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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant (Dim Sum) - Rosemead

My childhood friend had the day off for the lunar new year and asked if I wanted to go out for dim sum. Since it was a special occasion, more or less since any new lunar new year is supposed to be special, I suggested Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant in Rosemead.

Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant - Rosemead 1

Out with the old, large, cheap dim sum houses. Dim sum has gotten so ridiculously cheap that there's not much lower they can go. So they've been going upscale with better quality ingredients and innovative dishes. Making way were restaurants such as Sea Harbour, Elite Restaurant in Monterey Park, Lunasia Chinese Cuisine (Dim Sum) - Alhambra (which used to be Triumphal Palace Chinese Cuisine), and Mission 261 in San Gabriel (which is supposed to reopen after renovations).

The lines for Sea Harbour have always been super long on the weekends so I've never bothered to go. But recalling that one of my college friends said his ex-girlfriend's family swears this is the best dim sum in town made me suggest it to my friend. His ex's dad apparently slips a nice bribe to the hostess to get seated right away. My childhood friend and I were less stealthy and waited about half an hour, I think?

No push carts here. Order off a menu. Small plates were $2.28, medium $3.50, and large $4.25. Special plates were $5.80 to $6.66. Tea was $1 per person.

Talk about fancy! The "executive lunch for four" was a 7-course meal for $238 and included lobster, a shark's fin casserole, and braised sea cucumber with shrimp roe.

We decided since it was the new year and all, that we'd splurge on some fancier dishes and balance it with typical dim sum dishes.

The steamed rice noodle with shredded chicken and bitter melon for $3.50 was a revelation. I normally can't eat bittermelon at all, but in this dish, it was only slightly bitter. Fresh cheong fun noodle and sweetened soy sauce and it was a great start to our meal.

Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant - Rosemead 2

Chicken feet with black bean sauce for $2.28. Good, but nothing special.

Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant - Rosemead 3

Poached fresh lettuce for $6.66. Insane to pay that much for lettuce! I could have gotten six heads of lettuce for that price. But umm, it was really good lettuce? :P Actually, the price wasn't listed and we didn't cross reference with the specials price or else I doubt we would have ordered it. We just wanted something to balance out the meat and carbs.

Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant - Rosemead 4

Steamed pork dumplings, Zhongshan-style for $3.50. I was just curious to find out what Zhongshan-style food meant. (It's in Canton/Guangdong in case you didn't know either.)

Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant - Rosemead 5

Juicy filling. Nice chewy dumpling skin.

Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant - Rosemead 6

Shrimp and sticky rice in lotus leaf for $6.66, another chef's special. We were a little disappointed that the whole dish wasn't steamed in lotus leaf, but do you see the detail?

Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant - Rosemead 7

The carrots were cut to look like butterflies!

Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant - Rosemead 8

Har gow (Chinese shrimp dumplings) for $3.50.

Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant - Rosemead 9

Shark's fin and scallop dumpling for $4.25. Look! Slivers of shark's fin and roe. Very good quality and very good taste. I would have paid the $6.66 for this instead of lettuce and sticky rice.

Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant - Rosemead 10

Char siu bao (Chinese barbecued pork buns) for $3.50. Good. Soft and sticky bun the way I like them.

Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant - Rosemead 11

Total bill was $38.81. A bit high for dim sum, but mainly because of that $6.66 lettuce and sticky rice. The dishes were all of a markedly higher quality. My college friend said once, while we waited 90 minutes for a table at Elite, that he can tell when dim sum is really good or really bad. All the stuff in between was more or less the same to him. In the case of Sea Harbour, it was really good. Unfortunately, the long lines keep me from coming back and I more often default to Lunasia, where I rarely wait for long and the basic dishes are just as good.
Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

1 year ago today, Thit Heo Kho Dau Hu (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Tofu).
2 years ago today, one of my favorite broken rice restaurants, Da Nang Com Tam Tran Quy Cap - Westminster (Little Saigon) and one of my most popular recipes, cha gio (Vietnamese egg rolls).


  1. I've still never been here. I'm too scared of the lines. We usually go to 888 if only because Mr. Monkey's dad gets in immediately.

  2. 2 back to back posts! So productive haha
    Sam and I really liked Sea Harbour as well, though it's a little bit further for us. This one's right below Lunasia for me.

  3. Dim sum - or as I prefer, yum cha - is way too posh and a bit gimmicky over here. I like the pushcarts! And my tea should be free! But oh my, the char siu bao looks fantastic ...

  4. It all seems delicious. I've never had shark fin, but after seeing several documentaries about how its obtained by slicing off the fins from live sharks and tossing them back in the water to slowly die, I don't think I can bring myself to ever have it.
    I know most meat in general (which I love) have animals suffering, but this was too much for me.

    Thanks for sharing though; the pictures look great!

  5. I get to try leftovers from this place sometimes. But the food nevertheless is quite similar but is a bit nicer, like the machine made char siu bao. But of course, I haven't been eating stuff like the sharkfin dumplings. I have had the bittermelon cheong fun though which was pretty good.

    I think I should visit Lunasia someday now, since now both you and Gourmet Pigs say it is good :). But Arcadia's dim sum is so cheap and quite good for the price that it doesn't make much sense to drive further for dim sum unless we have something to look at in the area...

  6. WeeMo,
    The lines are crazy! And even though I really liked everything, the lines just put me off. I've been to 888 once for dim sum a loooong time ago.

    I'm trying to catch up! Lunasia just has it for location, no wait, and not too pricey.

    I can imagine it'd be more expensive there. I remember barely being able to afford take-out!

    Shark's fin has always been pretty controversial.

    Leftovers? That's no good. I've never heard of machine made char siu bao. Lunasia post is coming up. Been sitting on it too long as it is. I think unless the dim sum is really spectacular, it's not worth the drive. Full House is pretty good so I wouldn't unless I really wanted to try something else.

  7. This place is our go to for dim sum. I'm glad to read that you enjoyed it! We usually get hargow + shumai (which are ginormous here), rice rolls and the shanghai dumplings. The Shanghai dumplings aren't as good as Din Tai Fung or other places that specialize in it, but it's nice that they even offer it for dim sum, and they serve each dumpling in its own aluminum tin :) The skin was just a little drier than I'd have liked it.

    BTW, I found your blog when I was looking up recipes for bun bo hue. Now you've got me striving to make bo kho in a crockpot! :) Thanks for writing!

  8. Cubism,
    If the lines weren't so bad, I'd go back. Many of the nicer dim sum places, like Lunasia and Elite, offer xiao long bao, but I haven't liked any of their versions either.

    I hope you give some of my recipes a try!


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