How many times has your buddy said, "Dude, we SHOULD totally get dim sum, where's a good place?", and how many times have you replied, "I have no idea, 'cause Thrillist never wrote an awesome guide to dim sum like they did with Korean BBQ and Thai and Vietnamese and sushi"? Well starting today, your answer to the latter will be "never". Here's Thrillist's guide to the best dim sum in LA.
If you're the guy who's like, "San Gabriel Valley? That's like 20 minutes PAST DOWNTOWN", hit Chynna -- especially on a weekday when $8 gets you a lunch combo that includes four dumplings (a scallop, a shrimp with leek, a pork and shrimp, and a vegetarian).
Okay, Hakkasan is pricey... like, REALLY pricey. But their dim sum's super legit, and you can also get fancy other-Chinese food like duck with caviar and black pepper beef with Merlot.
If you're the guy who's like, "I want to eat dim sum, but sitting in a chair in a busy room is just too much to ask of me", hit Dim Sum Station, a crazy-cheap West Covina spot with sesame rice balls for less than a buck, and roast pork buns that're baked enough that they, too, don't want to sit in a chair in a busy room.
This Arcadia dim sum joint is smaller than most, making it an idyllic place to head to if you’re sick of the large, booming banquet rooms typical of most dim sum restaurants. You can't leave without hitting their signature dish, the almond soufflé -- it's almond milk topped with a bread crust that’s flaky on the outside but soft when it crumbles into the milk.
If you’re a traditionalist and prefer hailing down a cart full of food to (ugh) ordering, Empress Harbor is the place for you. The dim sum here is pretty great, and it’s the best place in town if you are more of a visual person/like pointing at food.
The dim sum staple, shumai -- a chewy, pork-stuffed, egg noodle-enrolled piece of Chinese magic -- is topped with a scallop here, giving it a seafood hit on top of the pork fantasticness. You should get that, but also their almost donut-like baked pork buns (see above).
This longtime go-to's been around since 2002 and has killer everything, but you gotta hit the low-fat milk bun. Despite a name that reminds you of everything you hate in the world, it's actually crusted with non-low-fat sugar on the outside, and a sweet creamy custard on the inside.
Simply put, Lunasia is LA’s best dim sum joint. It's beautiful on the inside, the servers all speak fluent English, and most importantly, the food is transcendent. Unlike most dim sum, the portions at Lunasia are massive -- a single har gow is stuffed with at least three pieces of shrimp inside its gummy, thin, and translucent wrapper. And don’t leave without trying the flaky egg tarts, which're nearly overflowing with delicious custard.
Clarissa Wei is 1) a food writer, 2) the founder of food tour company Curated Gnomes, and 3) the head of marketing for Out of the Box Collective, a farm-to-kitchen grocery delivery service. You can find her on both Twitter and Instagram at @dearclarissa.
1. Lunasia Chinese Cuisine500 W Main St, Alhambra
2. Sea Harbour3939 Rosemead Blvd, Rosemead
3. Elite Restaurant700 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park
4. Empress Harbor Seafood Restaurant111 N Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park
5. Capital Seafood333 E Huntington Dr, Arcadia
6. Hakkasan Beverly Hills233 N Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills
7. Chynna Dim Sum + Bar333 S Alameda St, Los Angeles
8. Dim Sum Station1559 E Amar Rd, West Covina
In Alhambra's San Gabriel Valley, Lunasia Chinese Cuisine offers a modern take on dim sum in a sprawling, white tablecloth dining room. Don't be confused by the somewhat fancy decor, Lunasia is casual experience, starting with the paper menu that requires you to check off your order. The Cantonese dishes here are made-to-order (that means none of that you-get-what-you-see roving cart business) and served at sleek, dark wood tables. Don't be overwhelmed by the 70-item menu: order a round of steamed chicken feet, pan-fried turnip cakes, and jumbo har gow dumplings, and you'll be fine.
This Rosemead dim sum establishment has plenty of delicious options for you to try: lots of styles of BBQ pork, steamed egg buns, and something called a low-fat milk bun that you are going to want to try (it's way better than it sounds).
Serving up menu offerings that range from dim sum to pork buns, Elite is the cream of the crop when it comes to Asian eats.
At Empress, you can forgo your standard "ordering" -- you'll see what piques your interest on carts that roll by and simply point... no menus necessary! Known for their dim sum, Empress also offers the standard Chinese menu items, like Kung Pao chicken and more.
This Arcadia dim sum joint is smaller than most, but still features a large menu loaded with big flavors. You can't leave without hitting their signature dish, the almond soufflé -- almond milk topped with a bread crust that’s flaky on the outside, but soft when it crumbles into the milk.
The glittery Beverly Hills outpost of this high-end Chinese chain offers up the likes of smoking Negronis, fancy dim sum, and desserts styled after terrariums.
This Little Tokyo dim sum-ery is a great cocktail bar as well. Sidle up to their no-cart bar with some salt & pepper chicken wings, cajun shrimp, and a delicious 'tail. Everything is made super-fresh.