Dim Sum is plentiful in Los Angeles. Vegetarian dim sum, on the other hand, is a bit of an Easter egg hunt. We've tried the veggie options at many Chinese restaurants throughout San Gabriel Valley but we keep coming back to Capital Seafood in Arcadia. It's a bit pricier than other dim sum in SGV but the food is delicious, there are many veggie options, the restaurant is clean, and the service is attentive.
A couple weekends ago (Easter Sunday) we were the first customers in the door. When it comes to weekend dim sum—no matter which restaurant you choose—you better be there when the doors open or be prepared for a long wait. The same is true for good authentic dim sum in any big city.
The next hurdle is deciding what to order. If you're vegetarian, you face the usual challenge: is it REALLY vegetarian? Seasoned vegetarians know that every restaurant and every server has their own definition of vegetarian. If you're strictly vegetarian or vegan you have to be specific when asking about dim sum menu items. Steamed gai lan (aka Chinese broccoli) is often drizzled with oyster sauce. Dumplings and congee often contain minced pork. Juicy/brothy dishes often contain chicken stock. Sometimes even a basic dish like rice noodle rolls can be flavored with dried shrimp bits.
Here are some of our favorite veggie dishes at Capital Seafood. Of course, it's still a good idea to verify with your server that everything you order is vegetarian.
(By the way, San Gabriel Valley is a very interesting place. At the end of this post I've included some trivia and statistics.)
Okay, this is probably enough for a major dim sum blowout at Capital Seafood. If not, you'll find more vegetarian options on their dim sum menu...
The 411 on The SGV
San Gabriel Valley is a region of 47 communities within Los Angeles County. It has a wonderfully diverse population of over 2 million people. It contains one of the largest concentrations of Chinese immigrants and Chinese-Americans in the U.S. It's also THE place to visit in Los Angeles if you're looking for authentic Chinese food. Here are some more interesting facts about SGV...
- Arcadia, home of aforementioned Capital Seafood Restaurant, is where Hunter S. Thompson wrote the book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
- Huy Fong's Sriracha sauce, with its instantly recognizable rooster logo, is produced in Irwindale.
- Grocery store chain Trader Joe's and restaurant chain Panda Express started in SGV.
- Arcadia has a very visible and audible population of wild peacocks that freely roam the neighborhoods.
Ready to try more authentic Chinese cuisine in Los Angeles? Check out our suggestions for The Elusive Vegetarian Sichuan Food of Los Angeles. I list two places where you can find my favorite Chinese dish of all time: Sichuan Mapo Tofu.