Life is best when you create your own rituals; things that you love to do that belong to you and yours and no one else. For example, taking the concept of Sunday Funday to your own personalized level as the Cute Gardener and I have by replacing the prototypical Sunday brunch with our preferred dim sum adventures. We like to trek to peripheral places around the Los Angeles basin, ducking into the Chinese-saturated neighborhoods where we can find authentic, strip mall-centered family style restaurants eager to fill us up with copious amounts of fried or steamed dough and heavenly applications of pork, shrimp and fish.
This past weekend we ended up in the San Gabriel Valley at Sea Harbour Restaurant and knew exactly what we wanted as we had viewed the menu and chose our nine dishes the night before.
I could eat the baked and stuffed pork buns with honey glaze all day long. And this goes for most dim sum places; it is one of the most consistently satisfying dishes at these places even though cooking is articulated slightly different from place to place. The pork pastry was novel but ultimately tasted mostly of buttery pastry, which was good but overshadowed what could have been a nicer blend of sweet pork filling. The fried chives in white fish batter were delicious and provided the only greenery on our table. We agreed that with dim sum we don’t need to pretend we want vegetables anymore.
We were craving smelt, which has been a fun thing we’ve been eating together of late. Small fishes deep-fried in full with the perfect amount of crispy brine. Many on our generous plated pile were pregnant, so salty and bubbly white roe accompanied those bites.
The pork dumplings were wanna-be soup dumplings: good, savory and chewy and pleasantly different from the normal dumplings. The shumai were a bit unbalanced with the pork overwhelming the wrapping. Shrimp cheong fun in large flat, transparent noodles became a delightful boat for soy.
And of course, there is always room for more pork-filled buns; this time steamed.
Our last bit of out of the ordinary came in the form of shrimp stuffed eggplant. I am a sucker for Chinese eggplant and this version was delicious but a little odd to pair the textures of eggplant with the texture of a steamed, fish cake with density that didn’t play well with the vegetable.
Of course, like most Chinese food, we ate more than usual. Mid afternoon napping ensued.
Perfect for Sundays…