Dim Sum all day every day in Pasadena.
Who knew one of my favorite Chinese Restaurants would go “franchise”.
I’ve been going to Lunasia for years. I’ve been going to them for so long that I remember the time when they were just an ordinary, average, nothing too special restaurant.
Then, at some point a couple of years ago, new ownership came in. They kept the name, but significantly jazzed up the joint. Nice linens, cast iron tea kettles, significantly improved menu.
It was all good, and I’m pleased to report it’s still all good the original Lunasia.
But now, they have gone franchise with an experiment that I’m pleased to see. They’ve made a Dim Sum specific restaurant just around the corner from Pasadena’s City Hall: Lunasia Dim Sum House.
(SIDE NOTE: I’m going with the assumption that this Dim Sum House and Lunasia are related since they share most of the same menu, preparation, name and logo. The Lunasia Website is unfortunately useless in this regard because typing in the web address leads me to Charter’s website…as of this publication.)
So far, so good. It’s pretty damn popular. First time I tried to eat there, I had to turn around because there was a line that I didn’t feel like waiting in that day. I came a little earlier the next time around, and got myself a seat.
Is it the Dim Sum I’m used to seeing at the Lunasia Mothership? For the most part, yes it is. I’d consider it a “greatest hits” assortment of Lunasia’s Dim Sum offerings. The restaurant functions just like the original Lunasia. You come in, look over the menu, complete with pretty pictures, make your checks on the sheet. Hand said sheet to anyone in a Lunasia uniform and wait for the grub to magically arrive.
Looking at it from the outside, Lunasia Dim Sum House is deceptively big. It’s a clean, open elegant space, kinda like the original. The atmosphere definitely helps with the meal.
I would say that for the most part, what you’re going to have at Lunasia Dim Sum House matches with the Mothership 90-95% of the way. There was one or two bugs that caught my eye, or tongue in this case, but I’d come back here again in a heartbeat.
Mathematics works wonders.
The BBQ Pork Rice Noodle and the String Beans were both spot on, bringing me right back to the mothership for happy comfort food memories. (Yes, I find Dim Sum a comfort food. So sue me.) These are two regular dishes that I get a Lunasia come hell or high water.
The Macau Pork and the Steamed BBQ Pork Buns were mostly right. Mostly.
The Steamed BBQ Pork Buns were still the same light and fluffy concoctions that make them my favorite in all of Los Angeles. The Pork inside was a touch bit sweeter than I remember, like there was an extra helping or brown sugar. Not bad, mind you (I still tore into them like a mad dog), just not 100% the same as the Mothership.
The Macau Pork was a virtual duplicate of the stuff you’d get at Lunasia proper, but for some reason, was not served with the sauce that normally comes with. I really missed that. But this is an easy fix I hope Lunasia Dim Sum House goes ahead and takes care of.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Even though it’s spacious, more spacious than you think looking at it from the outside, it still fills up real quick. Be prepared to wait a while to get in, especially after 12:30-1:00pm.
Mind the Dim Sum Rule, think 3.5 plates per person.
And if you do wind up waiting, go ahead and make a plan as you do, fill out the form (they’ll hand one to you as you wait), and hit the ground running.
PARKING: Mysterious. There are a number of metered spaces around the corner from the restaurant. Lunasia Dim Sum House shares the block with a U.S. Post Office, and those meters are really meant for their customers. In fact, the meters are marked 30 minutes or less. That’s not going to do you much good if you want to kick back and eat. I actually wound up parking across the street at Paseo Colorado (and paying $3 bucks), because I didn’t know any better.
Meanwhile, as I’m eating people are coming into the restaurant through the back. There has got to be Parking back there, because you sure ain’t going to find anything along Colorado.
Lunasia Dim Sum House
239 East Colorado Boulevard
Pasadena, CA 91101
Tel: (626) 793-8822
Monday-Friday: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Saturday-Sunday: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm