Dim Sum at Lunasia, Again (Los Angeles, January 2019)


Dim sum is always high on our eating agenda when visiting Los Angeles. While there are some in the Twin Cities who seem to genuinely believe that there is dim sum here as good as anywhere else in the US, this has not been our experience in the 12 years we have been eating dim sum in Minnesota. And believe me, I would really, really love it if that were true. There are indeed cuisines and culinary genres in which the Twin Cites now have solid representation that matches well with all but the biggest and most diverse metros but dim sum is not one of those. On our trip to LA this winter, however, dim sum was not very high on my agenda. This because I was just a few weeks away from having eaten a number of dim sum and other dumpling-related meals in Hong Kong (see here). The missus, of course, was having none of that, not having been in Hong Kong with me. And so off we went to the San Gabriel Valley, the day before our return to southern Minnesota. Usually we’d go to Sea Harbour or Elite but on this occasion we decided to go back to Lunasia. We really enjoyed our meal there a few years ago with Sku and his family. Alas, the families couldn’t get together for dim sum on this trip—though we did eat some excellent Korean food together (on which more soon)—but we did manage to enjoy this outing by ourselves. Continue reading

Dim Sum at Sea Harbour, Again (Los Angeles, December 2017)


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.  Continue reading

Dim Sum at Elite, Again (Los Angeles, July 2016)

Elite: Sticky Rice
We skipped dim sum on our trip to L.A. last winter—this because we were going to be in Hong Kong a month later and it didn’t seem particularly urgent to eat dim sum in L.A. Now, of course, after five months in Minnesota, the opportunity of eating dim sum that is better than just acceptable was hard to pass up. I have to admit, however, that I was a little bit nervous: years of eating dim sum in the San Gabriel Valley has made it hard for me to get excited about dim sum in Minnesota (the best of which would be about third-tier in the SGV); would eating excellent dim sum in Hong Kong do the same to the SGV? Our meal at Lei Garden had been an order of magnitude better than any we’d ever eaten at Sea Harbour or Elite—would either of these places still do it for us? It was to one of these that we wanted to go, of course: they’re still the consensus top picks in the SGV. The fact that we were going to be eating on July 4 all but ruled Sea Harbour out. The waits can be 1-2 hours on regular weekends. Elite can be as crowded but for whatever reason we’ve always had luck getting in there, and so that’s where we decided to take our chances. How did it turn out? Read on.  Continue reading

Dim Sum at China Red (Los Angeles, July 2015)

China Red: Congee
China Red is a relatively recent addition to the top-end of the dim sum scene in the San Gabriel Valley—which is, of course, the best, from top to bottom, in the United States. It opened less than two years ago and gained a strong reputation very strongly. And, unlike another recent opening, Shi Hai, it has managed to hold on to that reputation. We didn’t eat there on our last few trips because a) I am always a little leery about new, hyped places; b) it’s in Arcadia, which is on the far end of the San Gabriel Valley from our home base in Koreatown; and c) relatedly, it’s hard to justify driving out that far when Sea Harbour, Elite, Lunasia and King Hua are all so much closer. It’s for this reason that we didn’t end up eating dim sum on this trip with Sku and his family as originally planned (we ended up at a different place with them, on which more later)—he was loth to drive the extra 10-15 minutes to Arcadia. We, however, were already going to be in the SGV in the middle of the week, last week, and so decided to cut across to Arcadia and finally check China Red out. Continue reading

Dim Sum at Lunasia (Los Angeles, Winter 2014/2015)

Macao Egg Custard
My very slow slow-motion survey of the major dim sum houses in the San Gabriel valley continues with this rather excessive meal at Lunasia—which was also eaten on our trip to Los Angeles in late December/early January.

Lunasia, depending on who you ask, is currently in the third or fourth position in the SGV’s dim sum hierarchy (Sea Harbour and Elite are uncontroversially above it and some would add King Hua as well). It is located in the same space in Alhambra that once housed Triumphal Palace, and like its predecessor (and the aforementioned contemporary luminaries) it offers dim sum not from carts but from an a la carte menu. When I first started eating dim sum in L.A (back in the mid-late 90s) the chaos of the carts was a large part of the attraction but the difference in quality between food that’s rolling around a large restaurant in carts and food coming straight from the kitchen to the table as it is ready is very hard to deny.

Continue reading

Dim Sum at Sea Harbour (Los Angeles, July/August 2014)

deepfriedsmeltLast year I reviewed our outings to Elite and King Hua, two of the most celebrated dim sum houses in the San Gabriel Valley (just outside L.A) but unaccountably failed to write up our meal at Sea Harbour, which is perhaps the most celebrated of them all. Well, we were there again within a few days of my arrival in L.A and here is a report on what was an excellent meal.

Sea Harbour, like Elite and King Hua, does not have carts—instead, you order from a menu and your dim sum is fresher and better for it. There were four adults and two small boys eating. This is what we got: Continue reading

Dim Sum at King Hua (Los Angeles, Summer 2013)

durianpuffThis report on a good but not great dim sum lunch at King Hua in Alhambra is the last of my meal reports from my recent two-week trip to Los Angeles. The family are still all there, and I will be going back for another two weeks in August, after which we will all return to Minnesota together. Doubtless, there will be more pictures of meals from that trip as well, but after this post it will be back to a steady diet of whisky reviews for a month. And a steady mostly vegetarian diet for me at home as I try to recover from a fortnight of reckless eating (I’ve been back a week and doing a pretty good job of sticking to it). Continue reading

Dim Sum at Elite (Los Angeles, Summer 2013)

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I am currently in Los Angeles for a couple of weeks with the family, visiting in-laws and catching up with some old friends. As I have a backlog of tasting notes saved up, whisky reviews will continue to appear regularly, but I am going to also be posting discussions and photographs of some of the meals we will be eating. Here to start is a report on our dim sum lunch from yesterday. Please excuse the quality of the pictures. I have a 8 year old Canon Powershot with a scratched lens and have never been the best amateur food photographer, and my clean-up abilities in Photoshop are only marginally better. Continue reading