We love brunch, and dim sum is no exception to that statement. Dim sum is considered the Asian interpretation to the American-style brunch. For those unfamiliar, dim sum consists of many Chinese-style dishes in small plates, similar to tapas at our local Spanish-influenced restaurants. Often these dishes consist of dumplings filled with either veggies, chicken, pork, and, most often for us, shrimp. Much like Chinese take-out, the variability in options don’t vary much wherever you go for dim sum, which is why it’s nice to experience dim sum somewhere where the prices are low so you can figure out which dishes you enjoyed the most.
NBC Seafood is a staple for many Asian families living in Los Angeles. This restaurant offers a mix of Cantonese-style dim sum options with an extensive menu of options served from 8 am to 3 pm everyday. When we first arrived on Sunday morning, the lines were outside of the door. We went inside to grab our number and waited for at least an hour for our number to be called. The restaurant is filled with banquet-style seating with granite pillars all throughout. Although it was a large space, probably with more than 50 large round tables that could seat a party of 10, the entire space was crowded due to the large volume of patrons enjoying their dim sum. We were taken around a corner across from the main room and seated in an area at the far end of the restaurant, thus exemplifying how large, yet crowded, this restaurant truly is.
At most dim sum places you are usually given a menu of the dim sum options and told to write the quantity of dishes you would like. At NBC Seafood, employees are wheeling around carts full of fresh dim sum options, such as steamed shrimp har gow (steamed shrimp dumpling), shrimp rice noodle wrap, steamed chicken bun, and steamed egg custard bun. The cart itself becomes your menu as you ask the employees what is available on the cart. While it is a very interesting experience, often the cart did not have the options that we wanted and we had to wait another 10-15 minutes until another cart rolled around.
- Our favorite dim sum dish: Fried shrimp ball on sugar cane. This dish consisted of a hefty portion of shrimp lightly coated in bread crumbs on a stick of cooked sugar cane. It was both a sweet and savory dish, almost reminiscent of coconut shrimp. It was also a treat to eat the shrimp off of the sugar cane, which distributed the sweetness all throughout the meat. The shu mai here is the best James has ever had, so it’s worth trying here first if you’re not sure if you like shrimp and pork combined in a dumpling!
- Our least favorite dim sum dish: Baked BBQ pork bun. The baked BBQ pork bun was filled with pulled pork that tasted overcooked, which often makes pulled pork incredibly tough to eat. The BBQ sauce that coated the pulled pork was entirely too sweet, making the pork bun taste more like a bite of liquid sugar than anything else.
NBC Seafood was a great experience for us to try a variety of new dim sum dishes that we often don’t see at traditional Mom-and-Pop dim sum restaurants. While it was a fun experience for us, we recommend that dim sum novices try dim sum dishes elsewhere as it is difficult to know what dishes you’d like to try, especially if you don’t speak Cantonese. Loyalty consumers may know the entire offerings for dim sum but for us we found that ordering is much easier with a menu containing pictures and descriptions rather than with a cart service. For those who may feel intimidated trying new food, especially in a language and culture they’re unfamiliar with, don’t fret. If you’re up for the challenge of trying a new kind of brunch, take a look at the dim sum offerings on the NBC Seafood website so that way you have an idea of what you’d like to try before going.
If you’re not in LA and want to try dim-sum here’s a quick tip!
Every time we go to a new dim sum place, we always wonder what to order; however, there are a couple key dishes that you could find at any dim sum restaurant that you could try and you would have a good time. Actually these are usually the only things we order because we feel that if you order too many new things you may not enjoy the meal.
- Har Gow (steamed shrimp dumpling)
- Steamed Egg Custard Bun
- Shu mai (pork and shrimp steamed dumpling)
- Shrimp with rice noodle wrap
Overall Rating: 12.5/15
404 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754