Monterey Park: Dim Sum at NBC Seafood
NBC Seafood is a classic Cantonese dim sum palace. It opened when I was a kid and is still very popular. It was renovated a few years ago and I always meant to check it out to see how it compares to the newer dim sum joints like nearby Elite.
Joining me this past Sunday was Ali from AliLovesLA. She had not had dim sum in LA before and I thought she might enjoy a restaurant that still had the dim sum carts (versus ordering from a menu). After about a 20 minute wait, we were seated in full view of the large tanks holding live sea creatures. And then the onslaught began. Before we could even catch our breaths, we had a table full of dumplings.
I ordered my favorites right away including chicken feet and egg rolls. Ali wanted some BBQ pork buns which I insisted she have of them. Despite my love of pork, I have never been fond of Chinese BBQ pork. I feel it’s a little too sweet for me.
I really liked NBC’s chicken feet. They were plump and the sauce was great. Egg rolls could have used some more meat but at least they were nicely crunchy.
The Chiu Chow fun gor was all right. I couldn’t help but like the fancier version over at Elite with both fresh peanuts and pine nuts. But if I didn’t have that fresh in my mind, these weren’t bad.
I saved my loh mi gai (lotus wrapped rice) towards the end, not wanting to fill up on carbs. I liked that these were just wrapped in the lotus leaf. Surprisingly none of it stuck to the sticky rice. I must be getting used to the leaf and parchment paper ones because I found NBC’s to be exceptionally flavorful. The newer dim sum places use the parchment paper to keep the rice from sticking but it also prevents the flavor of the leaf to seep in.
I skipped these baos as well.
If you listen closely, you can almost always hear this refrain in a dim sum house, “har gow! siu mai! har gow! siu mai!” These two dumplings are the staples to dim sum. I was surprised to see five smaller dumplings in each tin (one siu mai was eaten before I could get a pic). They were pretty good though I preferred the siu main despite not being garnished with what I feel is more traditional- roe.
If you don’t love shrimp, you should probably avoid 95% of dim sum. At least that’s how I feel. I snatched up these fried shrimp balls on sugar cane sticks right away. It comes with a lemony mayo sauce. If you feel like it, you can gnaw on the sugar cane as well. The shrimp and celery dumplings were great. I really liked the fresh celery.
But the crowning moment of the day had to be the roast pork with exceptionally crackly skin. Serve me up a bowl of rice because I think I need it to finish off the plate! Of course it’s funny that I don’t like cha siu but I will happily eat the roast pork with dabs of hoisin sauce.
After trying out NBC, I could be persuaded to be on Team Dim Sum Carts again. There’s just something thrilling and unique about that experience versus ordering the same dishes over and over elsewhere. I did miss the rice rolls cart and my beloved shrimp cheung fun but we didn’t have room. Not even for dessert. Just as well, I didn’t really need to eat egg tarts.