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V.I.P. overthrown in Palace coup

n
New Trial Jul 1, 2010 01:38 AM

R.I.P. V.I.P. The once loved but lately lamented V.I.P. Harbor Seafood on Barrington and Wilshire is now the Palace Seafood & Dim Sum (not sure if it is just a change in name or ownership as well). The decor remains the same, i.e. not very palatial.

Do I imagine the dim sum is a shade better now than it was in the last days of V.I.P.? Perhaps. Wishful thinking sometimes smoothes the edges of reason and memory. But the har gow seemed plumper and fresher-tasting than I recalled from my last V.I.P. visit, with a more delicate wrapper. There were interesting chicken and leek "cakes" only slightly marred by a somewhat oily quality that lingered on the leeks themselves. The sui mai were good but lacked the mix of shrimp and topping of fish roe now so common in the better places in the SGV. The shrimp egg rolls were fine but did nothing to advance the form (of course, there is an argument that the form needs no advancing). The shrimp and cilantro dumplings were quite nice as well. The sticky rice smelled good but I was the only fan at the table and it was more than I wanted for one so I did not get to try it this visit.

The only true failure was the order of pot stickers, which the Palace fills with chicken rather than pork. To be fair, the filling itself was fine and flavorful (I still prefer the pork version) but the wrapper, which had hardened into a thick, doughy shell, quelled any enjoyment to be had in eating it. The culprit is that the Palace did not make these pot stickers to order--none of those rolling griddle carts--they came out already made on a shelf of one of the baked and fried goods carts, where they may have lingered longer than was wise. Unlike revenge, a pot sticker is not a dish best served cold.

This is not the place which will cause Westsiders to turn their backs in droves on the drive down the 10 to SGV but is a decent option for the days when the trek proves too daunting or you need to stay closer to home.

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Vip Harbor Seafood Restaurant and Dim Sum
11701 Wilshire Blvd Ste 13, Los Angeles, CA 90025

  1. j
    Jerome Dec 3, 2010 04:07 PM

    how does this compare to jinjiang - santa monica blvd near veteran?

    11 Replies
    1. re: Jerome
      Servorg Dec 3, 2010 04:43 PM

      Does Jin Jiang do dim sum for dinner? That's the draw for this place. Dim sum on demand for dinner - any day of the week.

      1. re: Servorg
        J.L. Dec 4, 2010 01:12 AM

        Maybe I'm too old skool, but dim sum at dinnertime just sounds wrong.

        1. re: J.L.
          j
          Jerome Dec 4, 2010 01:39 PM

          i've only seen it in ireland. Dimsum for dinner/ it's like pancakes and maple syrup and sausages for dinner. Some folks love it.
          Jin jiang doesn't do dimsum/yumcha at all as far as i know.

          1. re: J.L.
            g
            granadafan Dec 4, 2010 01:40 PM

            I think of dim sum as a brunch/ lunch meal too. However, if they served it at dinner I'd eat dim sum as well. Hehe.

            1. re: granadafan
              j
              Jerome Dec 4, 2010 01:54 PM

              why not? if a hotel offered afternoon tea as a late night menu specialty, there would be people who'd love it.

              1. re: Jerome
                ipsedixit Dec 4, 2010 02:05 PM

                Aside from being "weird" the margins for dim sum is very very low, and for some places it is a loss leader.

                The typical dinner menu generates the majority of the profits of a Canto-banquet style restaurant. Dim sum during the weekday is offered to generate traffic, more than anything else. Weekend dim sum is a profit maker, but that's simply because of a numbers game -- more foot traffic. That kind of foot traffic simply doesn't exist during the weekday.

                Exceptions being places like Dim Sum Express and Yum Cha Cafe where the overhead is very low (limited hours, no large staff, etc.).

                1. re: ipsedixit
                  g
                  granadafan Dec 4, 2010 11:12 PM

                  ipsedixit, what's your opinion on Yum Cha Cafe (both locations)? I haven't been there in a while (Atlantic) ever since they had C ratings from the health dept a few years ago.

                  1. re: granadafan
                    raytamsgv Dec 6, 2010 09:39 AM

                    It's cheap, and you get exactly what you pay for. I don't think their dim sum is all that good. They leave out out too long so it sometimes gets dehydrated. I noticed that they cut corners on the fillings for many of the dim sum items I ordered.

            2. re: J.L.
              c
              Chandavkl Dec 5, 2010 10:31 AM

              CBS Seafood in Chinatown has dinner dim sum in addition to their regular menu. And Bao on Beverly Blvd. is all dim sum, all the time.

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              CBS Seafood
              700 N Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

              Bao Dim Sum House
              8256 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048

              1. re: Chandavkl
                J.L. Dec 5, 2010 08:56 PM

                Speaking of Bao, has anyone done a review on that place yet?

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                Bao Dim Sum House
                8256 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048

                1. re: J.L.
                  c
                  Chandavkl Dec 5, 2010 09:59 PM

                  Just me.

                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/748247

        2. katydid13 Aug 25, 2010 11:06 AM

          Does anyone know if this Palace is related to the Palace Chinese restaurant in Los Feliz (on Vermont, I think)?

          2 Replies
          1. re: katydid13
            c
            Chandavkl Aug 25, 2010 11:09 AM

            I've tentatively concluded there's no connection based on logos, menus etc.

            1. re: katydid13
              maxzook Aug 25, 2010 11:15 AM

              Unlikely -- they have different names ("The Palace" vs "Palace Seafood & Dim Sum"), and the Los Feliz website doesn't mention any connection:

              http://thepalacelosfeliz.com/

              There are an awful lot of Palaces out there ...

            2. j
              jakermonaco Jul 10, 2010 11:51 PM

              This is the new restaurant in the location previously occupied by VIP Harbor Seafood, which was the only place to get dim sum on the West Side. Well, there is now no place to go for dim sum on the West Side. The dim sum in this new "restaurant" is inedible. The sesame shrimp, which used to be one of the better dim sum dishes at VIP, was burned and inedible. The other dim sum was tasteless, overpriced and also inedible. I used to go to VIP at least 2-3 times a month, meeting friends who came from the valley to share dim sum with me. NO MORE. I am embarrassed to take anyone there, the food is so bad. I'm not a novice in dim sum, i've eaten it around the world, including in places where I'm the only caucasian there, and so I know what I like, and this isn't it. The new owners or managers couldn't care less what you think, they were rude and dismissive. Maybe if the food were good, it would be worth the effort to get it, since you almost need to tackle the waitresses to have them stop at your table and allow you to order food, but with food this bad it just isn't worth trying to get it. When we complained to the waiter and then the manager, they really didn't understand why we didn't want the food and why we could be upset. They charged for food we couldn't eat and sent back. I paid the bill and then told them that, based on the poor quality of food they served, they should have been embarrassed and ashamed to charge me for it, when we had complained. Their response was to shrug their shoulders and walk away. I will not be back and have warned everyone i know (and there are 50 of us in my office who will no longer eat there, as well as about 20 people who used to meet me there for meals) not to go there. Too bad, i liked having dim sum as an alternative to the italian and Japanese restaurants that dominate the west side.

              As for "regular" Chinese food, forget it. Greasy, not very tasty and overpriced. You would be better walking down the street to some of the other Chinese restaurants where at least the lousy greasy Chinese food only costs $6 for lunch "specials". This just isn't the place for any food.

              7 Replies
              1. re: jakermonaco
                m
                maudies5 Jul 11, 2010 12:05 AM

                Had delivery for the first time from Mandarin Kitchen. Everything we ordered was excellent. Delivery was exactly when promised and although we were outside of the 3 mile free delivery zone, we were only charged an extra $2.00. Mandarin Kitchen is my go-to Chinese Restaurant in W.L.A. I do order carefully. Heavy on the vegetables and light on the sauces. Chicken with fresh asparagus was especially good. No sodium hangover .

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                Mandarin Kitchen
                1822 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                1. re: maudies5
                  l
                  LesThePress Jul 12, 2010 09:18 AM

                  We went to Palace yesterday to try it out. We got there at 11:15 and were seated immediately.

                  The Dim Sum was okay, not as terrible as Jakermonaco had. They didn't have some of the old items but had some new ones. The sesame sticks with just shrimp were replaced by sticks with shrimp, scallops and fish. They wer good but I missed the ones with only shrimp.
                  They also had some sesame sticks with bbq pork (char Siu) and they were pretty good.
                  They did have a new one Shrimp w/cilantro dumplings and they were really good.

                  The prices seemed to be abou the same as VIP's. The main noticeable difference was the service: TERRIBLE!! There were clearly fewer carts and many times when no cart came by for a long time. A couple of times the wait was 10 to 15 mintues. Totally unacceptable.
                  We ordered soft drinks which never came and we had to order them again. A coulple of times I asked a waiter (not a cart server) for something and he just walked by saying 'in a mintue'. It also took a long time to get someone to total our bill.

                  I wasn't overly enamoured with VIP; went mostly becuase of the location, but it may now be necessary to drive to Chinatown or Monterey Park in the future. I still wish someone in the Valley or Conejo would get some good dim sum.

                  1. re: LesThePress
                    c
                    Chandavkl Jul 12, 2010 09:31 AM

                    You could go slightly over the hill to Peking Inn in Camarillo for dim sum.

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                    Peking Inn Restaurant
                    330 N Lantana St, Camarillo, CA 93010

                    1. re: Chandavkl
                      l
                      LesThePress Jul 12, 2010 09:40 AM

                      We tried it many years ago when we first moved to TO, and we were not impressed at all, but thanks.

                      1. re: LesThePress
                        Servorg Jul 12, 2010 09:45 AM

                        Les, is the A&W Seafood restaurant on Reseda Blvd. in Northridge (very near CSUN) more convenient a location for you? It probably would be worth a try if so.

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                        A & W Seafood Restaurant
                        9306 Reseda Blvd, Northridge, CA 91324

                        1. re: Servorg
                          l
                          LesThePress Jul 12, 2010 10:17 AM

                          Sorry, but thanks Servog. Before moving to TO, we lived in West Hills for 5 years and tired A&W (We love thier regular dishes and went often). However, while we felt A&W was better than the Peking Inn, most of the items were pretty tastless and we never went back. The service (cart style) was better than Peking Inn, where you order off of the menu.

                          Believe me, we've tried them all, and if the service improves we'll go back to Palace, but not until then. There were 5 of us plus a todler and it took us 2 hours till we were full. Lots of waiting.

                          Our favorites in Chinatown are Ocean Seafood and Empress. If we're not early enough we go to Ocean, as the wait is extreme at Empress if you don't get there by 11:30am.

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

                          Peking Inn
                          4434 University Pkwy Ste A, San Bernardino, CA 92407

                          1. re: LesThePress
                            t
                            Theo Aug 29, 2010 01:30 PM

                            agreed - A&W is very disappointing. In fact I was there about 5 weeks ago right when they opened on a weekday morning and despite the fact that you would think there would be fresh items to be had, it was all bland and prepared with a very heavy hand. Very unimpressed.

                            The potstickers/steamed dumplings and scallion pancakes across the street at Mandarin Deli are infinitely more satisfying.

                            For now we will continue to make the sojourn from the Valley to Ocean Seafood downtown

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

                            Mandarin Deli
                            728 S Atlantic Blvd Ste 103, Monterey Park, CA 91754

              2. c
                Chandavkl Jul 7, 2010 02:05 PM

                Finally got a chance to stop by. Nice partial remodel and some interesting things on the dim sum menu that you don't ordinarily see, even in the San Gabriel Valley. The Portuguese chicken bun is a flattened version of the baked chicken bao that one sometimes sees on the carts, with a topping of green onions. The sweet taro bun looks just like a Mexico bun, but with a taro filling. They also have a Malaysian bun, which I didn't try, and a sweet potato bun, which was unavailable today. That having been said, The Palace is only a dim sum destination of last resort if you don't want to drive further east. The dim sum is not that great and it's expensive. I mean over $4.50 for an order of beef cheung fun which is inferior to any version you can find in Chinatown?

                5 Replies
                1. re: Chandavkl
                  ipsedixit Jul 7, 2010 06:59 PM

                  Most westsiders who believe the earth drops off east of DTLA are used to paying Mr. Chow prices for "dim sum" so I'd imagine 4.50 for anything will come across as a bargain, if not downright highway robbery.

                  1. re: ipsedixit
                    a
                    AAQjr Jul 7, 2010 08:12 PM

                    hehheheh very true! Actually I was thinking the same thing. How does it compare pricewise to other restaurants in the area not restaurants 30 miles away.

                    I've had family members refuse to visit me in Culver City from west of the 405... Too far! It's not that we don't want to go East. It's just a PITA most of the time.

                    The question I'd like to see answered is: As mixed as the reviews have been how does it compare to the best Chinese west of Hollywood? Sounds like the place is worth trying for those times you crave something more interesting than west la take out Chinese but can't make it to the SGV for dinner.

                    1. re: AAQjr
                      c
                      Chandavkl Jul 7, 2010 09:26 PM

                      It's been a year since I'd eaten at VIP Harbor Seafood, but even in its lessened state I think its dim sum is better than The Palace. And I don't remember it being as expensive, either. Of course, The Palace has a monopoly on westside dim sum, so if it's a choice between no dim sum and The Palace, I'd clearly take The Palace. For westside Chinese food I think I'd rather go to Mandarin Kitchen or Hop Woo. I'd be interested in hearing about the dinner (or lunch special) fare at The Palace. The menu seems kind of schizophrenic with more Americanized dishes than I recall at VIP Harbor. On the other hand, The Palace has fish maw soup and clay pots, too.

                      -----
                      Hop Woo
                      11110 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                      Mandarin Kitchen
                      1822 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                      1. re: AAQjr
                        J.L. Jul 7, 2010 10:21 PM

                        So the question is...
                        Hop Li vs. Hop Woo vs. Mandarin Kitchen vs. Palace?

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                        Hop Woo
                        11110 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                        1. re: J.L.
                          wilafur Jul 8, 2010 10:10 AM

                          mandarin kitchen all the way. don't think they serve dim sum though.

                  2. c
                    carter Jul 3, 2010 09:30 AM

                    The ownership did change in April of this year, when Rachel Lee took over the place from
                    Sumitra Weeranarawat, who bought the place about 6-7 years prior.

                    1. J.L. Jul 1, 2010 02:04 AM

                      Let's hope the ruling Elite will one day take up residence at the Palace...

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: J.L.
                        Servorg Jul 1, 2010 06:13 AM

                        Or even a Triumphal return to the Palace would be an exciting turn of Royal Star events! ;-D>

                        1. re: Servorg
                          J.L. Jul 1, 2010 10:47 AM

                          The Royal Star being the Empress (who would cross the Ocean to make the Palace her Pavilion), I assume? As long as NBC doesn't broadcast the whole affair...

                          1. re: J.L.
                            n
                            New Trial Jul 1, 2010 01:08 PM

                            This all sounds like a Capital idea and I hope you will make it your Mission to see it fulfilled--even if all you did was ate, ate, ate.

                            1. re: New Trial
                              raytamsgv Jul 1, 2010 03:07 PM

                              Y'all are too funny!

                              1. re: raytamsgv
                                wilafur Jul 1, 2010 04:24 PM

                                OMG, i was going to call you guys nerds........then i realized, i am a nerd for following the flow. hahaha.

                                1. re: wilafur
                                  GenevieveCa Jul 2, 2010 10:31 AM

                                  ditto!
                                  I went to the Palace on it's opening weekend. I am no dim sum expert at all but i know what i like.
                                  It was tasty, cheap, i lived the shrimp and stickyrice balls, the skins on the dumplingsd and shumai hardnened too quickly to be enjoyed leisurly and i don't like rushing to eat.
                                  I will have to go out and find more Dim Sum places since this was only my 2nd try. I have to say, for someone like me who didn't know much about what she was ordering, the people there could've been a bit more helpful.
                                  I am willing to try anything once, i just prefer to know what it is first.

                                  1. re: GenevieveCa
                                    wilafur Jul 7, 2010 02:17 PM

                                    it's tasty and cheap? are you serious? imo, VIP served overpriced dim sum slop.

                                    did things change that much?

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