Showing posts with label dim sum. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dim sum. Show all posts

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Pingtung Eat-in Market: Dim sum and a swell patio on Melrose

Asian snacks line the walls, but there's also a bar and plenty of tables

Decent Chinese food is tough to find west of Downtown -- maybe even west of the San Gabriel Valley -- so Pintung Eat-In Market is a very welcome addition in the heart of the Melrose shopping strip. Just a few doors down from where Tommy Tang married New Wave to Thai food, Pingtung is a new wave restaurant of this era: Fun Asian snacks and loose-leaf tea in jars line the wall (that's the "Eat-In Market" part), the back patio offers a couch for lounging, iced coffee is bottled Stumptown cold brew.
spicy shrimp dumplings aren't often seen east of Downtown

About two dozen varieties of dim sum are the star of the pan-Asian menu, which also offers ramen, rice bowls with meat and tofu toppings, sushi and "flatbread" - similar to the beef rolls seen at dumpling houses in the San Gabriel Valley. On a recent lunch visit, we tried pleasant crystal spicy shrimp dumplings, with larger pieces of shrimp than in the typical har gow, drenched in a mild chile oil.
Homestyle tofu is slicked with a mildly spicy Szechuan peppercorn sauce
A spicy bean curd homestyle rice bowl came with a nicely peppery bowl of hot and sour soup and tofu with a decorous but still lightly numbing amount of spicy peppercorns. Chicken flatbread roll slicked with hoisin was even better later that day when the flavors had melded.
hot and sour soup and chicken roll, at rear
 This was all a very promising start for an Asian restaurant in that area, and I'll return soon for some pan-fried pork buns, crispy shrimp balls and soup dumplings.
To drink, there's a large selection of tea, coffee, sake and shochu, beer and Asian sodas.
Pintung Eat-In Market
7455 Melrose Ave.
(323) 866 1866

Pingtung on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village: Dim Sum Also Stands Out at 'L.A.'s most ambitious Chinese Restaurant'

shrimp dumpling with chives
By now most Chinese food lovers have made a pilgrimage to Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village, which Jonathan Gold called "the most ambitious Chinese restaurant to open in Los Angeles in a decade -- maybe ever" when it opened a little over a year ago. It earned a spot on his 101 Best Restaurants list, but he specified that the Cantonese-style daytime dim sum is made a by a different crew. That may be, but the quality is up there with places like King Hua and Elite, and the ability to make reservations and eat under crystal chandeliers should not be underestimated.
one giant special soup dumpling feeds three or four people
With its ornate decor and huge, lavishly photographed menu, Shanghai No. 1 makes a great dinner destination when something more special than a dumpling shop is on the agenda.
But weekend morning dim sum is also a real treat there -- and considerably more afforable than a seafood banquet at dinner.
steamed rice noodle with crueller: combines noodles and donuts
It's order off the menu (sorry, no carts, for those who like that), making for an exceedingly civilized experience. The only thing that's not civilized will be you, trying to cram a copiously-stuffed har gow (shrimp dumpling) into your mouth in one piece.

deep-fried shrimp taro roll was a delight

When ordering dim sum from the checklist menu, it's best to get a few familiar favorites and then take some chances with less-familiar plates. There are no photos, so it's not always clear what plates will end up being the best, but at $1.98, $2.98 and $3.98 a plate, it's hard to go too wrong. The variety might not be quite as big as Sea Harbour or King Hua, but nearly everything was nicely balanced, generously sized and freshly made.
these puffy pancakes are filled with durian-scented whipped cream -- for durian lovers only!
Among the less-usual dim sum were peanut pork and chicken celery dumpling; shrimp dumpling with chives, steamed crab meat dumpling, deep fried shrimp taro roll, tofu with abalone sauce and steamed rice noodle with crueller.
Gelatinous tubes stuffed with red bean paste? Sure, I'll try one.

Desserts are interesting too, including an odiferous, yet delicate, durian cream stuffed pancake, wobbly honey sponge cake and tubular osmanthus (lotus) with red bean sliced cake. 
Where to go for dim sum? If you haven't tried Sea Harbour, you certainly should. And don't shed too many tears over the demise of Empress Pavilion, which hadn't been good in years. Give Shanghai No. 1 try instead.

Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village
250 Valley Blvd.
San Gabriel
(626) 282-1777

Monday, November 09, 2009

Lunasia takes dim sum in new directions

Foie gras dumplings appear on the menu as fro gura dumplings; they're earthy, nicely packaged and worth the upcharge.

If you're like me, you probably started eating dim sum at a vast banquet hall like Ocean Seafood Downtown or Harbor Village in Monterey Park, where stern ladies pushed carts around the room, laden with greasy, delicious, but often lukewarm puffy pork buns and the slippery goodness of har gow dumplings. Maybe you moved on to start ordering from the menu of sophisticated dim sum at Sea Harbour, which made a trip to Rosemead well worth the effort.
Lunasia in Alhambra, a descendent of Triumphal Palace formerly in the same spot, adds several more items to the canon of nouveau style dim sum, for a mostly pleasing result.

Salt and pepper squid with garlic is better than most other versions of fried calamari, though the briny ocean flavor is more pronounced than most.
Crispy duck pie in a flaky puff pastry is a more sophisticated take on the bbq pork bun, but with a similar interplay of sweet, meaty and doughy.
Shark's fin dumpling is a ginormous specimen floating in a light broth, sort of a won ton on growth hormone. This one didn't wow me, with almost too-subtle flavors, but it's hard to share a dumpling the size of a kid's head with your fellow diners.

Marshall from Fooddigger came along with two red wines, I think a Barolo and a Nebbiolo, as he wanted to see how Italian reds would pair with dim sum dishes. They might have overwhelmed the more delicate seafood dumplings, but were perfect with pork belly and sliced char siu pork. We also liked the traditional har gow and shu mai, shrimp noodle and a thin, crispy bacon scallion pie (right) that should really be a bar snack served everywhere.
Lunasia has a nicer atmosphere and prices are slightly higher than the sling-the-buns on your plate kind of place, but it's worth it to have a less frenetic experience. Plus, they accept reservations for groups.

500 W. Main St.

Lunasia Chinese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dim sum ride goes bigtime

Several people borrowed Flying Pigeon bikes from China for the ride.

I finally made it back to the Flying Pigeon Bikes dim sum ride today, happy that the destination was Luscious Dumplings in San Gabriel. But when Flying Pigeon's Joseph and Adam saw how big the turnout was -- about 35 bikers and three babies -- they realized we would never all fit in the tiny dumpling shop. There were a few more people than usual, and a wider age range, due to the spread on the brothers in the bike feature Revinvent Your Wheels in the March Sunset magazine.These flaky pork rolls danced on the edge between sweet and savory...pork pastry!

Nearby Mission 261 is closed for remodeling so we backtracked to King Hua, where I've eaten several times. But my tablemates, several on vacation from Sacramento, were happy to let me go crazy on the dim sum checkoff sheet and get things like chicken salad buns, shrimp dumplings with chives, flaky pork pastries, seaweed salad and all the usual favorites. Despite a change of plans, someone's flat tire and some sleepy toddlers, it was a great ride. The next ride is a month from now; check the blog for details. The Flying Pigeon store re-opens around April 1 in its new location next to the Bike Oven at 3714 Figueroa Ave.
If you haven't noticed, Sunset magazine has become super-hip and foodie-friendly. Not only did they feature Flying Pigeon, but EatingLA got a great shoutout in Blog Roll section. Plus this month has a really complete tour of "Tehrangeles" -- Persian Los Angeles, a blurb on Esotouric and a big story on food carts in Portland. The only thing that's still retro about Sunset is that you have to buy a physical copy to see most of these stories.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Dim sum with the baby foodbloggers

Lovely flaky egg tarts at Hop Li Arcadia

For some reason I seem to have had more dim sum in the past four months than in the four years before that. This Saturday a group of food bloggers met up at the Arcadia Hop Li, which turned out to be really good for cart dim sum. The food bloggers are ready to launch the next generation of bloggers -- Pam from Daily Gluttony, Jonah from la.foodblogging and Jessica from RitzBites all brought their adorable baby boys. Also there were Pauline (aka Maxmillion) from la.foodblogging, H.C. from LA and OC Foodventures, Josh from FoodGPS, Mattatouille and Javier from Teenage Glutser. The egg tarts were some of the best I've had since the late, lamented Macau Street, the char siu bao were like succulent baby BBQ pork sandwiches, and the "provincial-style" shu mai (right) were interesting and different. And the taro dumplings were far better than at Top Island, with juicy ground pork on the inside and lacy freshly-fried taro on the outside (left). H.C. very helpfully peppered the servers with questions in Chinese about what was in some of the items. The only one I didn't care for was one of the shrimp dumplings, which was giving off a funny off smell. Arcadia is a bit far, but if you want dim sum on the traditional carts, I'd definitely recommend Hop Li.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Top Island: land of dim sum plenty

I haven't been to dim sum with carts in quite a long time, but some old friends I hadn't seen for a long time suggested Top Island Seafood in Alhambra, so I was game to try it. It wasn't too crowded yet at 10 am on Saturday, and we were quickly seated in a massive room in a large strip mall. The carts started coming fast and furious. We were craving the real old-style dim sum -- giant fluffy char siu bao, fried taro, delicate har gow. The steamed char siu bao never did show up, but we tried lots of things that were different from what I'm used to at Sea Harbour and King Hua. The only problem was that we had no idea what they were called or what was in them, but no matter, most tasted pretty good, if not quite up to the level of the more gourmet places. Small wrapped dumplings (above right) married chopped green veggies with perhaps shrimp or pork; hard to tell, but at least we were getting our greens. We motioned toward the beef noodle plate, only to be given a large rice noodle encasing what seemed to be, according to commenter H.C, a deep-fried Chinese doughnut (bottom right) -- that was different! My favorite taro dumplings appeared, in a decent rendition (left). But I had forgotten how hard it is to get yum cha that's still hot off the carts, and most of them suffered by cooling off too much turning a bit greasy in the process. We also tried green pepper stuffed with shrimp, fried shrimp dumplings, fried shrimp balls on sticks with mayo, baked char siu bao, and a dessert-like bao filled with coconut cream that Mo likened to raw cake batter (pictured behind the taro). Prices are low and it was jammed by the time we left, so apparently it's a very popular place. I'm glad I got to try several different kinds of dim sum, but I'd have to say, Top Island is more of a price and variety place than a top quality dim summery.
Top Island
740 E. Valley Blvd.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

King Hua: Easy dim sum in Alhambra

Wolf berry pudding -- dim sum dessert

My favorite dim sum for several years has been at Sea Harbour in distant Rosemead. I soon grew to prefer ordering from a menu with pictures to flagging down a cart, especially since I've been flagging carts in Chinatown since I was just a wee lass. So when I heard that several chefs or other personnel from Sea Harbour had decamped to the new, closer King Hua in Alhambra, I was itching to try it out. Steamed egg tofu with fresh scallop in dry scallop sauce

The only trouble was that it was about 110 degrees in the San Gabriel Valley the week I heard about it, as Jonathan Gold noted in his review, which just didn't put me in the mood for dim sum. So we finally convened a small group to eat there, only to find Abby's much larger Pleasant Palate group also sequestered at the rear of the restaurant. It's a large place with a huge parking lot; even though we made reservations, there was no "sweating hordes," as Gold described, waiting at 11 am on a Saturday.
King Hua was much better than I had expected, although some items perhaps lacked the delicacy and finesse of their Sea Harbour counterparts. The menu is identical, with all the greatest hits like eggplant stuffed with shrimp and shark fin dumplings. Kathy thought the pan-grilled pork with dried scallop bun was one of the best dim sum items she's had and we all liked the bizarre "seafood salad roll," which is basically a blob of shrimp and mayonaise deep fried in breadcrumbs. I thought fried corn pastry were going to be my new favorite food, but they were too chewy with rice flour to truly delight. Rice noodle with chicken and bitter melon was bitter and slimy but in a very good way. Steamed egg tofu with scallops, my favorite dish at Sea Harbour, acquired an oddly murky brown gravy. Shrimp and chive dumplings

Have you ever found a dish you love more than the way it actually tastes?That's how I feel about wolf berry pudding. It's got wolf or goji berries, which are healthy, it clears the palate after salty dim sum, and it looks like the inside of a lovely little aquarium. Somehow it doesn't matter that the actual flavor of it is just sort of sweetened clear jello.
Verdict: Well worth a try if you've exhausted the other dim sum choices or are just looking for a less-crowded place. Also handy if you want to hit Fosselman's, Target or Costco afterwards.
King Hua
2000 W. Main St., Alhambra

King Hua on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 27, 2006

Tasting notes

Haven't gotten to anyplace worthy of a full review's a few notes from places I've been the last week or so.
New Concept: We returned for dim sum, this time with a reservation -- no hour wait, yay! With six people, we had a great selection of dishes. Standouts were the lotus root stuffed with shrimp, the mushroom/pinenut/abalone dumplings, the Shanghai dumplings and the shark fin dumplings, although the green wrappers have gone from natural looking green to positively flourescent green, it seems.

Verdict: I like Sea Harbour a bit more, but New Concept definitely has some dim sum standouts. Here's my New Concept review from exactly a year ago.

El Compadre: A few posters on Chowhound tout El Compadre as their Eastside Mexican restaurant of choice, so we tried it out with the carne asada-munching Chowteen. Verdict: You gotta love the flaming margaritas, and the guacamole was mighty tasty. But all our dishes seemed overly greasy. So I'm going to have to stick with Malo and Barragan's, unless I'm in the mood to make a meal of guacamole and flaming margaritas. Also the mariachis are pretty loud, but a drunk guy did fall off his barstool, which was kind of entertaining, in a midget-tossing kind of way.

Hop Li: Some people choose this place as their favorite Chinatown restaurant, so we went back to try it out. I remembered the Peking duck wasn't bad, but couldn't remember anything else. Verdict: We didn't have the duck this time, but our dishes were underwhelming. If there's something I missed, please leave a recommendation for what you like there. Otherwise, it's back to Full House Seafood if I'm eating in Chinatown.

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 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.
Sea Harbour
3939 Rosemead Blvd.
(626) 288-3939

Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Taste test: New Concept

We tried to get to New Concept for dim sum several weeks ago, before the Chowhounds and the L.A. Times tried it. But circumstances intervened, and it didn't happen until this weekend. At noon Saturday, the wait turned out to be well over an hour, so I was about ready to pass out when we finally sat down. A waiter passing by with a plate of small fried fish asked if we wanted some, and I fell upon them voraciously in hopes of stabilizing my blood sugar enough to parse the menu. The fish could have been a bit hotter, but were nicely fried, exactly like an Italian fritto misto, with a sprinkling of fresh chiles.

Among the dishes we sampled were abalone mushroom dumplings -- earthy and pleasantly chewy, but we pressed the vinegar from the Shanghai dumplings into service as a dipping sauce. The Shanghai dumplings -- the ones with the soup inside -- were very gingery. Pan fried turnip cake with spicy x.o. sauce didn't excite me too much; we were happier with shark's fin dumpling, in which a beautifully green rice dough wrapper enclosed a filling of shrimp topped with a small piece of shark's fin and some red roe.

The hollow vegetable with fermented bean curd sauce was Chinese spinach with a really flavorful sauce which tasted like a combination of tahini, mayonaise and chilis, definitely a hit. The traditional bbq pork bao were light and fresh. One of my favorites was the panfried scallops and taro cake, which was a flat, square cake of peanuts and scallops held together with taro root and fried until crispy. Very nice flavor, but again, even better with a dab of the fermented bean paste sauce. For dessert, the green tea flavored dumplings didn't taste that much of green tea, but the black sesame paste filling kind of grew on me; and the egg custard tarts were flaky and eggy in the best possible way.

The verdict: I didn't find New Concept quite as delicate and imaginative as Sea Harbour, but it's certainly a cut above the rolling cart dim sum places. A certain tolerance for long waits and less than solicitous service is helpful. Although I had heard it was somewhat expensive, our huge lunch came to only $15 each. The dinner menu seems to be much higher, but with dishes like pan-fried prawns with toasted oatmeal and steamed shark's fin with cream, it might be worth a splurge.
New Concept Restaurant
700 S. Atlantic Blvd.
Monterey Park
(626) 282-6800