Sunday Dim Sum at 888 Seafood Restaurant

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the Sunday dim sum at 888 Seafood is the best in U.S. - to lead you to that conclusion, we'll engage in a logical syllogism: since I think that it is the best dim sum in Los Angeles, and L.A. is the center of the asian cuisine world in the U.S., that makes it the best in the U.S. See, that makes sense, right? Ok, now I haven't had dim sum at every place in the U.S., but with some good old logical reasoning, I feel comfortable in making that statement. =) Just kidding. I do think it is the best in L.A. for its selection and flavor though.

Although a lot more places (especially in the SGV) are offering dim sum every day, 888 still offers it only on the weekends. And on the traditional day to eat dim sum, on Sunday morning (it's just what we do, don't ask me why), when lots of Asians go to eat dim sum, this place gets really really busy. If you've never went to dim sum at a really popular place, it is an experience worth trying - there are large groups of people (often whole groups of asian families and their friends, lots of groups of eight or more), chatting and jostling each other in the lobby and outside in the parking lot. To add to the general melange of sound, the maitre'd is yelling out #'s over a speaker in cantonese and english. If you want to avoid the crowd, come before ten a.m. You could go later to avoid the crowd (after 1:00 pm), but no more fresh food is made soon thereafter, and your selection of dishes will be quite limited.

A little information for the dim sum novice: it is a type of chinese (more specifically, cantonese) food where you sit down and order food from woman that walk around the restaurant pushing carts of food. Although you can order from the menu, traditionally everyone orders from the woman walking around. As they come by, they tell you what type of food they have (or if you don't speak chinese/cantonese, they can show you the food), and you order what you want. The food usually comes in small portions, and ranges from steamed dumplings and buns to foods that are cooked in front of you (e.g. luo bo gao, the american translation would be turnip cake).

The first cart that came around had a selection of dumplings and steamed buns. We preemptively ordered one of each without knowing really what they were - they just looked good. And that is what you have to do sometimes, especially if you have been waiting for awhile already, because you never know when another cart with the stuff that you want will roll around.

Jen's favorite - chicken feet. Ok, now before people flee from their computer screens in collective horror, it isn't that bad; the chicken feet are steamed, and although there isn't much meat on the chicken feet, there is a lot of skin and cartilage, if you like crunchy and chewy textures.

One of the next dishes that we ordered was one of my favorites: luo bo gao, or turnip cake. It is basically turnip, ground up into a paste with spices added, and then the paste is made into little cakes, which are fried on a grill. I love the crunchiness of the outer layer contrasted with the chewy texture of the interior of the luo bo gao. They are very tasty.
This is also one of my favorites, and is a traditional thing to order at dim sum - they are shrimp dumplings: siu mai (cantonese) xia jaio (chinese). I always order at least two or three orders of these for the table.

These are steamed pork dumplings, also known as cha siu bao. The pork (cha siu) is actually a bit sweet.

This is another type of dumpling, xia chang (in chinese) (although that isn't the most accurate description of this, it is the closest word in english I can come to describe it). The outside is more of a thicker rice-noodle type of wrapping, and it comes filled with either shrimp, beef, or vegetarian, and they pour a special type of sweetened soy sauce on top of it. The shrimp ones are extremely popular (they run out as soon as the cart comes out, usually), and they used to be a favorite of my family. We used to order 4 or 5 of these, and would often clean out a cart if they came by.

Another set of chicken feet, because Jen likes these more - they are more flavorful, because in addition to being steamed, they are sauteed in soy sauce and red chili.

Another one of the more popular dim sum dishes people like to order: ha gao. It is a steamed pork dumpling with carrots. This is another one of those dishes that you have to have multiple orders of.

Although we don't do desserts very well (at least in my opinion - I'm taiwanese btw, so I feel I am fairly qualified to make that statement), I always love this dessert and order it whenever it comes by. It is a mango pudding, and they pour a condensed milk sauce over it with fruits in it (usually melon and a cherry). It is simple, but I love eating it, and I think it always is a good way to end a dim sum meal.

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  1. Okay so I was led to your blog because I now live in Columbia, but I spent the last five years in the Inland Empire. Dim Sum is too good to further qualify, and I was delighted to see the 'small-word' connection as I'm quite familiar with 888.

    The next time you are in the San Gabriel Valley, I fervently recommend you try either NBC Seafood (traditional banquet hall cart service) or Elite (without-a-doubt the best dim sum I've ever had. My friends from HK loved it, and one of them even admitted it would have stood up in Kowloon, though you order from a menu). Both of them are on South Atlantic Blvd in Monterey Park.

    NBC also gave a 20% discount for Dim Sum on the weekdays. I've tried dim sum in Charlotte and Atlanta. It's not fair, I got used to the best. I had somewhat decent Dim Sum in Arlington, but I can't drive to DC 52 times a year, so if you ever have a suggestion, I'd love to hear it.

  2. thank you for writing this, i liked your article. will browse to see what else you wrote to find a new place to try :-)

    you referred to the siu mai as ha gow underneath the siu mai photo ;) not sure when i picked it up, but i associate the english translation of chiang's as steamed rice rolls nowadays.

  3. Thanks for the comments, both Elliot and ranoshi ai! And apologies for my extremely tardy and somewhat tardy responses!

    For Elliot: it is interesting you mention NBC Seafood, because I ate there a lot growing up! I haven't been back to try it in a while, only because I have other more favorite places. As for Elite, I'm intrigued...I will have to try it when I'm back in L.A. sometime! Regarding D.C., I haven't been there for dim sum yet, but if I find a good place, I will try to post it up here!

    For Ranoshi ai - thanks for the comment, and also noticing my mistake, I will fix it immediately!