Saturday, September 5, 2009

"Sum" More Please!

It's hard to find a good dim sum place in LA. Even Chinatown, where most people would think to go, is in fact not very good. That said, if one is willing to drive a little further east to Monterrey Park, they will find not only one of the largest Chinese populations in the US, but some incredible food.

We decided to make the drive to what is considered THE best dim sum place in Monterey Park, Elite Restaurant. My husband first went with a friend and raved about it so of course I made him take me there. Because this is not exactly a hidden gem to the community, you have to get there no later than 10:30am to beat the crowd (should still expect to wait of about 15-20 minutes). Upon entering, you'll notice they do not have the carts to choose your dim sum as they do at other restaurants. Almost everything you order is off the menu with the exception of periodic specials of the day.

The menu had all of my favorite items including BBQ pork bao, shrimp dumplings (Har Gao) and pork & shrimp shumai- all of which blew me away (the massive shrimp Har Gao come out especially fresh and piping hot).

As this was my first experience at the restaurant my husband insisted on ordering a few other dishes such as this weird taro ball and these shrimp balls (looked processed) which I was not only grossed out by the look but by the taste. Unfortunately, this led me to forget about all the other great dishes I had so I told my husband I wouldn't go back.

Well, it's a good thing I did because the next time I went I truly enjoyed everything (didn't get anything odd...which was the way to go).

The bao there is seriously the best bao ever! It's a baked bao that is almost pastry-like. The bun is a bit sticky with a honey glaze. It comes out super hot and literally melts in your mouth as you hit that sweet pork inside. I would happily have a few orders of the bao and call it a day. That said, this is never the case with dim sum. We also got a beef chow fun (dry, meaning they do not put an extra sauce on it).....quite delicious. We also got the Chinese broccoli with a brown oyster sauce which is surprisingly sweet. The sticky rice is great as well, although not as unique as the other dishes.

If you are lucky, try a couple of the specials they pass around. They have a fresh Manila clam dish with a black bean sauce that is quite impressive and if you are in the mood for a dessert, they sometimes have a baked bun with a sweet custard inside. It looks similar to the bao, except white with a baby blue foil and crispy. Its also served hot and is definitely the way to end the meal.

Though it's not the closest dim sum restaurant, I am of the view that one simply cannot find anything of quality without taking the drive. This one is well worth it and in my mind, crowned the best dim sum in LA.

Elite Restaurant
700 S. Atlantic Blvd.
Monterey Park 91754

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