LA: dim sum at sea harbour

sea harbour
3939 rosemead blvd
rosemead, CA 91770

houston's chinatown is wonderful for all intensive purposes, but the quality, level of culinary skill, and creativity of really amazing dim sum does not exist. when i plan my L.A. trips, i look forward to a dim sum brunch which i think is better than the stuff i've eaten in manhattan and san francisco.

in the los angeles area, the best dim sum restaurants are in san gabriel valley, about 10 miles east of the downtown los angeles. on past LA trips, i've visited elite and 888 seafood restaurants. i wasn't too impressed by elite. today, based on chowhound.com reviews and some local LA blogs i've been reading, i decided to head to sea harbour which many claim is the best dim sum in L.A..

the wait for a table was an excruciating hour and a half on labor day monday. we arrived at 11:30 and received a number. they didn't tell us how long the wait was for a table and after almost 45 mins of waiting, the painful realization hit that they weren't even halfway to our number. we got a table around 1 pm. by that time they were out of some dim sum items. mad props to my friends who agreed to wait it out. i did notice that the large parties (5-8 people) were sat more quickly than our small party of 3.

dim sum is an off-menu affair at sea harbour. no push carts here but the regular menu has photos of every dim sum item which is also labeled with a number.

the order form. just correlate the numbered photos on the menu to the numbers on the order form and check off what you want. seasonal specials are stapled to the bottom of the form, but they are all in chinese. i could make out a few words but not enough to know what anything was.

39. steamed egg tofu w/fresh scallop in dry scallop sauce. the custard was light, very soft, and creamy. the steamed scallop was a little fishy the way steamed scallops inevitably taste.

63. french style goose liver wonton. in the photo on the menu, they looked fried. we ordered half a dozen. i actually sent back this dish when it was brought to the table b/c i didn't recognize it as something i ordered. i didn't know they were served in soup and 95% of the wontons were filled with shrimp. the tiny bit of foie was discernable and the wontons were delicious. this dish alone made the 20 mile drive and 1.5 hour wait for our table worth it all.

inside view of a foie gras and shrimp wonton. see the tiny piece of foie gras at the bottom? who knew how delicious fois gras would taste with shrimp?

11. chicken knee (cartilage) w/spicy salt & pepper. i first had this dish at elite in monterey park. the pieces of chicken cartilage were much larger and had more tender bits of meat and/or tendon here. i couldn't stop eating them because they were so tasty and crunchy, but not very spicy at all.

69. poached gai lan (chinese broccoli). perfectly cooked.

48. steamed rice noodle with minced beef. the rice noodles were the thinnest i've ever seen anywhere. this dish was the favorite of D's mom. sweet soy sauce was served on the side. (alliteration!)

17. eggplant stuffed w/shrimp paste. japanese eggplant was soft and tender, the shrimp stuffing was firm. the sauce was slightly sweet and sour. excellent composition and taste.

35. spareribs in black bean sauce. piping hot, fatty, juicy, and delicious! getting them this hot is definitely an advantage over the pushcart dim sum experience.

45. fresh shrimp dumpling w/chives. large pieces of shrimp inside which makes a chewier dumpling. they were out of the steamed shrimp and pea tips dumplings so we ordered these. good, but i bet the pea shoot dumplings are better.

1. steamed pork and shrimp dumpling (shu mai). very large, firm, and meaty. definitely the best i've ever had.

47. steamed juicy pork bun (soup dumplings or xiao long bao). come 4 to an order sitting in tiny aluminum pans to prevent soup leakage. delicious but not nearly the best i've had.

41. sticky rice wrapped with lotus leaf. 3 individual pouches per order. scroll down...

inside the lotus leaf is ground pork and preserved duck egg yolk. i love sticky rice and this version was no exception.

44. shark's fin scallop dumpling. the shark's fin is the stringy stuff on the crown of each dumpling. there wasn't much. just below the shark's fin is the sliced scallop which sits on top of a giant shrimp dumpling. i was a bit shrimp dumpling-ed out by this point. i also decided that scallops are so much better seared than steamed like this. this scallop was a bit fishy tasting too even though i had no doubts that it was very fresh.

9. custard egg tart. the pastry was light and flakey. the custard was rich, creamy, and still warm. i loved the custard to pastry ratio of these tarts. warm tarts is something you will be hard pressed to get at a pushcart dim sum place.

we all agreed that the wait was worth the food. and i have to agree that this is the best dim sum i've had in L.A.. very, very impressive.


iheartcochon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Food Princess said...

It looks delicious - was it expensive?

neverfull said...

@ iheartcochon - look at this other menu item with foie gras in it. they were out by the time we got our table: http://tinyurl.com/4a7mpt

@ foodprincess - we ordered all this food for 3 people and we paid $20 not including tip.

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