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

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

With the exception of the Shanghai pork buns, Shanghai No. 1 is a dreadful restaurant, so I'm very surprised at the praise from JG and now from you. Repeated chef turnover problems, sloppy and slow service, and very inconsistent never know what you're going to get. I for one have simply written them off...