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Dim sum spread
Dim sum spread
Stan Lee

The Essential Los Angeles Dim Sum Restaurants, 2017 Edition

Ranking the best places for dim sum in San Gabriel Valley

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Dim sum spread
| Stan Lee

If you're looking for the best dim sum restaurant in the Los Angeles area, merely searching for the best dim sum restaurant on Yelp might not be helpful. In a genre that's fiercely guarded by nostalgia and emotion, the question of which dim sum restaurant reigns supreme in Los Angeles is a subject of constant debate.

What's not debatable, however, is that the San Gabriel Valley is home to some of the best dim sum restaurants in the US — the sheer concentration of restaurants serving dim sum dishes has lent itself to some fierce competition over the years, and the one-upmanship persists to this day. Here, a list of the finest dim sum restaurants in Los Angeles.

REMOVED: Shi Hai, King Hua, Atlantic Seafood

ADDED: Ocean Star

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Lunasia Dim Sum House

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Lunasia's Pasadena location is more than just an apt gateway dim sum experience: It's also perhaps the city's most consistently excellent overall. The key word here is consistency, as in year-to-year Lunasia has a standard of quality that can be reliably anticipated. Traditionalists might cry foul at the lack of Lazy Susans, and Lunasia's offerings will be the most expensive dim sum in the city, but it's completely worth it. The steamed dumplings really shine here, where fist-sized pleated har gao and siu mai are tightly constructed and exploding with flavor. Though some of its offerings err on the gimmicky side (avoid the truffled sīu máai unless you enjoy the taste of truffle dominating everything), stick to the basic steamed and fried dishes — including consistently excellent lo mai gai — to get a primer in the best dim sum the SGV has to offer.

Elite Restaurant 名流山莊

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Elite remains Monterey Park's premier dim sum restaurant. The quiet, toned-down dim sum experience sports a fantastic wu gok (taro root dumplings). A hurricane of golden fried tang flour and taro strands ensconce an appropriately savory filling that makes sense of the usually polarizing, lukewarm dish. The shu mai are also a standout, the firm pork dumplings practically bursting from the skins, accented by a single scallop and generously speckled with crab roe. The quality remains consistent year-to-year at this Montery Park institution.

China Red

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China Red has a funky name and some crazy long lines on the weekends, but it's not without reason. Prices and steamed dumpling size are a match for Lunasia (though a little inconsistent on the steaming execution, especially if you arrive near the end of service), but it's the chicken feet and dumplings in broth that really stand out here. The chicken feet especially might be the best in the city: Perfectly cooked, with the gelatinous fat just sliding off the bone to melt in your mouth with minimal mess. Don't miss the scallion dumplings and a very tender, easy-to-eat serving of spare ribs.

Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant

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You won't find a "best dim sum in Los Angeles" list without Rosemead's Sea Harbour, and it's still one of the most popular restaurants in the SGV. It's hard to miss with any of its steamed or fried dim sum options, and they've got quite the impressive selection of congee. Make sure to check out anything fried using pastry: Sea Harbour's buttery pastry is fantastic, and whether it's the baked pork buns or a silky egg-whites-only rendition of the Portuguese Egg Tart, it's diet-breaking food of the highest order. Har gao at Sea Harbour tastes decidedly more "fishy" than at China Red or Lunasia, and the rice noodles are thin but also slightly less substantial than its competitors'.

Ocean Star

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Ocean Star's sprawling dining room sports an opulent interior and pushcart service at brunch, making it one of the SGV's more bustling dim sum houses. It's one of the better pushcart experience to be had: Don't skip the watercress with goji berries, and since you're not watching the carbs, the youtiao rolled in rice noodles.

NBC Seafood Restaurant

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NBC might be one of a trio of Cantonese seafood restaurants with three-letter names resembling broadcast television stations, but among the three it provides the best pushcart dim sum experience. The massive, banquet-hall style room still can't seem to mitigate downright stomach-turning wait times, but not without reason. The portions on steamed dumplings are generous and there's a solid meat-to-bone ratio on the pai gwut, or black bean spare ribs, a general rarity.

Empress Harbor Seafood Restaurant

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Empress Harbor continues to hold it down as one of the better pushcart dim sum restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley, owing in large part to their great chicken feet, those black bean spare ribs, and a downright stellar flaky egg tart.

Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village

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Are the chairs completely ridiculous? Will the crimson panel walls and gaudy chandeliers make you feel like you're eating dim sum inside some swanky bordello? Are the shu mai massive and absolutely brimming with roe? Are those scalding soup-filled sheng jian bao absolute class? Yes.

888 Seafood Restaurant

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Despite being named 888 Seafood, the standout dishes at this SGV institution are the chicken feet and — if you're feeling offal — the ginger and scallion tripe. The latter packs a nice little texture combo of chewy and crunchy, allowing the diner to appreciate the combination of flavors of the offal and ginger and scallion. If tripe isn't quite your speed, the dim sum is more than serviceable, and 888 seems a little less packed on the weekends than its competitors.

Capital Seafood - Monterey Park

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Dim sum at Capital Seafood in Monterey Park has one major distinction: It comes recommended by Chef Hiroyuki Urasawa (yes, that one), who as fate would have it, is a huge dim sum fan. Provided that recommendation came eons ago (and the fact that Urasawa has been spotted more often at Sea Harbour as of late), those absurdly opulent doric columns have held up nicely over the years, putting a roof over one of Monterey Park's true pushcart institutions.

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Lunasia Dim Sum House

Lunasia's Pasadena location is more than just an apt gateway dim sum experience: It's also perhaps the city's most consistently excellent overall. The key word here is consistency, as in year-to-year Lunasia has a standard of quality that can be reliably anticipated. Traditionalists might cry foul at the lack of Lazy Susans, and Lunasia's offerings will be the most expensive dim sum in the city, but it's completely worth it. The steamed dumplings really shine here, where fist-sized pleated har gao and siu mai are tightly constructed and exploding with flavor. Though some of its offerings err on the gimmicky side (avoid the truffled sīu máai unless you enjoy the taste of truffle dominating everything), stick to the basic steamed and fried dishes — including consistently excellent lo mai gai — to get a primer in the best dim sum the SGV has to offer.

Elite Restaurant 名流山莊

Elite remains Monterey Park's premier dim sum restaurant. The quiet, toned-down dim sum experience sports a fantastic wu gok (taro root dumplings). A hurricane of golden fried tang flour and taro strands ensconce an appropriately savory filling that makes sense of the usually polarizing, lukewarm dish. The shu mai are also a standout, the firm pork dumplings practically bursting from the skins, accented by a single scallop and generously speckled with crab roe. The quality remains consistent year-to-year at this Montery Park institution.

China Red

China Red has a funky name and some crazy long lines on the weekends, but it's not without reason. Prices and steamed dumpling size are a match for Lunasia (though a little inconsistent on the steaming execution, especially if you arrive near the end of service), but it's the chicken feet and dumplings in broth that really stand out here. The chicken feet especially might be the best in the city: Perfectly cooked, with the gelatinous fat just sliding off the bone to melt in your mouth with minimal mess. Don't miss the scallion dumplings and a very tender, easy-to-eat serving of spare ribs.

Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant

You won't find a "best dim sum in Los Angeles" list without Rosemead's Sea Harbour, and it's still one of the most popular restaurants in the SGV. It's hard to miss with any of its steamed or fried dim sum options, and they've got quite the impressive selection of congee. Make sure to check out anything fried using pastry: Sea Harbour's buttery pastry is fantastic, and whether it's the baked pork buns or a silky egg-whites-only rendition of the Portuguese Egg Tart, it's diet-breaking food of the highest order. Har gao at Sea Harbour tastes decidedly more "fishy" than at China Red or Lunasia, and the rice noodles are thin but also slightly less substantial than its competitors'.

Ocean Star

Ocean Star's sprawling dining room sports an opulent interior and pushcart service at brunch, making it one of the SGV's more bustling dim sum houses. It's one of the better pushcart experience to be had: Don't skip the watercress with goji berries, and since you're not watching the carbs, the youtiao rolled in rice noodles.

NBC Seafood Restaurant

NBC might be one of a trio of Cantonese seafood restaurants with three-letter names resembling broadcast television stations, but among the three it provides the best pushcart dim sum experience. The massive, banquet-hall style room still can't seem to mitigate downright stomach-turning wait times, but not without reason. The portions on steamed dumplings are generous and there's a solid meat-to-bone ratio on the pai gwut, or black bean spare ribs, a general rarity.

Empress Harbor Seafood Restaurant

Empress Harbor continues to hold it down as one of the better pushcart dim sum restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley, owing in large part to their great chicken feet, those black bean spare ribs, and a downright stellar flaky egg tart.

Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village

Are the chairs completely ridiculous? Will the crimson panel walls and gaudy chandeliers make you feel like you're eating dim sum inside some swanky bordello? Are the shu mai massive and absolutely brimming with roe? Are those scalding soup-filled sheng jian bao absolute class? Yes.

888 Seafood Restaurant

Despite being named 888 Seafood, the standout dishes at this SGV institution are the chicken feet and — if you're feeling offal — the ginger and scallion tripe. The latter packs a nice little texture combo of chewy and crunchy, allowing the diner to appreciate the combination of flavors of the offal and ginger and scallion. If tripe isn't quite your speed, the dim sum is more than serviceable, and 888 seems a little less packed on the weekends than its competitors.

Capital Seafood - Monterey Park

Dim sum at Capital Seafood in Monterey Park has one major distinction: It comes recommended by Chef Hiroyuki Urasawa (yes, that one), who as fate would have it, is a huge dim sum fan. Provided that recommendation came eons ago (and the fact that Urasawa has been spotted more often at Sea Harbour as of late), those absurdly opulent doric columns have held up nicely over the years, putting a roof over one of Monterey Park's true pushcart institutions.

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