Hardcore foodies and casual eaters will forever debate what constitutes the “best” dim sum in Los Angeles: sheer size of selection, quality, cheapness, authenticity or just needing a great excuse to choose from food wheeled by on carts. These five restaurants span the county of Los Angeles and the country of China in locations and diversity of offerings. Dim sum restaurants are often very crowded on weekends and usually stop serving in the afternoon. Plan on hitting them early, in the off hours, or just expect to wait. With these five choices, though, it’ll be worth it.
BAO Dim Sum House
8256 Beverly Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90048
Billed as “amazing authentic dim sum in West Hollywood,” that doesn’t require the drive to the far reaches of the San Gabriel Valley, this upscale restaurant features Hong Kong-style dim sum. BAO features a large selection of baked, steamed, crispy and pan-grilled dumplings including beef tripe, wild crab, fish cakes and radish cakes. Other plates, such as Chinese pickles in chili oil and crispy seafood noodles, will round out your dumpling dishes. Well-priced lunch specials, a happy hour and a full bar of specialty cocktails crafted by their mixologist, including a honey ginger mojito and a white lotus cosmo, make this dim sum hotspot worth it day or night. Reservations are available via OpenTable and to-go orders can be placed online.
Din Tai Fung Dumpling House
1108 South Baldwin Avenue
Arcadia, CA 91007
1088 South Baldwin Avenue
Arcadia, CA 91007
The first United States outposts of the Taiwan eatery, this dim sum service is ordered off the menu, not the cart. Less traditional but no less delicious, a wide variety of treats await after your trek to Arcadia, as well as extensive options for those who keep a vegetarian or gluten-free diet. Start with fried bean curd puff with vermicelli soup or soy noodle salad. Green melon and shrimp dumplings, pork and crab dumplings or bite-size dumplings (available on weekends only) are among the more unusual but delicious offerings. An extensive menu of steamed and sautéed greens help cleanse the palate. For dessert, try the eight-flavor rice, a sweet taro bun or one of their many red bean varieties. Come hungry but not starving as it tends to get very busy on weekends and evenings.
Chynna Dim Sum Lounge
Woori Market Plaza in Little Tokyo
333 South Alameda Street #115
Los Angeles, CA 90013
This newcomer serves traditional menu of dim sum in a nontraditional setting and includes a sleek lounge serving 25 beers on tap, including some local craft beers, and a “quaint” selection of sake. Whereas many other dim sum restaurants stop serving dim sum in the late afternoon, here you can pop bites of dumpling delicacies through the evening. Keeping with the nightclub vibe, check out Chynna’s site for special events in the lounge area such as comedy and acoustic nights.
404 South Atlantic Boulevard
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Get ready to go hardcore with your dim sum at this classic location. Chicken feet, stewed ox with turnip, and thousand egg with salted pork porridge are traditional offerings you won’t find on more run-of-the-mill dim sum carts. Suckling pork, fried leek dumplings and a green tea bun are fab finds, and you can finish off with pineapple buns or baked egg tarts. A palatial interior, complete with crystal chandeliers, will set the mood for your emperor-worthy banquet served by traditional carts.
Inside the Chinatown Bamboo Plaza
988 North Hill Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
This grande dame of Los Angeles Chinatown dim sum is a must-experience destination. With a dining area the size of a small concert hall, dim sum ladies wheel carts laden with handmade on-site bites of delicacies such as deep fried taro dumplings, egg custard tarts, sticky rice in bamboo or lotus leaves and delicate moon cakes made daily. Lines are often long but there are plenty of stores nearby to entertain you. Service can be brisk so be prepared to make decisions quickly as the carts go by.