“The discovery of a new dish,” said Brillat-Savarin, “does more for the happiness of mankind than the discovery of a star.” And with apologies to our fine neighbors at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the discovery of a new dim sum parlor should make mankind happier still. Carved from the corpus of the late and unmourned Sea Star, Top Island is pretty much your standard megalithic Hong Kong–style banquet restaurant during the evenings, with a Chiu Chow–tinged menu of shark’s fin, crab balls and flash-fried goose intestines, but in the mornings it reverts to a by-the-book dim sum joint, priced on the cheap end of the spectrum, with bao and fritters, dumplings stuffed with shrimp and dumplings stuffed with scallops, slippery broad rice noodles, rice steamed in lotus leaves and boiled Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce, hot tofu sluiced with syrup and chilled mango pudding moistened with condensed milk straight from the can.

What’s that, you say? Top Island sounds no different from any of the other old-line dim sum parlors in town? True enough. But it is always pleasant, on occasion, to gaze on a different succession of carts. 740 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra, (626) 300-9898.

—Jonathan Gold

LA Weekly