QUESTION: Anything new in the world of dim sum? Empress and Sea Harbour and 888 are swell, mind you, but I’m getting a little burned out on them. And don’t tell me to go to Mission 261. I like to think of myself as having an open mind, but it isn’t quite open enough to admit the possibility of seafood dumplings shaped like bees.
ANSWER: NBC Seafood may have been the first restaurant to serve dim sum in Monterey Park, a big, glittering Cantonese seafood palace whose parking lot on weekends resembled the four-level at rush hour and whose dim sum selection was even a little bit better than the Chinatown standard bearers at the time. And even as the Chinese community in Monterey Park grew to mythic proportions, and the progression of Chinese malls marched east toward Rowland Heights, NBC still pumped out pork buns and shiu mai and silkily wrapped shrimp dumplings to enormous crowds, even as thrill seekers sought out newer and shinier places. I have to admit — I had all but forgotten about the place.
But I went back a couple of times in the last few weeks, and NBC seems to be on a roll at the moment — the fried octopus tentacles, baked flaky pork buns, grilled taro, stuffed rice noodles and leaf-wrapped sticky-rice capsules were all great, and the simple chicken congee from the cart was about as good as rice porridge gets. And the tab was about half of what it has been at Sea Harbour recently. NBC may not be new, but it is definitely worth checking out again. 404 S. Atlantic Blvd., Monterey Park, (626) 282-2323.