Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dim Sum Elitism

The last five years or so has been a real renaissance for dim sum in LA. It started with Sea Harbor, the Vancouver import that opened a more refined style dim sum restaurant in Rosemead (with another location in Rowland Heights). At Sea Harbor, you order from menus, not carts, and it's a regular-sized restaurant as opposed to a grand palace like NBC or Ocean Star. It's emphasis on fresh cooked and innovative fare (goose liver dumplings anyone?) quickly moved it to the top of my list of dim sum, and I eat a lot of dim sum (like, at least once per month).

Sea Harbor was followed by similar restaurants Mission 261 and New Concept. These followed the Sea Harbor pattern, but I've never really cared for either of them. They seemed more concerned with being new and different than making great food.

Now comes another entry, Elite Restaurant in Monterey Park, just a block south of my favorite palace, NBC (which was recently sold and is currently closed). Elite lived up to both its name and my expectations. At Elite, you order from a menu, but fresh cooked portions are also offered as the come out of the kitchen.

The food was fresh and wonderful. The lotus wrapped sticky rice was most and saturated with the juice of its various meaty contents, some of the best I've had. Chinese pancakes, both sweet and savory, had a pleasant gelatinous chew, and short ribs were all juice and flavor. We had a lovely plate of deep fried chicken bits with garlic and chili. They were perfectly fried and tasty, though the actual meat was something in the tendon or knuckle family which was largely inedible.

Elite's take on the cream bun, was probably the best dessert I've had at a Chinese restaurant. The outside was smooth and flaky and the filling was an almond flavored cream. I could have eaten a dozen of these babies.

It also has a nice looking regular menu with tasty sounding dishes like spicy pork shank, frog with pumpkin, smoked bacon roll with broccoli and three types of abalone (Japanese, Mexican and Middle Eastern).

Elite sometimes has a long wait, though when I arrived at 10:00 last Saturday morning, there was plenty of room.

Elite Restaurant
700 South Atlantic Blvd.
Monterey Park, CA 91754
(626) 282-9998


Steph F. said...

Wait, NBC is CLOSED?! I leave L.A. for two years and this is what happens.. that is sad news.

sku said...

Sad indeed. We're all assuming it will reopen (they are tearing up the entire strip mall), but given that it's been sold, who knows if it will be the same great place it was.