The curiously named Longo Seafood (was it related to the #1 Toyota Dealer in So Cal (Longo Toyota)?) occupies a slower portion of Garvey Ave. in the San Gabriel Valley. We first heard about this place a while back thanks to FTC, and then the late Jonathan Gold reviewed it as well.
When you first walk in, you’re greeted by a throng of people waiting for a table. Then you see what must be the most ridiculously-sized HDTV outside of a professional sports arena blasting Chinese Karaoke for everyone in the dining room to see. As “high class” as Longo Seafood is trying to be, that’s just pure cheese.
These were a solid rendition of the Dim Sum classic, a good balance of Ground Pork and Shrimp, topped with Roe. It didn’t really stand out above the best of the SGV but it was fine.
Sticky Rice Wrap:
Longo’s version of this dish thankfully skips the parchment paper so that more of the Lotus Leaf flavors come through. It was a touch saltier and greasier tasting than other versions around town.
Ginger Scallion Beef Tripe:
The Beef Tripe was just cooked through, tender with a bit of chew, nice Ginger and light savoriness.
Seven Spices Chicken Cartilage:
This was a bit too salty and a bit too oily.
Golden Red Rice Rolls:
This clearly looked like Longo attempting to copy Dragon Beaux’s stunning (and tasty) Fish Chip Rose Red Rice Crepe Roll, except Longo’s was the complete opposite: These were completely overcooked, soggy and mushy.
Longo Shrimp Dumplings:
These were fine, medium-thickness on the skins, plump Shrimp, but nothing really standout.
Beehive Creamy Pastry:
This looked very similar to the old Dim Sum favorite of Wu Gok (Fried Taro Dumplings), except that the inside is liquid, sweet Duck Egg Yolk filling. Delicious.
Kaya (Coconut Jam) Pastry:
This looked visually appealing, until we took a bite: It tasted like the typical low-quality, partially-hydrogenated, cheap Pastries at various Chinese Bakeries around So Cal.
Service was noticeably poor, with someone refilling our Tea only once (throughout the entire meal), only after we flagged someone down.
Perhaps it was an off visit, so we decided to come back for a 2nd visit:
The crowds were still massive, and this time, they switched from Chinese Karaoke Videos to a WNBA game blasting on the big screen.
Longo Roasted Pork Belly:
This was some of the worst HK Roasted Pork Belly we’ve had in a long time. The color seemed fine, but it was soggy, chewy Pork Skin (zero crispiness at all!). The Pork Belly meat was cold and it tasted old, like leftovers. Every single rendition of HK Roasted Pork Belly we had on our recent Hong Kong BBQ Journey blew this away.
BBQ Pork w/ Parsley Rice Rolls:
I’m not sure if the pictures (above) show it well enough but the entire plate of Rice Rolls congealed together, turning this into 1 giant “block of Rice Roll”!
When trying to pick up a piece of this Rice Roll our friend ended up lifting the entire plate of Rice Roll because it was stuck together!
Our friend from Hong Kong was laughing so hard (out of incredulity) because she said she’s never encountered Dim Sum Rice Rolls that were as poorly executed as the ones we had on this 2nd visit. It was awful. We ended up hacking away at the block to take a piece off of it to try (it was overcooked, congealed and just bad).
Chicken with Vegetable Chow Mein:
They were trying to be “fancy” here, separating the Fried Egg Noodles from the Sauteed Chicken and Gravy (and letting you add it on at the end). It was greasy, and overfried. In addition the Sauteed Chicken and “Gravy” started to separate after adding it to the Noodles(!), so it became watery (as if the Corn Starch-laden mixture wasn’t mixed right).
The food was pretty disappointing, but the worst part of this meal was actually the service. After experiencing the utter disaster that was Michael’s (Santa Monica), we never thought we’d encounter a worse service experience in 2018. We were wrong.
During this 2nd visit, zero servers came to our table (even after desperately attempting to flag some down). For Dim Sum, we ended up having No Tea Refills, No Plate Changes, and even for our bill, we ended up having to get up and walk up to the front to get our bill and pay for it up there. It was like the servers were actively ignoring us, or just too busy to bother. The hole-in-the-wall Sam Woo BBQ has servers that blow away this supposed “high class” Dim Sum restaurant. 2nd worst service we encountered in 2018 (and in years).
7540 Garvey Ave.
Rosemead, CA 91770
Tel: (626) 280-8188
Dim Sum JourneyThe Dim Sum and service was so bad and upsetting, we literally started a Dim Sum Journey on the spot: We drove down the street and chose the most average / low-key Dim Sum restaurant that our HK friend could remember in the area:
Our HK friend mentioned that Empress Harbor had been a mainstay of the San Gabriel Valley for years, but nowadays no one really goes there anymore; it was maybe 40% full.
Empress Harbor is a throwback serving their Dim Sum with Carts (OG style) and you’d pick what you wanted as the servers passed by your table.
Respectable, floral, fragrant.
Shumai (Steamed Pork & Shrimp Dumplings):
Their Shumai were fine. Not as meaty (nor large) as Longo’s, but taste-wise? Actually pretty close (which is sad).
Hargow (Steamed Shrimp Dumplings):
These used smaller chunks of Shrimp. The skins had a decent toothsome quality.
Stewed Beef Tendon:
These were fantastic! We haven’t seen this on a Dim Sum menu in a while. Tender, nice savory quality without being too salty.
Wu Gok (Fried Taro Dumplings):
These were lukewarm / cool, but they had a good Taro flavor with Mince Ground Pork coming through; a touch greasy.
Sticky Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaf:
Very solid; it was fine. We liked this version better than Longo’s.
Thousand Year Egg & Pork Congee:
Thankfully not overly thick. The Thousand Year Egg, Green Onions and Congee flavors were tasty. The Pork tasted old, however.
Stewed Beef Tripe:
BBQ Pork Steamed Rice Roll:
And surprise! Empress Harbor - the now forgotten, mediocre, old Dim Sum restaurant in the corner of Monterey Park - makes a Steamed Rice Roll that isn’t congealed together in a giant block. In fact, it is no hyperbole to say that Empress Harbor’s Steamed Rice Roll completely outclassed and blew away Longo Seafood’s version. You could separate out the pieces of each Rice Roll and the flavors were balanced and tasty.
Empress Harbor is clearly not a “happening” Dim Sum restaurant anymore. The crowd is sparse, the decor looks like something out another era (1970’s?), and their Dim Sum offerings on a whole won’t make you forget about the top dogs in So Cal, but it was a far more enjoyable experience than Longo Seafood, and with much better service (and much cheaper, too).
111 N. Atlantic Blvd., #350
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Tel: (626) 300-8833
Elite is one of the old stalwarts and favorites (thanks to our old board’s recommendations from @Porthos @bulavinaka and others). It had been awhile since we last went back (the last time we went was OK, but nothing great).
One thing to note after their new remodel is that their new Picture Menu does not feature most of the menu items. The paper menu has the full list (without pictures).
Chicken Knuckle with Spicy Salt:
Elite’s version is deep fried and tossed with Salt, MSG, Green Onions and Chilies. It ultimately turned out to be too greasy and salty.
Bitter Melon Rice Noodle:
Elite’s version of the Steamed Rice Rolls (called “Rice Noodle” on their English menu) were perfect! Just look at the sheen and clean cuts and scroll back up to the disaster that is Longo Seafood’s clump of “Rice.” The Rice Rolls here were toothsome, slippery (with the light Soy Sauce-based Sauce), and not overcooked. The bitterness from the Bitter Melon was an excellent contrast.
Tripe with Ginger and Onion:
Not overcooked; lightly chewy, seasoned with a light touch.
These are moist and juicy, although there are too many fatty pieces of Pork. Overall it’s a good rendition, but on the fattier side.
Wu Gok (Deep Fried Taro Cake):
The outer lacing looks nice. There’s a good Taro flavor coming through but it is very greasy. Still, our friend from Hong Kong was happy to try these, as she mentioned that many local Dim Sum places have stopped making this dish.
Crystal Shrimp Har Gow:
The skin is a bit too gummy, but the interior yields well-seasoned, bright Shrimp.
Salted Fish & Minced Pork Clay Pot Rice:
We were delighted to see them doing a variety of Clay Pot Rice dishes for Dim Sum. This turned out to be quite good and enjoyable with the Salted Fish and Minced Pork providing enough salinity with the Rice, and they had “Chinese Socarrat” (Crisped Rice)! (@J_L @PorkyBelly)
Macau Egg Tart:
Their Macau Egg Tart (which used to be famous on our old board) were just OK. They were sadly served lukewarm / cool, and while it had good custardy flavor, Jim’s Bakery down the street blows this away, especially when you get them fresh out of the oven.
Elite Restaurant has come down a notch (for Dim Sum) from its early days. The dishes range from too greasy, to OK, to some that were very good. We’ll be glad to stop back again for their Steamed Rice Rolls and their Clay Pot Rice dishes, and their service was also far better than the disaster that was Longo.
700 S. Atlantic Blvd.
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Tel: (626) 282-9998
Lunasia has always felt to us as style over substance, but it has its fair share of fans. Walking into Lunasia and looking over its new, reprinted menu, it is by far the most “trendy / wanna-be upscale” Dim Sum specialist that we visited on this journey.
The iron tea pot was a nice touch. The Jasmine was floral and well-rounded.
Pan Fried Turnip Cake:
Lots of filler resulted in a gooey, unappealing mess. There was very little Turnip flavor or taste coming through; and it was extremely greasy.
Jumbo Pork Siu-Mai:
It might be hard to tell scale from these pics, but these were massive, some of the largest Siu-Mai we’ve remembered running across. I think that leads many to believe they’re getting more value, but when it tastes as fatty as it does (there were lots of Pork Fat chunks inside), it’s kind of hard to see the real value here.
Jumbo Shrimp Har-Gow:
These were also quite large, but not as monstrous as the Siu-Mai. These were… OK. The Shrimp chunks inside tasted a bit dull and it was a bit overseasoned compared to many places on this journey.
Mushroom Veggie Bao:
These look like a bite off of Dragon Beaux’s Chicken & Mushroom Bao (which look similar), with an outer coloring of the Steamed Buns that make it look like a “Mushroom.” It’s a visually arresting design, but unlike Dragon Beaux’s version, here, the Mushroom Veggie filling tastes really underwhelming: Slightly bland and not really tasting like anything discernible.
Macau Style Roasted Pork Belly:
One look at the muted colors will tell you everything you need to know: Lunasia’s Roasted Pork Belly was a disaster. Zero crispy skin, dried out, cold, salty Pork Belly. Avoid at all costs.
Boiled Bok Choy in Fish Stock:
This was quite good: Tender Bok Choy, poached in a Fish Stock that imparted a light oceanic salinity, without dominating the dish.
Sticky Rice Wrap:
Sadly, Lunasia’s Sticky Rice Wrap falls into the lame newer trend of wrapping their Rice in parchment paper before steaming. Which basically negates any reason to use Lotus Leaf because the parchment paper blocks any flavor from coming through. The Rice had no Lotus scent or flavor at all, and it was overly salty. On the plus side, they included a slice of Abalone.
Rice Noodle Roll with BBQ Pork:
Overcooked and a bit too mushy, it was at least still in separate pieces that you could pick up.
Macao Style Egg Custard:
These arrived warm. They were fine, but the outer pastry shell wasn’t very flaky.
Service was still pretty poor at Lunasia, for all of its “fine dining” appearances: Servers never bothered to refill our Tea, our plates were never changed out.
In the end, Lunasia remains one of those all style, no substance places that delivers mediocre to average Dim Sum in a nice, welcoming setting (sans the service).
Lunasia Dim Sum House
500 W. Main St.
Alhambra, CA 91801
Tel: (626) 308-3222
(Also in Pasadena)
Longo Seafood (3rd Visit)
Despite every fiber in my being warning us not to go back, for some sick reason we decided to give Longo Seafood a 3rd try, re-inviting our friend from Hong Kong and bringing along more friends that wanted to join us for the final leg of the journey.
These tasted just like other renditions of Steamed Spare Ribs around town, tender, no issues.
Seven Spices Chicken Cartilage:
This looked nothing like our first visit’s Chicken Cartilage. Notice the dark grey hue, almost as if they were rotting. Our first bite reflected the visuals: Saturated in oil, super greasy, tasting really old (like leftovers), this was simply disgusting (and I don’t use that word lightly). Total disaster.
About the same as before: It tasted like a safe, typical version of Shumai.
Crab Meat Fish Dumplings:
One of the newer dishes (it’s great that they’re trying to innovate), Crab Meat & Fish Dumplings sounded like a nice departure from usual Dim Sum offerings. Then we tried to pick one up:
They were all stuck together! In another case of poor execution, they steamed all 3 dumplings touching each other and as a result they were solidly “glued” together resulting in us having to manually tear apart each one.
Dried Scallop & Scallions Rice Rolls:
We were hoping against hope that the last time’s disastrous Rice Roll was a fluke. It wasn’t: Look at the picture above (and below). What had to be the most ugly, sloppy presentation of Steamed Rice Rolls we’ve ever seen, it looked like the kitchen just mushed stuff together and threw it on a plate!
This is what happened when we attempted to pick up a piece:
This time it was so overcooked it turned into mush! From a congealed entire “block” of Rice Roll (on our 2nd visit), to a totally overcooked mushy, gooey disaster (and ugly presentation), it was ridiculous.
After 3 visits, we can see why @ipsedixit (who knows more about Chinese food than most of us on the board) said his favorite thing about Longo was the water faucet. While we thought Lunasia was a bit of style over substance, Longo Seafood is even more so: Gaudy, ostentatious decor with ridiculous giant HDTV blaring whatever it is they’re showing, “showoff dishes” like Lobster Har Gow, King Crab and Supreme Bird’s Nest dishes, they can’t even execute their most basic dishes correctly, and they are home to some of the worst service we’ve encountered in years.
We had to end this journey on a brighter note:
Dried Scallop with Egg White Fried Rice:
We usually don’t order much Fried Rice, but ever since @ipsedixit introduced us to Dragon Beaux’s excellent Fried Rice, we’ve been intrigued to see how local places compare. China Red’s Dried Scallop and Egg White Fried Rice is OK at best. It lacks any real wok hei (breath of the wok).
Deep Fried Squid in Spicy Salt:
Too salty, and a bit too greasy.
Baked BBQ Pork Buns:
We were hoping to find a good version of the Tim Ho Wan-style Baked Charsiu Bao (BBQ Pork Buns) that @beefnoguy and @chandavkl enjoy. Sadly, China Red is not it. The outer crust wasn’t crunchy at all, being rather soft. The filling of BBQ Pork was fine, but nothing standout.
Pan Fried Turnip Cake with X.O. Sauce:
Delicious! The X.O. Sauce flavor added a beautiful briny, spicy quality and the Turnip Cakes were slightly crisped, and the flavors just gelled together.
Steamed Shrimp Dumpling:
They were fine, but tasted pretty much like most of the other places on this journey (it was rather disturbing how similar most of them tasted).
Supreme Broth with Bok Choy:
Delicious. Nicely cooked Bok Choy, Ginkgo Nuts, Tofu Skin in a light, savory Broth.
Steamed Asparagus Shrimp Rice Noodle Roll:
I appreciate China Red using Asparagus to mix things up slightly. The Steamed Rice Rolls were a bit overcooked (slightly too soft), but you could still separate each piece.
Salty Pork Bone & Watercress Congee:
Very good Porridge. Loved the Watercress with a bit of porcine flavor coming through each bite with the Pork Bone base.
BBQ Pork Pastry:
A touch oily, but with a nice sweet-salty filling of BBQ Pork.
Crispy Bean Curd Sheet Rolls:
Really crispy with a mixture of Sauteed Vegetables inside.
Shishamo with X.O. Maggi Sauce:
China Red deep fries the Shishamo and then tosses it with X.O. & Maggi Sauce, resulting in dampening the crispy exterior (boo!), but giving it a nice, briny edge. Overall it was fine, but it felt a bit heavy.
Pork & Shrimp Xiao Mai:
Called “Xiao Mai” on the menu, China Red’s Shumai are fine. There are nice large chunks of Shrimp and Pork within, although a few of us felt it was a bit too fatty (too many fat chunks mixed with the lean Pork).
Steamed Pork Ribs:
Delicious! A very good, tender version of the Steamed Pork Riblet dish at Dim Sum. Tender, balanced, not too salty.
House Special Rice Noodle Roll:
This is one of those wondrous creations of taking a deep fried crispy Rice Cruller and encasing it with a soft, Steamed Rice Roll, so you get a bit of the soft, slippery and crispy crunch. It works somehow, and hits a nice textural contrast.
BBQ Pork Bao (Steamed):
Sticky Rice Wrap with Chicken:
Sadly they use parchment paper as well, and there’s no Lotus Leaf scent at all. It’s a bit too salty, but there is a slice of Abalone within.
Chicken Feet with Black Bean Sauce:
Crisp Fried Chicken Wing with Pepper Salt:
These were addictive, salty, peppery, lightly spicy, the Fried Chicken Wings were perfectly cooked.
Mango/Grapefruit Sago in Coconut Milk:
Delicious, tropical, fragrant. Favorite Dessert for half of our group.
Baked Egg Tart:
These arrived warm (not hot), but they were the best of the Dim Sum places on this journey. Not as good as Jim’s when they’re fresh out of the oven, but very tasty nonetheless. Creamy custardy center that isn’t too sweet.
Deep Fried Lotus Sesame Ball:
China Red’s Dim Sum ranged from OK to very good. Their Spare Ribs, House Special Rice Noodle Roll, Chicken Wings, Mango Sago and Egg Custard Tarts were some of our favorites on this journey.
855 S. Baldwin Ave.
Arcadia, CA 91007
Tel: (626) 445-3700
We finished up this journey with a revisit to Sea Harbour, which was our favorite L.A. Dim Sum restaurant for years.
Dried Scallop & Meatball Congee:
Nice consistency (not too thick, nor too thin), the Pork Meatballs were plump and tender and the Dried Scallops imparted a nice subtle brininess.
French Style Baked BBQ Pork Bun:
These were tasty. Not really the Tim Ho Wan-style either, but a light crispness on the exterior with a salty-sweet BBQ Pork Charsiu within.
Steamed Chicken Feet in Brown Sauce:
Delicious. Not too salty, and probably our favorite version still locally.
Deep Fried Smelt in Spicy Salt & Pepper:
Excellent! Perfectly crispy, peppery, lightly spicy.
Steamed Rice Noodle with Shredded Chicken & Bitter Melon:
Not overcooked, I like the balance of bitter and savory from the Bitter Melon with Chicken.
Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gow):
Perfectly cooked, medium-thick skins with plump Shrimp within.
Deep Fried Chicken Knee in Spicy Salt & Pepper:
A touch greasy, but otherwise the best rendition of Chicken Cartilage of the Dim Sum houses we tried.
Fish Roe with Scallop Dumplings:
The Scallops were tender and just cooked through, the Fish Roe and Shrimp complemented each bite.
Steamed Rice Noodle with BBQ Pork:
Nicely cooked, each separated (nothing stuck together like Longo), these were good, but Elite’s Rice Rolls were better.
Baby Bok Choy with Ginkgo & Bean Curd Sheets:
Delicious. Nicely cooked, light yet savory.
Sticky Rice Wrapped with Lotus Leaf:
Sea Harbour’s Sticky Rice Wrapped with Lotus Leaf has the best Lotus Leaf scent infusion out of all the places, and it’s not overly salty.
Pork & Shrimp Dumpling with Truffle Sauce:
Sadly, there is no version of their Shumai (Pork & Shrimp Dumpling) without the “Truffle Sauce” anymore. These Chinese Truffles give a subtle aroma to each bite, but they are a far cry from real European Truffles. The actual Shumai are fine, and at least they aren’t as fatty as many other places, but compared to the ones we had at Dragon Beaux these now feel mundane.
Ox Omasum in X.O. Sauce:
Light, savory, and definitely the best version out of the local Dim Sum shops we tried.
Steamed Preserved Salty Egg Yolk Bun:
Delicious. Still one of the best Dim Sum Desserts locally, the salty-sweet Duck Egg Yolk Sauce is addictive.
Milk with Egg White Custard Tart:
I don’t know who thought this was a good idea. I admire them for trying something new, but this didn’t work. It’s an OK “Egg Tart” at best, but it lacks that deep, creamy, rich custardy feel, but with Egg Whites, this is probably healthier.
Service was good at Sea Harbour (as usual). Our Teapot was refilled regularly, we had our plates changed and the servers were attentive if we waved at them (unlike Longo and Lunasia).
For this impromptu Dim Sum Journey, Sea Harbour was our favorite of the local places. They were just consistently better in most of the standard Dim Sum offerings, and they had a lighter touch and better execution with things like their Deep Fried Smelt, Steamed Preserved Salty Egg Yolk Bun, Chicken Feet, Steamed Spare Ribs and other dishes.
In the grand scheme of things however, after experiencing a place like Dragon Beaux, it really makes all of our local Dim Sum shops feel mundane by comparison. After retrying all of our big L.A. favorites back-to-back-to-back, Dragon Beaux remains our favorite, easily. And our HK friend mentioned that many Dim Sum shops in Hong Kong are even better than Dragon Beaux (which is not surprising). Perhaps one day, we’ll get that level of excellence here in L.A.
3939 Rosemead Blvd.
Rosemead, CA 91770
Tel: (626) 288-3939