UPDATED: Dim Sum at Capital Seafood 金都 in Beverly Hills

UPDATED: Dim Sum at Capital Seafood 金都 in Beverly Hills

UPDATED: Please advance to the end of the post.

Ever since the loss of Royal Star in Santa Monica around the turn of the century, and the change of ownership of VIP Harbor Seafood Restaurant in Brentwood that became The Palace, the westside of Los Angeles became deficient of a Chinese restaurant that can serve up an excellent and complete dim sum menu.  The opening of Capital Seafood in Beverly Hills (taking over the space that was previously occupied by Newport Seafood Restaurant) has changed that, bringing solid quality dim sum that is better than The Palace, but cheaper than Bao Dim Sum in the Fairfax District and Shanghai Rose in Studio City.  Interestingly, this Capital Seafood is affiliated with the location in Arcadia but not the ones in Irvine.

While most of the items were solid and were prepared well (the rice noodle wrap dishes featured rice noodle sheets that were thin and soft, but not overcooked and gummy).

The Salt Pepper Soft Shell Crab was wok tossed not only in salt and white pepper but also ample amount of minced garlic, chopped chiles, and scallions.  The flavor was bold with a nice peppery and spicy kick to it.

However, there were a few dishes with issues, particularly the Minced Beef Balls.  They were made with too much filler (usually corn starch) in it that made it relatively flavorless and very pasty in texture.

The Leaf Wrapped Sticky Rice were rather small in size, and there wasn’t much filling inside the rice.

For me, the Seafood Crispy Noodles was executed well, but the dish’s quality was diminished by the use of imitation crab meat.  Rather than imitation crab meat, perhaps the usage of a few bay scallops would provide the variety of ample seafood, without increasing the costs of the dish.

And for a more upscale style of dim sum place, their service was wonderful and attentive.

Pricing for their dim sum are broken down into 4 tiers:  “A” level dim sum is $4.95 per order, “B” level is $5.95, “C” level is $6.95, and “K” level is $7.95.  “K” dim sum are usually the vegetable dishes, as well as specialty dim sum dishes such as Salt Pepper Calamari or Salt Pepper Chicken Knuckles.  The pricing is actually very reasonable for the area and for the quality of the dim sum you are getting.

UPDATED:  Since posting a review on Yelp mentioning the strange consistency and taste of the Beef Meatballs; the deficient amount of filling the Lotus Leaf Wrapped Sticky Rice; and the use of imitation crab meat in the Seafood Chow Mein with crispy noodles, their PR person sent me message indicating that they had taken my critique wholeheartedly and have asked their chefs to rework on the recipe for the Beef Balls; swapped the imitation crab meat out of the Seafood Chow Mein with crispy noodles with snow crab meat (though very little, while keeping the price the same); and making sure the ratio of meat filling to the Lotus Leaf Wraps are consistent.

The Lotus Leaf Wraps made with sticky rice are more enjoyable as you do bite into seasoned ground pork now.  Before, you could hardly taste anything aside from the sticky rice.

The Beef Balls have a much better consistency to them now.  They are no longer pasty in taste and in texture.  But the flavor isn’t quite there yet, so perhaps you may want to have them douse some Worcestershire sauce over them (influence by the British in Hong Kong pre-1997).

However, now, I find issues with their salt-pepper dishes (the protein is given a much too thick of a coating, making the outside thick and too crunchy), and the bean curd skin rolls (the sauce has too much corn starch in it, so when the dish is served, you can see the gelatinous nature of the sauce).

But their roast duck was delicious.  Skin was roasted to a nice crispiness.  And for $18.95, that was quite a sizable half-duck.

 

 

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Dim Sum Dinner at Lunasia Chinese Cuisine 金凱旋宮 in Alhambra, CA

Dim Sum Dinner at Lunasia Chinese Cuisine 金凱旋宮 in Alhambra

These days, if you can’t make it for a dim sum brunch early weekend hours, then having dim sum for dinner is becoming a more and more of an option here in the Greater Los Angeles area.

Lunasia’s current dim sum menu offers the traditional items as well as some fancier dim sum dishes such as the Scallop Dumplings with Squid Ink Wrap, Baked Abalone Tarts, and the Pan Fried Pork Bun with added Crab Meat.  While we loved the Scallop Dumplings and the Pan Fried Pork & Crab baos, we didn’t feel the same with the Baked Abalone Tart, as the abalone was quite hard.

Dim sum, for the most part, is priced the same for both lunch and dinner hours, and the execution of many of the items we ordered were quite good.  The only dishes that didn’t work for us were the rice noodle rolls.  Both types we ordered were overcooked.

Another plus about having dim sum at this location at night?  Less crowds, ample parking, and there’s no feeling rushed to finish your meal so that they can flip the table quickly for the next party.

Dim Sum and More at Longo Seafood Restaurant 鴻德品位 in Rosemead, CA

Dim Sum and More at Longo Seafood Restaurant 鴻德品位 in Rosemead, CA

Longo Seafood sits in the space that once was Sun City Seafood Restaurant, which also served traditional, but inexpensive, dim sum where you order from various carts that roam about the dining area continuously.   Sun City lasted for about 6 years before going through a change in management.  Sun City then closed and reopened as Crown Palace.  Dim sum wasn’t any better than its predecessor, and after 9 months, Crown Palace shuttered its doors.

Fast forward to over a year later, and the space went through a complete renovation inside and out, but mostly inside.  It was lavishly decorated to give a feel of a higher end Chinese dim sum palace.  More importantly, the food has improved substantially, with offerings of specialty dim sum that are made from high end quality ingredients such as black truffles, foie gras, and wagyu beef.

However, without proper execution, or even proper development of recipes, adding higher end ingredients to traditional dim sum dishes doesn’t necessarily mean that dish will work.

Foie gras used in a steamed dumpling was first done by the original owners of Lunasia in Alhambra when it opened about 10 years ago.  The one item that was to be their signature dish was their Foie Gras Dumpling, which was a roundish steamed dumpling with a shrimp filling, topped with a small piece of foie.  Unfortunately, for the most part, these dumplings were overcooked, so when you bit into one you, you bit into a piece of overcooked duck liver as well, leaving your mouth with this dry, gritty muddy taste that overpowered the shrimp filling.

Longo, though, does do a better job at presenting foie gras in a steamed dumpling.  With a clean palate, you can get that subtle hint of foie from your first bite into their dumpling.  The problem was that, it was just a hint.  Unless you’re able to identify the flavor, you’ll easily miss it.  For many at my table, it was not worth paying the extra money for that.

More successful are Longo’s Black Truffle Siu Mai.  I taste finely shaved black truffles placed on top of their siu mai (pork and shrimp dumplings).  You do get that truffle flavor with every bite.  At about $3 per dumpling, it’s a better deal (and taste) than the Black Truffle XLBs at Din Tai Fung (which run about $4.50 per mini-XLB).

Having Wagyu Beef in rice rolls (cheung fun) is like making a hamburger patty out of Kobe beef, a seemingly waste.  The beef in these rice rolls come across as overcooked.  I prefer the traditional beef rice rolls made with a marinated ground beef filling.

And while the Longo Lobster Dumplings weren’t bad, ordering the Longo Shrimp Dumpling will give you the same experience.  Only a small piece of lobster meat is placed on top of the shrimp filling inside the Longo Lobster Dumpling, and the flavor and texture of the lobster disappear when it becomes overcooked in a dumpling that’s 80% shrimp inside.

Service is typical as to what you expect from other dim sum palaces.  Just because they look higher end in decor inside, and offer fancy dim sum dishes, you’re not going to be treated as you would while dining at Patina.

And did anyone leave here with a dry mouth?  Whenever I get that dreadful feeling, it’s usually because the food has been seasoned with too much salt.

As always, click on the thumbnail to enlarge the photo.

Sichuanese and Cantonese Food at Hop Woo Restaurant 合和 in West LA

Sichuanese and Cantonese Food at Hop Woo Restaurant 合和 in West LA

I can remember when Hop Woo first opened on the Westside.  It was around 2000, and I was working for a solo practitioner/attorney in Bel Air at the time.  I discovered them when I was running errands in the area.  At that time, much like their sister restaurant in Chinatown, they were serving solid Hong Kong style Cantonese food, as well as offering a deli section with roast pork, BBQ pork, roast duck and soy sauce chicken to name a few.  However, when the interest plateaued over the years, so has the quality of the food.  And with that, the crowds became smaller at nights and weekends.

Recently, noticing the Los Angelinos’ craze for authentic Sichuanese cuisine, a new manager brought in a chef who specialized in preparing popular Sichuan dishes, and the result, from word of mouth, was packed dining rooms full of Chinese expats who work in the area or work/study at UCLA.

When ordering the Sichuanese dishes, ask specifically for the Sichuan 四川 menu, a paper menu, separate from the regular menu.  When ordering dishes such as Mapo Tofu or Kung Pao Chicken, which appear on both menus, indicate you want the Sichuan menu preparation, so that you don’t end up with the Americanized version.

The highlight of the menu is the Spicy Chicken (口水雞, cold chicken in spicy chile oil), where the meat is moist and silky, the type of chicken meat you expect in Hainan Chicken, but only now, it’s drenched in a bath of red chile pepper oil with sesame seeds.  Add Sichuan peppercorns, and you have an amazing dish that tingles you mouth nicely.

Their other dishes are quite good as well, especially when you ask them to reduce the amount of salt used in the preparation of the Sichuan dishes.  Sichuanese and Hunanese restaurants in the US, for some reason, use a lot of salt in their dishes.  Sometimes it enhances the Ma-La 麻辣 flavor (balance of the numbing sensation from the Sichuan peppercorns (or Ma 麻) and the spiciness from the dried red chile peppers (or La 辣).  Sometimes, after the spicy burn settles, it’s just salty.  Asking them to cook with reduced salt seemed to have solved that issue for us, though I wonder with the reduce salt, if it might have altered the flavors somewhat at all…

One disappointment has been the lack of Spicy Cold Jelly (Noodles).  It’s never been available every time I’ve eaten there in the last 3 months.    Oh, and parking here is a bitch.  Arrive early to find parking in the streets in the area.

Click on the thumbnail to enlarge the photo.

 

在金都吃點心, Eating Dim Sum at Capital Seafood Restaurant in Arcadia, CA

在金都吃點心, Eating Dim Sum at Capital Seafood Restaurant in Arcadia, CA

Small chain of restaurants with 2 locations in Irvine, and one location in Arcadia that provides a higher end style of dining.  Though this location has been here for years, today’s brunch was the very first here at Capital Seafood.  Prices here are moderate, especially when compared to the other dim sum palaces, with prices starting at $3.98 per plate and up.

At the Irvine Spectrum location, I discovered their delicious shrimp egg rolls which were deep fried to a golden brown and absolutely crunchy and delicious.  Here, it was almost the same, except that their shrimp egg rolls are now prepared in Taiwanese style: long, thin cigar like egg rolls filled with only pieces of shrimp, with the ends twisted closed and deep fried.  They are then cut in half before being served with a sweet brown sauce. That and the mixed mushroom egg rolls were delicious.

Other stand outs were the Baked Pineapple Bun filled with salted egg yolk custard, Hong Kong style egg custard tarts, and Shrimp Dumplings in Supreme Broth.

The only item that I found disappointing was the Rice Noodle Wraps/Crepes filled with ground beef.  The beef was minced and then marinated with too much corn starch that the filling did not taste like beef at all, and the texture was somewhat off putting, like a paste.

While they’re trying to provide you with a higher end dining experience, it can be difficult to flag down a wait person to take your order sheet, or to assist you with any other needs you have.

As always, click over a thumbnail in order to enlarge.

 

Dim Sum at SF’s Dragon Beaux

Dim Sum at SF’s Dragon Beaux

Owners of the very popular dim sum palace, Koi Palace, opened up Dragon Beaux in the Richmond District 2 years ago, and it’s still running strong.

What sets many of the popular dim sum palaces in San Franciso apart from those in Los Angeles is the fact that they (SF) serve an array of dim sum items that are unique to them and Koi Palace.

One example would be the Five Guys Xiao Long Bao (which was really a serving of 5 xiao long bao (aka Soup Dumplings).  Each is made out of different ingredients, both with the filling for the dumpling and the dumpling skin itself.  Green is for Kale; Red is for Beets; Black is Squid Ink & Black Truffle; Yellow is for Tumeric & Crab Meat; and lastly, a traditional soup dumpling with a marinated ground pork filling.

Enjoyed the majority of the dishes, but these dishes are pricier than the dim sum palaces in the LA/OC area.  At least they were tasty, and you didn’t feel as if you were gouged in the wallet (unlike Yank Sing, where any dim sum item that contains shrimp is priced over $10 per plate!

The bill here was about $70.00 plus tax and gratuity.

Dragon Beaux, 5700 Geary Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94121; Telephone: (415) 333-8899.