Restaurant: Elite Restaurant [1, 2, 3]
Location: 700 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754. (626) 282-9998
Date: April 8, September 22, October 29, 2014, April 18, 2015, August 22, 2015, February 21, 2022, and many other times
Cuisine: Cantonese Dimsum
This post is a composite of several trips to Elite (necessary to get a true handle on its greatness). These include two 2015 Hedonist blowout brunches (with wine) and several with my brother (who is also a dimsum fiend).
Elite is clearly one of the top 2-3 dimsum places in the SGV (and hence all of Southern California). Many of our group think it’s the best one. Everything is made to order.
Elite is at the top of many people’s list.
The interior is upscale, but hardly the most modern. There are tanks hidden in the corner and they serve upscale Cantonese banquet in the evening.
A controversial thing about Elite is that they charge for sauce. $0.75 for the mustard on the left and $3 for the XO. The restaurant is so cheap, it hardly matters.
Spicy jellyfish. Not bad at all.
Chicken feet in house sauce. Not my thing, but some like it.
Har Gow (Crystal shrimp). Excellent versions of the standard.
Pork Shui-Mai. Also great versions of the classic.
Dumpling. Not sure which dumpling this was, but it had a blend of shrimp and veggies and other yummies all fried together inside.
Scallop Dumpling. This was one of the best scallop dumplings I’ve had. There are all sorts of trefy goodies in there.
Meat and Mushroom dumpling. Another cool shape. Delicious too.
Shark’s fin and red clam dumpling. Hopefully no actual sharkfin (feel bad for those finless sharks). However, this was a delightfully clammy dumpling.
Dumpling. This one had peanuts and some other seafood bits inside.
Fried shrimp dumpling. There is a mild white sauce behind. This dumpling had an interesting coconut flavor to the interior.
Shanghai Style Steamed Bun. We love XLB, and these particular examples were awesome. My brother and I snarfed a tin each on at least 2 trips.
“Free” Sauces. A sweet one on the left (for duck and the like) and the XLB sauce on the right.
Tofu wrap. Mostly vegetables wrapped in bean curd. Hot and soft and delicious.
Shrimp with chow fun roll. Basically one of the chow fun “slimes” cut into a cut roll.
Golden Corn BBQ Pork Rice Noodle. Historically in our family we called these “slime.” This was some excellent slime.
Shrimp Rice Noodle. One of the most classic of the “slimes.” An excellent one too.
Crispy Shrimp Rice Noodle. I’ve never had a “slime” like this before. There was a big shrimp in here sort of Chinese tempura fried. Delicious.
Shredded Pork Rice Noodle. Not the best of the set.
Elite BBQ Pork Bun. Like a jelly donut, just filled instead with porky goodness!
The bun interiors.
Baked chicken bun. Delicious slightly sweet crunchy exterior top filled with chopped seasoned chicken meat.
Fried Meat Stuff Dumpling. With a title like that, I had to order. This was the chewy fried rice coating with sweet ground meat paste inside. Kinda delicious except it was fairly hollow (not enough filling).
Baked BBQ pork dumpling. Little flakey. pastry triangles stuffed with the usual red BBQ pork.
Fried shrimp ball with almond. This is the usual shrimp cake but coated in almond. It really added a nice texture. Quite fun.
Macau style pork belly. What it looks like!
House Roasted Duck. The duck does not suck. In fact, it was great. There was that usual authentic Chinese bone factor, but the taste was first rate.
Spare Ribs. The fatty creepy-looking spare ribs.
Beef short rib in pepper sauce. Like a bulgolgi pepper-steak.
Pork “leg” with lotus root and peanuts. “leg” turned out to mean feet. Ick.
Soy sauce chicken. The usual mild and tender chicken.
Some other slightly different green.
Spicy mushroom caps. Just mushrooms in brown sauce. Didn’t seem spicy.
Sticky Rice Lotus Leaf Wrap. Also excellent. Full of goodies.
The rice interior.
Salty Fish Fried Rice. Not for everyone, but quite delicious to my taste (very umami).
Elite fried rice. A bit of everything.
Seafood Chow Mein. Those crispy little noodles I love soaked in a seafood sauce. Great noodle dish.
Beef chow mein. Excellent, although I liked the seafood a bit better.
Salt and pepper prawns. Eat them shell and all giant prawns. Yum.
The Lobster Noodle was only $16. Unfortunately, it was the weakest dish. The meat itself was okay, but the sauce was bland and the noodles over cooked. We barely ate the noodles (although we did finish the lobster).
Durian bun. One of the best Durian buns I’ve had. With a really creamy mushy (banana texture) interior with that weird but yummy Durian flavor (rotten bananas with pineapple and petrol?)
Macau Egg Tart. Nice custard pies. Just a smidgen inferior to Shanghai #1’s version, but still fabulous.
Milk Buns. Filled with almond creme filling. Scrumptious.
A custard filled bun.
Almond milk pastry. Under that pastry shell is a sweet almond soup.
All in all, Elite really lives up to the name, serving some seriously tasty classic Cantonese Dimsum. They also have a great banquet menu for evenings. Some of the set banquets even go up to $2800 (a table?) and involve all sorts of epic dishes like suckling pig with foie gras!
A large percentage of my fiends who go to dimsum think it’s the best in the SGV. I personally think it’s about tied with King Hua. Certainly Elite, King Hua, and Lunasia are at the top, and there is a tier slightly below including Sea Harbor and maybe Shi Hai.
For more Chinese dining reviews click here.
On our April 18, 2015 brunch we had three tables in a private room and a lot of wine. Since it’s pointless to “pair” it, I’ll just list the bottles.
1998 Deutz Champagne Blanc de Blancs. JG 92+. Tart and crisp. Clean and refreshing but not a lot of subtle aged champagne flavors poking out.
NV Billecart-Salmon Champagne Brut Réserve. VM 90. Light, bright gold. Fresh red berries, orange zest and white flowers on the perfumed nose. Juicy and precise, offering energetic redcurrant and blood orange flavors that show good concentration and a supple texture. A mineral nuance adds bite to the finish, with the floral note echoing.
NV Taittinger Champagne La Française Brut. Burghound 88. An overtly yeasty nose speaks of apple and a hint of petrol. There is good verve to the delicious if only moderately complex flavors that are underpinned by a medium level of effervescence on the clean and reasonably dry finish. This is one of those wines that has no faults but no major attributes either.
1996 Kistler Chardonnay Dutton Ranch. VM 94. Green-gold. Extraordinarily penetrating, musky, Burgundian aromas are a cross between Chassagne truffle and herbs and Meursault roasted grain and toasted nuts (and the structure is akin to that of a Puligny). Great purity and intensity of fruit in the mouth; sharply focused and restrained today, with near-perfect fruit/acid balance. Finishes with terrific grip and palate-staining persistence.
2013 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Chardonnay Karia. 87 points. Aromatic nose with barrel notes and lemon. Medium weight textured palate emulates the bouquet, fairly pure fruit leads to a medium plus finish. Very toasty but fruit has some elegance.
2012 Bedrock Wine Co. Heritage Compagni Portis. VM 91. Melon, white pears, green pears, mint and jasmine lift out of the glass in the 2012 White Compagni Portis Heritage, which emerges from a site planted in 1954. This crisp, beautifully aromatic white field blend is an excellent choice for drinking over the next few years.
2011 Liquid Farm Chardonnay Golden Slope. VM 92. Light yellow-gold. Heady, complex scents of poached pear, lemon curd, toasty lees and iodine, with a bright floral quality gaining strength with air. Sappy, penetrating orchard fruit and candied ginger flavors stain the palate, with notes of anise, honey and smoky minerals contributing complexity. Powerful yet lithe chardonnay with superb finishing focus and spicy persistence. I’d bet on this wine as a cellar candidate.
2012 Liquid Farm Chardonnay White Hill. VM 92. The 2012 Chardonnay White Hill is bright, focused and tightly wound. Lemon peel, crushed rocks, pear and smoke jump from the glass as the 2012 shows off its energetic personality. The style is focused and taut, especially with the style of the Sta. Rita Hills. Imagine a Chablis like sense of energy with the depth and radiance of California. If that sounds like an appealing combination, well, it is! the 2012 was done mostly in neutral oak, with some of the wine seeing only stainless steel.
2012 Henri Boillot Puligny-Montrachet. Burghound 89. Here too there is enough reduction to push what appears to be ripe fruit to the background. The pure and well-detailed middle weight flavors possess a highly seductive mouth feel along with lovely balance and excellent persistence for a villages level wine. The class of a fine Puligny is very much in evidence and this is worth your attention.
2010 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc. VM 91-4. Pale straw-yellow. Lemon, chamomile, vanilla, ginger and a faint lactic nuance on the restrained, minerally nose. Pliant and sweet in the mouth, offering good concentration and fat to the vinous lemon, guava and grapefruit flavors. Very minerally on the long finish, showing lingering notes of peach, vanilla and coconut. This should age splendidly and will probably be at its best between 2020 and 2035.
From my cellar: 2010 Domaine de Saint-Just Saumur Chateau Brézé – Clos David. 90 points. A geeky dry Chenin I wanted to try with dimsum. Turned out to work well, bright and floral at the same time. Peach and pear.
1999 Bert Simon Serriger Herrenberg Riesling Auslese. 93 points. Medium yellow in color. Lovely aromas of sweet summer orchard pit fruit compote, lemon-grass, flint, hint of petrol and honeysuckle. A thick, viscous palate shows good depth to the quite cooked yellow fruits, creamy vanilla poached pears and minerals on a long and sweet finish.
2009 Joh. Jos. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese. VM 93. Exotic bouquet of passion fruit and mango, lifted by fine floral nuances. The wine’s luscious peach pit flavor and velvety texture are given shape and verve by a finely chiseled minerality. Dense yet airy, this spatlese boasts great refinement and stunning length. One of the stars of the vintage.
2013 Dönnhoff Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spätlese. VM 91. Brilliant aromas and flavors of apple, cherry blossom and oyster shell enlivened by herbal spices. At once dense and juicy, with finely chiseled acidity refreshing the palate. This delicate, well-balanced Riesling finishes in its own pure and invigorating style. While this is often my favorite Spätlese at this estate, my nod this year goes to the Hermannshöhle.
2006 Louis Guntrum Niersteiner Rehbach Riesling Spätlese. 85 points.
2010 Domaine Joseph Roty Marsannay. Burghound 88. Moderate wood still allows the ripe aromas of black cherry, cassis and a hint of underbrush to show through. There is a lovely vibrancy to the cool and delicious flavors that possess solid depth and length in the context of the appellation. This should drink well early on if desired yet reward mid-term cellaring as well.
1976 Bonneau du Martray Corton. 93 points. Very mature, but with a good bit of fruit and all sorts of secondary and tertiary complexity.
2012 Freestone (Joseph Phelps) Pinot Noir Freestone Vineyards. Burghound 89. There is a trace of menthol to the notably ripe aromas of essence of black cherry and plum scents. The medium-bodied and solidly well-concentrated flavors possess a lush and very round mouth feel before terminating in a dusty and generously proportioned finish. The supporting tannins are well-integrated and while there isn’t great depth at present the underlying material is such that more should develop with a few years of bottle age.
2012 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel Old Vine. VM 90. Vivid ruby. Pungent, high-pitched aromas of cherry skin, raspberry, licorice and lavender, with a bright mineral topnote. Juicy and incisive, with sappy dark berry and bitter cherry flavors. Supple tannins add grip to the spicy, floral finish.