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Thrillist's Top 8 Dim Sum Places in LA?

OK. This is so debatable. I don't see Empress Harbor being the best cart dim sum.... especially when I've had better at NBC Seafood (and the ground beef used at Empress Harbor has a funny taste and texture). Unless well off, I wouldn't recommend Hakkasan. I'd suggest Pingtung Eat-In Market. And Chynna for dim sum? Thoughts anyone?


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  1. I wasn't that impressed with my weekday excursion to Lunasia. I'd probably rate it 4th behind Elite, Sea Harbor and King Hua.

    3 Replies
    1. re: JAB

      To be 4th on that list isn't too shabby... Is it that... good?

        1. re: JAB

          my take on it is that if good cart dim sum is a 7 in terms of quality and freshness, elite & sea harbor are comfortably in the 9's, while lunasia & king hua are at least in the mid 8's, but when you factor in portion sizes, king hua & lunasia score a little higher; things like ha gao and siu mai are noticeably larger. such an order might be 50-75% more by price, but you're also getting more in volume. so 2 orders of one thing might prove more satisfying than 3 orders of the same thing from a cart place at roughly the same price. i find it notable that what i spend at king hua or lunasia is a lot closer to what i spend at a cart place than what i might spend at elite or sea harbor.

    2. IMHO the items in these lists are more "slapped on" than actually researched and vetted. It's intended to create controversy (thereby piquing interest / clicks).

      Marketing, baby, marketing...

      1 Reply
      1. re: J.L.

        You mean marketing for the writer, yes? Otherwise, methinks you give the "journalist" far too much credit.

        I like Lunasia, but I wouldn't call it the best. And the food there has never been "transcendent," IMO.

      2. Clarissa seems to move from one venue to the next promoting her opinions. Sometimes she is right. Other times, I don't get it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mc michael

          She's been pretty consistent in her praise of Lunasia.

        2. Like you say, it's debatable. Didn't see anything at all offensive. Price aside, Hakkasan is a great choice. Price included, you'll never see me there again.

          1. It's not a bad list. Everyone has their own preferences. I would have ranked NBC higher than Empress Harbor, but to each their own.

            1. i've never been porked at elite. i don't know why i keep going back. and i found the concept of lunch special dim sum somewhat amusing.

              1. I wouldn't use the word gummy as a positive adjective to describe har gow.

                1. I have been to Lunasia for dim sum a number of times. Each time it was good, but not on the same level as Elite, Sea Harbour or King Hua.

                  Because I like the Lunasia space so much -- I think it is among the "prettiest" of all the dim sum restaurants that I know -- I always think the food is better than it actually is.

                    1. I love the Empress Pavilion downtown. Nothing like ditching work in December and bringing the crew downtown for an adventure - it's just adventurous enough to freak out the interns.

                      6 Replies
                          1. re: barryc

                            But reopening under new ownership in a few weeks.

                            1. re: Chandavkl

                              i'm sure someone from the west side will justify loving it. (note from comment in thread below also applies here)

                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                That's interesting news. Same space?

                                1. re: jesstifer

                                  Heard it is the same space, renovating it, and the one of the new owners is the owner of Ocean Seafood down the street. Correct me if I'm wrong, Chandavki.

                        1. Next week on Thrillist ...

                          "Top 8 Wines Made From Grapes"

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            Top Nine Whines by Internet Posters

                            1. re: ns1

                              the top nine age old questions of whether you can justify overpaying to eat indifferently prepared chinese food on the west side?

                              NOTE: the sentiment expressed is not completely genuine, but neither is it completely irrelevant.

                          2. Listomania needs to die.

                            (typed as I listen to Phoenix)

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: J.L.

                              "Listomania needs to die."

                              Would that be the ultimate "bucket list" wish?

                            2. Surprised to see Capital Seafood in Arcadia on the list. I actually park in their lot sometimes when going to the Derby after races at Santa Anita, and have wondered about it. Has anyone been for dim sum? Has anyone been for dinner?

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: jesstifer

                                The dim sum and dinner are decent. The dim sum is markedly more expensive than the branch in Monterey Park. The main difference is that the place is designed for a business crowd. There are booths designed for small parties as well as large circular tables. It is quieter than many other dim sum places.

                                1. re: raytamsgv

                                  Thanks, ray. I think I'll go on Sunday for dinner. Any recommendations for dishes?

                                  1. re: jesstifer

                                    It's been a while, so I don't recall the dishes we had. Nothing stood out as superb, but the dishes were overall pretty good. I think Elite and other restaurants are better, but they are a bit of a drive away. There is nothing comparable in the Arcadia area. Sorry I can't give you any more detailed information than that.

                                    1. re: raytamsgv

                                      Thanks. Our race day routine involves drinks at the 100-1 dive bar between track and dinner so we look for places within blocks not miles. I'll report back.

                                      1. re: jesstifer

                                        santa anita is a gem -- do you ever get the sandwiches etc there? i find them pretty decent all things considered.

                                        1. re: jessejames

                                          After the Hollywood Bowl, Santa Anita is my favorite thing about L.A. And yes, the sliced deli sandwiches there are pretty great. I'm always especially impressed by the turkey. Always tender and juicy. Also the old school gringo tacos and tamales from the Mexican place in the food court aren't bad. And they've been having lots of food truck festivals recently too. There are much worse places to have Lobsta roll!

                                      2. re: raytamsgv

                                        I promised I'd report. Went with a group of five for early dinner, six o'clock-ish. Easy parking, nice room filled with almost exclusively Asian diners, which surprised me as this part of the SGV seems more diverse than the rest.

                                        We were all really hungry, but we all loved it. Filet mignon "French style" that was great, tender and sweet. Pork spare ribs in a spicy sauce and chopped into small chunks that invited you to eat the bone, too. Spicy eggplant and fried tofu with basil that was sooooo good. House special crispy noodles that were some of the best I've had: managed to keep a nice level of crispy that held up to stirring, and the middle wasn't all mush as can happen. Scallops and shrimp with vegetables that were solid if unspectacular. Tsing-tao that came icy cold in frosted glasses, which is always appreciated. Only disappointment was the Peking Duck, which I'd seen praised elsewhere and was really looking forward to. The pancakes were too big and marshmallowy, overwhelming the duck skin, which was underseasoned.

                                        Total was $28pp, and there were some leftovers. I was the only one drinking beer.

                                        We will definitely be going back. It's the best food I've had that close to the track. Looking forward to trying the dim sum, if we can ever get there with time to spare before the first race!

                                        1. re: jesstifer

                                          Thanks for the report! I'm glad you liked it.

                                2. Oh, Clarissa.

                                  > Simply put, Lunasia is LA’s best dim sum joint.

                                  Her opinion, stated with millenial bravado and total lack of humility or temperance. OK, let's examine the reasons why she feels this way.

                                  > It's beautiful on the inside, the servers all speak fluent English

                                  She has just illustrated that she is influenced by style over substance.

                                  > and most importantly, the food is transcendent.

                                  "Transcendent", the lazy food writer's crutch. It means nothing on its own. What makes the food "transcendent", specifically?

                                  > Unlike most dim sum, the portions at Lunasia are massive

                                  Dim sum is about eating lots of small tastes. WHY is massive portions a positive trait?!

                                  > a single har gow is stuffed with at least three pieces of shrimp inside its gummy, thin, and translucent wrapper.

                                  That sounds disgusting. Massive, overstuffed, gummy. What is going on here?!

                                  > And don’t leave without trying the flaky egg tarts, which're nearly overflowing with delicious custard.

                                  This is the only statement that I'm even slightly on board with.

                                  I just don't get this chick.

                                  Mr Taster

                                  16 Replies
                                    1. re: ns1

                                      And Mr. Taster's dentist wins too...all that gnashing of teeth has got to be hard on 'em...

                                      1. re: ns1

                                        Had I known who the author was beforehad, I would not have clicked....

                                        1. re: ilysla

                                          Chinese + list = we know who it is

                                          1. re: ns1

                                            TonyC sometimes gets drawn into the Chinese list pool, too. (Though I've never been able to determine if that is of his own doing, or his editor's.)

                                            Mr Taster

                                      2. re: Mr Taster

                                        The dim sum at Lunasia is very good, hence the long waits. I have not had better har gow, siu mai or dan tat at the other places

                                        1. re: Ernie

                                          Was the har gow gummy and transcendent?

                                          The long waits are attributed to lack of efficiency in my opinion. That place took much longer than other places such as SN1 and Elite after seating.

                                          1. re: A5 KOBE

                                            Your comment, A5 KOBE, is worthy of a hearty and well-deserved LOL.

                                            Mr Taster

                                            1. re: A5 KOBE

                                              The har gow at Lunasia is delicious, generous serving of very fresh jumbo shrimp. Not gummy at all

                                              1. re: Ernie

                                                Yeah, I was just messin with you. I have had the har gow at Lunasia and found it to be neither transcending nor gummy. Delicate in texture and perfumed with shrimpy fragrance.

                                                1. re: A5 KOBE

                                                  And plump! (assuming I'm not getting it mixed up w/ one of the other restaurants)

                                                2. re: Ernie

                                                  Three jumbo shrimp in one dumpling? That's nearly half a meal right there.

                                                  But I think maybe there's a "my bad" in there.

                                            2. re: Mr Taster

                                              Bingo! If the wrap of any dim sum is gummy, then that's usually a sign of it being overcooked or held in the steamers a bit too long.

                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  I ordered har gow at a place where it was served with the lid on the steamer. The first har gow I ate from the steamer, immediately upon removing the lid, was really difficult to remove, skin sticking against everything, but the subsequent ones, which I ate after a few minutes with the lid off the steamer, held together perfectly...

                                                  1. re: TheOffalo


                                                    We have the seen the enemy. And it is ... us.

                                            3. My faves a re still 888 seafood and. Ocean star.
                                              The photo of the xiaolongbao on the thrillist page shows again that the list is at best silly, and less charitably, ridiculous. Remember all the hype surrounding Mission 261? Surprised it didn't top this list.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Jerome

                                                Have you been to Ocean Star recently? I haven't been there in ages, since I heard post-change of ownership downhill reports many years ago from ipsedixit and the like. I've moved on to Elite, but I do miss the clattering carts.

                                                Mr Taster