“Nooooo!” How many times have you heard that refrain while asking your kids to try something new? More than you can count. Children love to be in charge of what goes in their mouth, so heading out for dim sum is a great change of pace. And you can’t find a better dining option as this is traditionally a family outing with every age present from grandpa to the newest little one. Servers swing carts past the tables with an array of steaming bites stacked sky high and the servers will happily lift up the lids for a peek so kids can ogle the goods before they try. Some of the standards that appeal to tiny taste buds include Har Gow (steamed shrimp dumplings), Char Sui Bao (steamed pork buns) and sticky rice, and who knows, maybe your little one will dig into chicken feet! And if nothing will do, there’s always white rice and Jell-O. Plus, every kid loves the novelty of eating with chopsticks. Here are a few of our favorite dim sum spots around Los Angeles.
The downtown location makes this arguably one of the most popular dumpling houses, hence the painfully long wait (especially on weekends). We recommend arriving prepared with snacks and toys. But and if you forget, the plaza shops are loaded with inexpensive diversions that will help quell rumbling bellies. Not working? Grab a snack from the take out counter perpendicular to the restaurant. After dining, make a day of it by roaming the shops in Chinatown or heading over to Olvera Street.
988 North Hill Street
Dim Sum snobs insist the best dumplings are found in Monterey Park, the “other” Chinatown about 10-15 minutes from downtown (depending on traffic, naturally). Recently renovated, this spot serves up the usual steamed and fried bites but a few favorites are the crispy “triangle” dumplings stuffed with green onions, pork and shrimp. Kids love checking out the tanks filled with crabs and fish. Just don’t inform the kids where their gilled friends eventually end up.
404 South Atlantic Boulevard
Among the usual dim sum goodies, this upscale spot serves up a sweet almond milk soup topped with a flaky puff pastry that is lip-smacking good that you can order from your server (you won’t find it on the carts). The dumplings are light and fresh, though on busy weekends the carts can feel like they take forever to arrive so if you can’t find what you are looking for, do as the Chinese and get up and find it!
755 W Garvey Avenue
Din Tai Fung
The first U.S. branch of this Taiwanese dumpling house is famous for its juicy pork dumplings, a soup dumpling that you slurp out the broth encapsulated inside with the pork filling. It does have a host of other dumpling options but we recommend the steamed bao packed with green vegetables and pork or the pounded rice cakes, a dish of pork, vegetables and rice pounded into flat little cakes. They also have a great selection of steamed veggies, including bok choy, green beans and spinach. There are two restaurants back to back known as the “old” and “new”, but they share the same kitchen. The new side is larger so the wait is somewhat shorter. Take note that Din Tai Fung is just down the street from the Arboretum, so we suggest making it a full outing.
1108 S. Baldwin Avenue
1088 South Baldwin Avenue
Bao Dim Sum House
Looking to stay closer to home? This spot on Beverly Boulevard serves up all the favorites in a sleek, modern atmosphere sans the cart. In addition to har gow, shu mai, pork buns, spare ribs and the like, Bao also dishes out noodle dishes, rice plates and even a Chinese chicken salad. The reasonably priced lunch specials are a great way to go if you’re making this an outing with other friends.
8256 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048
– Lara Burnap