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Aug 19, 2013 01:48 PM

Dim sum at 888 Seafood Restaurant - Rosemead - Report

Looking to try some good SGV dim sum, two of us headed to 888 Seafood Restaurant on Valley Blvd. on Saturday. We arrived early at about 10 am. The restaurant was about 1/4 full, and didn't really get much more crowded than that during the time we were there (about 45 mins).

Dim sum is served in carts, which may have been a disadvantage so early, since it meant turnover was less quick and things got a bit cold. The worst examples of this were our har gau and shumai. Both could have been fine, but they had been in the cart too long and were both oversteamed and too cold. I would give them each a C+.

Sticky rice in lotus leaf was my favorite of the morning, since it wasn't too greasy and wasn't overly sweet or salty. I give it an A.

Rice noodle rolls with shrimp had big pieces of shrimp but the noodles were a tad too soft, despite being fresh from the kitchen. B+

Chive and shrimp dumplings were fine but unremarkable. B

Gai lan with oyster sauce was good and a generous portion. The veggies tasted fresh. A-

I kept waiting for something interesting/super-appealing to come out on the carts, but nothing really did. Maybe there is more variety later in the day when it's more crowded? Overall, I thought this was pretty good dim sum, but certainly no better than what I can get in most other cities (recent ones include Boston, San Francisco, Daly City, Flushing, Manhattan). I guess I might have missed the mark on what makes SGV dim sum special, or perhaps I had too-high expectations.

Prices were reasonable, and certain things were totally fine, but I probably wouldn't recommend this place or ever make much effort to return.

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  1. 888 is certainly not the SGV's best Dim Sum.

    1. 10 AM is in the early side for 888. I've been there a few times, and I think the food is better after 11 AM. Before that, they have had limited selections.

        1. re: Ciao Bob

          Haha, actually the tea was fine. It was chrysanthemum which is why it's so yellow.

        2. In a nutshell, this is why the made to order ones are better.

          You're right. 888 is decent dim sum but nothing special.

          Even Elite and Sea Harbour don't stack up again Koi Palace which is why I don't recommend dim sum for SF folks.

          Now Taiwanese, Shanghainese, various other regional Chinese, and even DTF, that's what makes SGV special over most of the other cities you mentioned.

          11 Replies
          1. re: Porthos

            Yeah, I tend to prefer order-from-menu places these days, since I pretty much know what I want when I arrive anyway. But carts can be fun when you're at a place that has surprising items that you wouldn't expect.

            In the future, I'll stick more to non-Cantonese while in SGV. I did spend yesterday in OC and had great Vietnamese food, so I'll post about this soon.

            1. re: Dave MP

              Lots of gems in Little Saigon. Looking forward to hearing your report!

              1. re: Dave MP

                When you refer to "Cantonese", does that include Chiu Chow, Hong Kong, etc?

                1. re: raytamsgv

                  I dunno!

                  I do feel like SGV has tons of regional Chinese that I just can't get anywhere else in the United States, or if I can, only in very particular spots. Last year, I did a Chinese food crawl through SGV and I thought the food was more interesting and better at all 5 of these places than it was at 888.


                  Not to say that 888 was bad, but probably not something I'd choose again considering that I only visit LA once or twice per year.

                  1. re: Dave MP

                    Not to say that 888 was bad, but probably not something I'd choose again considering that I only visit LA once or twice per year.

                    Totally hear ya, Dave.

                    It's like looking up at the night sky. There are so many shiny stars up there, that even a pretty shiny one isn't worth the effort to focus on given the plethora of choices.

                    Now, if 888 were in Nashville, it'd be destination central.

              2. re: Porthos

                Having tried KP at both Daly City and Dublin, I can say that only the Daly City location can be said to be better than Sea Harbour and/or Elite w/r/t dim sum (and perhaps even in the conversation of "best" dim sum in the U.S.).

                The Dublin location just seems off.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Have only tried the Daly City one.

                  I think it's safe to say that if it bests Elite and Sea Harbour, it's probably best in the US.

                  1. re: Porthos

                    For dim sum, I actually think it's a bit of a close call whether Koi Palace (DC) is actually all that much better than either Sea Harbour and/or Elite.

                    That said, dinner service it becomes a clear smack-down by Koi Palace. It's a disservice to Koi Palace to put the two (Koi Palace and/or Sea Harbour/Elite) in the same discussion.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      That said, dinner service it becomes a clear smack-down by Koi Palace. It's a disservice to Koi Palace to put the two (Koi Palace and/or Sea Harbour/Elite) in the same discussion.

                      1. re: Porthos

                        shit, that means Koi Palace is really really really fucking great.

                        1. re: kevin

                          Koi Palace IS all that... plus a bag of chips.

              3. For cart dimsum, the best time is right before the busy time. Carts start flying out and you don't get the tail end where they stop making certain items.

                At 10am (and leaving before 11am), you went way too early and a number of the items you ate may have been sitting in the carts since their opening time. (and also, don't arrive at 1pm or later)

                When I used to go to 888, I arrived just before noon and got outta there just after 1. Yea sure, you'll need to wait a bit, but the food will be much better and environment more lively. 888 aint bad but it won't wow anyone.

                Another thing is.. sgv dimsum (and cantonese) isn't anything special and i think the board generally agrees on that point. Especially after one has been to norcal, vancouver, or asia.

                Though I must say it's really easy to ruin your own meal with "what if's" and expectations compared to other restaurants while you're eating. Try to enjoy dimsum at any place you choose, because you could go on a good day for a "bad" place or bad day for a "good" place, don't let the dimsum ranking on chowhound dissuade you from enjoying your meal... just imo..

                31 Replies
                1. re: blimpbinge

                  Though I must say it's really easy to ruin your own meal with "what if's" and expectations compared to other restaurants while you're eating.
                  But one judges good and bad and relative tasty based on past experiences. I don't think anyone is out there chasing points or rankings, it just didn't measure up to all the other dim sum places he's tried in the past.

                  1. re: blimpbinge

                    We did still enjoy it, especially the sticky rice, which was surprisingly good!

                    1. re: blimpbinge

                      I don't know when people started ranking Northern California dim sum above LA's, but I certainly don't agree with it. I enjoyed Koi Palace, but that is the one place that everyone talks about as far as NorCal dim sum. Are there a plethora that are better than the Elites and Sea Harbours of LA that makes them better?

                      1. re: andytseng

                        Koi Palace is what everyone is referring to when they talk about Northern California.

                        1. re: andytseng

                          Are there a plethora that are better than the Elites and Sea Harbours of LA that makes them better?

                          For me, Koi is a clear #1 in SF and better than LA's 1a and 1b. After that, it probably goes back to Elite and Sea Harbour.

                          After Elite and Sea Harbour, it's hard to say LA's dim sum is much better than SF's or even NYC or Boston.

                          1. re: Porthos

                            It's definitely better than NYC dim sum (and I'm incl. Flushing, Brooklyn, as well as Manhattan).

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              888, Sea Capital, et al vs Ping's Seafood, Golden Unicorn, and what's all run of the mill stuff at that point to me.

                              1. re: Porthos

                                Thoughts on Lunasia? We were impressed with the 2 visits there this year for dim sum. It seems as if they've revamped their dishes and are churning out higher quality dim sum than in years passed (and don't get me started on that god awful foie gras dumpling)....

                                1. re: TripleAxel

                                  i was at lunasia this past saturday, i got invited to join some friends, got there at 11am didn't get a table for 4 until about 11:35, which was way different than my previous experiences going on a friday and the place was usually less than 1/3 full.

                                  the bigger crowd was not an improvement in terms of increased turnover. this particular meal was kinda meh but it might been more that the choices were made solely by one person, and the choices were fairly pedestrian: ha gao, siu mai, BBQ pork chang fun, turnip cake, cha siu bao, etc. (to be fair, the d'on tot were very good, the crust was very flaky)

                              2. re: ipsedixit

                                Washington DC to be the worse dim sum I've ever had. Surprisingly, I had a wonderful dim sum experience in Saskatoon back in 2001...

                                1. re: TripleAxel

                                  Yeah, for a major metro area, the DC downtown area is not only pitiful for dim sum, but Chinese food generally.

                                  It say alot when the best restaurant in DC Chinatown isn't even Chinese, nor Chinese-American, nor Americanized Chinese.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    DC downtown is horrible. Made the unfortunate mistake of eating there once.

                                    Silver Springs is not so bad. I think that is where people in the DC/Baltimore area go. I still remember a place we went to about 15 years ago that had great salt and pepper frog legs. One day I saw that they had a huge tub of live frogs in the kitchen. Good stuff.

                                    1. re: Porthos

                                      DC Chinatown has very little Chinese presence (i.e., residents), much like Los Angeles Chinatown in the 40s and 50s and early 60s, so it's not surprising it has no good Chinese food . Hot spots for Chinese food in the DC area are Falls Church, VA, and Rockville, Wheaton and Gaithersburg in Maryland.

                                  2. re: TripleAxel

                                    have a nephew who's a cyber crimes federal prosecutor (didn't prosecute snowden, but knows all the prosecutors who did) in DC.he does not recommend eating chinese food in DC.

                                    1. re: barryc

                                      Except at China Boy. (But you can only eat so much chow fun and cheung fun.)

                                      1. re: barryc

                                        I had dim sum at a place that got 4 stars on Yelp in Silver Springs, and I thought it was mediocre... have I not gone out far enough into the burbs, or just chose the wrong one?

                                        1. re: TripleAxel

                                          I think the best you can hope for is something equivalent to Ocean Star. A place like Hong Kong Pearl in Falls Church sometimes reaches that level, but they're not consistent.

                                          1. re: TripleAxel

                                            there's plenty of chinese north of DC in maryland (my college roommate freshman year was from rockville) to create demand, but culturally, i suspect it's still yum cha (the social experience) more than a culinary experience.

                                  3. re: andytseng

                                    I haven't been to SF in awhile, but when I did go to visit my uncles, they'd always go eat dimsum and it generally tasted better than avg places in 626. My uncles specifically request us not to take them to dimsum when they come down. Maybe that has changed in the past few years, but that's my view of sf vs la until my next trip up.

                                    socal is the land of value-oriented oversized oily dimsum with a few gems thrown in. The reason so many dimsum places are packed (and with locals) isn't because all the places are good, it's because they're cheap.

                                    1. re: blimpbinge

                                      That is your experience and I certainly respect that, but it certainly doesn't seem like the board generally agrees that sgv dimsum isn't anything special. And I think it's safe to say that a lot of the more active participants and posters in this thread have been to norcal, Vancouver, Asia, and beyond.

                                      1. re: andytseng

                                        I've had dim sum only in Nashville (one brief shining moment, and then the proprietor was mugged and killed), Hong Kong and LA. Late Pa-in-law took us repeatedly to Empress Harbor until we introduced him to 888, and he liked the food and adored the prices (as he always picked up the tab). The last out-of-towners we took there were my son, his wife, his brother, his mother and her husband. The latter two live in Aptos and are avid dim sum lovers, going to SF whenever they have the urge and can afford it.

                                        So as the meal progressed, everybody enjoying it a lot, my ex noted the chop marks piling up on the tab sheet, mostly midsection, and murmured something to her husband. Then she suggested that they'd like to treat us all; I thanked them but insisted the pleasure was mine. When the $67 tab came (for seven people) both northerners got all wide-eyed. The ex said, "Did they not forget to put a '1' in front of that?" And afterwards they both exclaimed at the wonder of getting such good stuff at less than half the price they were used to … and I decided that I'd get dim sum in SF only if I were either being treated or a lot richer than I am now.

                                        1. re: Will Owen

                                          Nice anecdote.

                                          And there you have it.

                                          I'll probably stick with LA dim sum too.

                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                            Not proper sit-down dim sum, but we always hit Good Mong Kok in SF Chinatown for some over-the-counter bao, siu mai, har gow. Cheap and delicious!

                                      2. re: andytseng

                                        No. The next best Bay Area dim sum places after Koi Palace rank below King Hua, Lunasia and Mission 261.

                                        1. re: Chandavkl

                                          20 of us went to Elite for dim sum last Saturday, and we found the food quality not up to par as in previous times. Some of us felt that Lunasia has now surpassed them as far as the quality of the food.

                                          1. re: TripleAxel

                                            I think your observation may be correct.

                                            1. re: TripleAxel

                                              It does not surprise me. One of the managers has left and told me things were not as they once were.

                                                1. re: ns1

                                                  Was there last weekend. Pretty much status quo.

                                                  1. re: ns1

                                                    But Sea Harbour is still much better than all these other SGV joints, right ????

                                          2. re: blimpbinge

                                            888 does not get busy anymore. Their pricing makes them less appealing than Five Star, Atlantic Seafood & Dim Sum, and Ocean Star - because these places serve dim sum for under $3.00 a plate (excluding the specialty items), and they do it fairly well. 888 is rather expensive when you compare them to other push cart dim sum palaces in the SGV.