)

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

                                  3. h
                                    hpsquared Jun 4, 2010 10:08 PM

                                    i'm glad to know that the egg custard still knocked all of your socks off. Your reactions are very similar to what my reaction was the first time i had it there. It's really amazing.

                                    I would love it if they had carts instead of the menu... it's so much easier to try new things that way.

                                    1. l
                                      lapizzamaven May 31, 2010 05:38 PM

                                      Hey buttermarblepopcorn, please tell us where your folk eat, dim sum or regular dinners...

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: lapizzamaven
                                        b
                                        buttermarblepopcorn May 31, 2010 08:28 PM

                                        I tried asking my mom today what her favorite dim sum is in SGV and it *might* be Sea Harbour, but I'm not sure because she doesn't know the English name and the Chinese name seems like it might translate to Sea Harbour.

                                        My dad was busy helping me transplant my heirloom tomatoes, so I didn't even think to ask him while he was covered in sweat and compost. I'll try again later...

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

                                        1. re: buttermarblepopcorn
                                          ipsedixit May 31, 2010 09:04 PM

                                          Was it "海港"? Or "海港大酒樓"?

                                          1. re: ipsedixit
                                            b
                                            buttermarblepopcorn May 31, 2010 09:52 PM

                                            hee hee, let me copy/paste and email to my parents...thanks

                                      2. t
                                        Tkn May 31, 2010 11:51 AM

                                        With all due respect to your parents, I don't think they are the best gauge for good vs. best dim sum. Asian parents tend to be very frugal and value-minded. Especially the Asians of the previous generation(s) who didn't have as much money as we do now (relatively speaking). Sorry, don't mean to play the race card. Maybe all immigrant parents are this way. The point is that they may not care if Elite is better or not, it's simply not worth the extra money Elite charges.

                                        But, to say that Elite is not much better than any other dim sum place, or that the margin between best and worst dim sum is very narrow, is just . . . wrong. Try venturing out to any dim sum place in OC and you will cry yourself to sleep before noon. And they won't be tears of joy either.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: Tkn
                                          b
                                          buttermarblepopcorn May 31, 2010 01:13 PM

                                          No, no, you're not playing the race card at all and my parents and I would wholeheartedly agree with your assessment that Chinese immigrant parents are very frugal. I mean I like to joke with my close Jewish friends that what we have in common is we're both cheap and we delight in playing pissing games to see who can be cheaper.

                                          But that was my defense of Elite (and Chowhounders who praised Elite so much) to my parents, when they brought up the high prices. I just thought they were being cheap Chinese and they really need to look at Chinese food a different way and accept that high quality begets higher prices...before I went yesterday and tasted it myself and, in my admittedly more relatively limited experience of dim sum, agreed with their original take.

                                          It's not about the price tag, it's about the wow factor, which is what I'm assuming many Chowies perceive time and again from dining at Elite -- the wow factor that was missing from my meal there. I'll reiterate the one exception, which was the egg custard, which upon nanoseconds of entering my mouth and the mouths of my mom and grandma (my dad tends to be laconic) was immediately proclaimed to be godly and ungodly good. That is what I'd expected but didn't get from the other dishes. That super-extra wowness that people talk about. They were all delicious and well-made, but not earth-shaking.

                                          So it was only after this taste assessment that the higher prices seem unjustified. Well, at least unjustified for future visits, that is. I kept thinking afterward, the higher-than-usual prices would not be an issue if the food was proportionally more fantastic than usual.

                                          P.S. (I keep adding these because I realize I'd forgotten something, so I come back to edit) Yeah, I've never had dim sum in Orange County and I suspect neither have my parents (though I can't say for sure, because it's not like I live with them and keep tabs on every place they eat on the weekends). So what I claim to be "usual" dim sum for me and my parents -- the quality of the pool of dim sum restaurants from which to draw comparisons to Elite may in fact be above-average to begin with. I mean, my parents know a lot about places to eat from word of mouth among the Chinese immigrant community -- it's like their version of Chowhound heh -- so they've probably managed to avoid going to the worst places and tend to focus on going to the best ones. And they do trash talk most of what they experience, but that's part of being Chinese parents, who trash talk EVERYTHING IN LIFE. But even within that trash talk, there is still a clear hierarchy of good versus bad (or pretty good versus never again), since everything is relative.

                                          1. re: buttermarblepopcorn
                                            b
                                            bulavinaka May 31, 2010 02:10 PM

                                            >>No, no, you're not playing the race card at all and my parents and I would wholeheartedly agree with your assessment that Chinese immigrant parents are very frugal. I mean I like to joke with my close Jewish friends that what we have in common is we're both cheap and we delight in playing pissing games to see who can be cheaper.<<

                                            If my mom was included in the pissing match, she'd give your parents and everyone else a run for their pennies She's probably from the same generation, or at least went through similar times back in the old country (Japan WWII for her), and scrounging, skimping and scraping every little tidbit in order to hedge for uncertain days ahead is her excuse (her family was doing well during the war though - I think she's just naturally cheap!). She's the type who when she heads into Trader Joe's, she not only grabs enough free samples to make a meal, she also grabs paper plates, utensils, napkins and paper cups "to go." So. Frickin'. Embarrassing. And don't even let her into Costco...

                                            I think Elite gets high points from many Hounds for style. They offer some whimsical dishes that no one else has - that to me is their forté. They do excel in some of the standards as well. The quality is still better to me than most, but again, I'm in the camp that believes that Sea Harbour is the king when it comes to quality.

                                          2. re: Tkn
                                            s
                                            Sgee May 31, 2010 03:06 PM

                                            Things have changed a lot the last two decades. The denizens of major Asian cities are no longer as frugal as they are often portrayed; in fact in cities like HK, Singapore, Shanghai restaurants are pushing the envelope on the high end dining experience. Tokyo is just on a whole different playing field in my book... Many of my friends when they visit, (outside of NYC) tend to regard US cities as being a bit backwards these days...

                                            Sadly in SGV; restaurants seem to be competing for who can offer the cheapest compromised dining experience, talk about lack of progress...

                                            1. re: Sgee
                                              b
                                              bulavinaka May 31, 2010 03:27 PM

                                              >>Sadly in SGV; restaurants seem to be be competing on who can offer the cheapest compromised dining experience, talk about lack of progress...<<

                                              I agree. Not that I don't appreciate the more-than reasonable eats around SGV, but it seems that for the most part, the area is littered with places in serious competition with others to offer the cheapest eats, a small number of mid-priced eats, and a small handful of nice higher-end options, those of which can be pushing up toward Urasawa if one wants to be a big-baller.

                                              With so many immigrants who fit the profile of the OP's parents as well as my mom, the price-point issue is deeply imbedded in their psyches. There's no doubt that there are many prosperous ones from the old country as well, but even they can be very frugal and only lay out the big bucks when they want to confirm a little bit of respect. But as the old guard has done well in raising children who have become multitudes wealthier than them, those ABCs will and are demanding something more than buy-two, get-one-free deals. They want more mid- and upper level eats. I think it's not much of a stretch to predict that a shift toward quality and more diversity will come.

                                              1. re: bulavinaka
                                                s
                                                Sgee May 31, 2010 03:47 PM

                                                Agree, love the affordability of dining options in SGV, but has generally not been accompanied by quality irregardless of price point.

                                                The shift seems to be happening in what they drive, maseratis, ferraris, porsches, bentleys... but sadly has not made a meaningful dent in the food scene. Hopefully the increased wealth will eventually translate to more disriminating diners.

                                          3. s
                                            Sgee May 31, 2010 11:01 AM

                                            Elite is one of the better restaurants by LA/US standards; but can't compare to what you find in HK.

                                            When I go for dim sum locally it's usually Sea Harbor or Elite. For a period after returning from HK, I had absolutely no interest in either until my cravings got the better of me several monthly later.. my experience in HK was that good.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Sgee
                                              c
                                              Chandavkl May 31, 2010 11:27 AM

                                              Actually my experiences in Hong Kong haven't been particularly good, mainly because I don't know anybody there. Walking into random places there merely gets you Monterey Park quality food.

                                              1. re: Chandavkl
                                                ipsedixit May 31, 2010 11:32 AM

                                                "Walking into random places there merely gets you Monterey Park quality food."
                                                _______________________________________________________________-

                                                That might be one of the best lines for the entire month of May ...

                                                1. re: Chandavkl
                                                  ankimo Jul 11, 2010 08:51 PM

                                                  did you try Tim Ho Wan in Mong Kok? so fresh and incredibly tasty, plus had 9 plates for a total of $15. pretty unbelievable and a different class altogether. elite though is really good for its class, and much better than dim sum in the bay area, in my opinion.

                                              2. martyR May 31, 2010 09:59 AM

                                                Terrific thread. Yes, everyone's taste differs and thank goodness really. For example, Exile Kiss recently wrote a so-so review of JTYH saying the skins were generally too thick, whereas those thick skins are what keeps bringing me back to the restaurant.

                                                For dim sum I'm with some others here who rate Sea Harbour slightly above Elite and Lunasia. But I've had some terrific (and not so terrific) meals at each. But each shines a little differently too IMO. I love the rice noodle dishes at Lunasia, the braised dishes at Sea Harbour. Elite's egg custard is hands-down the best I think. So, really no matter where you go, you'll find something to order 3 of the next time :)

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

                                                1. t
                                                  tissue May 31, 2010 01:14 AM

                                                  I agree with you whole heartedly. It's quite oily - good not great. Sea Harbour is better.

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

                                                  1. e
                                                    exilekiss May 30, 2010 11:22 PM

                                                    Hi buttermarblepopcorn,

                                                    Thank you for your honest, heartfelt post. :) I think ipsedixit, bulavinaka and others have brought up some good points, and ultimately only you alone can attest to what "tastes good" or is "worth it" for you on a personal level. (^_~)

                                                    I would say you are blessed to have never had truly *bad* Dim Sum. I have experienced this nightmare too many times to count. One example:

                                                    * Some "Chinese" Restaurant my friend took me to in Santa Ana 4 years ago (I have since erased the name from my memory (no joke) :) - This was home of THE worst Dim Sum I've ever had. Imagine:

                                                    *** Hsia Ren Chang Fen (Steamed Rice Noodle with Shrimp) - The Rice Noodles had all stuck together, were dryish and sort of like dried-out Elmer's Glue. It was *disgusting* (and I don't use that term lightly :(.

                                                    *** Hsia Jiao (Har Gow) (Shrimp Dumplings) - Really fishy and briny and pungent, and the wrapping was HARD (dried out). :(

                                                    Basically everything we had there was around that level of failed execution.

                                                    I've also had some pretty mediocre Dim Sum at a few other places that I don't want to name right now. Trust me when I say there are some really bad Dim Sum restaurants in Southern California. :(

                                                    Note I'm not defending Elite. I've actually had some great, some average, some hiccups, but mostly good-to-very-good dishes there. I, like ipse and bulavinaka, prefer Sea Harbour. ;)

                                                    But I just wanted to say after having suffered what I never knew Dim Sum could sink to, I'm appreciative of places like Elite and especially Sea Harbour. :)

                                                    One last note (something ipse brought up): I think price is definitely a factor for many people. For some, the pursuit of greatness will cause them to overlook almost any markup. For others, value is the biggest factor.

                                                    I know people who are perfectly happy eating a steak at Outback Steakhouse and they shake their head when they hear about Wolfgang Puck's CUT and paying ~$135 for a Steak.

                                                    I agree that prices at Elite can fluctuate depending on what you order: I've been able to get out of there averaging ~$15 per person (total), but it can also go higher (my last visit, we ended up averaging ~$23 per person).

                                                    At Sea Harbour, we usually average ~$13 - $19 per person total. As an FYI, when I used to go to the old NBC or Ocean Star, we'd average ~$12 - $16 per person (and that was years ago).

                                                    Overall, I'm not disagreeing with you, just rambling. :)

                                                    15 Replies
                                                    1. re: exilekiss
                                                      b
                                                      buttermarblepopcorn May 31, 2010 12:03 AM

                                                      Hi Exilekiss,

                                                      Thanks for your kind and thoughtful response. I just wanted to address the price issue -- yeah, my parents and I did recognize Elite was more expensive than most dim sums, but for me, at least, it was not a determining factor in my final "judgment." What I mean is, my overall impression is that Elite's food is just as good as many other great dim sum restaurants, price be damned.

                                                      So, then, why is it so expensive? (That's rhetorical; we totally understand why it costs more and don't feel it's outrageous or inexplicable.) On a similar note, they felt Elite was kind of like Din Tai Fung -- overrated/overhyped and needlessly expensive. I know I'm just opening a whole new can of worms with that admission!

                                                      -----
                                                      Din Tai Fung Restaurant
                                                      1108 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007

                                                      1. re: buttermarblepopcorn
                                                        e
                                                        exilekiss May 31, 2010 09:54 AM

                                                        Hi buttermarblepopcorn,

                                                        Wakarimashita. :)

                                                        Re: Din Tai Fung - No not at all. One of my SGV Hounds' parents refuse to eat at Din Tai Fung after going once. They were "outraged" by the prices and had a similar reaction your parents had to Elite: That the markup in price was not worth the quality they received (i.e., they felt they could enjoy similar quality XLBs and various Dumplings at cheaper prices around town, without having to fight crowds and wait for ~30 min - 1 hour for a table).

                                                        1. re: buttermarblepopcorn
                                                          s
                                                          Sgee May 31, 2010 11:02 AM

                                                          DTF is just plain overrated. XLBs there are truly not good IMO.

                                                          1. re: Sgee
                                                            ipsedixit May 31, 2010 11:26 AM

                                                            DTF does a really good job (and I mean really good job) of marketing their supposed uber-deliciousness, which for some reason tends to really appeal to American diners.

                                                            That's the key to DTF's success. They don't make XLB that much appreciably better than many of the other places in SGV (heck, I would even say some of the Taiwanese tea houses have better XLB). But because they are able to create this faux sense of superiority in their products, DTF can charge a premium and create hordes of crowds on the weekends.

                                                            It's marketing acumen, not cooking acumen that's behind DTF's immense success -- and sometimes that's all a restaurant needs.

                                                            1. re: ipsedixit
                                                              b
                                                              buttermarblepopcorn May 31, 2010 01:03 PM

                                                              Absolutely, absolutely -- you took the words straight out of my parents' mouths on DTF, ipse.

                                                              1. re: buttermarblepopcorn
                                                                ipsedixit May 31, 2010 01:27 PM

                                                                Maybe the same rationale applies to Elite ... and we've all been duped (except you and your family, of course!)

                                                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                  b
                                                                  buttermarblepopcorn May 31, 2010 01:41 PM

                                                                  Obviously I can't say (since I'm not omniscient nor objective), but I know my parents sure would agree with that, heheh. They kept pointing out how so many of the customers were young people or "Americans" (Chinese immigrant parent code for "non-Chinese"), which, most of you can probably infer, lessens a Chinese restaurant's legitimacy to them, heheh.

                                                                  P.S. (I gotta stop doing this) They kept saying "those are probably all your Chowhound friends, right?" I think they were mocking me, now that I'm reflecting upon that moment.

                                                                  P.P.S. They didn't diss Elite, though, the way they still diss DTF whenever DTF comes up in conversation. They readily agreed Elite was quite good. But they'll never come close to saying that about DTF; exilekiss and sgee's previous comments (and yours, ipse) on DTF definitely echo my parents' actively negative sentiments.

                                                                  1. re: buttermarblepopcorn
                                                                    ipsedixit May 31, 2010 02:48 PM

                                                                    DTF is for Americans and ABC's ... :-)

                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                      PeterCC Aug 27, 2012 09:12 AM

                                                                      Since this thread's already been bumped... I'm always wary of admitting I like DTF (I'm nearly an ABC, having moved from Taiwan to the States when I was barely 7). I kinda feel like DTF's the Starbucks of XLB, a place to get a consistent product that isn't the best but also isn't the worst, but I've definitely wanted to branch out, and in fact searching for other XLB places was one of the first things I did on CH a long while ago (before I became a poster), so thank you all for the recs over the years.

                                                                      (My dad, who fits the frugal older generation Chinese archetype (or stereotype), also prefers DTF XLB, despite the prices, to others that he's had in other places (a few in SGV, but also in Boston, Taiwan, Montreal, HK, mainland, etc). I don't think considered himself a "foodie" (no negative connotations), but hey, it's personal taste and he's not trying to claim it's the best, just what he likes the best.)

                                                                      1. re: PeterCC
                                                                        Porthos Aug 27, 2012 09:30 AM

                                                                        I wouldn't be too wary about liking DTF. Ipse was much more anti-DTF back in the day. I've even seen him recommend it a few times recently. ;)

                                                                        It's a more stylized form of XLB. I do find myself liking J&J's and Shanghai No 1 Seafood Village's version more these days.

                                                                        I sure do miss that chicken soup though and their shrimp fried rice with pork chop...

                                                                        1. re: Porthos
                                                                          PeterCC Aug 27, 2012 09:43 AM

                                                                          I need to do a XLB crawl sometime. I couldn't make it to either Dean Sin or Mama Lu's during my June SGV crawl. I'll add the two you mentioned to my list. :-) Thanks.

                                                                          I thought ipsedixit was a she?

                                                                          1. re: PeterCC
                                                                            Porthos Aug 27, 2012 10:46 AM

                                                                            J&J for the crab roe version.

                                                                            Shanghai No. 1 for the regular XLB. But you have to try the pan fried buns.

                                                                            XLB crawl sounds perfect for this Labor Day weekend ;)

                                                                          2. re: Porthos
                                                                            ipsedixit Aug 27, 2012 08:40 PM

                                                                            I am still very anti-DTF XLB.

                                                                            But like you, I do dig their chicken soup. Only thing worth getting on the menu.

                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                              n
                                                                              ns1 Aug 28, 2012 08:55 AM

                                                                              I still like the XLB @ DTF, but the prices make me hurt a little bit on the inside (when compared to say, DSW)

                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                e
                                                                                Ernie Aug 28, 2012 10:35 AM

                                                                                I like DTF for their non-dumpling stuff. The pork chop, fried rice, and cold "appetizer" I think are much better than their dumpling offerings

                                                          2. c
                                                            Clinton May 30, 2010 10:10 PM

                                                            I too understand what you are saying. I've read so many high reviews of Elite and for me personally, cannot understand what makes them so much better than most places in SGV. For me, I haven't come across any which were considered "inferior" in the many years I've had dim sum all over LA. I keep saying that taste is purely subjective. My tastes may differ from many others and vice versa. As a matter of fact, I was at Ocean Star last week and thought that experience was one of the best I've had in a long time. Before that, I was at NBC which I thought was just OK but nothing fantastic (like many people rave about) even though I believe they bought out Ocean Star or have a connection with them? I do also like Top Island which many people consider mediocre. So all I say is to each their own. I'm a happy person eating any dim sum.

                                                            9 Replies
                                                            1. re: Clinton
                                                              b
                                                              bulavinaka May 30, 2010 10:15 PM

                                                              >> I'm a happy person eating any dim sum.<<

                                                              Me too - just happier at Elite, then happiest at Sea Harbour! :)

                                                              1. re: bulavinaka
                                                                c
                                                                Clinton May 31, 2010 09:21 AM

                                                                Ah yeah...if you're happy, then I'm happy! Let's eat...

                                                                1. re: bulavinaka
                                                                  liu Jun 5, 2010 09:46 PM

                                                                  bulavinaka -- We went to Sea Harbour this morning for dim sum. I was happy...
                                                                  but I am always happier and happiest at Elite. :)))

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

                                                                  1. re: liu
                                                                    b
                                                                    bulavinaka Jun 5, 2010 10:36 PM

                                                                    Then I am happy! I hope you had at least something that curled your toes there...

                                                                    1. re: bulavinaka
                                                                      liu Jun 6, 2010 09:55 PM

                                                                      Yes! I thought their vegetable-shrimp steamed dumplings (with cilantro, I think) were really delicious...a flavor I really like!

                                                                      But I prefer Elite's sticky rice.
                                                                      .
                                                                      Service at Sea Harbour was quite attentive and friendly.

                                                                      1. re: liu
                                                                        ipsedixit Jun 6, 2010 10:01 PM

                                                                        Did you try Sea Harbour's salted duck egg rice balls? Best sweet/savory dessert going.

                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                          liu Jun 6, 2010 10:08 PM

                                                                          Oh! That sounds wonderful...now we will HAVE to go back!

                                                                          ipsedixit -- Is it a special, or do they always have it?

                                                                          We did have their yellow almond sponge cake which was quite good!

                                                                          1. re: liu
                                                                            ipsedixit Jun 6, 2010 10:12 PM

                                                                            It comes and goes as it appears (at least 2x a year) on their seasonal menus.

                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                              liu Jun 6, 2010 10:16 PM

                                                                              Thank you for this information.
                                                                              I will be sure to ask for it during our next visit!

                                                                              We arrived this past Saturday morning about 10:50am and were surprised to walk right to our table. There were several empty tables during our stay.

                                                              2. c
                                                                Chandavkl May 30, 2010 07:35 PM

                                                                Elite is as good as it gets in Los Angeles, and therefore by definition, is also among the tops in the US. But if your standard is what you can get in Vancouver or Hong Kong, then you are absolutely right.

                                                                12 Replies
                                                                1. re: Chandavkl
                                                                  ipsedixit May 30, 2010 08:44 PM

                                                                  I must've missed it, but was the OP really trying to compare Elite to dim sum in Vancouver (or heaven forbid) Hong Kong?

                                                                  That would be sort of like comparing Chinese food in Phoenix to that of SGV ...

                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                    b
                                                                    bulavinaka May 30, 2010 09:19 PM

                                                                    Wow - Chinese food in Phoenix is that good? ;)

                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                      b
                                                                      buttermarblepopcorn May 30, 2010 09:33 PM

                                                                      Okay, I must meekly pipe up since ipsedixit has called this out; I was originally going to let slide Chandavkl's left-field defense/justification of my opinion because it was nice of him and also it would've made me seem less crazy.

                                                                      But ipsedixit is right: I wasn't making any such comparison to Vancouver or HK. Maybe I threw Chandavkl off a bit with my slightly tangential remark about my parents' country of origin, which, to clarify, I was stating as a pre-emptive defensive move, lest anyone try to discredit their Elite's-just-okay tastebuds with a reason having to do with their not "knowing" their Chinese cuisine. Anyway...

                                                                      1. re: buttermarblepopcorn
                                                                        ipsedixit May 30, 2010 09:50 PM

                                                                        butter,

                                                                        I ain't trying to call you out nor attack your opinions of Elite.

                                                                        All I was trying to say in my original reply is that what people consider "good" or "great" is all a matter of personal taste -- esp. when you factor in price and the supposed "worth it" factor.

                                                                        Also, now that I think about it, might I suggest another hypothesis (as flawed as it might be) as to why you and your parents were less than enthralled with Elite? Perhaps because your parents were from Taiwan and immigrated here to the States they were never part of the Hong Kong/Vancouver dim sum evolution where the pedestrian and traditional dim sum offerings were transformed into a form of Chinese haute cuisine.

                                                                        For people who grew up eating Pizza Hut and Dominos, selling them on a pie from Mozza for $20 would not only seem foolish, but distasteful in more ways than one.

                                                                        Just a thought.

                                                                        Cheers.

                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                          b
                                                                          buttermarblepopcorn May 30, 2010 10:12 PM

                                                                          ipse, I know you were neither calling me out nor attacking me. I never took it that way. I was trying to exhibit sheepishness and not defensiveness over the funny and sweet "excuse" chandave was offering up.

                                                                          But... now you're comparing my parents to Pizza Hut and Dominos? Don't worry, I'm not mad in the least, just deeply amused. I do think it's a worthy analogy in theory, but I don't believe it applies. (Actually, I don't think it's a fair analogy because you're sort of equating Pizza Hut/Dominos with Taiwanese cuisine and Mozza with HK cuisine, but that's not too important at the moment.) For one thing, they've eaten a lot of authentic Chinese food of many regions and have been to the mainland and HK. And they've had plenty of dim sum right here in the SGV so it's not like Elite was, like, just the tenth dim sum restaurant they've ever tried.

                                                                          So yes, everyone's got a different idea of what's tasty, and yes, some people used to a certain style of bastardized food may not ever appreciate the authentic version, but I believe my parents have an extensive enough range of Chinese food experiences to overcome the limits of just "liking what you know." I think they know what they like, but they can also appreciate good flavors that hit their tastebuds.

                                                                          P.S. Oh, and even though they were raised in Taiwan, my parents were actually born in China -- my dad's parents are from Beijing and Shanghai, and my mom's from Fuzhou -- and Taiwanese is *not* actually their favorite Chinese cuisine.

                                                                          1. re: buttermarblepopcorn
                                                                            Peripatetic May 31, 2010 02:53 AM

                                                                            This is a fascinating thread. It might be helpful as a point of reference to know what restaurants (dim sum or otherwise) your parents like best. Or do they think that nothing in SoCal is better than just okay? I have a friend from Hong Kong who subscribes to that opinion, so this is an understandable answer.

                                                                            As an aside, I love Sea Harbour and Elite, but I believe the best dim sum I've ever had in the US was at Crystal Garden in Flushing in the late 1980's. It's possible that, were I to have it today, it wouldn't stand the test of time, but I'm pretty sure I've never had char siu bao or shiu mai nearly as good as theirs, even in Hong Kong.

                                                                            1. re: Peripatetic
                                                                              b
                                                                              buttermarblepopcorn May 31, 2010 01:27 PM

                                                                              Hmm, very good question (and kind of obvious that I should've thought of it myself). I'll ask them! And depending on how they reply, I may or may not report back hehehehe...

                                                                              1. re: buttermarblepopcorn
                                                                                Peripatetic Jun 8, 2010 01:01 AM

                                                                                Was it Sea Harbour that they liked?

                                                                              2. re: Peripatetic
                                                                                j
                                                                                Johnny L May 31, 2010 09:26 PM

                                                                                memories of traveling can often overshine facts and realty. I often have great recollections of Hong Kong food having lived there for a few months while studying.

                                                                                Although I admit most things were not incredible I remember them as being great, especially the dim sum. In general as long as you went to a nice and busy dim sum restaurant you couldn't go wrong.

                                                                                1. re: Johnny L
                                                                                  Peripatetic May 31, 2010 09:39 PM

                                                                                  I lived in NYC at the time, so it wasn't that. On the other hand, I've had a lot of dim sum since then so it's hard to know whether I'd still be as impressed. But at the time, nothing in NYC came close. Not 20 Mott, East Lake, 888 Palace, Golden Unicorn, etc.

                                                                          2. re: buttermarblepopcorn
                                                                            c
                                                                            Chandavkl May 31, 2010 11:24 AM

                                                                            Actually, Mrs. Chandavkl agrees with you 100 percent on Elite. In her case, she has a single standard and gives no slack for location, be it Vancouver, San Francisco or Phoenix (the latter which does have some pretty good Chinese food).

                                                                            1. re: Chandavkl
                                                                              b
                                                                              buttermarblepopcorn May 31, 2010 01:01 PM

                                                                              Thank god I'm not alone! I stand firmly behind my opinion but it's always nice not to feel like a COMPLETE freak.

                                                                      2. b
                                                                        bulavinaka May 30, 2010 07:09 PM

                                                                        We had dim sum at 888 yesterday. We walked in and were immediately seated for a table of three. I mean no sooner did I sit down, the carts descended upon our table. Literally, within two minutes, our table was maxxed out with all sorts of standard dim sum items. After having almost nothing but Elite and Sea Harbour (which I prefer) for the past few years, I was awestruck. I'd forgotten how efficient the cart system was. Full table of dim sum dishes, steamers, and bowls, tea for three, and we were off and running. Everything was good - I repeat good. I'll even give some of the items we had a very good. But the more delicate items showed their age - skins a bit dry and coming apart at the edges; some a bit flabby, etc. - but I found little to complain about otherwise. many of the items where whole shrimp were found in Elite and Sea Harbour had shrimp paste at 888. No big deal - they still tasted good, just no snap of fresh shrimp. And what's amazing is, we just by instinct averaged about $15 before tip. We ate more dishes - I estimate four more dishes - but we always average about $15 before tip at Elite an Sea Harbour for dim sum as well. 888 is probably one of the better if not best cart-driven dim sum places in SGV. Did it blow me away? I was sated but not impressed. We wanted quick and we got quick. The flavors were more than acceptable, but not as fresh as Elite, and definitely not up there with my experiences at Sea Harbour - the textures were definitely a couple of tiers below Elite and definitely below Sea Harbour.

                                                                        Your parents I cannot disrespect. They are our elders and I respect their feelings and opinions. In my very humble opinion, what is perceived as taste, may be one or two factors to some, it may be a multitude factors to others. A 96-point Cabernet Sauvignon which we polished last night was superb to me, while passing the lips with no awe to our dear friend who prefers cabs, but might not be looking for some of things that I do when putting a bottle like this down. Those nuances that I picked up on, those qualities that I prefer, aren't usually all present in other examples. That's okay though. everyone has their preferences, thresholds, perceptions and standards. But I'd urge you to do as much of a side-by-side comparison between one of the better cart places versus Elite and give it another ponder.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: bulavinaka
                                                                          Will Owen May 31, 2010 12:07 PM

                                                                          bulavinka, I am impressed! We have gorged ourselves senseless in parties of from three to ten at 888, and have never been able to go much over $10 per gullet; I think we hit $12 once, but that was because I insisted on one or two more things than usual off the expensive side.

                                                                          I agree that many of their offerings show signs of economizing, but we've never had anything bad, which is one reason of several why 888 has remained our default dim sum destination. We are also addicted to cart service. It's like turkey on Thanksgiving: whether you really like it or not, it's hardwired into the program for most of us.

                                                                          1. re: Will Owen
                                                                            b
                                                                            bulavinaka May 31, 2010 01:57 PM

                                                                            Hi Will,

                                                                            I told my wife that once our table was full in the first two minutes of arrival, not to order anything else unless it was something she considered to be "special." As fate would have it, she seemed to consider just about everything coming afterwards on the carts to be special...?! Now that I think about it, we actually picked up about six more dishes than normal. The dessert cart came by and we picked up a gelatin dessert (translucent gold with bits of tiny flowers and goji berries) and a sesame custard which was really good.

                                                                            888 is a great place to go when considering all of the factors. If friends insist on a cart place, it's tops on our list.

                                                                        2. m
                                                                          mc michael May 30, 2010 07:02 PM

                                                                          Different strokes.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: mc michael
                                                                            b
                                                                            buttermarblepopcorn May 30, 2010 09:26 PM

                                                                            Gary Coleman, RIP.

                                                                          2. ipsedixit May 30, 2010 07:01 PM

                                                                            Having tried just about every dim sum joint in SGV, I can say that Elite's offerings are not only appreciably better than most, but also qualitatively more inventive. (As an aside, I still prefer Sea Harbour as having the best dim sum in SGV, but that's another thread).

                                                                            Is it worth the supposed price premium? That's really a personal thing. I mean, is it worth the extra $$ for a hamburger at Golden State (for example) versus what you can get at say In-N-Out? On some days, certainly. On others? Not so much.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                              b
                                                                              buttermarblepopcorn May 30, 2010 09:25 PM

                                                                              You know, I can't help consider another factor: the build-up and expectation within *me* after observing extremely positive Chowhound comment after comment over a period of several months. I can't un-taste today's meal, but I wonder what I would've thought about it if I had never read a single thing about Elite?

                                                                              Granted, my parents never read Chowhound and had already eaten there once before, and when I mentioned Elite they just sort of shrugged it off as not bad but not special, either.

                                                                              Maybe it's nature + nuture and I just like what my parents like. I'm not trying to backpedal from my original post (and there's really nothing to back away from anyway, since it was just my honest impression of my meal), but I do feel a mob of polite defenders of Elite hovering over my shoulder now, heh, and I'm just trying to understand out loud why my (and my parents') feelings are so radically different from you guys'.

                                                                            2. monku May 30, 2010 06:28 PM

                                                                              The fishy taste of the shu mai you were tasting were real fish eggs on top(the red stuff).
                                                                              As far as quality and taste overall I'd say it's right near the top in the LA area. The prices are not really out of sight for having the best in town.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: monku
                                                                                b
                                                                                buttermarblepopcorn May 30, 2010 09:17 PM

                                                                                Re: the fish eggs on top: Heh, that's exactly what my parents told me when I mentioned the fishy taste. I actually saw the fish eggs and was impressed. But I guess my mouth wasn't as much.

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