Sunday, December 04, 2005
Sea Harbour sets sail with chicken knees and more...
eggplant stuffed with shrimp
Before the dawn of Eating L.A., I had dim sum on my birthday two years ago at Sea Harbour. I returned today with Tara and John and their friend Peter, the sommelier at Norman's. Of course he had brought two interesting bottles of white wine, which at first I couldn't imagine drinking on the dot of noon. But as soon as our first course arrived, I changed my mind and happily tried the Zidarich from the Friuli region of Italy...it was dry and crispy, perfectly complementing our first courses of shrimp dumplings with chives and tofu with scallops. We went a little crazy at that point and the plates started arriving furiously...pork buns with a savory ground pork mixture inside, different from the usual barbecue pork; shrimp dumplings with peas, (below)
eggplant stuffed with a sort of seafood mousse, and chicken knees! I thought the little deep-fried piles of chicken on many of the tables looked good, but I nearly hesitated when I saw on the menu that they were chicken knees. Still, they were tasty little morsels with a distinctively chickeny flavor and just a small knob of cartilage to remove in each one...the knee joint, perhaps? Peter unveiled a German reisling from the 2001 vintage which he said was an excellent year for this slightly sweet wine which was completely different from the Italian wine, but equally nice with all the seafood. Obviously a true gourmand, Peter commandeered a plate of duck feet, but I'm afraid they looked just a bit too gelatinous for me, and besides, I was full of knees at that point. Still, the plates kept coming...the wonderful shark fin dumplings with scallops and shrimp, my first taste of sea cucumbers (tripe of the sea?), and durian rolls, which were not on the dessert menu but resembled a cross between an eggroll and an eclair. We finished with the light coconut/taro jello hearts, too full for their flaky egg tarts.
The verdict: With good service and a calmer feel than the usual dim sum free for all, Sea Harbour is my favorite spot for dim sum. Most of the dishes are lighter and more imaginative, too. I know some people are obsessed with the whole pointing-at-carts thing, but personally I've had enough cold, greasy taro dumplings off those carts to last the rest of my life.
3939 Rosemead Blvd.