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Jun 5, 2013 02:07 PM

BAO on Beverly... they got me with their Groupon.

We're going tonight for dinner. Yes, dim sum for dinner. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I've reviewed the existing threads-- there are basically a couple of guys who sing the praises of BAO for being "best west of downtown", but there's very little practical info about the best dishes to order. (There's more about what *not* to order)

The only *specific* recommendations I've seen are the crispy fish cakes and crispy crab balls. (Apparently they've got a crack frychef)

Anything else notable and consistent here?

Mr Taster

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  1. I was probably one of the ones singing the praises last year, but apparently they went through a management (and perhaps a kitchen staff) shake-up a little bit ago, and I haven't been since to see what's changed or if quality has gone down. Having a deal on Groupon, while not a guarantee that they've gone downhill, isn't a great sign... :-(

    8 Replies
    1. re: PeterCC

      Agreed re: the Groupon. While it's not a death knell, I don't see hotspots like Animal offering any discounts.

      Mr Taster

      1. re: Mr Taster

        At least go with Blackboard Eats, amirite? ;-)

        1. re: PeterCC

          Yeah-- funny how BBE has become the "upmarket" discounter. It's the same damned thing, but people are so easily influenced by image.

          Mr Taster

          1. re: Mr Taster

            Exactly. I had chuckled about that when they first started... as I signed up for some of their deals. ;-)

        2. re: Mr Taster

          Clearly its not Animal, and I have not eaten there but dah

          1. re: Mr Taster

            That is very nice, especially from you. There are some good dishes and I do like it, particularly on the westside. I am not saying it is gods gift to dim sum. Although, it is at least as good as Stinking Rose dim sum (ok done with that).

              1. re: Thor123

                Keep it up, it's funny, but once or twice per thread, please. ;-) I think I saw you work that into three consecutive comments in one thread. That kinda killed the joke... :-P

          2. The crispy crab balls are very good. In addition, the juicy pork dumpling is very good as is the hainan chicken. Spicy shrimp dumpling is also good.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Thor123

              Thanks for these specific recommendations. To provide a frame of reference for other Chowhounds, I noticed in my research that you were like the #1 propsmaster for this place.

              Mr Taster

            2. Returned from dinner.

              Highlights-- the "Hainan Chicken" was indeed delicious. Inexplicably not served on rice, but moist and surprisingly flavorful.

              Xiaolongbao were served in those little foil cups. Gummy and no soup. The flavoring of the pork filling was fine. Served with the requisite shredded ginger, but the vinegar at the table was white(!) No spoons provided to help manage.

              Spicy shrimp dumplings: there were supposedly 3 of them, but they were served in a too-small steamer basket and the extremely thick rice paper wrappers all stuck together. The only way to eat them was to massacre them and eat them in bits. The filling was nicely seasoned, mildly spicy.

              Crispy shrimp and crab balls-- really nice. Golf ball sized spheres. The coating was very crispy and properly fried with no excess grease. Super large flaky breading, almost like corn flakes. Crunch crunch. Interior mostly shrimp; nary a whisper of crab. Chewy texture-- reminded me of thai style shrimp cakes at Sanamluang, but their breading is standard. I love the huge crispy flakes. Served with a sweet and spicy orange sauce (also very similar to Sanamluang)

              Crispy fish cakes-- The interior texture of the fish cake was tender and moist, entirely different from the shrimp/crab ball. More delicate, softer. Sadly the exterior was overfried and greasy. Served with the same sauce as the shrimp ball.

              Stir fried green beans w/ garlic and sesame seeds-- very nice preparation of this dish. They didn't have the nice wrinkly outer texture from the deep frying that a real Chinese restaurant would do, but the beans were crisp-tender and well seasoned.

              We ordered a few other dishes-- chicken stuffed mushrooms (odd for a Chinese restaurant, and weirdly chewy) and the shrimp stuffed eggplant, which was ok. Last was the crispy egg tofu which was not crispy at all, but has a really nice silky, and even somewhat slightly liquidy interior that I kind of liked.

              With 3 beers the tab came to $76 before tip. 4 people left satisfied. Expensive for dim sum, but what the hell. It's on Beverly, and it really wasn't as bad as I expected. That Hainan Chicken is really good-- not traditional, but I'd go back for that.

              Mr Taster

              9 Replies
              1. re: Mr Taster

                Thanks for reporting back.

                I thought I had mentioned that the XLB came in essentially individual dontot tins, but I just looked at my comments and noticed I hadn't. They were a little limp when I had them but not gummy and did have soup.

                1. re: PeterCC

                  I have had the XLB a few times and always liked it and had soup as well. Glad you reported back.

                2. re: Mr Taster

                  Yikers - that's pricey!

                  For dim sum for dinner, I'd go with Chynna. Downtown but freeway close and, free validated parking. Not as cheap as CBS or places in the SGV but, available at dinner and, when I have been, never greasy.

                  1. re: happybaker

                    Under $20 a person with beers. Not too horrible to me, especially given decent decor, full bar and location.

                    1. re: Thor123

                      Well if you're going to be logical and do the math... : p

                      You are right, not bad at all!

                    2. re: happybaker

                      If I'm already in downtown, I absolutely have no reason not to continue to San Gabriel. My inner Chowhound simply won't allow it.

                      Mr Taster

                    3. re: Mr Taster

                      "With 3 beers the tab came to $76"

                      is that pre or post groupon?

                      1. re: ns1

                        Pre-groupon. The tab after groupon was $26, or $51 for 4 people, which brought things down to San Gabriel prices.

                        Mr Taster