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Nov 2, 2012 12:12 PM

Bao Dim Sum House

Really? Ewwwww. I was suspicious, but when it was proposed as a place to meet for drinks and some bar snacks I recalled that a few people (even here) have said it was okay, about the best one could hope for outside of the San Gabriel Valley. So I went.

The drinks were good. Twelve bucks for a fair-sized pour of Macallan 12-year-old (a buck a year), is about as close to a reasonable price as one is likely to get in West Hollywood. And the Happy Hour prices for wine, beer, sake and a few different types of dim sum were also pretty good for the location. It was a pleasant bar to sit at and have a chat with a friend.

But really? Dim sum? Okay? It wasn't even okay. I would hope to think that if someone attempted to open a branch of the place along Valley Blvd. they'd be met with armed resistance. "Back to your side of the River, podner." Or however you say that in Mandarin, Cantonese or any other Chinese language.

I don't want to relive it, but:

XLB - leaden lumps of under-flavorful pork with no soup in sticky wrappers.

"Chicken potstickers" - what these small, somewhat greasy, undercooked hockey pucks of hard ground meat and a smattering of unidentifiable seasonings really were is anybody's guess.

"Spicy shrimp dumplings" - the shrimp wasn't too bad, spicy had nothing to do with it. The wrapper, WTF was that?

"Fried scallion pancake" - Flat in every way, greasy, flavorless even as nothing more than a vehicle to get a little chili sauce into your mouth.

"Crispy crab balls" - at least they were crispy. If there was any crab in them it was heavily disguised, mostly as overcooked shrimp, but some other sort of mystery meat as well.

"Shrimp and celery dumplings" - They do have a thing for shrimp, there was a lot of it, mostly overcooked but edible. I think there might have been a small speck of celery in there somewhere, at least there was a spot of something green, but nothing that added any flavor.

I rarely bother to venture anywhere west of about La Brea, or even Western, to eat. And this is the first time in maybe 30 years for anything Chinese. It was further evidence as to why.

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  1. Disagree. However, except for the crab balls, I have ordered different. I thought the crab balls were very good, as were the shrimp dumpling. The juicy pork dumpling is also outstanding. Hainan chicken was very tender and good and the vegetable dishes solid. Certainly as good as it gets west of downtown and its pretty good.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Thor123

      I like their dim sum. The price I don't like. We just order less.

      1. re: Thor123

        I've never had Hainanese chicken (and rice - the two are binary) in Hainan but have enjoyed it many times in Singapore. Was it Singapore-good, or an unsaid number of gradients below Singapore-good? This is a seemingly simple dish that is deceptively tough to pull off.

        1. re: bulavinaka

          Have not been to Singapore or had this dish elsewhere. I thought it was good here.

      2. Who knows, bad night or average night or whatever, but I have had better frozen dim sum.

        3 Replies
        1. re: estone888

          Is this the first time you went? We went last year and it was heads and shoulders above anything else west of DTLA. However, I read on CH recently that they remodeled and may have undergone an owner/management change and possibly a kitchen staff change as well. Haven't been back to compare and contrast from our first visit.

            1. re: PeterCC

              Food has not changed. The remodel was not major. Mostly they changed the Korean tables (which had a thick base to accomodate the old bbq) with new tables.

          1. agree with you about the scallion pancake, what a bummer. i like this place for the vegetarian options.

            1. Your line about the scallion pancake amused me in many ways!
              Next time you want Dim Sum West of the 5 try Chynna Dim Sum Lounge in DTLA and report back.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Ciao Bob

                now you're just stirring the pot, CB.

                I can't believe this riotous thread only has 10 replies. LA Chow is getting soft, or everyone's busy filling out their election ballots.

              2. Never been to Bao Dim Sum House, but if you have an extra hour to spare, I still assume it's much more worthwhile driving to the SGV for dim sum. Extra 30-40 miles of gas money (round-trip) should < the 100%+ markup once everything's added up. And that's just the $$$ side of the argument...

                3 Replies
                1. re: chrishei

                  That's what I always do - 888 in Rosemead for cart service, Sea Harbour in Rosemead or Elite in Monterey Park or Shanghai #1 in San Gabriel for off the menu. . I only went to Bao because a friend who works near there wanted to go somewhere close to work . Never again. I'm in Silverlake, it takes me no longer to get to the SGV than it does to West Hollywood and as places to eat go, the SGV beats West Hollywood hands down for any sort of "ethnic" food, particularly Asian.

                  1. re: estone888

                    Agree, but there is Night+Market in West Hollywood, which I'm very fond of.