When you take things out of their natural environs it’s often a recipe for death. Polar bears don’t want to live in Florida anymore than alligators look to make their way around ice caps. The same can be said for dim sum. Its natural habitat in Los Angeles is the San Gabriel Valley. Communities with large enough populations to both support the cuisine and demand its excellence allow this area to flourish with fantastic restaurants. And then there is Bao Dim Sum on Beverly Boulevard in West Hollywood…
Like our intrepid polar bears cruising South Beach and our alligators trying to navigate ice floes, Bao Dim Sum is a lonely and unlikely dim sum restaurant in an area devoid of any others. The question then for The Monster is, will this place survive?
Claiming the old Jian Korean BBQ space (which is now schizophrenic in appearance due to the haphazard remodel that leaves this somewhere between the two, i.e. the tables are reclaimed from the old bbq stations), the food proves wildly up and down. One dish begins to make you think dim sum can in fact prosper here, the next has you running east on the 10 as fast as possible to get to the SGV.
Here is what is sampled: steamed chicken bun, spicy shrimp dumpling, wild crab dumpling, crispy scallion cake, crab claws with shrimp, honey walnut prawns, baked chicken bun.
Bao does not employ carts, this is a menu order dim sum restaurant. And the food comes out piping hot. Hotter in fact than any restaurant The Monster can remember eating at in years. Explosions of steam like thermal geysers greet you upon each bite. Bao Dim Sum may want to include placards saying they are neither responsible for your tongue nor the roof of your mouth when eating their food. If perchance you lose the ability to speak due to ingesting a flaming hot rock of lava masquerading as food it is not the management of Bao Dim Sum’s fault.
The steamed chicken bun, the wild crab dumplings, and the crab claw with shrimp are the highlights of the meal. None prove as good as their SGV counterparts but they will quell a burning dim sum fix until a proper excursion can be made.
The spicy shrimp dumplings and the honey walnut prawns are in need of serious guidance. The Monster gave them the phone number of a polar bear he knows currently hanging out at the Delano for advice.
The crispy scallion cakes and the baked chicken buns are adequate enough for what they are but neither will make one forget the palaces of Dim Sum half an hour away.
Due to location, Bao Dim Sum must also contend with the fact that its food is considerably higher priced than anything on offer in SGV. With higher rents and less turnover comes higher tariffs. So Bao serves a lesser quality product at a much higher price. But at least its close for all you lazy eaters!
Why go? The ability to speak is overrated.
Monster rating: 2/5 Monsters
8256 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048