Look no further than the San Gabriel Valley and Capital Seafood for a great variety of dim sum served in an updated, well maintained dining room that actually takes reservations.
I think about dim sum a lot. Small bites of interesting and sometimes exotic (at least to us chicken breast loving Americans) tastes of sweet, savory, salty and oh so satisfying dishes. The problem is that my thoughts in this case, don't translate to action. If only I had this issue with how much I think about wine, but I digress. What was I thinking about? Wine and dim sum. There's a handful of reasons I haven't made dim sum a regular part of my life ranging from the long drive from the beach to San Gabriel Valley, where most of the good stuff is, to the ability to mobilize a group of friends to leave the comfort of their weekend activities to journey 45 minutes east for a good meal. Dim sum is after all a meal best enjoyed with a larger group to maximize the amount of dishes and tastes to be enjoyed. You know what they say though, if you want something enough, you just need to make it happen, so this past Sunday, dim sum and I were finally reconnected.
The chosen restaurant was Capital Seafood in Monterey Park (now closed, but there are other locations), where many dim sum seeking folks go for the good stuff. One of the good selling points of Capital Seafood is that there's no waiting in long lines for a table since they take reservations. They also have a pleasant, updated, bright interior with gold being the primary color seen on the walls, pillars, covered chairs and descending pyramid chandeliers.
With tea on the table, a lazy susan ready to roll, and a Chinese foodie friend at the helm of our ordering, off we went.
A flurry of plates and containers came around and were dropped in front of us while they checked a paper on our table to keep count of how much we were eating. There was soft pillows of shrimp har gow, warm rice and sausage wrapped in a tough green husk, sweet pork on pumpkin, chicken, shrimp and pork shiu mai perfectly pursed.
Then we moved into the more exotic like chicken feet which had a fatty skin and lots of bone without much in the middle. The tangy sauce still had me sucking on each bone to savor what I could.
Then there was the tripe. I'm actually a big fan of tripe, but you don't see it very often and it needs to be cooked just right or you'll be chewing that thing for days. Here, they had two versions - one was a little more au naturel. It was just the stomach, well braised, and yes, it has an interesting texture, but I liked the chew. The other was more of a party pack of stomach and surrounding friends, served honeycomb style, but the sauce was much more interesting with a savory, umami quality. We actually doubled down on that one.
The fried tofu was light and airy on the inside with some give on the outside. The crispy daikon cake had a flaky, straw like texture from the multiple layers surrounding the radish.
Clams were a bit one note, and unfortunately that note was grit from the sea. The taro cake with pork had me reaching for more tea to get the thick paste down.
Spicy green beans could hold their own against any home delivery you might be getting from your local Chinese or Thai restaurants.
The snow BBQ pork bun was a bit gummy and dry, but the baked bun was world's better, retaining more moisture and some sweetness on top. The servers were also very helpful in cutting some dishes to share as I'm sure they've seen one too many flying buns from failed chopstick attempts.
The egg tart was rich bordering on savory, but the real show stopped was the salted egg bun. No sharing of these buns as once you open them, the egg and its surrounding sweet custard begins to ooze. It takes a little while to get these ordered, but they're worth the wait.
All of the above food and unlimited hot tea came to a grand total of $15 per person. Seriously. $15 per person. There's now no reason not to grab some strays from the westside to make the quick 30 minute journey to San Gabriel Valley for a taste of well, everything.