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Is Shanghai #1 Seafood Village the SGV's Next Great Chinese Restaurant?

Chandavkl Dec 27, 2011 01:21 PM

Thanks to ciaochow and the other early posters for their glowing reviews of Shanghai #1 Seafood Village. Everything they say is true, leading to the question of whether this restaurant is going to join the upper echelon of Chinese food in the San Gabriel Valley. Now, I understand why it took them so long to open up, turning the large Green Village dining room into separate refined partitioned dining areas. The five dim sum items I sampled were all excellent--baked chicken bao, baked bbq pork bao, giant scallop cheung fun (with egg tofu mixed in), taro (listed as sweet potato) filled bun, and something called deep fried carrot pastry, which was excellent despite the lack of anything visibly carrotty. As previously mentioned in the original thread, the dinner menu looked like a coffee table book with each item on the menu lovingly photographed. The mixture of Shanghai dinner food and Cantonese dim sum (with additions of XLB, pan fried buns) seems counterintuitive., at least in this town. But since dim sum cookery is its own discipline, who says the dinner menu has to be Cantonese? Obviously the quality of the dinner fare will help determine Shanghai #1's place in the Chinese food pecking order, so I eagerly await reports on these.

As a side note, among the three dozen congratulatory grand opening potted plants out front, besides those from food service purveyors was one from Lunasia Restaurant. Now why would a dim sum restaurant congratulate a new competitor? Perhaps there is a tie in? Or is this affiliated with a restaurant in China?

  1. Porthos Jan 1, 2014 03:40 PM

    Update and possible uphill alert. Went here for dim sum because I didn't even want to imagine what the wait at Elite would be like today at noon. Turns out the wait here was also 1 hour. As I mentioned in a previous thread, they shocked me by apologizing multiple times for the wait and by offering sesame jello to those waiting.

    We ordered:

    -macau egg tart. Outstanding. Very flaky crust and the custard was softer and runnier than even the best of them. Truly superb and even better than the ones at Elite. A must.

    -red braised pork. Still very good, and one of the better versions out there. I still find Shanghailander Palace's version superior.

    -shrimp in chung fun with sugar snap peas. Very good. Good texture and integrity on the rice noodle.

    -shrimp dumplings. Also very good. Large fresh shrimp. As good as Elite or Sea Harbour.

    -XLB. Still very good and high quality. A nice balance between the tiny DTF version and the thicker versions elsewhere. Still with plenty of juice and freshly made. One of the better plain pork versions in town.

    -pan fried buns. Still excellent. Thin bun, ample juice/soup in the center. Nicely browned crispy bottom. Still best in class.

    -steamed beancurd sheets with pork and shrimp topped with chinese herbs. Outstanding. As good as Elite's version but steamed and lighter in a clear broth.

    -large dumpling in soup. Again, one of the better versions in town. The inside filling is chock full of shrimp, scallops, crab meat, etc.

    -shui mai. Also very delicious and fresh. Not as heavy and fatty as most other versions in town. Better than the ones I had at Elite recently

    -steamed spareribs and rice noodles. Also contained some pumpkin. Also very good to excellent.

    -sticky rice in lotus leaves. Very average. Inside filling is over salted. The 1 dud of the day.

    -baked bbq pork buns. Didn't try these. Stuffed. But the filling is bbq pork and green onions.

    Total for all this was a shocking $46. The pork itself was $7.99 so an even better deal. All the items were 1.98-2.98. Not sure if this was a New Year promotion or regular pricing. I know for a fact many of the items I ordered were labeled L. This was a tremendous bargain. Elite quality and higher at 888 pricing and lower.

    I know this place gets no love here on Chowhound, but apparently it is doing very very well and the food is as good as ever.

    13 Replies
    1. re: Porthos
      liu Jan 1, 2014 04:58 PM

      "I know this place gets no love here on Chowhound..."
      _ _ _

      I love Shanghai No.1!

      Porthos, I completely agree with your love for their egg tartlets...the best I have had anywhere.

      I also like that their menu is endless. Just when we thought we had covered the menu we see something really enticing being delivered to ANOTHER table.

      1. re: Porthos
        blimpbinge Jan 1, 2014 05:41 PM

        the last time i went (3-5 months ago?) other than the po tarts, everything else was oversized, sloppy, or bland

        Need to go again soon. miss those egg tarts

        1. re: Porthos
          TonyC Jan 2, 2014 09:26 AM

          I know this place gets no love here on Chowhound
          ----
          SN1 is the only place where I entertain Westside dimsummers now (previously Elite). Has been since beginning of '13. Typically no wait at 11:15, and with careful ordering, hardly any pricier than The Harbour.

          The shu mai was indeed excellent in Dec, as were the orange meat balls, steam beancurd sheets, etc.

          1. re: TonyC
            Porthos Jan 2, 2014 09:53 AM

            SN1 is the only place where I entertain Westside dimsummers now (previously Elite).
            ===============
            Wow! Next you'll be saying you like the decor! ;)

            After yesterday, I think I may be making the same switch myself.

            1. re: Porthos
              TonyC Jan 2, 2014 10:54 AM

              So, yesterday you ate at SN1 followed by Bebe Fusion? Might as well move to Arcadia.

              Mind you, I never actually go (or pay) for SN1 by myself, but if Tribal monies are involved, I will forgo my Capital Seafood habit for a lil fake boudoir.

              The communists are here to stay. In due time, everyone falls for the propaganda (read: Meizhou Dongpo).

              1. re: TonyC
                Porthos Jan 2, 2014 10:59 AM

                So, yesterday you ate at SN1 followed by Bebe Fusion?
                ==============
                Yep. SN1 for post NYE hangover.

                Bebe Fusion for Sunday supper since I was in the 'hood anyways.

                Plus, what else is open on New Year's day?

            2. re: TonyC
              Mr Taster Jan 2, 2014 09:54 AM

              Shanghai No.1 Seafood Village (whose ridiculous polysyllabic name I enjoy referencing repeatedly in conversations) has been a mixed bag for me, although I must say that it's one of those rare places where the hilariously entertaining decor (and that over-the-top menu) kind of makes up in style for whatever items that happen to be lacking on the menu. What I mean is that there's enough good things on the menu that I can forget about the blunders by concentrating on the wiry thread poking out from the spot on the crushed purple velvet chair where the plastic crystal button used to be, and wondering who it was that came up with this particular vision, and if they had any sense of irony about them.

              I've loved that Japanese eggplant and the shengjian bao. The Cousin It soup has always been horribly disappointing, with bland broth and dry-as-balsa wood shredded chicken, but I keep ordering it hoping it will get better. The jellyfish appetizer has been good, and I LOVE the cold fava beans. I recall the xiaolong bao being fine, but not extraordinary. Will have to try the shu mai & orange meatballs next time.

              Mr Taster

              1. re: Mr Taster
                Porthos Jan 2, 2014 09:57 AM

                Don't forget the macau egg tarts and steamed beancurd sheets with chinese herbs. Truly top notch.

                1. re: Porthos
                  Mr Taster Jan 2, 2014 10:08 AM

                  Yeah, you're right-- the Macau egg tarts have been consistently spectacular. Haven't tried the beancurd sheets but will give them a go next time around.

                  Mr Taster

                  1. re: Mr Taster
                    Mr Taster Jan 2, 2014 10:11 AM

                    Also, am I remembering correctly that they serve a cold lotus root salad at this place? Lotus root in sesame oil? Anyone? Bueller?

                    Mr Taster

                2. re: Mr Taster
                  liu Jan 2, 2014 01:28 PM

                  "What I mean is that there's enough good things on the menu that I can forget about the blunders by concentrating on the wiry thread poking out from the spot on the crushed purple velvet chair where the plastic crystal button used to be, and wondering who it was that came up with this particular vision, and if they had any sense of irony about them."
                  _ _ _

                  Hilarious, Mr Taster!

                  1. re: liu
                    Mr Taster Jan 2, 2014 03:52 PM

                    Glad to know there's at least one other Chowhound who shares my sense of humor :)

                    Mr Taster

              2. re: Porthos
                n
                ns1 Jan 2, 2014 10:03 AM

                i'll have to check this out for dim sum.

              3. a
                andrew_eats Sep 11, 2012 02:13 AM

                The food is pretty good, some Shanghai dishes I have not seen elsewhere in LA. The menus are vivid in color. But for me, the real perk is what they let you get away with if you eat in the private room.

                3 Replies
                1. re: andrew_eats
                  Ciao Bob Sep 11, 2012 08:43 AM

                  <<what they let you get away with if you eat in the private room>>
                  And that would be what, andrew_eats?
                  Smoking? That used to be a major "perk" for Chinese high-rollers in private rooms but these days, not-so-much. Working gals? Maybe my Eastern pals are all growing up but the vice-list is not what it once was. Sigh.

                  1. re: Ciao Bob
                    ipsedixit Sep 11, 2012 10:26 AM

                    BYOSF ...

                  2. re: andrew_eats
                    o
                    odub Sep 11, 2012 09:48 PM

                    "what they let you get away with if you eat in the private room"

                    I smell a whale meat undercover investigation in 3...2...1...

                  3. liu Jun 30, 2012 09:55 PM

                    This morning we had THE BEST egg tartlets I have ever had...and I promise I have tried them in lots of places in search for the perfect one. The egg tarts at Shanghai #1 are extraordinary!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: liu
                      liu Sep 15, 2012 08:02 PM

                      ...and once AGAIN this morning we had THE BEST egg tartlets at Shanghai #1.
                      They are toasty and crispy on the outside with a heavenly custard inside...and they are served warm.

                      I challenge anyone to find better!

                    2. a
                      AlkieGourmand Jun 10, 2012 06:15 PM

                      I recommend this restaurant. Everything I've had there has been good. I'd say it's my favorite Shanghai style restaurant in the SGV.

                      1. Porthos Jun 10, 2012 03:01 PM

                        Took one for the team today at lunch. I'd rank it good to very good with a couple of excellents. The decor I didn't mind too much and even kind of liked it after a while. The chandeliers were a bit silly but I'm not going to dock the place for having "nice" decor.

                        We had: Shen Jian Bao (pan fried buns). Excellent. Blows away my previous favorite at Dean Sin World. Not quite as amazing as Yang's in Shanghai but much more similar than other versions here in LA. Nice crispy browned bottom with plenty of juice in the bun. The dough is thicker than Yang's but about on par with Dean Sin World. $2.99 for 3 huge buns. I'd say a must for this place.

                        XLB: Also excellent. The wrapper is thicker than Din Tai Fung but not was thick and spongy as the ones at Dean Sin World. Also $2.99. I would also re-order.

                        Lions head (pork meatballs in clear broth). Outstanding. The picture showed it with crab roe. There is no crab roe. And I might even have been upset if the meatball wasn't so amazing tender. The meat is not ground meat but hand chopped pieces of meat which gives it a different texture and flavor. Plenty of fat and clean fat/pork flavor in this. A superior version of lion's head. I would order this again.

                        Dungeness crab sauteed with rice cake. Good. Rice cake is not as chewy as the one at Din Tai Fung
                        but also not has heavy and greasy. Will probably try a different crab prep next time.

                        Loofa squash with wood ear mushrooms in chicken broth. Okay. Probably would not order again.

                        Fish head soup. We got it medium spicy. Should have probably ordered very spicy. The broth was okay to good. The bean sheet noodles in the broth were excellent.

                        Also got the steamed chicken in soy sauce which was also okay-good. Also would probably try something else next time.

                        Asked about the "Sanli Soup for Elder People" and was told it would not be available until later this afternoon about 4pm due to the slow simmering process. The seafood one is not available now or later. Bummer. No wonder it was listed as a steal at $17 per order. There are some other ones I would definitely order though (eg. duck with bamboo shoots)

                        Overall, definitely get the shen jian bao, XLB, and lion's head soup. The menu is interesting enough that I would come back for dinner to try the "Sanli Soup for Elder People". Maybe a steamed fish prep of some sort also since it looked very good at a table next to ours.

                        Of note, ordering off the menu at lunch gets you seated faster in a separate room as compared to dim sum only. Very authentic based on similar experiences in Shanghai recently. Reservations for lunch ordering off the menu is also allowed.

                        60 Replies
                        1. re: Porthos
                          g
                          granadafan Jun 10, 2012 03:25 PM

                          Great review, portos .

                          1. re: Porthos
                            Ciao Bob Jun 11, 2012 10:08 AM

                            I LOVE good Lion's Head meatballs, for that alone I would go back. Bean sheet noodles too.

                            1. re: Ciao Bob
                              Mr Taster Aug 31, 2012 11:22 AM

                              I'd go back, Bob. We went last night for the first time. Mostly loved it. The shengjianbao were, as everyone has said, spectacular. I've never tasted SJB as perfect as this, in LA or in Asia. The dough was so light and tender, steamy on the top, crispy on the bottom. Aesthetically perfect-- dark brown on the bottom, gently fading to a light beige up the side of the bun about a centimeter. A dusting of sesame seeds both on the top and the bottom. It looked better than the catalogue photo. And SO juicy... seriously, the savoriest, juiciest SJB I've had anywhere in LA. Perhaps I've been unlucky-- but I find that the soup tends to be absorbed back into the interior of the bun, and sometimes the soup is sweetened, making the bread sweet too. That was certainly not the case here, where I even had a small geyser of hot soup free itself from its doughy constraints and leap freely across the table, scalding one of my dining companions. Perfect.

                              Nothing else reached that level of excellence, but we did have several very good dishes, and a few not so good.

                              The Japanese eggplant with chili and sliced garlic was delicious, flavorful, but sadly overcooked. Mushy. Now if a chef were to make an error with eggplant, I prefer overcooked to under-- few things make me sadder than a crunchy eggplant-- but this was way gone in the wrong direction. It might have succeeded as a Shanghainese proto-babaghanoush or a crostini topper. The Cousin It-like three strings dish was pretty amazing to behold, but the shreds of chicken were also sadly overcooked, dry as sandpaper. The light soup couldn't redeem this. These were the lowlights of the meal.

                              Thankfully, there were a whole lot of standouts.

                              Broad beans w/ scallions-- super! Perfectly cooked, sweet and creamy on the inside, tender-firm on the outside. Jellyfish in old vinegar-- if you like this texture (very crunchy), it's quite good. These are slices of jellyfish (not julienned strings) layered on top of cucumbers marinated in sweet vinegar. Really nice, fresh, acidic. Shanghai smoked fish- wonderful! Smoked and glazed, caramelized exterior and soft, tender interior. Xiao long bao-- unfortunately they got to me after they had cooled down and solidified a bit, so I'll need to revisit this at another time. Nice flavor, without the sweetness in the broth that sort of puts me off some preparations. Mushrooms wrapped in crispy tofu skin-- for the vegetarian in our group. Pretty nice. Old Alley Pork- what a dramatic presentation. Beautifully shellacked cubed pork (belly?) with tofu skin knots and boiled eggs slathered in a not-too-sweet clay pot/red cook style sauce. Dense, chewy, but tender. Stone pot fried rice-- a dish to lighten up the heaviness of the other dishes, and it did that admirably. Light and fresh. Clay pot chicken w/ chestnuts-- I'm used to the odd hacked up bits of chicken in Chinese preparations, but this one was so irregularly chopped that in the 3-4 pieces of chicken I grabbed, I barely managed any meat at all. The chestnuts in the red cook sauce were tasty, if a bit dry. This is probably a dish I wouldn't order again-- I much prefer the version at Giang Nan.

                              Did we order more? Maybe. I didn't take notes. The total bill (with tip) for seven people came out to about $140, or $20 per person. Tons to take home. Then off to Pa Pa Walk across the street for dessert (mango snowy, cappuccino snowy, and brown sugar shaved ice with pudding, lychee, red bean, condensed milk and coconut jelly.)

                              As for the decor, anyone who has read my Chowhound posts consistently over lo these many years knows that style is of little interest to me, but it was amusing to be enveloped in this bordello-kitsch-fantasy. Obviously cheap wooden chairs spraypainted silver. Diamonelle buttons tamping down the stuffed black velvet backed chairs (my chair was missing a button, with the brown thread that once held it in dangling sadly down the back, like a tear running down an Indian's cheek.) Plastic chandeliers with some lights burned out, lampshades irregularly cocked to one side or another. But if you don't look too closely and squint your eyes, you can believe you're in Oz. It was actually fun to be in that kind of environment (as opposed to the sticky tables w/ formica that I usually frequent) but it does make me wonder if anyone goes to this place actually thinking they're getting Shanghai #1 Genuine Fancy™. The gorgeous glossy string-bound menu certainly does a lot to cement this fantasy.

                              (Look for the photo of the happy smiling duck with some kind of jujube in his mouth.)

                              Mr Taster

                              1. re: Mr Taster
                                Ciao Bob Aug 31, 2012 03:53 PM

                                High praise indeed, Taster, thanks.
                                I have heard from others that is has lived up to its potential in many -- but not all -- ways and I really ought to go back. It was just so dreadful the time I went that I have been unable to bring myself to do it.

                                1. re: Mr Taster
                                  Porthos Aug 31, 2012 04:00 PM

                                  The shengjianbao were, as everyone has said, spectacular. I've never tasted SJB as perfect as this, in LA or in Asia
                                  ========================
                                  Try Yang's the next time you're in Shanghai-- thinner bun, almost XLB-like, more juice.

                                  This the second only to that in my experience and I agree, easily #1 in LA. It's not even close.

                                  1. re: Porthos
                                    o
                                    odub Sep 3, 2012 10:23 PM

                                    re: Yang's.

                                    They were my intro to SJB; literally around the corner from where my parents live in Shanghai (at least, they used to be until the city razed that entire block and relocated the restaurants).

                                    But when I would rave about Yang's to my friends who were locals, they basically spoke about it with the same tone that I reserve for talking about DTF in Arcadia: "eh, it's fine but way overrated." If you're planning a trip back to Shanghai any time soon, holler and I'll ask my peoples there what their latest favorite spot is. I haven't been in a few years but the best I had at the time was this spot in the Jiang'an area.

                                    Anyways: I thought the SJB at Shanghai #1 was the solid. Best I had in LA which isn't saying much but certainly the best I've had this side of the Pacific.

                                    1. re: odub
                                      Porthos Sep 4, 2012 10:14 AM

                                      We got that from the cab driver also but it was packed to the gills with Chinese people, plenty of them Shanghainese. It's pretty damn delicious. If they have tons of other places like it, more power to them.

                                      1. re: Porthos
                                        o
                                        odub Sep 4, 2012 11:40 PM

                                        Yeah, I'm not saying Yang's is wack. I still ride for them though they need to go easier on the scalding oil. But my point was that Yang's reputation makes for funny parallels with certain spots in LA. Yang's, to the Shanghainese, seems to inspires Daikokuya-esque debates.

                                        But for real, if they opened a Yang's on Valley, it'd be game over. I'd roll.

                                      2. re: odub
                                        Mr Taster Sep 4, 2012 10:55 AM

                                        This month's issue of AAA's Westways magazine has a piece about "being a traveler, not a tourist", and they use the original Din Tai Fung in Taipei as an example of "eating like a local". I had to laugh at that.

                                        http://www.calif.aaa.com/westways/201...

                                        Mr Taster

                                        1. re: Mr Taster
                                          Porthos Sep 4, 2012 11:32 AM

                                          Last I heard, locals still line up for DTF Taiwan.

                                          1. re: Porthos
                                            Mr Taster Sep 4, 2012 11:38 AM

                                            Not my in-laws. And during my visit there were a helluva lot more laowai than you see at your typical xiaolongbao vendor! Lots of Japanese tourists as well.

                                            Mr Taster

                                            1. re: Mr Taster
                                              ipsedixit Sep 4, 2012 11:41 AM

                                              It's definitely a tourist attraction. There are better and definitely cheaper places for XLB, chicken soup, dumplings etc. in Taipei.

                                              1. re: Mr Taster
                                                Porthos Sep 4, 2012 11:59 AM

                                                There are a helluva lot more non Chinese people at Sea Harbour, Elite, Mei Long Village, etc. vs places in Rowland Heights and non board favorites in SGV. Does that make them less good than those other restaurants?

                                                Sometimes tourists attractions can still be excellent (eg. Yang's, La Campagna, Katz's Deli).

                                                Sometimes tourist attractions are traps (eg. Nanxiang Mantou).

                                                1. re: Porthos
                                                  ipsedixit Sep 4, 2012 02:15 PM

                                                  There are a helluva lot more non Chinese people at Sea Harbour, Elite, Mei Long Village, etc. vs places in Rowland Heights and non board favorites in SGV.
                                                  ++++++++++++++++++++++++++

                                                  No not really.

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                                    PeterCC Sep 4, 2012 02:28 PM

                                                    I saw a not insignificat number of non-Chinese patrons at Elite when I went last month (more than I remember seeing at Sea Harbour last time I was there, though it was a long time ago). It makes sense that if a place is recommended by J. Gold or rated high on an English-language board like CH, that it would garner the attention of more non-Chinese. Obviously, the non-Chinese will not outnumber the Chinese at those places, just as they still don't at DTF...

                                                    1. re: PeterCC
                                                      Mr Taster Sep 4, 2012 02:47 PM

                                                      I think its significant to note that the last time I compared prices (in 2006), Din Tai Fung's xiaolongbao cost $8 USD in Arcadia, and $8 USD in Taipei. In Taiwan things generally cost 1/4-1/3 of the price they do in the US. A tray of 6-8 xiaolongbao at a street vendor in my wife's village cost less than $2. So for local people to pay $8 at Din Tai Fung.... it's like us paying $30 for a tray of xiaolongbao. Maybe for Taipei's nouveau riche and their kids, a meal at Din Tai Fung is a show of wealth, guanxi, etc. But it's not a typical place where the average Taiwanese person would go to eat xiaolongbao. That's why it's not unreasonable to expect to see a very large number of western people and Japanese patrons, where the Yen, Euro and Dollar make this "luxury" insignificant. In local salaries paid in TWD, and relative to comparable dishes, this is very expensive.

                                                      Mr Taster
                                                      N.B. Din Tai Fung in Beijing was the least expensive at $5 USD per tray.

                                                      1. re: Mr Taster
                                                        PeterCC Sep 4, 2012 02:57 PM

                                                        I think you're saying DTF in Taipei? To clarify, I meant DTF in Arcadia, above. While there is a plethora of places to get XLB in SGV, the availability is I'm sure dwarfed by the availability in Taipei, so it'd make sense for DTF in Taipei to have a primarily non-Chinese clientele.

                                                        The several times I've been to DTF in Arcadia, I have seen many non-Chinese, mostly in mixed parties, but they were always outnumbered by the Chinese-only parties, and those were not necessarily all young, ABC-types either.

                                                      2. re: PeterCC
                                                        ipsedixit Sep 4, 2012 03:36 PM

                                                        RE non-Chinese clientele at Elite and Sea Harbour

                                                        I don't get to Elite very much, but anytime I go to Sea Harbour I rarely see non-Chinese folks both for dim sum and dinner service, esp. dinner service. There will always be those "laowai" folks sprinkled throughout the restaurant, but rarely will there be one table with just laowai clientele.

                                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                                          PeterCC Sep 4, 2012 03:46 PM

                                                          I'm not surprised about the lack of laowai at dinner service. And I'm not saying that it was a large number that I saw at Elite, just that it was greater than I'd expect at other dim sum restaurants in SGV that aren't as well covered by the English-speaking community.

                                                          1. re: PeterCC
                                                            ipsedixit Sep 4, 2012 03:50 PM

                                                            I don't want to hijack this thread, but I'm always curious why non-Chinese clientele never frequent Hong Kong dim sum places for dinner -- esp. when dinner is so much better than dim sum.

                                                            1. re: ipsedixit
                                                              raytamsgv Sep 4, 2012 04:02 PM

                                                              Dim sum is cool as easy to say: "Let's do dim sum". A well-prepared, multi-course dinner is more difficult to plan than dim sum.

                                                              Finally, such a dinner doesn't lend itself to a convenient, two-syllable, transliterated phrase in English.

                                                              1. re: raytamsgv
                                                                ipsedixit Sep 4, 2012 04:04 PM

                                                                Finally, such a dinner doesn't lend itself to a convenient, two-syllable, transliterated phrase in English.
                                                                ____________________________

                                                                "Din - ner"

                                                                :-)

                                                              2. re: ipsedixit
                                                                PeterCC Sep 4, 2012 04:07 PM

                                                                I'll hijack away. :-) I think dim sum is more accessible for non-Chinese. They can take the culinary (and financial) risk of trying fong zua or niu bai ye for a few bucks knowing if they don't like it, they still have cha sao bao and dan ta to fall back on. Many dim sum menus are available with pictures and descriptions that are lacking in the dinner menus, making it less intimidating.

                                                                Sure, there are "safe" things to order at those restaurants for dinner too, but why go to a place and not order what they're known for. Also, not every place has a coffee-table book for a dinner menu with detailed descriptions of the dishes. And the "risk" of committing to a whole steamed fish or crab or whatever is greater. The perception may be that it's more intimidating.

                                                                It might also be self-perpetuating. I'd be more incline to bring a non-Chinese friend who hasn't had a lot of experience with authentic Chinese cuisine to have dim sum for the above reasons, rather than a full-on Hong Kong seafood dinner.

                                                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                  TonyC Sep 4, 2012 04:13 PM

                                                                  Dimsum is both Hollywood and hipster cool. Cantonese dinner is not.

                                                                  Perhaps it's only ok to visit the dingy SGV during sunlight hours? Who wants to be caught dead in Rosemead at 8pm on a Wednesday? Not Ryan Gosling. Jitlada is OK though.

                                                                  1. re: TonyC
                                                                    ipsedixit Sep 4, 2012 04:19 PM

                                                                    Joachim Splichal has been known to frequent SGV digs after sunset.

                                                                    Is he as cool as Gosling? Cooler because "Drive" kind of sucked.

                                                                    1. re: TonyC
                                                                      PeterCC Sep 4, 2012 04:24 PM

                                                                      You take that back about Ryan Gosling! He's dreamy!

                                                                      1. re: TonyC
                                                                        n
                                                                        ns1 Sep 4, 2012 06:06 PM

                                                                        "Dimsum is both Hollywood and hipster cool. Cantonese dinner is not."

                                                                        this 100%

                                                                      2. re: ipsedixit
                                                                        K K Sep 4, 2012 04:31 PM

                                                                        "I don't want to hijack this thread, but I'm always curious why non-Chinese clientele never frequent Hong Kong dim sum places for dinner -- esp. when dinner is so much better than dim sum."

                                                                        1) You need a large number of people to be able to order multiple dishes and appreciate a wide range of cooking styles/best items. Portions are always designed for sharing. While 2 to 3 people can get 4 dishes and take home leftovers, it's not quite the same level of enjoyment.

                                                                        2) Ordering at random may cause mixed results.

                                                                        3) It requires someone with a good knowledge of Cantonese food beyond dim sum and HK cafes (plus understanding the restaurant's strengths, and/or developing a relationship with management and the chefs) to get the ultimate best experience, and without resorting to ordering shark fin, abalone, fish maw, sea cucumber. With ordering live seafood off the tanks, one needs to estimate how much the table really needs. Do 5 people really need a 3+ pound lobster? Does the restaurant know how to prepare such a big lobster properly?

                                                                        4) A typical Cantonese seafood restaurant's menu is too broad and wide and scares off many not familiar with the cuisine styles.

                                                                        1. re: K K
                                                                          Ciao Bob Sep 4, 2012 04:49 PM

                                                                          One could say (nearly all of) that about a small plates joint like Gjelina.

                                                                          1. re: Ciao Bob
                                                                            ipsedixit Sep 4, 2012 04:58 PM

                                                                            ... and the same could be said of dim sum.

                                                                            For example:

                                                                            1. The larger the number of people, the more dishes one can order and experiment with at dim sum.

                                                                            2. Ordering randomly at dim sum (heck, any restaurant) can produce mixed results.

                                                                            3. A good understanding of the cuisine will also benefit the dim sum experience. From what tea to order, to what is that bamboo covered leafy thing ...

                                                                            4. Dim sum menus can be extensive, esp. when ordering off the menu. And cart-style dim sum joints can be just as byzantine esp. when the carts do not make the rounds to all the tables.

                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                              PeterCC Sep 4, 2012 05:20 PM

                                                                              Which goes back to the financial commitment aspect I mentioned elsewhere... Trying dishes at dim sum is more affordable of a risk than either a Hong Kong seafood dinner or dinner at Gjelina. :-)

                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                K K Sep 4, 2012 06:41 PM

                                                                                Well dim sum is a much cheaper endeavor, with entrees and steamers ranging from $3 ish to $7 or 8. If one isn't a greedy hog, it's possible to sample a lot and be full within $30 or less.

                                                                                On the other hand during dinner service, the sky can be the limit for dinner entrees depending on what you order (definitely with those crazy dried seafood items), with high end seafood restaurants averaging the mid to high teens or higher for a simple plate of stir fry. The cost of dinner per person could start at a minimum of $50 and perhaps go even higher. Throw in a whole roasted cripsy skin suckling pig, some dried abalone, some crazy lobster preparation, $30+ / lb geoduck sashimi fest, and you can be well into the 3 digits.

                                                                                And honestly, it does not take a lot to quickly become a "hipster" dim sum expert. The amount of knowledge one needs to accrue and understand to become a Cantonese food gourmet, is a lot higher. This is especially true for those who not just eat the seasons, but know exactly what type of dishes to order during wintertime (e.g. lamb brisket claypot, glutinous rice dishes, snake soup etc).

                                                                          2. re: ipsedixit
                                                                            b
                                                                            bulavinaka Sep 4, 2012 05:27 PM

                                                                            >>...but I'm always curious why non-Chinese clientele never frequent Hong Kong dim sum places for dinner -- esp. when dinner is so much better than dim sum.<<

                                                                            For me personally, it's traffic. Coming in from the Westside for dinner in SGV is tough. We do it on special occasions or when we can get an early start. Timing traffic r.e. dim sum is much easier on any given day for us.

                                                                            1. re: bulavinaka
                                                                              ipsedixit Sep 4, 2012 07:50 PM

                                                                              For me personally, it's traffic. Coming in from the Westside for dinner in SGV is tough. We do it on special occasions or when we can get an early start. Timing traffic r.e. dim sum is much easier on any given day for us.
                                                                              _____________

                                                                              That, I can understand.

                                                                        2. re: ipsedixit
                                                                          e
                                                                          Ernie Sep 4, 2012 04:16 PM

                                                                          If Elite was in China, the non-Chinese would be "laowai." However, since Elite is in the US, that makes them the "laowai" now

                                                                          1. re: Ernie
                                                                            PeterCC Sep 4, 2012 04:23 PM

                                                                            I think I know what you mean, except the "them" in the second sentence seems still to refer to the non-Chinese...

                                                                            My parents have lived in the States for nearly three decades and still refer to non-Chinese as waiguoren. I think it's a losing battle to try to convince Chinese people who adhere to that usage to change at this point... :-)

                                                                            1. re: PeterCC
                                                                              e
                                                                              Ernie Sep 4, 2012 04:23 PM

                                                                              My family has been in the area for several generations and I do not appreciate being called a foreigner in my own country.

                                                                              1. re: Ernie
                                                                                Mr Taster Sep 4, 2012 05:06 PM

                                                                                But let's face it, Ernie. In much of the San Gabriel Valley if you're not Chinese then, for all practical purposes, you *are* a foreigner.

                                                                                I for one find it thrilling, and a privilege to be able to have this kind of experience without having to fly 7,000 miles for it.

                                                                                Mr Taster

                                                                                1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                  e
                                                                                  Ernie Sep 4, 2012 05:23 PM

                                                                                  Face what? Until this is country is renamed "China," I am not the foreigner. Sorry.

                                                                                  1. re: Ernie
                                                                                    PeterCC Sep 4, 2012 05:32 PM

                                                                                    At least for my parents, the term waiguoren (they don't use "laowai" at least not that I've heard) is used just to mean non-Chinese people, not specifically foreigner as in "from a country other than the current location". It's "zhongguoren" (if someone's Chinese) and "waiguoren" (if someone's non-Chinese, unless it's known what country they're from). It is Sino-centric but we're talking about a culture that named its territory the Middle Kingdom.

                                                                                    Edit: To clarify, I dont necessarily agree with the usage, and my parents don't actually use the term very much anyway, but I figure I'd explain what they mean when they do use "waiguoren".

                                                                                    1. re: PeterCC
                                                                                      o
                                                                                      odub Sep 4, 2012 11:37 PM

                                                                                      What Peter said. I never understood the use of waigouren to have the same meaning as "foreigner" in American English. As he notes, the Sino-centrism of the term doesn't have the same nationalistic slant captured in the American native/foreigner dichotomy. I mean, there's a lot more insulting terms in Mandarin ;)

                                                                                      1. re: odub
                                                                                        e
                                                                                        Ernie Sep 5, 2012 08:25 AM

                                                                                        When I plug in "waiguoren" into Google Translate it says "foreigner"

                                                                                        Either way, I have come to expect the rude behavior so no surprises

                                                                                        1. re: Ernie
                                                                                          o
                                                                                          odub Sep 5, 2012 08:51 AM

                                                                                          Ha, no disagreement on the last point.

                                                                                          1. re: Ernie
                                                                                            Mr Taster Sep 5, 2012 09:52 AM

                                                                                            Welcome to China, Ernie. Please, enjoy the food-- it wouldn't taste the same without the culture so closely backing it up. For evidence of this, go to virtually any Chinese restaurant on the Westside. When non-Chinese culture dominates, you get non-Chinese food. One simply cannot cherry pick what one likes from a culture. It's an all-or-nothing proposition.

                                                                                            Mr Taster

                                                                    2. re: Mr Taster
                                                                      o
                                                                      odub Sep 4, 2012 11:42 PM

                                                                      All true but I know people who will defend DTF Taipei but won't do the same for DTF Arcadia. Always been curious if the food is really that different between them.

                                                                    3. re: Porthos
                                                                      K K Sep 4, 2012 04:17 PM

                                                                      Last two times I walked by DTF Taipei flagship store, the entrance was filled with Hong Kongers, the Cantonese was so thick you could cut it with a ha gow.

                                                                      1. re: K K
                                                                        ipsedixit Sep 4, 2012 04:23 PM

                                                                        ... the Cantonese was so thick you could cut it with a ha gow.
                                                                        ____________________

                                                                        Love it. Although I think a 鳳爪 would be a better cutting device.

                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                          PeterCC Sep 4, 2012 04:29 PM

                                                                          Sorry, this reminds me of an exchange from the cinematic masterpiece that was Kevin Costner's Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves:

                                                                          Sheriff of Nottingham: Locksley. I'll cut your heart out with a spoon.
                                                                          Robin Hood: Then it begins.
                                                                          [Later...]
                                                                          Guy of Gisborne: Why a spoon, cousin? Why not an axe?
                                                                          Sheriff of Nottingham: Because it's DULL, you twit. It'll hurt more.

                                                                          1. re: PeterCC
                                                                            K K Sep 4, 2012 11:15 PM

                                                                            I was thinking more about Robin Hood: Men in Tights. "From now on, all toilets will be named JOHN!".

                                                                            I picked ha gow because that is the pinnacle of all dim sum items amongst hard core Canto expats who really are into their dim sum (even the classic die hards). It's the representative dumpling, and regarded as king. Plus ha gow predates the birth of phoenix talons in yum cha by at least 40 years.

                                                                            Kind of like the representative item in sushi that has the most well known status is arguably maguro (or more so bluefin).

                                                                            I suppose tossing a phoenix talon at the entrance of DTF serves a better purpose of mockery, versus lobbing a traditional juicy delicious ha gow where everyone will fight to hug the grenade like Steve Rogers in Captain America to prove his worthiness.

                                                                            What I find a bit baffling is that Cantonese dim sum is the focus during lunch of a
                                                                            predominately Shanghainese/Ningbo/Hangzhou themed restaurant, as opposed to doing some potentially fantastic small plates and Northern style dien xin in a more refined upscale manner. Maybe that's payback for Cantonese seafood themed restaurants trying to do shoddy XLB and Peking Ducks masking as Canto roast ducks minus the air pumping and drying and molasses splash. Or perhaps they're trying to emulate Silks at National Palace Museum in Taipei (crazy pretty high end Northern banquet during dinner, and Canto style dim sum lunch).

                                                                          2. re: ipsedixit
                                                                            Tripeler Sep 4, 2012 09:12 PM

                                                                            Besides, a good ha gow is nowhere near hard enough to cut anything. I'd go with the 鳳爪.

                                                                            1. re: Tripeler
                                                                              ipsedixit Sep 4, 2012 09:22 PM

                                                                              Love the Avatar!

                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                Tripeler Sep 4, 2012 09:25 PM

                                                                                Thanks, Ipse.
                                                                                Can you identify the dish?

                                                                                1. re: Tripeler
                                                                                  PeterCC Sep 4, 2012 09:31 PM

                                                                                  Looks like rice balls in soup. Can't tell what kind of soup though.

                                                                                  1. re: PeterCC
                                                                                    Tripeler Sep 4, 2012 09:33 PM

                                                                                    Japanese-style Curry Rice, made for kids.

                                                                                    1. re: Tripeler
                                                                                      ipsedixit Sep 4, 2012 09:38 PM

                                                                                      I would've never guessed.

                                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                        The Chowhound Team Sep 5, 2012 11:00 AM

                                                                                        Folks, all of this, from the debate about why people prefer dim sum to dinner to the proper word to describe non-Chinese patrons of Chinese restaurants is getting very far afield of anything to do with actual food, and we'd ask that people let these conversations go. Thanks.

                                                                2. re: Mr Taster
                                                                  n
                                                                  number9 Sep 10, 2012 05:26 PM

                                                                  the japanese pickled eggplant is not to be missed.

                                                                  1. re: number9
                                                                    Tripeler Sep 11, 2012 04:46 AM

                                                                    Actually, ANY kind of Japanese eggplant is hard to miss, it is usually so delicious.

                                                              3. re: Porthos
                                                                o
                                                                odub Sep 5, 2012 12:01 AM

                                                                We had friends visiting tonight - they're from L.A. but moved away a few years ago and they wanted to go for Chinese so I floated out a few options, including Shanghai No. 1. They seemed into it and with this thread fresh in mind, off we went.

                                                                It was four adults, three kids and I admit: we waaaay over-ordered. Partially it's because the first time I went, about six months ago, I remember the serving sizes being smaller but everything was pretty generously sized this time around. Either they changed their portion size or I just have a poor memory.
                                                                We ordered a ridiculous amount of food for two families. I think we have enough leftovers for both of us to have a second meal (which actually made the final bill, $200 w/ tip and 3 beers, rather reasonable, all said).

                                                                Ok, so here's the dish-by-dish breakdown:

                                                                Braised pork in brown sauce: Good though I thought the pork wasn't as tender as when we came the last time. This is a hard dish to mess up though and while it wasn't as good as I thought it could be...it's still pretty damn good. However, between this and the pork trotter, we didn't need both dishes. I would have left this off in favor of the trotter. B+

                                                                Claypot chicken w/ chestnuts: May be a bit too bony for some. Good dish but flavor-wise, is similar to the sweetness of the braised pork. I wouldn't order it again, simply to avoid redundancy in flavors. B

                                                                Pickled fresh cucumber: simple dish but done really well. A staple. A-

                                                                Preserved pig ears: I got this on a whim and liked it a lot. They serve is several different ways - there's some thin sliced, all-meat-no-cartilage pieces of ear which were mild but delicious. Then they have the more "ear-y" parts of the ear but maybe the cartilage was turned soft but there was no "crunch" that you might expect. These parts were also a bit "stronger" in flavor. More of an acquired taste. But a good appetizer dish and it's kind of a gargantuan serving. B+

                                                                Braised grouper in hot bean paste: I got this mostly because I had this great Cantonese style grouper dish when I was in Malaysia in July and had been fiending for some grouper again. Loved loved loved this dish. Grouper is such a great fish, the flesh being right between Atlantic cod and black cod in terms of firmness. And the spicy-ness was enough to give it some edge but it wasn't over the top. I'd order this again in a heartbeat. The serving size is also gargantuan. Massive. A.

                                                                Stir-fried French beans: My daughter eats these like candy. They're ok here but nothing to write home about. B

                                                                Stewed special pork trotter with brown sauce: Pork pump? I thought trotter is feet and this didn't resemble feet at all. Looked more like a pork shoulder. Either way: fatty, moist and delicious. Like I said, I'd take this over the No. 2 braised pork. A-

                                                                SJB: Yup, still as good as I remember it. Not too much liquid inside and the skin is just the right balance between thin/thick-ness. It's not as good as what I've had in Shanghai but it's also a lot closer than flying to Puxi. A-

                                                                Xlb: As good as I remember but wasn't mindblowing. B

                                                                Sautéed rice cakes: Another one of my daughter's favorites. It's fine here but the prep seems quite perfunctory. Nothing special. B-

                                                                Small bean curd in mushroom sauce: Our friends wanted this but I'm off tofu right now and I didn't try it. N/A

                                                                Rice mixed with salted meat in stone pot: I think I was hoping it'd be more like the stone pot rice at May Mei. It wasn't. Pretty underwhelming. C+

                                                                The food came fast: too fast. Considering we were *the only people there* you think they could have fired the dishes in better order (they brought out the heaviest food, first) and more slowly. Provided, we did over order by at least 2-3 dishes, but at one point, there literally was no room for the new dishes. They needed to slow it down a touch, give us some time to run through dishes before overloading the turntable with a dozen plates. B-

                                                                Service was otherwise very solicitous. B+

                                                                Overall experience: A-
                                                                Value: B+

                                                                1. re: odub
                                                                  PeterCC Sep 5, 2012 12:07 AM

                                                                  Great review odub! Thanks for breaking down and grading the dishes.

                                                              4. m
                                                                madcao Jun 7, 2012 11:58 AM

                                                                My friends and I celebrated a birthday last night at Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village. It was my first time there, so I took a printout of Jonathan Gold's review for reference.

                                                                The restaurant's decor was hilarious -- I admit I enjoyed sitting in our private room with the silver chairs and giant chandeliers. The waiters were helpful, though only one guy seemed to be able to speak English. I mostly pointed at photos in the giant menu, which they didn't have many of and were stingy about giving out.

                                                                Favorites for me were the Old Alley pork belly and marinated jellyfish. The jellyfish was super crunchy and very different from what I've had previously at other restaurants. Everyone also enjoyed the double tubes of squid as well as the boiled pea sprouts which I ordered with garlic instead of with the usual porridge water. They were out of XLB, but the Old Shanghai fried dumplings were great. We had so many dishes and so much birthday rowdiness I didn't really get a chance to sit down and process everything I was eating, but those were a few highlights.

                                                                I took photos of every item on the menu and uploaded the PDF here:
                                                                http://www.scribd.com/doc/96321243

                                                                I figure if you haven't been there, you might want to take a look at this massive menu before you arrive. :)

                                                                16 Replies
                                                                1. re: madcao
                                                                  j
                                                                  Johnny L Jun 7, 2012 02:45 PM

                                                                  Wow that menu is massive.

                                                                  1. re: madcao
                                                                    raytamsgv Jun 7, 2012 09:00 PM

                                                                    That's a probably the best-looking menu I've ever seen from a Chinese restaurant. It's interesting that it's mostly in traditional Chinese characters with a few simplified characters thrown in the mix.

                                                                    1. re: raytamsgv
                                                                      ipsedixit Jun 7, 2012 09:11 PM

                                                                      My mom said it reminded her of a Chinese cookbook.

                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                        PeterCC Jun 8, 2012 01:12 AM

                                                                        It too reminds me of Chinese cookbooks that my mom owned when I was little.

                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                          TonyC Jun 8, 2012 08:58 AM

                                                                          I'm going to go this weekend and just pose with the menu. Maybe the chefs will sign it? And I can buy it as souvenir? That's a pretty Chinese tourist thing to do, right?

                                                                          1. re: TonyC
                                                                            Porthos Jun 8, 2012 09:45 AM

                                                                            TonyC, have you tried it? What dishes did you not like there?

                                                                            1. re: Porthos
                                                                              TonyC Jun 8, 2012 10:05 AM

                                                                              Have not attempted. Don't own any Hermes/Gucci/LV, so I'm clearly not their target clientele. Afraid of feeling outta place.

                                                                              1. re: TonyC
                                                                                Porthos Jun 8, 2012 11:07 AM

                                                                                Interesting.

                                                                                I don't own any of those brands either.

                                                                                1. re: TonyC
                                                                                  K K Jun 8, 2012 11:59 AM

                                                                                  If you dress like Brother Shum , the gangster from Kung Fu Hustle, with a girl in each arm dressed up like Maggie Cheung exactly like her character in "In The Mood For Love" you probably won't need the Hermes/Gucci/LV and might even fit in.

                                                                        2. re: madcao
                                                                          Porthos Jun 7, 2012 09:23 PM

                                                                          Excellent looking photos of the menu. I wasn't going to try this placed based on some of the above comments. Looking through the menu though, there are definitely some soups and crab dishes that I want to try.

                                                                          Reminds me of the massive menu at Da Dong in Beijing.

                                                                          1. re: Porthos
                                                                            Ciao Bob Jun 8, 2012 09:40 AM

                                                                            It sucked big time when I went a few months ago.

                                                                            1. re: Ciao Bob
                                                                              Porthos Jun 8, 2012 09:45 AM

                                                                              Dinner or dim sum? I don't intend on ordering dim sum. Some of the more interesting dinner items are tempting me though....

                                                                              1. re: Porthos
                                                                                Ciao Bob Jun 8, 2012 09:48 AM

                                                                                Dinner - see my previous review.
                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/824017
                                                                                FWIW, I have heard it is better since opening.

                                                                                1. re: Ciao Bob
                                                                                  Porthos Jun 8, 2012 09:51 AM

                                                                                  I'll take one for the team this weekend.

                                                                                  1. re: Porthos
                                                                                    Ciao Bob Jun 8, 2012 09:56 AM

                                                                                    I look forward to your impressions.
                                                                                    .

                                                                                    1. re: Porthos
                                                                                      m
                                                                                      madcao Jun 8, 2012 01:03 PM

                                                                                      I look forward to your thoughts!

                                                                                      Please note there is an entire section of the menu called "Sanli Soup for Elder People" which I thought was amazing. :) I didn't take photos of every single page on the menu as it was so extensive -- I just quickly shot the pages with the menu items. There are lots of pages that I couldn't read as they were all in Chinese. This is my favorite menu ever, even if it's just for the entertainment value.

                                                                          2. l
                                                                            lileor Dec 31, 2011 03:45 PM

                                                                            Went for lunch today around 11:30. No wait and plenty of parking underground. They sat our party of 3 at one of quasi-booths with the leather sofas and we asked to be moved to a table with chairs since it wasn't very comfortable.

                                                                            We had the scallop cheung fun, ha gow, fung jow, chiu chow fun gor, XLB, beef tripe, and po tat (my mom says it's called po tat b/c it's the Macau/Portuguese stye). I actually thought the skin on the ha gow and fun gor was nice, maybe they've improved it since dragonanna's visit. Overall, everything was tasty and came out at a good temperature. My favorites were the fun gor (great filling with whole peanuts) and the po tat (super flaky shell and the egginess was right on). The mini pineapple chicken buns (bo lo bao) looked very interesting, will need to have those on my next visit.

                                                                            Having the separate rooms really does cut down on the noise and it was nice to have a conversation at dim sum using our normal speaking voices :)

                                                                            1. TonyC Dec 28, 2011 11:03 AM

                                                                              Not sure I comprehend the logic behind the question-cum-proclamation.

                                                                              Shanghai #1 is great because it's a Shanghainese restauarant serving good Cantonese dimsum? And because Lunasia sent them a well-wish tree?

                                                                              From the other posts here, it seems Shanghai Seafood Village is only #1 when it comes to the amount of $ invested in interior decoration and menu photos? Give this place 2 years before the Chinese bankers pull up their stakes. Then again, Face Cafe is somehow still there...

                                                                              25 Replies
                                                                              1. re: TonyC
                                                                                ipsedixit Dec 28, 2011 11:12 AM

                                                                                I looked up their bill of lading for their interior decorations. Mucho mucho $$$.

                                                                                Lots of stuff directly from Hong Kong, even pedestrian things like tables. Go figure.

                                                                                This place sort of reminds me of Kitchen, folded several years ago in the location where Gourmet Island currently resides on Valley Blvd.

                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                  TonyC Dec 28, 2011 11:43 AM

                                                                                  Good sleuthing ips. Didn't even think of looking at that. I only see 1 exporter in Shanghai? 2 containers consigned to the restaurant, but addressed to a furniture importer in S. El Monte, as early as July, presumably for storage until the restaurant opened.

                                                                                  Just like Shaanxi Gourmet, Shanghai No 1 also imported the worker's uniforms from Shanghai...

                                                                                  Speaking of the "best" -- what's everyone fave new Chinese restaurant opening in 2011?

                                                                                  Shaanxi Gourmet came to town with guns [read: wallet] drawn, ready to kick ass, and is probably the most significant. But personally, I prefer the flavors at Be Be 2 over any of the inconsequential noodle shuffling that happened this year. With the success of China's Little Fat Sheep, LA's Chinese scene officially went "Third Wave", if you will. When Shaanxi ramps up their full menu, watch out SGV.

                                                                                  1. re: TonyC
                                                                                    Ciao Bob Dec 28, 2011 11:46 AM

                                                                                    Tell me wise-one, what you like at Be Be 2? Maybe I'll check it this weekend.
                                                                                    TIA, Bob

                                                                                    1. re: Ciao Bob
                                                                                      TonyC Dec 29, 2011 09:44 AM

                                                                                      Hehe. wise-one... cute.

                                                                                      You can do a stinky tofu flight at Be Be 2. Stir fried with basil (was on the wall special), steamed, or fried. They wall specials are a helter-skelter look at what "Chinese" fusion can do, when executed thoughtfully. They're applying Taiwanese ingredients/sauces/flavors to prosaic Chinese proteins and veggies. It's fun, at least for me.

                                                                                      On the standard menu, the potages are solid, the oyster pancake was tasty, and the stuffed rice sausge interjected with sweet Chinese sausage was interesting, though if not authentically prepared. Enjoy, and ask for recs. They're mostly nice.

                                                                                    2. re: TonyC
                                                                                      ipsedixit Dec 28, 2011 11:48 AM

                                                                                      I was duly impressed with Shannxi Gourmet during my one visit there.

                                                                                      We'll see. Time will tell, I suppose.

                                                                                      1. re: TonyC
                                                                                        j
                                                                                        JThur01 Dec 29, 2011 08:25 PM

                                                                                        My two fave new restaurants openings for '11, you mentioned...

                                                                                        Shaanxi Gourmet and Be Be. How can one not love a place that stuffs a slice of Taiwanese sausage in pieces of stinky tofu?

                                                                                        1. re: JThur01
                                                                                          TonyC Dec 30, 2011 12:06 PM

                                                                                          Did I just hear an echo in here? ;)

                                                                                          1. re: TonyC
                                                                                            j
                                                                                            JThur01 Dec 30, 2011 04:34 PM

                                                                                            Apparently ;) Believe me, it gets worse...though I DO have independent thought, what do you think? :-)

                                                                                            Back OT, I'll give honorable mention to Taste of Chong Qing.

                                                                                            Overall, it wasn't a very exciting year in the SGV. Some ok places, nothing too exciting or interesting past the two above mentioned restaurants.

                                                                                            1. re: JThur01
                                                                                              j
                                                                                              Johnny L Dec 31, 2011 05:29 PM

                                                                                              Chinese investment is SoCal will only keep rising as more rich folk will want to solidify their apparent "face" in America so I think we will keep seeing interesting new places pop up.

                                                                                    3. re: TonyC
                                                                                      c
                                                                                      Chandavkl Dec 28, 2011 12:47 PM

                                                                                      No, it's really a question which requires community input. Both the dim sum and the decor stand out. Obviously that's not enough for an annointation, but I wanted to alert everybody to the possibility that this might be something special.

                                                                                      1. re: Chandavkl
                                                                                        h
                                                                                        hobbess Dec 29, 2011 01:34 AM

                                                                                        Chandavkl,

                                                                                        Since you've tried so many of the Chinese restaurants in SGV, I'd love to see your list of the upper echelon, your top or favorite 10 Chinese restaurants in LA.

                                                                                        1. re: hobbess
                                                                                          c
                                                                                          Chandavkl Dec 29, 2011 03:23 PM

                                                                                          I agree with everybody else that Sea Harbour and Elite are the top tier of Chinese restaurants. Slightly below them would come King Hua, Lunasia, Happy Harbor (Rowland Heights) and perhaps Mission 261, though I'm not sure about the latter in its re-opened state after their remodel was rebuffed. You may notice those are all dim sum and seafood palaces. After that group it all depends on your specific preference for regional cuisines and specific dishes. My favorites would include Seafood Village, 101 Noodle Express, Qingdao Bread Food and Eight Cafe, but if you asked a dozen other people you'd probably get 48 other restaurants.

                                                                                          1. re: Chandavkl
                                                                                            h
                                                                                            hobbess Dec 29, 2011 07:51 PM

                                                                                            Thank you so much, Chandavkl. I've heard about or tried about half of the restaurants on your list, and probably might have missed the other half if you hadn't just listed them for me. I'm now going to bookmark this thread so I won't lose your top Chinese restaurants in LA.

                                                                                            If you ever venture to Orange County, I'm curious what your top Chinese restaurants in OC would be as well.

                                                                                            1. re: hobbess
                                                                                              ipsedixit Dec 29, 2011 07:57 PM

                                                                                              It's hard to classify a "top 10 Chinese restaurants" -- favorite might be easier.

                                                                                              It's much too hard to classify a top 10 in Chinese restaurants because there are so many subgroups.

                                                                                              For example, best dim sum might be either Sea Harbour or Elite, and best dumpling might be Dean Sin World (or Tastio), but how does one compare Sea Harbour to Dean Sin World? It's almost impossible to do. One is a Cantonese dim sum / seafood joint, and the other is a Beijing dumpling type of place. Who's to say one is better than the other? Impossible to compare. Both are exemplary in their own little niche.

                                                                                              Top 10 Favorites might be easier, but Top 10? Impossible.

                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                Ciao Bob Dec 30, 2011 09:25 AM

                                                                                                Tastio, ipse, was dat?

                                                                                                1. re: Ciao Bob
                                                                                                  ipsedixit Dec 30, 2011 11:43 AM

                                                                                                  Dean Sin World aka Tastio.

                                                                                                  1. re: Ciao Bob
                                                                                                    j
                                                                                                    JThur01 Dec 30, 2011 11:45 AM

                                                                                                    Dean Sin World still has signage from its previous name, Tastio Bakery.

                                                                                                  2. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                    TonyC Dec 30, 2011 12:06 PM

                                                                                                    Or top 10 "memorable". I can't eve think of 10 this year. Maybe 5.

                                                                                                  3. re: hobbess
                                                                                                    c
                                                                                                    Chandavkl Dec 30, 2011 04:44 PM

                                                                                                    While's lots of good Chinese food, especially in Ir vine, I can't say I have any particular favorites, though I like the Irvine 101 Noodle Express because it seems to have a bigger menu.

                                                                                                    1. re: Chandavkl
                                                                                                      ipsedixit Dec 30, 2011 08:03 PM

                                                                                                      In Irvine I've recently grown quite fond of Chong Qing Mei Wei. Good offal dishes, esp. the pig intestines and a very underrated salt cured fish head.

                                                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                        h
                                                                                                        hobbess Dec 30, 2011 11:17 PM

                                                                                                        I've been going to A&J for a long time, although I haven't been there for awhile. And, all this time, Chong Qing Mei Wei was nearby and I've never tried it.

                                                                                                        Is Chong Qing Mei Wei's salt cured fish head another name for their boiled fish dish?

                                                                                                        1. re: hobbess
                                                                                                          ipsedixit Dec 31, 2011 12:01 PM

                                                                                                          Is Chong Qing Mei Wei's salt cured fish head another name for their boiled fish dish?
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                                                                                                          No. Ask for it by name, it's a boiled hot pot dish.

                                                                                            2. re: TonyC
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                                                                                              Johnny L Dec 31, 2011 05:25 PM

                                                                                              Face Cafe which was once OK Cafe, Nice Cafe, Dj Cafe and maybe one more? Not sure how many times hands have changed there.

                                                                                              1. re: Johnny L
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                                                                                                Chandavkl Dec 31, 2011 08:27 PM

                                                                                                Don't forget Sika Cafe--2007 through 2009

                                                                                                1. re: Chandavkl
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                                                                                                  Johnny L Jan 1, 2012 08:28 AM

                                                                                                  Yes that's the one! how could I forget?

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                                                                                              Johnny L Dec 28, 2011 12:00 AM

                                                                                              How are the crowds so far? I'd like to get in before they start getting known.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: Johnny L
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                                                                                                dragonanna Dec 28, 2011 12:28 AM

                                                                                                Not crowded at all at 10:15 am and still no waiting at about 12:30 p.m. when we left. Free parking in the parking structure below (nice wide spaces too). Street level parking too inside the plaza but limited in the front. We always go early to avoid any crowd and bad traffic in that area.

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                                                                                                estone888 Dec 27, 2011 09:55 PM

                                                                                                Maybe they're having some birth pains, still. I went for dim sum the other day and had a splendid time of it. (My report is in the topic (first impressions.) I was quite excited to go back tonight and try it for dinner. Unfortunately I was only with one other person, so we couldn't order much - especially as she is a somewhat more squeamish eater than I am. It was, sadly, something of a disaster. They seated us soon enough and gave us the enormous, colorful menus. (If anything the menu is a bit too big and unwieldy - but not because there is a gigantic selection, just that all the entries include large glossy photos that are laid out in a food magazine like design on the page. It is a lovely menu, but in reality there probably isn't even as much to order from as at, say, Mei Long Village. But, what there is does look great and interesting and plenty varied enough.

                                                                                                After getting our menu and tea, we were ignored for quite some time - maybe 15 minutes or so. Finally I managed to attract a waiter. The waiter seemed very good, knowledgeable and both his English and his patience with my tortured Cantonese - he actually spoke enough Cantonese to follow me - were commendable. We ordered.

                                                                                                In 10 minutes or so we got a small bowl of crab and hand cut noodles soup. It was good but not fantastic. Not served quite hot enough. It was, perhaps, a bit too corn starchy.

                                                                                                Another 15 or so minutes passed and we got our roast duck. It was very good, not spectacular, but nicely cooked, moist, tender, good skin and a slightly sweet / slightly bitter sauce that went well with it.

                                                                                                Another 15 or so minutes passed and we got our order of XLB. They were great, as good as I recall from dim sum the other day. Possibly my new favorites in town.

                                                                                                Then we waited some more, and some more and some more being completely ignored in spite of my attempts to politely attract our, or any, waiter. Finally we got someone after about 25 minutes and pointed out that we still had an order of dao miu (pea shoots) and an order of simple saute shrimp that we were waiting for.

                                                                                                Ten minutes later we had our dao miu and it was excellent, perfectly cooked, a superb dose of garlic and some broth with it. I had asked them to bring out the shrimp with the vegetable and they said yes. But they didn't, and still didn't. Finally after another 15 minutes or so a plate of the shrimp we ordered came to our table, was within about six inches of being set down on the table, when another waiter came running up and started arguing with our waiter and pointing to another table - that had arrived after we had. The two of them fought it out verbally with the shrimp hovering just out of reach, until the other waiter won the battle and the shrimp was taken away to the other table.

                                                                                                At that point we were annoyed and had had quite enough. We also had to be somewhere that we were close to being late for. We'd been there over an hour and a half and had just had one of our dishes snatched practically out of our gaping jaws. We got up and took the bill - they had the bill on the table to cross things off as they came to the table - went up to the cashier and cashed out.

                                                                                                Our waiter and the cashier were both very apologetic - blaming everything on the kitchen and opening pains. I am hoping that they were right as the dim sum was so good and I like the place enough that I am rooting for it to get its act together and be really good. I am willing to go back in another few weeks to give it another shot. And I'll probably be back for dim sum before that. My fingers are crossed.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: estone888
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                                                                                                  dragonanna Dec 27, 2011 11:20 PM

                                                                                                  Sorry to read about the nightmare experience and hope that won't happen again to anyone.

                                                                                                  We were there yesterday about 10:15 am for dim sum and enjoyed it very much. Best service we experienced in a Chinese restaurant. Our plates were changed 3 times and tea was constantly refilled (and poured) without asking. Let's hope that won't change in time.

                                                                                                  What I liked best (aside from the tasty food) was the room set up - several dining rooms that were either small or medium in size instead of dining in a huge massive room. It wasn't noisy like your typical dim sum restaurant. The place is nicely decorated, beautify shade of red on the wall. The servers even swept under and around the table when diners left. It was rather odd to hear an American radio station playing top 40's. Some nice Chinese instrumental music would have been a nice touch.

                                                                                                  I found the check off menu challenging to read. The English words were not in alpha order so if you were looking for a particular item, it was difficult. Also, the translation not exact. Ha Gau not listed but it was listed as shrimp dumpling. One of the servers was kind enough to help me with the selection. Everything was tasty and delicious. The only disappointment was the skin on the Ha Gau, Fun gaw, shrimp with chives. They all fell apart when you pick them up from the containers. Not firmed, rather mushy and probably over cooked. Kind of mushy. The fillings were very good though. I agree about XLB in the tiny tin. Would have been better eaten with a soup spoon. Still, they were tasty.

                                                                                                  Yes, it was more expensive than other dim sum places but I don't mind paying a little more for better dining experience. Worst thing is paying more and they are rude. No one was rude here. We hope to go back soon with more friends to try other items. But I have heard from a good foodie friend that the $8.99 dishes were not worth the price for such a small portion and just average in taste.

                                                                                                  I could not find the hours listed anywhere. M-F opens at 10 am, weekend opens at 9 am. Close at midnight. They don't have a phone recording. I don't know if any Chinese restaurants do come to think of that!

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