Best Dim Sum in Los Angeles

Best Dim Sum in Los Angeles

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  1. When overcome with a severe case of the munchies, my brother and I frequently set our course for LA’s Chinatown, because often dim sun is one of the few things that could satisfy our yearnings.

     Mind you, Chinatown is very easy to find, as it lies right beside Downtown (which is unmistakable, thanks to all of the tall buildings), yet we seem to get lost every time. Fortunately, my brother is always ready for this contingency and has the Joe Jackson song, “Trying to Find Chinatown” waiting on the tape deck.


     Over the course of many years, we sampled the offerings of most of the dim sum restaurants strategically located around Chinatown, and the one that we felt had the highest quality food was the Empress Pavilion on Hill Street. Unfortunately, neither of us is remotely wealthy, and the prices at Empress left us in mixed states of both despair and ecstacy over our depleted finances and the joy of an excellent meal; so the search continued.


     Oddly enough, while eating at another favorite Chinese restaurant—one that didn’t serve dim sum—I received a fortune in a cookie that read, “Your long quest will soon find a happy end”, and not two days later, we discovered Ocean Seafood Restaurant, this time on Broadway, in the heart of Chinatown. The first thing I loved about the place was the large parking lot adjacent to the restaurant, providing easy parking with a discount for those dining at Ocean Seafood. This is a huge selling point in Chinatown, for everyone who has ever tried to find a place to park there knows what a royal pain the process can be. The second big selling point was that the place was filled with far more Chinese people than any other ethnic group, and I learned long ago that when looking for great ethnic food, look for the place packed with folks of the same ethnos. Once we tried the food, we were hooked.

    Upon entering Ocean Seafood, a school of giant coy greet you and instruct you in their own fishy way to take either the elevator to the left, or the curved staircase to the right to reach the second floor dining rooms.


     For those who enjoy action movies, you may recognize the lobby from Lethal Weapon 4 as the entrance to “Uncle Benny’s” restaurant (though don’t expect the dining room upstairs to match the movie as well; blame it on Hollywood movie “magic”). At the top of the stairs, you will meet more fish, but these are meant to be appreciated with the taste buds more than the eyes.

    Two massive dining rooms can accommodate a few hundred diners, and if you show up on a weekend, it is likely that every table will be filled. Several steamer carts roll among the tables, offering pork shu mai, bao of various descriptions, har gau stuffed with shrimp, rice noodle rolls, pork spare ribs, chicken feet (it’s not as disgusting as it sounds and is, in fact, delicious), duck with black beans, stir-fried Chinese broccoli, scallop dumplings, glazed shrimp with walnuts, a hundred other brunch items I can’t remember and a wide variety of deserts I’ve never sampled because I always stuffed myself with fish. You will leave—perhaps via wheelbarrow—satisfied without destroying your bank account.

    I have dined at Ocean Seafood at least fifty times over the years (that I can remember; perhaps many more times than that) and I have never had less than an excellent meal. And, fortunately, once you’re done eating you’ll have all of Chinatown to walk around and work off the enormous meal.

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