Loud, crowded, and hectic--those are the defining characteristics of a classic dim sum experience. In Orange County, dim sum is either purely Cantonese or Vietnamese-influenced in preparation, but you'll always find classic shumai (pork dumplings), har gow (and shrimp wrapped in translucent dough), and chicken feet served from carts. Whether you're craving dumplings or want a vibrant brunch environment to wake you up, here are ten places that'll give you just that.
10. Furiwa (Garden Grove)
In the same complex as the original Boiling Crab is Furiwa--half-dim sum restaurant and half-wedding venue. The great thing about Furiwa is how large it is, which means you'll rarely have to wait too long to get in. Classic dim sum items like har gow, shumai, and shrimp rolls are abundant here, as well as non-dim sum items like lobster and walnut shrimp.
13826 Brookhurst St, Garden Grove; (714) 534-3996; furiwa.com
9. J Zhou Oriental (Tustin)
Don't let the fancy interior of J Zhou Oriental fool you. At its core, it's a simple dim sum restaurant just like the other ones on this list--a haven of bite-sized dumplings and small plates of savory meat. The only difference is that instead of picking out dishes from carts, you order them from the server here.
2601 Park Ave, Tustin, (714) 258-8833; jzhouorientalcuisine.com 8. Seafood World (Westminster)
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Seafood World rolls out carts of your favorite dim sum items. Har gow, egg tarts, and rice paper marinated in soy sauce are only few of the many items on the menu. If you want family-style Chinese dishes they have that too, as they also cater weddings and other events.
15351 Brookhurst St, Ste 106, Westminster, (714) 775-8828; seafoodworldrestaurant.com
7. King Lobster Palace (Orange)
If we had to pick two notable items at King Lobster Place, it would be the shumai and barbecue pork buns. The shumai here is juicy and warm, and the barbecue pork buns are made with the fluffiest of doughs. Steamed fish rolls and pork spare ribs are also tasty here.
2045 N Tustin St, Orange, (714) 282-9788; kinglobsterpalaceorange.com
6. Ten Ten Seafood Restaurant (Anaheim)
If you ever beat the crowd at Ten Ten Seafood Restaurant (or any dim sum restaurant, really), you're one of the few lucky ones. Once you get seated you'll be able to choose various dishes from the passing carts, and if you're lucky they'll even have their sweet tapioca soup.
669 N Euclid St, Anaheim, (714) 991-9272; tentenseafoodrestaurant.com 5. Seafood Paradise (Westminster)
Seafood Paradise is one of the cheaper dim sum restaurants in the county and, for the quality of their turnip cake and shrimp rolls, it's a bargain (and worth the battle to find parking, too). If you don't want dim sum alone, you can order other items like their house lobster with noodles.
8602 Westminster Blvd, Westminster, (714) 893-6066
4. S.W. Seafood & B.B.Q. Restaurant (Irvine)
Live seafood and dim sum are the specialties of S.W. Seafood & B.B.Q. Restaurant, which has been around for decades. Dim sum isn't served on carts here; rather, you order what you want from a server. This means your dim sum will always arrive hot--a nice change from the occasional cold dim sum that's been sitting on a cart for too long.
5406 Walnut Ave, Irvine, (949) 262-0128 3. Capital Seafood Restaurant (Irvine)
Capital Seafood is seemingly always crowded, and the fact that it's in Diamond Jamboree--one of the only places to go to in Irvine--doesn't help. So if you come on a weekend morning, expect to wait at least 20 minutes (but hey, the people beside you at 85 C Bakery and Kula are waiting too, which psychologically makes things more bearable.) Once you're in, you have full access to as many steamed baskets of shumai as you want. Oh, and here's a bonus: their portions are larger than normal.
2700 Alton Pkwy, Suite 127, Irvine, (949) 252-8188 85 Fortune Dr Suite #329, Irvine, (949) 788-9218 capital-seafood.com
2. Sam Woo Restaurant (Irvine)
In Irvine, there's no better dim sum restaurant than Sam woo where prices are reasonable, options are endless, and everything is clean. For the cheapest price you can get the basics: chicken feet, shumai, steamed barbecue pork buns, and several others. Pay a little more and that'll get you har gow and an array of meat dishes to choose from, like barbecue pork spare ribs, roast pork, and roast duck. Dim sum is served here from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
15333 Culver Dr #720, Irvine, (949) 262-0688; samwooirvine.com
1. Seafood Cove #2 (Westminster)
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Good food and good service? In terms of dim sum, that's almost unheard of. But, of course, there's always a place that hits the mark, and Seafood Cove #2 has been doing so for years. Their taro buns, for one, are soft and sweet. Their shrimp and rice paper rolls are perfectly chewy and flavorful. We could go on and on about every single one of their items.
9211 Bolsa Ave, Westminster, Ste 106 - 107, (714) 893-1976; seafoodcove.com