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Dim sum at China Red: A Pictorial Essay

China Red is an exciting new player in the SGV dim sum scene. Following the dining trend for the past few years in Hong Kong and Canadian Chinese communities, there are no carts at China Red. One simply checks the items from the paper menus/order slips, and the fresh food starts arriving from the kitchen!

Parking: A relatively small lot for the capacity of the restaurant. Street parking is available, though.

Wait times: Considering it’s a “hot” new place in the Arcadia area - Unless your party arrives early (read: opening time), expect a wait.

Décor: Nice, clean and new! Very comfortable seating, and the tables do not feel too cramped. The obligatory live holding tanks filled with prawn, spiny lobsters, and king crabs are there, and will keep the young’uns entertained for a bit.

Tea selection: We are not very snooty about our tea, so we ordered the very vanilla Jasmine Tea, which was quite good.

Service: Above average! Our water and tea were kept constantly refilled, and new dishes were automatically given to us without having to ask. It’s easy to flag down any server for any additional needs.

Price: EXTREMELY affordable. Our party of 6 ordered over 70% of the menu, and the bill (food only) came out to about $94 (before tips). This place is a steal.

Now, on to the FOOD!!!

Highlights:

Steamed Char Siu Bao (fluffy bun, bursting with very tasty, flavorful char siu filling).

House Special Rice Noodle Roll (with fried prawn inside the chang fen; an interesting textural experience).

Sheng Jian Bao (I know, I know… not Cantonese, but my dining companions wanted to try it – Excellent char on the bottom, with a splendid filling).

Chilled Osmanthus Cake (more of a jello, this was very light and refreshing, with the clear taste of the osmanthus coming through).

But, my VERY favorite dish at China Red are their Egg Tarts Macau Style. Just incredible - These Macanese egg tarts are the best I’ve had so far in Southern California. The egg filling is fluffy, not flat in texture, and the flakiness of the shell is absolutely perfect. It is a splendid, gift-worthy egg tart.

Misses: The Mango Pudding tasted “off”, for lack of a better description. And while the Durian Pastry had an extremely light, delicious durian cream filling, it was encased in a crepe with the rubbery consistency of a fruit roll. I would have been happy just with a serving of that yummy durian sweet cream alone.

Overall, I would place China Red just below the level of my current SGV dim sum gold standard, Sea Harbour, at this time. However, they are relatively new, and I suspect they will be upping their game in the near future. It is definitely a high value (i.e. huge bang for your buck) dim sum experience. Try those Macau Style Egg Tarts!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

China Red
855 S. Baldwin Ave.
Arcadia, CA 91007
626.445-3700

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    1. thanks for the report, i also had a pretty positive experience here, other than the wait (from the "unlucky" thread):

      Ended up being able to go over the weekend. The wait wasn't long for a party of two, as they had a number of small tables avail.

      The menu reminded me of the one from Monterey Palace, some items and menu sections even had near identical names minus a character or two. The names in english were more extravagant than necessary imo.

      Got:
      Siu Mai - larger than average, but also below expectation. I couldn't even find shrimp on a few of them, and one fell apart as I picked them up. They reminded me of the big & messy ones I had at SH#1. I thought it was a sign of things to come, fortunately, that was the only poor item.

      "French style" char siu bao - It's a snow capped style bun that has a slight cookie finish on the top, but filled with char siu. The filling was fresh and packed with meat. Very little fatty or inedible parts.

      Golden egg yolk filled purple yam.. bao? - I'm not sure how to describe this, but it's the "lau sa bao" but with a chewy sweet potato tasting shell. I thought it tasted better than the steamed and baked kinds as the skin was unusual (but filling). Yellow "sand" pouring out of a purple bun is interesting. Another place to try this is at Monterey Palace, they do it quite well there.

      Fung zau (chicken feet) - Made extremely well, skin was fall off the bone good, and the sauce was so good we started using it to dip different things.

      Veggie Dumpling - this green dumpling was steamed quite well, the skin was like a chewier har gow skin, and green. One of them was already punctured by the time it got to our table. The innards appeared to be a veggie medley. It wasn't bad but I wish there was the same exact thing, but with shrimp or scallop.

      Scallop + tofu cheung fun - fried tofu and scallops in steamed rice flour rolls. Not bad, could use some salt.

      Mango pudding - Quite good, probably better than the stuff that phoenix serves as mango pudding. Nice texture and nice balance of flavor and sweetness.

      daan taat - We originally had ordered po taats, but they said "the machine we need to make it is broken" and asked if we'd like the regular ones instead. Lucky we got them, they were extremely good. Fluffy and sweet in the center, crispy and slightly flaky crust. Didn't fall apart as i picked it up and even held up well after i tore it in half. After eating that, I thought having po taats would have made the meal too heavy. This was the perfect dish to end dimsum. Though I want to try their po taats as well.

      Overall, it was pretty good. Service was prompt, and they even changed our plate halfway through the meal. Pricing was about $15 per person, so not the $10 or so you'll pay at places in monterey park, but I think the quality is there. I'll definitely be back to try other items.

       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
      3 Replies
      1. re: blimpbinge

        i also previously reviewed china red here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/978916

        since that's already out there, i will only say that i personally would hesitate to rank china red that close to sea harbor given the relative brevity of the menu. (those 3 pics are IT.

        )

        i also thought the shan jian bao were good, as well as the macao style tarts. i will go on to mention items that do not seem to have been mentioned in the previous posts here, they are the "lava" bao (sweet filling) and the cream puff with fuzzy pork as being good and relatively unusual for dim sum here in LA.

         
         
         
         
         
         
        1. re: barryc

          Thanks barryc. Your opinion (on the 8 items you ordered, as per the other thread you quoted) is respected. Our varied responses is part of what drives Chowhound.

          We tasted over 25 items at China Red, and thought the execution was good to very good on most of them, with only a few misses. It is up there with King Hua in my book.

          With regards to the "brevity of the menu": I am confused. You said on the other thread that "...in general i would rather see a place produce a smaller selection of things that they do well than a ton of mediocrity to try and appeal to everyone (*noodle world cough cough*) but that's me..."

          But then on this thread you mentioned about "...the relative brevity of the menu. (those 3 pics are IT.)"

          The above two paragraphs seem to be contradicting viewpoints.

          Each of us has a different idea of what a dim sum menu should look like, I suppose. China Red offers 60 dim sum items on the weekend (and that's not including special orders), and I think that's pretty decent. How many items in a dim sum menu do you usually expect? (And I truly am curious when I ask this, without being facetious or snarky at all)

          1. re: J.L.

            to clarify: my point is that i recall (and now that i think about it, this may be relatively subjective) that sea harbor has a more extensive menu. this is a good thing because i also consider the quality of S.H.'s items to be uniformly high. as i also place a certain amount of value on diversity of tastes, textures and the contrasts between them (this is strongly influenced by my experience with sushi) those who share this appreciation should find improved chances for a more enjoyable meal due to the increased diversity of the menu and ability to enjoy more contrasts.

      2. The food looks fantastic. When do they serve dim sum? Is it Sunday morning only?

        1. Fantastic photojournalism as always, to you and blimpbinge!

          Who would've thunk China Red had dim sum ...

          1. Sounds dope. Maybe I'll just go for a half dozen egg tartlets and some ossymanthus.

            5 Replies
            1. re: kevin

              ... that sounds like a recipe for success.

              And that ain't no joke.

              1. re: J.L.

                I have a hard time stopping eating those egg tarts. So light and yet not really I'm sure.

                1. re: jessejames

                  There's really no such thing as a bad egg tart. For me, anyway.

                  Just varying degrees of good.

                  Not so good, good, pretty good, really good, god fawking awfully good, etc.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Yes, Ipse, you're daantaat'in about that.

              2. Finally got to try China Red this weekend before heading over to the Huntington (about a 35 minute wait around 11:30). I thought the dim sum was good but not on a par with Elite or Sea Harbour or even King Hua. The place was attractive and service was good. We mostly stuck to standards: siu mai, har gow, shrimp egg roll, egg tart, beef ball, fish ball, rice noodle with shrimp (my least favorite of the items), and fried beef pancake (a bit doughier than others I've had). While I would go back if I were visiting the Huntington again, I would not consider it worth the trip of itself, the way I would for the other three I mentioned.