HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >
May 21, 2013 03:33 PM

Sea Harbour, what do you like to order there for dinner (and not dim sum hours, of course)


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Fish maw soup with winter melon
    Shark's fin soup (with or without bird's nest)
    Lobster or King Crab (if available)
    Goose feet
    Goose web with abalone
    Geoduck sashimi
    Braised sea cucumber with oong choy
    Salty fish fried rice

    1. Have you tried the conpoy (sp ?) there too ? Worth getting ?

      Also, do you get the lobster or crab with the salted preserved egg yolk preparation ?

      They got the Opus One on the list here, right ?

      29 Replies
      1. re: kevin

        "They got the Opus One on the list here, right ?"

        kev, did you hit one of the $2,000,000 powerball lotto's that got picked here in California?

        1. re: Servorg

          Well, I'm going for a dinner of sorts that my guests wanted as fancy but not the usual type of joint. (So no dice on Spago, Providence, et al and somewhat cheaper than Urasawa, of course).

          Nope, I do wish I hit that Powerball. Not even close. The last time I won was over a decade ago, which is was the princely sum of $5 on a $5 scratcher. It goes without saying that I broke even.

          Btw, if I did hit that Powerball successfully I definitely would have made a beeline for dinner at Urasawa tonight (heavy on the Southern fried fugu and platters of fugu sashimi washed down with 61 cheval blanc and kubota manju) followed by copious rounds of scotch and whiskey at tee up in dtla. and the finest imported cigars money can buy.

          1. re: kevin

            "... I definitely would have made a beeline for dinner at Urasawa tonight (heavy on the Southern fried fugu and platters of fugu sashimi washed down with 61 cheval blanc and kubota manju) followed by copious rounds of scotch and whiskey at tee up in dtla. and the finest imported cigars money can buy."

            kev, don't make your first post powerball win your last one...pace yourself! (unless that was you pacing yourself?)

            1. re: Servorg

              You are probably correct.

              I am just allowing my theoretical imagination get ahead of me.

              In that case, that would not be good and I would rather do without the Powerball.

              1. re: Servorg

                Though I have to say that the heavy duty patty melts at pann's and the fried chicken plates with three hefty sides at flossie's are not helping matters (flossies' used to be emblazoned with a banner that stated HEALTHY HOME COOKING, though I'm not quite sure it's salutary to one's health.)

          2. re: kevin

            What about the conpoy? It's rarely a dish on its own.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              Is the dinner menu online somewhere with Chinese characters and/or pictures?

              EK's review from 3 years ago still holds?


              The "Hong Bahn" EK had looks more like channel rockfish, or what the Canto's up here call "red dragon". Good stuff.

              1. re: K K

                I don't know of any online source for the menu.

                I go there so often I don't even order off a menu most of the time.

                And, yes, I believe 95% of what EK posted still holds (and we all know what the 5% is -- at least officially, anyway).

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Do you mean you don't look at the menu and just tell the waiter the items you want (ie your own customization)?

                  Or do you have VIP /preferred status and "omakase" it (let the manager or chef decide what to server your table)?

                  Either way, ordering level: Expert.

                2. re: K K

                  "But as much as I enjoy Lobster, it just pales in comparison to my all-time favorite preparation of Shrimp: Bai Zuo Hsia (Poached Live Giant Shrimp (listed as "Prawns" on the menu))."

                  What makes this dish so special?!

                  1. re: ns1

                    I get that when I go. They're just so dam fresh and well cooked. Just a quick dip into the soy sauce and they're good to go.

                    In fact, my family orders this dish anytime it's avail. One of those nice and simple seafood dishes.

                    1. re: blimpbinge

                      Reserve the heads and ask them to be deep-fried.

                      Side of Lipitor not included. Unfortunately.

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        do you ask them to do that for you BEFORE eating, or do you literally eat everything except the head, and then ask them to deep fry said heads?

                        1. re: ns1

                          ipse mentioned this in past posts. Sea Harbour poached the the prawns at the table. We asked them to seperate the heads and deep-fry them for us.

                          1. re: bulavinaka

                            Glad someone is listening to me ...

                        2. re: ipsedixit

                          Agree with blimpbinge and ipse recs. The spot prawns are great when available.

                        3. re: blimpbinge

                          Yeah that's the best way to enjoy live prawns. Had a few of those in Hong Kong in January, purchased them from a fish market near my cousin's, took it up to the cooked food stall (while they were still wriggling in their plastic bag), poached and a side of soy jalapeno dip sauce with a tad bit of sesame oil, and bam...sweet delicious awesomeness (and messy hands, nothing a side bowl of hot Chinese teabag tea with lemon wouldn't wash away).

                          The other method would be to butterfly them on the shell, steam with a ton of garlic and scallions with funsi/fensi (bean thread vermicelli noodles) underneath, or steamed with egg whites.

                          1. re: K K

                            need to add to my hk things to do list

                      2. re: K K

                        Down here it's commonly referred to as "hong bahn".

                        1. re: Porthos

                          Probably "hong bahn" so to make it more sensible to the Mandarin speakers :-). "Red Grouper" sounds more appealing than "Red Dragon"...a fish vs a name sounding like a lizard.

                          Recently had "hong bahn"/"hong long" at Cooking Papa (Foster City) and in SF. Steamed body, and the head fried with supreme soy sauce/garlic. Ridiculously good.

                            1. re: kevin

                              In SF? Brother Seafood, Toishanese Chinese run place.

                              ipse, does Sea Harbor do 花雕 liquor sauce steamed crab with egg white? Is it available as an option on the menu?

                              1. re: K K

                                I don't recall that being on the menu.

                                Do they have that in SF?

                                Tried 3 versions of this in HK and the Victoria City version was heads and shoulders above the Lei Garden IFC and Loaf An versions (both excellent restaurants).

                                1. re: Porthos

                                  Koi Palace and Yum's Bistro offer this, although one would specify whether one wants egg white with it or not. The Chairman (HK) made the top 101 restaurants in Asia list with their signature chicken lard and liquor sauce crab, with a side of Shunde style ho fun 陳村粉, which strangely Koi Palace has this as well, but they use it to pad steamed black bean sauce spareribs as a dim sum dish). Some will argue that Dungies are not optimal for this prep, and cannot compare with the flavor of larger HK blue crabs ("flower crabs" in Cantonese) suited for this purpose (or Chiu Chow cold crab for that matter), of which a 2 to 3 pounder could run easily over US$120 to $150.

                                  I have however seen HK blog pictures online of over zealous fans use this particular style of prep with lots of garlic to steam Alaskan King Crab (and they can get them alive and fresh pretty easily too) but seems overkill to me.

                                  1. re: K K

                                    Is the Koi Palace prep Hua tiao liquor prep with actual Hua tiao liquor or just egg whites? I've had the crab with egg white prep there, just don't recall the Hua tiao liquor. Must be a newer addition if they do.

                                    1. re: Porthos

                                      I think the menu lists liquor sauce only. Haven't tried it yet and I don't know if they charge extra for egg whites, but it likely can be made upon request

                                2. re: K K

                                  It's not on the menu (as far as I know), and I've never requested it, but I don't know why it couldn't be done.

                    2. btw, do you guys in general like it for dim sum better or the dinner service ?

                      50 Replies
                      1. re: kevin

                        Do you prefer castration by rusty pliers or a backrub performed by Jessica Alba?

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          oh, that one's easy.

                          a backrub by jessica alba, please.

                          though i can only dream about that one.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            Aw, come on! I'm pretty sure you've commented that people should skip ROC or Chinatown and come to SGV for dim sum. If dim sum is worth so little appreciation, would it matter where people go? Or is it that ROC/Chinatown rusty-pliers castration performed by a back-alley doctor, and SGV is shiny-new-pliers castration performed by Jessica Alba, at least? ;-)

                            1. re: PeterCC

                              mmmm, jessie alba.

                              yes, please !!!!

                              1. re: kevin

                                Make mine a twosome, Jessica for the rub down and her sister, Truffles Alba for my dinner companion.

                                1. re: Servorg


                                  I like that even better.

                                  That is music to my ears.

                          2. re: kevin

                            Ipse has commented many times that dim sum is "just dim sum" so he's definitely in the dinner service camp. Dim sum may be less expensive and not use as fresh ingredients as the dinner service--not that their dim sum isn't made with fresh ingredients, but not as fresh as being fetched from the tank and dispatched moments before cooking--but, I love it.

                            Always found that puzzling, ipse. One could probably start a riot saying "just street tacos" but just as there's a world of difference between "meh" street tacos and excellent street tacos, to me there's a world of difference between "meh" dim sum and excellent dim sum too.

                            (Edit: Apparently I hadn't refreshed the page in a while, so I hadn't seen ipse's response to your question when I wrote this.)

                            1. re: PeterCC

                              i think ipse was jut giving me a very hard time as usual.

                              1. re: PeterCC

                                It's not that dim sum is not good, it is.

                                It is that people (esp on this board) tend to elevate dim sum to revelatory heights. As if Sea Harbour qua restaurant is all about dim sum. It's not.

                                Ask anyone in the know, and the barometer to which one judges a restaurant like Sea Harbour (or Elite, or 888, or Triumphal Palace, or whatever) is by it's dinner service. For example, even if Elite does a better dim sum than 888, but 888 has better dinner service, then it would be foolhardy to exalt 888 to heights greater than Elite. In fact, the converse would be true.

                                It would be like going to Rivera or Drago and judging the entire restaurant based on its Happy Hour offerings and then thinking that that was all the restaurant is, or can be. Certainly no one would do that, right?

                                Yet, here with dim sum restaurants it's almost like a mnemonic device. I say, Sea Harbour, you say, dim sum. Ugh.

                                The real worth of a restaurant like Sea Harbour is judged by the kitchen's ability to make complicated, intricate dishes -- like the slow brewed, churned seafood tonics that are masquerading as "soups" on the menu, or the proper technique to braise abalone without turning it into tire tread, or how to stir-fry young pea shoots so that they remain crunchy and "al dente" while still picking up enough wok hay to make those tiny leaves burst with flavor.

                                And really, in relative terms, it's not that hard to make good dim sum dishes. So when you come across a place that can't even do that properly, one of two things are happening -- they've adopted a low price/high quantity model or they're testing that old adage of "there's a sucker born every minute".

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  dinner sounds better to me anyhow. the happy hr analogy makes sense.

                                  i guess most just see SH as a dim sum house.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    Well, since there are few (no?) purely dim sum restaurants, those of us who, I don't want to say "only care about dim sum" but who are primarily looking for quality dim sum do equate Sea Harbour to it. So I think it's more "dim sum"="Sea Harbour" rather than "Sea Harbour"="dim sum", if you know what I mean.

                                    Plus, while I wouldn't be surprised if the largest demographic of POCs on CH are Chinese (I have no data to back that up, I just wouldn't be surprised), generally more non-Chinese will be looking for dim sum recs rather than HK seafood recs (I think you've made that point yourself before), so that probably lends to your perception of people's perception that "Sea Harbour"="dim sum" but it's just that more people are asking about dim sum.

                                    So the barometer for "what's a better restaurant" may well be dinner service, but more people on CH are asking "where's the best dim sum?" And if you answer them, I'm assuming you'll name SH, Elite, 888, King Hua, etc, even though, as you've pointed out, that's just the tip of the iceberg of what they can do.

                                    1. re: PeterCC

                                      generally more non-Chinese will be looking for dim sum recs rather than HK seafood recs ....

                                      Do you have any idea why? Serious question.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        There was another thread on this. Maybe bulavinaka made the comment. The sentiment I believe was (and I agree) that dim sum is the "gateway drug" to authentic Chinese. It gets people from Panda Express orange chicken or NYC-style General Tsao/Tso/etc. chicken to trying "real" Chinese food.

                                        I personally like the fact that dim sum comprises a large variety of dishes, so that nearly everyone can find something they like, or at least can stomach, from the fairly innocuous niu rou chang fen, har gow, shao mai (what the heck, I'll mix Cantonese and Mandarin), to the offal-y feng zhao / fong zua and niu bai ye, and stuff in between (like one of my favorites, xian zhu juan).

                                        I've brought (to borrow TonyC's vernacular) y.t. (including my wife's family), to dim sum restaurants where they stayed mostly toward the "safe" side of the continuum but ventured to try jellyfish and chicken feet (including friends of my daughters, who, at their tween ages, impressed me by trying said things).

                                        It's a more democratic setting, and low risk, since one could try a $3-$5 dish of something they don't recognize, and if they don't like it, no big deal. It's a much bigger risk to order seafood dishes at many times the cost at dinner and end up not like it.

                                        1. re: PeterCC

                                          If it is a gateway drug, then the gate opens to a cul-de-sac.

                                          Few people seem to graduate to harder things, like heroin, meth or (god forbid) bath salts.

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            If you're talking about dim sum to Canto seafood dinners, correct. If you're talking MJ to hard drugs, too many head stones from my past to count...

                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              Would you prefer they never graduate from Panda Express? ;-)

                                              To mix metaphors, I think Americanized Chinese restaurants are like language classes in high school, often taught by non-native speaking teachers (depending on the region--obviously in SoCal, I'd expect a Spanish language class to be taught by either a native speaker or a fully bilingual one). Even those students who get an A+ in the class don't know how to REALLY speak the language.

                                              Dim sum are like undergraduate college language classes, often taught by native-speaking professors. And perhaps dinner service at these HK seafood restaurants are the Masters and PH.D. courses in the languages. At each level, the understanding of the language is expanded by leaps and bounds. But most people do not pursue those advanced degrees...

                                              Not a perfect analogy, probably not even a good one, but just something that popped into my mind. *shrug*

                                              1. re: PeterCC

                                                I think you are all making this a much more complex issue than it needs to be. Most of us non Chinese Americans enjoy dim sum simply because it is such a departure from our normal breakfast fare here in the US (and it's a good value). On the other hand we are familiar with, even if it's only a pale imitation of the Chinese food found in the SGV, Chinese food as served for dinner.

                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                  Why you gotta ruin our fun, Servorg? ;-)

                                                  You may be right. I'm not non-Chinese, so I can't really step out of that. But I do love dim sum too!

                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                    Most of us non Chinese Americans enjoy dim sum simply because it is such a departure from our normal breakfast fare here in the US (and it's a good value).

                                                    Eh, you mean Chinese dinner fare (no matter how "pale" of an imitation of one) is not such a departure from your normal dinner fare?

                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                      "Eh, you mean Chinese dinner fare (no matter how "pale" of an imitation of one) is not such a departure from your normal dinner fare?"

                                                      Exactly so. We non Chinese Americans have been going to, or getting Chinese food delivered, since we were children. The general "taste" was familiar for much of what I've had in the SGV from what I was used to, even before knowing that the SGV existed.

                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                        If you think the general "taste" of take-out is similar to you've had in SGV, then you've barely scratched the surface. Nay, I'd say, you haven't even touched the surface.

                                                        And, really, the "taste" (what the hell does that mean, btw?) at dim sum is not that different from the general landscape of all chinese foods.

                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                          Making myself understood isn't going well. I'll close by saying that there was/is enough familiarity between what I had growing up as "Chinese" food that my introduction to SGV dining for dinner was not as huge a cultural or taste shock that it set my head on fire.

                                                          I am not comparing dim sum to the general landscape of "all Chinese foods" but rather what I was attempting to do, rather badly it seems at this point, was to differentiate between dim sum for breakfast and American "bacon and eggs" for breakfast.

                                                          A reason that I think we non Chinese born Americans enjoy dim sum as a complete departure from what we "normally" eat for breakfast (instead of - for instance - using dim sum as some lower risk gateway drug to the more esoteric night time Chinese food dining options available in the SGV in general).

                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                            I doubt it's your inability to limn yourself. It's more like my inability to comprehend basic English. Redeye flights will do that to a person.

                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                              I think of it in a slightly different perspective. When foreigners come to the US, it can be easy for them to want something exotic, good, affordable, and mostly safe. So they go to In-And-Out. For them, it's the epitome of American cuisine.

                                                              While many Americans may like In-And-Out, most of us don't think of it as the best America has to offer. We have lobster bakes, crab cakes, jambalaya, king salmon, properly aged filet mignon, New England clam chowder, etc. But getting these dishes requires a lot more research, money, and effort.

                                                  2. re: ipsedixit

                                                    Onto harder stuff, like castration by rusty pliers held by Jessica Alba...

                                                  3. re: PeterCC

                                                    That's part of the explanation.

                                                    Ipse's question is definitely a universal one, not just an issue to Southern California.

                                                    Dim sum has also become one of the representatives of HK cuisine and thrusted into the limelight. Much like sushi to Japanese food, and pho to Vietnamese (not by choice I'm sure). Gateway drug is a good choice of words, but unfortunately people just get addicted to the gateway drug and stop there, instead of moving onto more harmful and delicious...drugs...errr food.

                                                    There is perhaps a lack of experience traveling to Asia and eating fresh seafood at coastal regions or cities with plentiful access to the stuff. Fresh would be eating on a fishing boat and catching it yourself. Next best would be from a local market, then taking it upstairs to a cooked food stall (while alive) and eating it within 30 mins of purchasing, or eating it right off the seafood tank in a restaurant which is probably the closest we'll get in the USA.

                                                    There is also the lack of awareness of the varieties of seafood out there, what's in season or what are the common delicious types most seafood restaurants stock, and the various preps to use to get the most out of them. In essence for California it's all just a fraction compared to Taiwan or Hong Kong where there are a gazillion types to choose from.
                                                    For example, Cantonese crab and lobster preps can be done 15 or more ways, maybe upwards of 20 if you include slightly non conventional methods. But most people who even know a bit about this stuff, stop at typhoon shelter, or salt and pepper fry, or ginger scallion, and they think what they see on the menu is all they can get.

                                                    There's also the possibility that management isn't doing more to promote dinner service with non Chinese clientele, can't lay the blame on lack of awareness/knowledge/experience, after all it can be gained with help.

                                                    1. re: PeterCC

                                                      4 people to sea harbour for dim sum = 15/20pp max
                                                      4 people to sea harbour for dinner eating from tanks = 50pp min

                                                      1. re: ns1

                                                        Usually more like $70-$100pp for dinner.

                                                        That's excluding the ultra high end stuff like king crab, sea trout, etc. of course.

                                                        1. re: Porthos

                                                          Is that the Porthos Sea Harbour Live Seafood multiplier?

                                                          1. re: ns1

                                                            Pretty sure that is standard dinner cost per person if you're getting some live tank items and the simmered soups, etc. You can get away for less but that means you're probably not ordering the more interesting stuff.

                                                            I'll bet Ipse hasn't ever spent $50pp at dinner.

                                                            1. re: Porthos

                                                              "You can get away for less but that means you're probably not ordering the more interesting stuff."

                                                              Yeah I didn't get that high when I was there, but I didn't go apeshit on the live tanks either.

                                                        2. re: ns1

                                                          sea harbour for dinner is more like 100 per.

                                                          and for dim sum more like 25 bucks and up.

                                                          1. re: kevin

                                                            Obviously you guys order like ballers. I've never hit 25pp for dim sum over my 10-15 trips to sea harbour.

                                                            1. re: ns1

                                                              and i don't even think i ordered that much.

                                                              maybe i'm just a big pig.

                                                            2. re: kevin

                                                              "dim sum more like 25 bucks and up."

                                                              I don't think i've ever hit that without ordering non-dimsum from the full menu...

                                                              1. re: blimpbinge

                                                                Are you talking at most dim sum restaurants or at Sea Harbor specifically? I was under the impression that Sea Harbour was a bit more than most places.

                                                                Anyone who's been recently, what are the price points for the popular items (har gow, siu mai, etc.)?

                                                                1. re: PeterCC

                                                                  It is. But if you're ordering from normal dim sum menu it ain't bad.

                                                                  1. re: ns1

                                                                    I'm thinking I could polish off an order each of (mixing Cantonese and Mandarin again) har gow, siu mai, fong zua, xian zhu juan, niu bai ye, on my own. That's five dishes. Would they average $5 at SH, thus hitting this mythological $25 price point, or is that a high estimate?

                                                                    1. re: PeterCC

                                                                      I'd have 6 or 7 dishes plus a diet coke (and one of the dishes would be about 7 bucks plus another at 7 bucks), a soda, the requisite tea with the 2 dollar charge, and you have already hit the 30 dollar mark before tax and tip.

                                                                      1. re: kevin

                                                                        I was wrong. You guys don't order like ballers, you order like gluttons lol

                                                                        7 dishes is me + fiancé status.

                                                                        1. re: kevin

                                                                          ok well that explains it. feast!!

                                                                        2. re: PeterCC

                                                                          That's 25 after tax/tip. iirc it's basically 2.50 - 5 per standard dim sum item. Specials are 7 and go up after that.

                                                                          1. re: ns1

                                                                            Don't get me wrong, I would be totally stuffed after those five dishes, so I'm not as baller as kevin.

                                                                            I think we got out of Elite once for $60 for 9 people and everyone was stuffed. That's < $7/pp. But a third were kids, a third were neophytes who probably filled up on congee and xia chang fen, and a third was us gluttons.

                                                                            I guess I can cover the full range of dim sum spending. ;-)

                                                                          2. re: PeterCC

                                                                            I haven't been there for dimsum in a while, but i'm pretty sure those would be about $3 each before tax/tip.

                                                                            You know.. the.. har gow, siu mai, fung zau, sin juk guen, and ngau pak yip.. heh heh..

                                                                            1. re: blimpbinge

                                                                              Yeah, I only speak the "dimsumese" dialect of Cantonese, and poorly at that. I know most of the dish names in Mandarin.

                                                                            2. re: PeterCC

                                                                              Your estimate is right.

                                                                              But that's alot of food, dude. Alot.

                                                                2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                  Dim sum is point to the cart or pick off of the picture menu. Dinner is not being able to read the board or "negotiate" in Mandarin.

                                                              2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                Or quite simply put, if the rice rocket drivers and boba drinkers would invest less money in those things and more in building Cantonese and Chinese banquet style food knowledge (by eating regularly and more frequent, but not by attending more Chinese wedding dinners), we wouldn't have so many top ten lists.

                                                                Instead of spending the equivalent of ten boba drinks, explore an alternate preparation of crab (e.g. hua tiao liquor sauce with egg whites). Or 5 trips to JJ late night freakery can be one or two really good Canto seafood binges during lunch or dinner with some stir fry and Tsing Tao.

                                                                Curious question, how are the roasties at Sea Harbor? e.g. entrée plate of cha siu, roast duck, crispy skin roast pork/belly, marinated/simmered duck (if any, like Chiu Chow style). And would their cha siu be several grades above everyone's favorite local roasties deli shop (e.g. Sam Woo or whatever it is)? If so, consider splurging on that (vs eating more regular roasties rice plates at the downscale shops).

                                                                And we're not even talking about wine pairing yet with the various fun courses one can make a killer meal out of.

                                                                1. re: K K

                                                                  Roasties at Koi Palace being the standard in the states, Elite comes in at number 2 for me. Ordered the half suckling pig for this Friday as a matter of fact...

                                                                  1. re: K K

                                                                    The pure Canto roasties are Sea Harbour are ok, nothing to write home about. I wouldn't order them. The chiu-chou style marinated/simmered dishes, however, are quite good.

                                                                    That said, neither of those dishes are what I go to Sea Harbour for.