Lunasia (Alhambra, CA)
500 W Main St
Alhambra, CA 91801
Dining date: 8/27/12
Dim sum is something that I often enjoy as a weekend lunch. It’s a very ‘social’ meal always involving the sharing of a variety of small plates. The multitude of flavors and textures is something that’s pretty unique, and it has become a sort of comfort food even though I didn’t eat it all that often growing up.
I’ve been going to the Lunasia spot for a few years now, the first time being when it was Triumphal Palace. Ownership/management changes have resulted in some name and chef changes, but I’ve enjoyed meals here pretty consistently. Long lines on the weekends tell me I’m not the only one.
Lunasia’s ordering is menu-based; you order off a menu and the plates come directly from the kitchen. It’s not quite as playful or curiosity-inducing as the cart-based places, but I find the food to come to the table much fresher. Turnover is usually pretty quick at popular joints with the carts, but you never know how long it takes a dish to get from the kitchen to the table. My favorite “delivery model” is actually a combination of both; some places are menu-based with a handful of carts coming around – the best of both worlds.
Pictures of each dish and English descriptions is key in choosing what to order!
Scallop Taro Cake
A crispy exterior hid a hot filling of taro, scallop and what I think was ground pork. The sweet-salty combination was a good one, and it was fried just right.
Steamed Chicken Feet
Hong Kong Roasted Duck
I thought this was a well-executed roast duck with a crispy skin and succulent, moist meat. A sweet soy glaze provided extra depth in flavor.
Crispy Shrimp Roll
This was a different one for me; small chunks of shrimp, complemented by parsley, were fried in a light batter. Loved the textures, and the shrimp and parsley were balanced well.
A dim sum standby, I found these to be a good example. The noodle had a nice sticky chew and was packed with plump shrimp.
Another dim sum staple, these came out piping hot. I thought these were very flavorful, though a bit heavy on the fat-pork ratio.
The next thing to come out of the kitchen were these dumplings, which I found to be on the doughy side and devoid of the characteristic juicy filling. Not sure what happened here.
I thought these simple potstickers were a disappointment too. The dough was sort of soggy and easily broke apart, not to mention being kind of oily too.
Shrimp Rice Noodle
We rebounded with one of my dim sum favorites. Soft, glutinous noodles were wrapped around individual shrimp and drenched in soy – this simple dish was done well.
Egg-roll Rice Noodle
This was another new item for me – shrimp paste was fried in a dough, covered in rice noodle. I liked the crispy texture that the fried dough provided, while the shrimp/rice noodle/soy combination had already proven to be a winner.
Located in the same plaza, milk tea from Tea Station was an ideal cap to the meal – always a plus when dining at Lunasia!
There were a few misses, but due to vast menus, it’s hard to find a spot that does everything well. I found the food to come out fresh and hot from the kitchen, and the ‘highs’ greatly outnumbered the ‘lows.’ In my opinion, Lunasia remains a strong bet for dim sum in LA.
I wasn’t quite fond of Triumphal Palace when it was there because some of the flavors were different than regular dim sum (ie gai lan was sauteed instead of with oyster sauce). Does Lunasia do the same thing? Looks good though … you got my craving for rice noodles going again.
Hmm I’m not sure if I’ve had the gai lan here, or if I’m getting mixed up with another place.
Rice noodles make waking up early for dim sum not so bad… Actually, Lunasia serves dim sum for dinner which is totally my jam. I detest waking up early.
Dim sum for dinner? Nice. I think they also have a more traditional dinner menu too!
boba buddies! 😀