Thanks to a less than indifferent meal at Yangtze in October I’ve had recent cause to once again deplore the dim sum scene in the Twin Cities. Fortunately, thanks to our recent trip to Los Angeles I’ve also been able to erase the memory of that meal courtesy a dim sum outing to one of the San Gabriel Valley’s finest: Sea Harbour. Along with Elite—or just above it, depending on who you ask—Sea Harbour remains at the top of the San Gabriel Valley dim sum scene. There have been some new challengers who’ve opened relatively recently—Longo Seafood is the latest in the San Gabriel Valley—but nothing I’ve read led me to want to go anywhere else for our one dim sum meal on our trip. And Sea Harbour rewarded my confidence: it was a very good meal.
We’d originally planned to eat at Sea Harbour on the Saturday before Christmas. That plan was hijacked by older members of the missus’ family and we ended up instead at Oo-Kook in Koreatown. We were not foolhardy enough to try to go to Sea Harbour on Christmas morning (ending up instead at 101 Noodle Express) and so it was on a weekday—a Wednesday, to be precise—when we arrived at Sea Harbour for dim sum. And there was still a wait with about 15 groups ahead of us. Thankfully, the wait was not too long and we were seated in less than 20 minutes.
The restaurant, as you would imagine, was bustling and there was no sign of a limited weekday service: special dishes were zipping around the dining room. We stuck, however, mostly with tried and true favourites—one of which, alas, suffered from some unnecessary fancification since the time we’d last eaten it. All of it was nonetheless of a very high quality. What did we eat? Read on:
- BBQ pork buns: a Sea Harbour classic and very good indeed.
- Minced fish and peanut congee: I think I prefer their dried scallop congee but I had no complaints about this one.
- Chicken feet in brown sauce: As good as this dish gets in the US.
- Deep-fried smelt: We miss this deeply here in Minnesota and it’s always gratifying to see it on the menu at Sea Harbour. Plump with roe and crisply fried, these little fish are great.
- Deep-fried squid: Also excellent and inhaled by the boys.
- Shrimp, dried scallop and celery dumpling: Very good indeed.
- Shiumai with truffle sauce: Why they’ve muddied their excellent shiumai with this pointless “truffle sauce”, I don’t know. They’re best eaten with the sauce scraped off.
- Radish cake with assorted preserved meat: A bit much for two people to eat but very tasty with interesting textural contrast.
- Chinese lettuce in oyster sauce: Our gesture at healthy eating.
- Steamed rice noodle with bbq pork: Just excellent.
- Steamed beef ball: There was nothing wrong with this but it didn’t get us too excited.
- Steamed bun with preserved egg: Though described as savoury this is really dessert-like.
Yes, we were only two adults and two small children eating—what’s your point?
For pictures of the restaurant and the food, launch the slideshow below. Scroll down for price etc.
All of this plus tea, soft drinks, tax and tip came to just about $100. And it was enough food for four adults probably, so just about $25/head—which is a very good deal in the abstract for the quality of the food and almost criminally good compared to what we pay for far, far inferior dim sum in the Twin Cities. Service was the usual SGV brusque. Oh yes, I forgot to note that Sea Harbour seems to be expanding its space: there was construction in progress on one side.
On our next trip we might venture out to Longo Seafood for dim sum and maybe we’ll finally go to Sea Harbour for a Cantonese seafood dinner instead (which is what places like Sea Harbour and Elite actually specialize in). In the meantime, we might go back to A&L Chinese in Inver Grove Heights here in Minnesota and see if their dim sum is still decent. My next food report, however, will be from Los Angeles again. I’m almost done with my run of reviews from the recent trip: only two or three more after this, I think. And then it’ll be a steady of diet of Minnesota reviews for a while. And I might also get back to posting a recipe or two.