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Elite or Sea Harbour for dim sum?

l
Lau Dec 18, 2010 07:37 AM

I'm back from NY for christmas and I'm going to dim sum with some family on weds. I'm picking the place. I've been to elite and sea harbour and like both of them alot, but it's been a while since i've been to either and things always change, so anyone have strong feelings whether one is better than the other these days?

also, both of them have some good selection of interesting dim sum besides the usual selection (ha gow, siu mai etc) any suggestions?

  1. monku Dec 18, 2010 07:47 AM

    Both are still the best and I haven't noticed any changes.

    1. ipsedixit Dec 18, 2010 07:50 AM

      Coke or Pepsi?

      Really, can't go wrong with either.

      I'm more of a Sea Harbour acolyte, so I'll give you some suggestions if you go there.

      - Salted duck egg custard tart with fried taro root shavings
      - Geoduck sashimi with diced ginger
      - Shark's fin congee with conpoy shavings
      - Shark's fin scallop dumplings
      - Scallops wrapped in steamed tofu with a dried scallop XO sauce
      - Fried rice balls with salty egg yolks

      Enjoy wherever you end up!

      14 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit
        wienermobile Dec 18, 2010 08:12 AM

        +1 from another fan of Sea Harbour.

        1. re: ipsedixit
          l
          Lau Dec 18, 2010 08:12 AM

          yah i figured it was sort of a coke or pepsi debate, but i figured i might as well ask b/c its always possible a place goes downhill. thanks for the dish recs

          im pretty excited, ny dim sum is mediocre even the best places are just decent. i havent had any good dim sum since july when i was in HK

          1. re: ipsedixit
            n
            ns1 Dec 20, 2010 11:57 AM

            So Sunday marked the most hilarious dim sum trip ever. Imagine the time is 2:10, it's pouring down rain, with me and the SO bombing down the 10 trying to get to sea harbour before it closes.

            "It's 2:10 do you think we'll make it? What about Elite? They close at 3, we might fare better!"

            So immediately we hit the Atlantic exit and make our way to Elite. We get there and it's 2:20p, pouring rain...and we still have to wait 15 minutes.

            So 2:35 rolls around, we're seating in what appears to be a bridge table setup right next to a pillar in the middle of the dining area. Awkward seating arrangement, but no shock to any veteran of the asian-dining scene. Make note that this awkward table is setup right next to an large circular table.

            So we put in our order. 7 items, the standards (no specials this time).

            Pacing is freaking TERRIBLE. Multiple minute waits in between items, sometimes we would just sit there and twiddle our thumbs. Yes I'm aware this probably had to do with us coming in at closing - we in fact got the last order of xiu mai. But all in all bearable since we were so freaking hungry.

            THE FOOD

            The GREAT:
            sticky rice - OMG I have no idea what they do to their sticky rice here, but they are AWESOME. I can't explain it, it's just a gooey messy pile of awesome.
            Egg Tarts - delicious crust, soft supple egg interior, but the GF is freaked out by how neon yellow they are.
            Fried Taro Cake - we usually hate these, but the filling here was very good and the exterior quite crunchy. Good textural balance but kind of oily.

            The Bad:
            Golden Cream Buns - the filling was AMAZING when the SO opened one up, but the bun was a little raw. Made the damn thing disgusting (on the bottom) so the SO had to rip out the uncooked bun parts and dip the good parts of the bun into the golden cream.

            The other items we had were good and have been mentioned dozens of times.

            Now for the UGLY

            So 2:45 rolls around. Plates of food start coming out to the table next to us - big family style plates. 5 minutes later, the cooks start rolling out. Yes, the cooks are having lunch right next to us. They're loud, and numerous, and clearly enjoying their break. The waitresses take up the table to our left...and the waiters take up the table behind us.

            Service drops to non-existant levels. We straight up felt a little unconfortable eating next to all of them, so we just wrapped up our meal as quick as possible and boned out.

            So the meal was pretty decent, we got our dim sum fix in but the food definitely suffered due to our timing, and the service aspect was a huge turn off as well. We'll go back to Elite because some of their food items are ridiculously good, but never again will we go back near closing time.

            4* food, 2* service.

            1. re: ns1
              ipsedixit Dec 20, 2010 12:45 PM

              Just be happy they didn't kick you out and actually let you finish your meal once closing time rolled around.

              1. re: ipsedixit
                n
                ns1 Dec 20, 2010 12:50 PM

                kicking us out would've dropped that review down to 1* service.

                I'd still go back.

                1. re: ns1
                  ipsedixit Dec 20, 2010 12:56 PM

                  It maybe a cultural thing, but customer service in *most* Chinese restaurants isn't as much of a priority as it is in *most* American (i.e. western) restaurants.

                  Utilitarian would be a nice way to do describe it. Terse would be probably more of a direct description.

                  1. re: ipsedixit
                    n
                    ns1 Dec 20, 2010 01:03 PM

                    trust me, I wasn't surprised one bit by any of this.

                    1. re: ns1
                      Porthos Dec 20, 2010 01:13 PM

                      Its not uncommon for the staff at a chinese restaurant to start their meals late in the afternoon or late in the evening towards the very end of service. Keep in mind they get a mere 2 hours break before service picks up again at 5pm. The alternative is for the entire staff to wait until you finish before they can have their meal? That's not really an option if you think about it. It doesn't bother me. As long as all my food has arrived, the only thing I need after that is someone to settle my tab and that should have been easy since they were all sitting so close to you.

                      1. re: Porthos
                        n
                        ns1 Dec 20, 2010 01:25 PM

                        the real alternative is to place all the waitstaff in any one of the many empty private rooms for lunch. Like the 14 person room the waiter setup @ 2:55.

                        I reiterate - this is not surprising AT ALL, just a buzzkill.

              2. re: ns1
                monku Dec 20, 2010 06:50 PM

                Pacing is freaking TERRIBLE. Multiple minute waits in between items, sometimes we would just sit there and twiddle our thumbs.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                The pacing you describe sounds like business as usual even if you get there early.

                Took me one time arriving at a dim sum restaurant an hour before closing never to do it again. This was a cart place and they were down to the bare bones as far as offerings.

                I've seen that table you sat at and always thought it was an after-thought.

                I used to frequent this place in Chinatown and when they were busy I'd get seated at the big table where the help would eat. If they were having their break meal they'd let me dig in and have what they were eating too.

                1. re: monku
                  n
                  ns1 Dec 20, 2010 11:10 PM

                  In my personal experience from dim sum the problem is always getting too much at the same time and the food going cold

                  1. re: ns1
                    monku Dec 21, 2010 04:40 AM

                    I've had the "sit there and twiddle our thumbs" delivery several times.

                    1. re: monku
                      n
                      ns1 Dec 21, 2010 08:26 AM

                      well at least we know they're consistently inconsistent =P

                  2. re: monku
                    JAB Dec 21, 2010 08:28 AM

                    You lucky dog. I always covet what they are eating.

              3. n
                ns1 Dec 18, 2010 10:15 AM

                I prefer elite but the gf is allergic to peanuts (which they put in the chicken feet @ elite) soooo we go to sea harbour.

                1. JAB Dec 18, 2010 10:51 AM

                  I'm in the Elite camp but, wouldn't throw Sea Harbour out of bed for eating crackers.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: JAB
                    ipsedixit Dec 18, 2010 04:42 PM

                    For me it would depend on what kind of crackers ...

                    1. re: JAB
                      choctastic Dec 19, 2010 07:47 PM

                      I'm with JAB.

                    2. t
                      tissue Dec 19, 2010 01:25 AM

                      Sea harbour - Elite is more oily even though the menu is VERY similar.

                      1. b
                        bulavinaka Dec 19, 2010 07:08 AM

                        Sea Harbour rules the roost(er). Besides having excellent dim sum, their service has always been very good, their dining rooms have a fresh crisp feel to them, and the display tanks are pristine.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: bulavinaka
                          l
                          lapizzamaven Dec 19, 2010 08:29 AM

                          I luv Sea Harbour..they have a pan fried rice noodle like nuthin ive ever eaten....noodles rolled into tubes...chewy awesomeness...does Elite do noodles as well?

                          1. re: lapizzamaven
                            bigtuna27 Dec 19, 2010 09:44 AM

                            Taste wise both very good. Service wise--Sea harbour-rude waiters. Elite --don't understand English well but better service than sea harbour. Your choice

                            1. re: bigtuna27
                              b
                              bulavinaka Dec 19, 2010 12:50 PM

                              Never had a rude experience in over a dozen visits. Am I lucky? Don't know, but never were they rude to us. They seem very adept at anticipating our needs and wants, and are very good at clearing our tables but not making us feel rushed. I've found service at Elite to be very good as well, but I think of it as a combination efficiency with a bit of indifference.

                              1. re: bigtuna27
                                l
                                Lau Dec 19, 2010 01:02 PM

                                well language isn't an issue for us and as far as service go, at dim sum i could careless as long as it is fast

                            2. re: bulavinaka
                              j
                              Jase Dec 21, 2010 08:39 AM

                              Have they revamped the dining room recently? We generally go to Elite since it's closer to the parental units and we don't find a big enough difference between the two to fight traffic and extra 20 minute drive. But the last time we went to SH in the summer, we found the dining room on the worn side. Clean but carpets and furnishings frayed and fading. Doesn't bother me since I'm usually all about the food.

                              1. re: Jase
                                b
                                bulavinaka Dec 21, 2010 07:58 PM

                                After a while since our last trip there, we visited in August and seemed to notice some changes in the dining decor. But even still - the layout to us is much more like a dining room, whereas Elite's seems kinda piecemeal and afterthought-ish. But like you, the drive/time issue often does come up and we often end up at Elite.

                            3. l
                              Lau Jan 11, 2011 07:50 PM

                              thanks for the recs, here's my review of sea harbour: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/758951

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