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The best dim sum restaurants in LA

Get your chopsticks ready. From the SGV to West Hollywood, we found the best dim sum restaurants for your next brunch adventure.

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Sticky rice in lotus leaf at Elite Restaurant

There’s no question that Los Angeles has one of the largest offerings of dim sum in America. In the San Gabriel Valley, a place that was once advertised to would-be immigrants as the "Chinese Beverly Hills," dim sum restaurants are de facto brunch spots, drawing lines of people attracted to the hustle and bustle of this culinary tradition. But dim sum has become a part of the entire city’s culture, too, with viable options in Chinatown and all over metropolitan LA. Whether you flag down dumplings from a push cart or check off boxes on a menu, we have your guide to the best dim sum restaurants in LA.

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8 dim sum restaurants to try in LA

Sea Harbour

After all these years, Sea Harbour is still a crowd favorite. The cozy, red-hued dining room has been offering made-to-order dishes since 2002. Dare to visit on a weekend morning and you’ll find a line that formed long before opening. With a menu of 100 items, you’ll do best to stick to the well executed basics, like crystal shrimp dumplings and pork dumplings. The vibrant pork soup dumplings are hot and juicy in their tins on arrival, while the springy rice noodle rolls nail the ideal filling-to-rice-paper ratio and are some of the best in the city. Highlights beyond the basics include fried whole smelt, black fungus and celery dumplings.

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San Gabriel Valley

King Hua Restaurant

At this regally appointed banquet hall ensconced in red and bronze, excellent dim sum dishes roll out to meet your pencil-and-paper order menu. King Hua's shrimp dumplings are exceptional, with springy shrimp in tender, stretchy skin. On the back of the menu, you'll find a selection of flavorful congee and a variety of noodle dishes: the pork with preserved egg congee is spectacular, but you can also go all out with the market priced lobster variety. Can't decide what to choose? Flag down one of the restaurant's friendly servers wandering around, who are more than happy to advise.

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Alhambra

Empress Harbor

This mainstay in Monterey Park not only offers great service, it also has some of the best congee you can find on a push cart. The rice porridge receives a jolt of flavor with tiny slices of beef and crispy wonton chips sprinkled on top, which you'll plow through until the bowl is scraped clean. Other items that make their way through Empress Harbor's elaborate red and gold dining hall: crystal shrimp dumplings and bean curd rolls featuring thin sheets of tofu skin. The dim sum essentials do well above average here, making for a spirited, festive meal that you'll likely return to again and again (next weekend, perhaps?).

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Monterey Park

Pingtung

Pingtung may be named after a city and county in Taiwan, but the fare here is decidedly pan-Asian. The Melrose Ave eatery offers dim sum until 10pm (11pm on the weekends), meaning that you can pop in for a late-night feast after you've had a couple drinks at Melrose Umbrella Co. next door. Specialties here include a variety of dumplings (the crystal shrimp option is solid), as well as a selection of potstickers that range from wild crab to chicken and shrimp. For something a little more nouveau, try the pork belly sliders or the wasabi burger on a bao bun—they'll satisfy any dim sum craving would have inspired you to trek over to the SGV.

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West Hollywood

Empress Pavilion

Empress Pavilion has returned (it closed in 2013 and then was resurrected in 2014 thanks to the people behind Ocean Star restaurant down the street). Now that they're back, the Chinatown favorite is providing the closest SGV dim sum experience available without actually being in the SGV (and without the soul-sucking lines). Steamed pork buns can be hit-or-miss, but the extra large shrimp and pork dumplings more than hold their own here, along with flaky, custard-like egg tarts.

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Chinatown

Capital Seafood

Capital Seafood is one of the last great push cart places in San Gabriel Valley, with the ultimate aim of being authentic (and inexpensive). There's plenty to choose from, but you'll want to try the sliced crispy pork belly with its fantastic, crackling texture, along with the chicken feet—you know, if that’s your thing. The egg tarts are superb, boasting a multi-layered, flaky crust. Service is top-notch at Capital, where dishes land promptly on your table and frequent check-ins ensure that you'll always be able to order more.

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San Gabriel Valley

Elite Restaurant

Food is ordered hot off the menu at Elite in Monterey Park, where you'll be rewarded for a lengthy table wait time with dishes like fluffy, buttery baked pork buns. True to its name, this high-end spot tends to showcase more delicate and nuanced flavors, with a wide selection of noodle roll dishes and unique offerings like fake shark fin dumplings in broth, and fried taro and pork with flaky, gauze-like breading that melts in your mouth. The dumplings are large—but you'll finish them, of course.

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Monterey Park

Lunasia Chinese Cuisine

You’d be better served by going to Lunasia's original location in Alhambra than to their second location in Old Town Pasadena, where you don't quite get the same feel or quality. Once home to the famed fois gras dumpling, the dim sum spot now serves dainty golden egg buns, with runny, sweet yolk centers that ooze out from fluffy white exteriors. The almond milk with puff pastry is another one of their signature creations, with hot and just-sweet-enough almond milk beneath a fluffy, flaky top. Housemade dumplings are aptly labeled “jumbo," and their sticky rice wrap has exceptional flavor and just the right texture. Arrive early to avoid the inevitable brunch rush.

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Alhambra

Comments

1 comments
Joel D
Joel D

Have to add newcomer Shanghai Rose in Studio City.  Really excellent non SGV dim sum.