Archive for the 'Dim Sum' Category

Elite Restaurant – Monterey Park

Elite Restaurant - Dim Sum - Monterey Park

Waiting for a table at Elite on a weekend afternoon tests one’s dedication to the sport of dim sum. The bellies that gather here are a tenacious bunch; they don’t seem to mind waiting an hour or even two so long as the food is tops when their number finally gets called.

Arriving soon after the restaurant opens can dramatically improve wait times, but The Astronomer and I relish sleeping in on weekends, so we resigned ourselves to thumb twiddling, menu gazing, and Dollar Store perusing (there’s one next door).

Elite Restaurant - Dim Sum - Monterey Park

Once we were finally seated, some ninety minutes after we arrived, it was time to do what we do best—over-order and overeat. What’s unique about the dim sum experience here is the lack of carts roaming the dining room. We were presented with a picture menu and an order form as soon as we sat down.

Elite Restaurant - Dim Sum - Monterey Park

I’ve always loved the chaos of traditional dim sum, but found this approach quite appealing. Not only were my favorite dishes prepared to order, but I wasn’t tempted to waste space on lesser dishes just because the cart came by. I also liked that I didn’t have to scan the room searching for the lone lady serving chicken feet. A simple tick mark on the form and voila, steaming hot chicken feet appeared at the table. Cart-less dim sum certainly has its merits.

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Dim Sum Truck – Los Angeles


Fellow street food lovers: Meet the Dim Sum Truck. It’s the newest (and steamiest) meals-on-wheels venture to grace our fair city. The truck’s official debut is still a few days away, but The Astronomer I were fortunate enough to attend a sneak peek at the T-Lofts in West Los Angeles this weekend. I have a feeling that this truck is going to be mobbed once it hits the street, so it was quite a treat to scope it out before the hoards queued up.


The guy behind the wheel is Alex Chu, a USC grad (’09) with an entrepreneurial spirit, chill demeanor, and  megawatt smile (his dad’s a dentist). Prior to joining the pack of Twittering trucks, Mr. Chu interned at BLT Steak and worked as a server at Sino Restaurant in San Jose.

The Dim Sum Truck was the vision of one man, but it took a village to launch it successfully. To assist with recipe development and vendor contacts, Mr. Chu enlisted the help of family friends working in the restaurant business. To create the truck’s distinctive logo and modern style, he recruited his tech and design-savvy high school mates. The team effort resulted in a truck that’s not only pleasing to the eye, but pleasing to the palate as well.


We started the tasting with a trio of parcels—shu mai, har gow, and a chive and shrimp dumpling. Served straight from the steamers, each one was hot, fresh, and packed with the good stuff. What made this dim sum experience different from others was Mr. Chu’s secret sauce. Salty, garlicky, and even a little spicy, this condiment made the dumplings shine and the flavors pop. I didn’t miss the lack of soy sauce or chili oil one bit.

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Yum Cha Cafe – San Gabriel

A couple of weeks back, Wandering Chopsticks and I headed to the San Gabriel Superstore for some groceries—I bought coconut milk and fresh egg noodles, while WC returned some moldy tofu and picked up ingredients for curry laksa. After we finished up shopping, we dashed over to Yum Cha Cafe for a quick bite.

Yum Cha Cafe, which is more of a food court than a cafe, is located near the front entrance of the superstore. They specialize in dim sum and noodle dishes for the time-conscious crowd.

During our visit, WC and I stuck to the dim sum offerings. While I prefer dim sum served a la cart (get it?), I was curious to sample fast food-style dim sum. After queuing up, WC ordered a selection of her favorites, plus an order of pan-fried dumplings per my request.

The goods, clockwise from top left—pan-fried pork dumplings, rice noodle sheets with shrimp, shrimp har kow, and pork and vegetable tapioca dumplings. All four items were satisfactory, but none of them knocked our socks off.

Admittedly, it was strange eating dim sum from Styrofoam containers under fluorescent lights. For me, food experiences are oftentimes influenced by ambient factors such as lighting and presentation. Of course, I have treasured many a bowl of noodles in parking lots and tiny rooms with used napkins strewn across the floor, but I’ve always associated dim sum with a more refined dining experience. While the superstore dim sum was good, some of the tastiness was diminished because it was eaten with a plastic spork.

Yum Cha Cafe is a cheap and quick alternative to traditional dim sum, but something’s definitely lost in the fast food translation.

Yum Cha Cafe – San Gabriel Superstore
1635 S. San Gabriel Blvd.
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Phone: 626-280-9998

Yum Cha Cafe on Urbanspoon

Yum Cha Cafe in Los Angeles

The Astronomer’s 24th

This past weekend, we celebrated The Astronomer’s big 2-4. There are a million and one spirited things to do in Saigon, but when it came down to it, all The Astronomer wanted on his special day was to gorge on dim sum, consume local libations and sing his heart out. Oh, he also wanted to hang out with babes. Lots of babes.

The babes came into the picture early in the morning. While we were waiting for our friends to arrive for dim sum at the New World Hotel, we saw a bunch of Miss Universe pageant contestants who happened to be staying there. Check Miss Adventure’s site for the full babalicious recap. According to Hawk, Miss Korea is a fox.

Here’s the birthday boy posing in front of a flat screen TV advertising the dim sum special at the Dynasty restaurant that we took advantage of. Only $4.99 for all you can eat! Awesome deal.

Here’s what we ate. The har gow AKA shrimp bags were excellent, as were the tripe, banh cuon and fried turnip. The Astronomer’s favorite were the deep fried dumplings doused with sweet and sour sauce. The food was good, but the service was shoddy for a five-star. In a way, dim sum wouldn’t be dim sum without terrible service, right?


Here is Vernon’s lovely Vietnamese teacher Hanh posing with Miss Vietnam. By the way, Miss Vietnam is wearing heels. Really high heels. And Hanh is short.

After dim sum, The Astronomer and I went home and passed out. Then we went running. Running post-dim sum is one of the grossest things ever. When evening rolled around, our friends gathered at our apartment for late night festivities. First stop, sidewalk seafood!

This no-name joint on Ton That Thuyet Street in District 4 (which we’ve visited a number of times before) attracts a fun local crowd and stir-fries up some mean seafood, especially the clams with tamarind sauce. They also make and bottle their own liquor. Who knows what was in it, but let’s just say that it did the job nicely.


Good friends, good food and good spirits. What could be better?

Two Cathys and one shot.


Hot vit lon. Our Vietnamese guests Hanh and Vuong placed an order for fetal duck eggs in tamarind sauce, so I had one too. Mmm! I mean it. We also ate clams with garlic, blood cockles with tamarind and grilled shell fish with scallions and peanuts.


Group shot minus Nina.

After dinner, we hopped a cab and zoomed to New Karaoke in District 3. Hanh made us reservations so when we arrived our room was ready to go!

I got the party started with a sweet sweet performance (if I do say so myself) of “Dress You Up In My Love” by Madonna. The lyrics appear on the flat screen, while the music blares from a fairly advanced sound system. The most awesome part was the video footage that accompanied the lyrics. Instead of a lame music video, there were scenes of Vietnam—Hue, Hanoi, Saigon! While I was belting out Madonna, Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum popped up. Awesome, right?

Oh, and the other super-cool thing about singing karaoke in Vietnam is that your performance is rated afterwards. I scored a 92 with my Madonna performance and a 100 with “Gangsta’s Paradise”!


Here’s The Astronomer cheerily singing “Drive My Car” by The Beatles. He scored in the high eighties for this performance.

Here is Hanh singing a Vietnamese number. Later in the evening she treated us to a performance of “Itty Bitty, Teeny Weeny, Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.” How come all Vietnamese people know that song?

And one last shot of the birthday boy (holding a shot).

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