Dim Sum…but in the San Fernando Valley, not San Gabriel? Say it ain’t so!
It is true, I tend not to trust Dim Sum outside of the San Gabriel Valley.
There are exceptions of course, but for me…my only comfort comes in going to a place, where I am just about the only non-Asian face in there, able to gobble up the little bits of everything that land on my table.
But that…c’mon…is a pretty hard-assed way to look at the world. After all, Chinese-Americans live in other parts of the greater Los Angeles area. Just because you’re in…oh, I don’t know North Hollywood, doesn’t mean that your Dim Sum or your restaurant sucks.
Still, there is a place called Shanghai Rose. And while it’s not the best Dim Sum place in Los Angeles, it managed to kill a lot of my skepticism.
There are, of course, going to be hurdles.
For one, you’ve got to get past the Onion Dome old school Borscht Belt look the place spots.
Shanghai Rose shares space with…what I thought was a Russian Nightclub next door. So that explains the Slavic connection. You walk inside Shanghai Rose, and you’re in a deep, dark, vaguely romantic, date place kind of a restaurant.
The first thing that might throw you off (certainly threw me off) is how quiet the place is.
Yeah, there are a goodly number of patrons visiting that day, but…if I had brought someone to share in this lovely Dim Sum feast before me, I would have actually been able to speak to them and converse with them in a normal tone of voice.
Then I get a look at the menu, and Holy Mother of Chinese Broccoli in Oyster Sauce…this stuff…looks…great. It doesn’t just look like real, old school Dim Sum, IT IS real, old school Dim Sum.
The good news…I came alone, and it’s all mine.
The bad news…I came alone, and I can’t get anything more than 4 dishes. (Remember, we have a rule about Dim Sum).
Shanghai Rose cooked up some good, good food. It’s not Lunasia, or Elite or Mission 261, but you know what? It’s right up there with Atlantic Seafood and Dim Sum. Not the best in town, but pretty damn good, and not terribly expensive.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: So for me, the one thing I was worried about was how good this Dim Sum was going to taste, given it’s location. To me, having this restaurant in San Gabriel, in Alhambra would have put this question to bed. But it’s here…along Ventura Blvd, where I have had some notoriously bad Chinese food in the past.
I need not have asked. Shanghai Rose knows what’s it’s doing. It’s good Dim Sum, not the best in Los Angeles, but still good. Whoever is doing the Baking back in the Kitchen, can take on ANBODY in the San Gabriel Valley.
Okay, the food.
The first thing to arrive was the Sautéed Green Beans. This is something I order every time I have Dim Sum, and at Shanghai Rose, it was prepared differently. It tasted different, and…that may have been a good thing.
These Green Beans had a slightly picklely taste, maybe they used more vinegar, who knows. But the garlic flavor on this was reduced and the vinegar was increased…and it’s not bad. It’s not a bad idea. They also added pickled peppers into the mix, which gave the whole thing a punch. Keep your water nearby. It won’t be scalding, but it will make things interesting. Well done. Well done.
The Beef Balls, or the Meatballs came next. Again, well done. A straight ahead Dim Sum Classic. Nothing stratospheric, nothing revolutionary. Just well done and tasty. That’s all you need.
Then I made the mistake/had the good fortune to order two Baked items.
It was a mistake in that, I wasn’t super-duper starving and these two things stuffed me up but good.
But the good fortune came in the fact that one of these two items came fresh out of the oven, and tasted world class.
The first was the Baked BBQ Pork Pie, which was flaky, crumbly delicious. Good porky-delicious filling. Amazing crust. These were merely good…
…the Baked Egg Yolk Buns were…amazing.
This one I had to wait for. These were still baking as I had my other dishes. When they finally came out…oh my God. Oh…my…God.
Even the owner of Shanghai Rose grabbed herself one.
Just look at them. A crusted, baked candy top, with a molten golden interior of egg yolk and sugar. Usually, Chinese desserts aren’t that sweet, and they’re amazing because they’re not that sweet. This one tastes typically American with sugar, sugar, sugar, and is every bit as heavenly despite the sugar.
Just get these, get these, get these, get these.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: While overall, Shanghai Rose is a pretty damn good, not the best Dim Sum place in town, whoever is doing the baking back there is INCREDIBLE. If at all possible (and there’s no way you can time this), try to get whatever they bake up fresh out of the oven. As good as it already is, there is just no comparing it to fresh, hot and steaming. Amazing stuff.
PARKING: Pretty damn good. There are a smattering of spaces directly in front of the restaurant, but don’t be fooled. Those are reserved for the Optometrist right next door to Shanghai Rose. (Yes, this place has a Russian Night Club, a Dim Sum restaurant, and…an eye doctor. Welcome to L.A.)
There is a narrow street to the right of the restaurant that you may not see pulling up, but trust me it’s there, and it leads to a pretty decently sized garage in back. Take your ticket, get it validated, and you will drop only a dollar to get in and our. Great deal. Great parking situation.
12229 Ventura Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 91604
Tel: (818) 762-2542
Daily: 11:30 am – 10:00 pm