Bao, With Your Hats Off and Everything

Back in my college days, I was introduced to Dim Sum by my associates in the UCLA Computer Club. It was the 25th Anniversary Party for the club, and I remember big arguments about where to go to get the best bao. I mention this because today was a dim sum day; we did a run downtown to Empress Pavillion to get the kids dim sum before they go off to college (especially Jim, for who knows if he’ll find Dim Sum in San Antonio TX).

In the past, Empress has been reasonably good dim sum. Yes, you could do better in Monterey Park, but that was a bit of a schlep from the valley. Alas, today I must observe that the quality of the dim sum at Empress had markedly declined. The best example is my go-to dish. For me, that’s BBQ Pork, which serves as a carrier for mustard. The pork should be sweet and slightly carmelized; the mustard should be good and hot. Today? Bland. The pork had no flavor, and the mustard, according to my wife, had been Americanized. Other dishes were similarly blanded: the turnip cake had no punch; the dumplings were so so. It was as if the exquisite tastes had been removed. I also don’t recall seeing the variety of dishes we normally see.

I think next time we go for a dim sum run, we’ll try Monterey Park. Certainly not Empress.