Ever since we ate at Sea Harbor Restaurant a couple of weeks ago on our half day off, we have been itching to try its potential competitor. Last Saturday was Mario’s last day of summer quarter, and of course we wanted to eat at Lunasia Chinese Cuisine restaurant the first chance we get. So with Ravi in tow and diaper bag to match, we headed out to Alhambra on Sunday.
Since Ravi woke up around 7AM, we were ready to go pretty early in the morning. After half an hour of a car ride, we arrived about 9:45AM. There wasn’t any line formed yet and we got a seat right away. Good thing we arrived early, when we headed out about 10:30AM the line outside seemed pretty long.
From start to finish, Ravi dictated our eating experience. We only ordered six dishes because we knew that keeping him in his seat was going to be a challenge. We gave him chopsticks, tea cups, and our cell phones to play with, but he still publicly displayed his unhappiness by fake crying and getting attention from neighboring tables. Though as food arrived, Ravi stopped his complains and played with his toys for a while. We didn’t waste anytime and wolfed everything down so we could get out of there as soon as possible. After half an hour, only five out of six dishes arrived and we decided not to wait any further and leave before Ravi has another breakdown. We got our bill adjusted and left the restaurant within 45 minutes! That’s our fastest dim sum experience ever!
What’s the Price?
The price at Lunasia is on the same level as Sea Harbor, or may be just slightly more expensive. We ordered five dishes (exclude the one never arrived) and cost us $23 without tips. Each dish is rated small, medium, large, or special and are priced accordingly. The small was priced at $3 per dish. Additionally, we were charged $3 for the tea. Maybe they were counting Ravi as a tea drinker, either way it is a bit on the high side.
What’s Cool and What’s Not?
There’s the same “order off the menu” system rather than the “order off the pushed cart” system. The menu is just one sheet of paper tri-folded, printed front and back. So it was easy to look at all the names of the dishes but does not have spaces for pictures associated with each dish. Sea Harbor has a real menu for dim sum and pictures and prices associated with each dish. We loved that about Sea Harbor. There were some choices that Lunasia offers that Sea Harbor doesn’t, and also true the other way around.
How about the Service?
The tea arrived about 5 minutes after we sat down. We also had to wait a few minutes before anyone took our order. Our second desert order of a “thousand layer cake” didn’t arrive after half an hour of wait time, but they had no problem adjusting our bill. Overall, good service, even though it wasn’t as good as Sea Harbor’s where we got our tea instantly and any request answered immediately.
What about the Food?
Lunasia offers a good number of choices in dim sum. We stayed with mostly the dishes we loved and order some we haven’t tried before.
Here’s their menu and our order list.
Baked Pastry with Duck. This was the first time we’ve ordered this dish and we really didn’t expect it to turn out in this form. It looked like the traditional baked BBQ pork pastry and it tasted like it too, but it was really filled with duck and costed a little more. I am not a huge fan of this dish. It tastes okay, but not great.
Pork and Shrimp Dumpling. This was my favorite dish of the day. It was bigger in size than I expected. It was also very juicy and tender, with a touch of mushroom to it. Very tasty!
Chicken Feet. The color of this dish was spot on. I was concerned initially since the chicken feet kept their form so well and didn’t looked so tender, but once I bit into it, it was very soft and juicy and the tendon and skin fell right off the bone. I consider this quite amazing, Lunasia managed to keep the form but at the same time made it so tender.
Egg Custard Bun. This bun had a good amount of filling to it, but it was more a regular egg custard with a more pasty feel to it. Sea Harbor’s version had that golden flowing butter and preserved duck egg yolk, which was an instant wow. This is good, but not great.
Bacon and Onion Pancake. This was probably the least liked dish of the day. We had no idea that this would be fried. It was too cruchy and oily.
Overall, Sea Harbor is a better dim sum restaurant in LA, with Lunasia a close second. However, we will come back and eating here so we can get some varieties we don’t get at Sea Harbor. I think maybe being rushed has something to do with us not enjoying the experience so much. Besides, Lunasia is one of the few places that offers Thousand Layer Cake that we didn’t get to try this time. We’ll definitely order it when we go back next time.