Leading up to this year's Best of L.A. issue (due out Oct. 4), we'll be counting down, in no particular order, 100 of our favorite dishes.
80: Shu mai at Elite Restaurant.
Elite Restaurant in Monterey Park has a reputation for being one of the most civilized dim sum palaces in town — if you're accustomed to waving down rattling food carts or boxing out a table of grandmothers for the last order of har gow, you'd probably find the attentive table service and the subdued vibe a bit of a surprise. Things are mellower here. The flaky egg custard tarts, dainty things tinged with a bit of caramelized sugar, taste like they could have been flown in from the finest Paris patisserie.
The plump shu mai on the other hand, loose-skinned dumplings packed with shrimp and fatty slips of pork, are pure forces of nature. Not only are they some of the most massive, golf ball-looking versions you'll find in the SGV — if the weatherman ever describes the hail outside as Elite shu mai-sized, run for cover — they're also juicy and supple enough to please the most jaded dim sum veteran. Redolent of rice wine and sesame oil, and crowned with a dab of bright red fish roe, these shu mai hold one more surprise: a tiny round of scallop tucked into each dumpling. It would be easier to cram 20 fraternity pledges into a VW bug than to stuff more filling into these things.
Check out the rest of our 100 of our favorite dishes. Suggestion? Write us a comment.
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