Restaurant: Shi Hai
Location: 1412 S Garfield Ave. Alhambra, CA 91801. (626) 282-3888
Date: January 26, 2015
Cuisine: Cantonese Dimsum
Rating: Fun dishes, good, but dumpling skins too thick
My quest to try all the great dimsum houses in the LA area (mostly the San Gabriel Valley) continues with newcomer Shi Hai.
I brought only a 100mm macro lens and so capturing the dining room was a challenge. It’s sort of SGV high style 2015. This substantial wine nook betrays the recent Chinese interest in wine — even if all that Bordeaux and Cal Cab clashes hideously with the food!
We didn’t actually have to ask for mustard, and when we asked for water and soy sauce and vinegar we got 2 out of 3 on the first try! This is A+ service for an authentic dimsum house, some places you ask 3-4 times per item.
Shrimp dumpling (Har gow). The filling was good, but this dish betrayed Shi Hai’s biggest problem, their thick sticky shells. Getting these puppies out of the steamer intact was nigh on impossible so you ended up with a filling and a pile of shredded skin on your plate.
Crispy cruller rice noodle. This is only the second time I’ve had the rice crepes with something friend inside (the first being at Elite). Weird, but it works, combining the soft and sticky textures with the crunchy. The thing inside was basically a tempura shrimp.
Roast Suckling Pigeon. This succulent little roast fowl is ironically paired with… Pringles! Despite that, it was a tasty little game bird. The skin was nice and crisp and the meat had a dark gamey quality I really liked.
Overall, Shi Hai was good but not great. I’d put it in the second tier of SGV dimsum underneath Elite, King Hua, and Sea Harbor, but in line with Lunasia and Shanghai #1 Seafood. It absolutely blows away what Downtown and Westside places I’ve tried, and is certainly a worthy destination. Shi Hai also has an interesting menu, and I’d like to go back and try another round or two of dishes. If only they tuned up their dumpling shells to be lighter and less gummy they’d be great.
It should also be noted that it’s just a short wander across the street for some excellent snow afterward!