Dim Sum at J. Zhou (Los Angeles, June 2022)


Here, finally, is my last restaurant report from our time in Los Angeles in June. It is of our last meal eaten out, which coincidentally bookended the beginning of our eating out on that trip quite well. As you have doubtless memorized, our first meal was at 101 Dim Sum/Dim Sum 101 in Lomita. And this last also featured dim sum, at J Zhou in Tustin. Dim sum aside, the two restaurants are quite far apart in ambience and style. You could fit several 101 Dim Sums inside J Zhou and where the small restaurant is done up in a hipper, more contemporary style, J Zhou’s decor is in a more maximalist banquet restaurant style (unlike 101 Dim Sum, J Zhou becomes a Cantonese seafood restaurant in the evenings). Their menu too is much larger than 101 Dim Sum’s and contains a lot more than just the greatest hits/standards. But did it all add up to a better meal for us? Read on.

I think this may have been my first time in Tustin. At least I have no memory of having got off the freeway there before. It’s a fairly anonymous town and J Zhou is located in a fairly anonymous, albeit large, strip mall in it. We were eating on a Monday morning and so I didn’t bother making a reservation (if they would have even taken one for a party of four). We got there just around noon and found a restaurant that was quite busy, if not full. We also found a very shiny restaurant—quite a bit glitzier than the big dim sum houses in the SGV (your Lunasias and Sea Harbours and Capital Seafoods). Alas, not long after being seated we were given tea in a horrendously cracked teapot. This made us apprehensive about the relationship between looks and substance elsewhere in the restaurant.

On the whole, however, the kitchen allayed those apprehensions. The food was mostly quite good with some dishes rising to very good. A few things, however, did not do it for us. And nothing really stood out and made us think we’d want to come back again on our next trip.

What did we get?

  • Hargow: Very nicely done
  • Shiumai: A mix of pork and shrimp and also very good.
  • Sticky Rice Wrapped with Lotus Leaf: The sticky rice was not quite as sticky/gelatinous as we prefer.
  • Chicken Feet in Black Bean Sauce: This has been the one disappointment at Dim Sum 101 and I am glad to say J Zhou’s version was very good.
  • Steamed Rice Paper with Shrimp: Another standard item done very well.
  • Whole Smelt with Spicy Salt & Pepper: One of our favourites and very good here.
  • Crispy Beef Roll: One of the highlights of the meal.
  • Homestyle Green Onion Pancakes: Rather than pancakes what emerged were were very crisp crackers. Probably just a case of a faulty expectation on our part but this was a disappointment.
  • Eggplant Stuffed with Fish Paste in Spicy Sauce: Perhaps our favourite dish at the meal.
  • Egg Tofu with Fish Paste in Brown Sauce: This was also very good but not very good ordering on our part as it was quite similar to the previous.
  • Egg Tart: Very good.

For a look at the restaurant and the food, launch the slideshow below. Scroll down to see how much it all cost and where we’d place it in the greater dim sum scheme of things in Southern California.

So this was clearly a very good dim sum meal, one we’d kill to have available in Minnesota. I’m not sure, however, that it’s one we’ll return to when in Los Angeles. This because for the standard items—chicken feet, notwithstanding—there was really nothing separating J Zhou from the equidistant Dim Sum 101 and for the non-standard items we’d take the best of the San Gabriel Valley over them any day. And when you factor in price, the decision becomes even easier. With tax and tip we paid about $138 for this meal. Compare with $87 all-in at Dim Sum 101 and not very much more than $200 for a party of eight with more food and beer at Capital Seafood in December. Of course, if you live deep in Orange County the drive to the SGV may be a deal-breaker.

Alright, that’s Los Angeles done. I only have a few more of my Hawaii reports left. I should have one of those tomorrow. On Tuesday I’ll have a report on the Mexican lunch we are about to go out to St. Paul to eat. And next weekend I’ll start up my Ireland reports from July.


 

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