Where to find the best dim sum, other Chinese dishes in Manhattan Beach – Daily Breeze
Stroll through the very affable Manhattan Village food court and you’ll find yourself surrounded by eateries like Joey’s, Edo Bites, Sweetgreen, California Pizza Kitchen, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and Handel’s ice cream. Walk a little further, and there’s Mercado and Islands and Tin Roof Bistro.
But where, I had to wonder, on a recent cool night, was modern chinese dan? It’s there, but not necessarily there. It is on a through road across from the main shopping area, more or less opposite Macy’s. It’s easy to miss. Which would be a shame. For Dan serves up some of the best Chinese food for miles around, although admittedly competition in the area is limited. It is worth finding it.
Unlike the Chinese enclaves of Monterey Park, Alhambra, Rosemead and San Gabriel, the South Bay is not teeming with dim sum houses, similar to the huge Hong Kong-style food halls, where dumplings are served for a breakfast and late lunch only. Show up in the evening craving shui mai or har gow, and you’re out of luck. But at Dan, (as at Din Tai Fung in Torrance), the rules are much looser.
Of course, Din Tai Fung offers its soup noodles and dumplings with a full bar – and a guaranteed wait most of the time. But Dan… is much easier to integrate. Dan is a big part of the American dim sum movement all the time.
But it’s also unique in the sheer… comfort of its setting. Modernist, yes. But still, a very cozy place to contemplate the joys of xiao long bao — soup dumplings, of which Dan offers six variations. Which is also unique; even the best-known soup dumpling shops offer… a soup dumpling. But at Dan’s, there’s pork, pork and crab, pork and shrimp, spicy pork, chicken, and chicken and shrimp.
The funny thing about all of these variations is that for most of us, the wonder of the soup dumpling is the little miracle of hot soup…wrapped in a dumpling, a culinary parlor trick the wise have learned. of us to swallow with caution. Put a steaming hot dumpling of soup in your mouth and expect a burning palate that will stay with you for a while. The trick is to bite with a certain delicacy, which is not easy when you have an appetizing basket of ravioli in front of you.
Dan’s menu is both brief (in Chinese restaurant terms) and sufficient. I certainly had no problem hosting a proper dim sum feast, adding to my table several of the four non-soup dumplings (pork, pork and pork and shrimp, chicken and vegetables), each available steamed, pan-fried or crispy. Mixing and matching them is fun and tasty. Although the menu notes to “allow extra time for the crispy dumplings”.
And most of us will be done inhaling the meal by then. It’s ‘frenzied’ cooking – the dishes arrive on the table and everyone starts to gobble. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
There’s more to add to this binge – including a trio of noodle soups, and they’re pretty good too, especially if cold weather is upon us. There are six flavors of fried rice, which isn’t really a dim sum dish, but it’s a new-school dumpling house, and just about anything goes.
Although dumpling houses aren’t known for their greens, there is, again, enough here to satisfy. There’s a thin seaweed and tofu salad, and a bowl of pickled cucumbers with ginger and chili – you must have your pickled cucumbers to perk up your palate after too much flavor. There are green beans (with garlic), spinach (with garlic), broccoli (with garlic), bok choy (with garlic), snow pea leaves -everything (with garlic) and pea sprouts (with garlic). Lots of garlic, but not too much.
Somewhat unexpectedly, there is popcorn chicken and popcorn shrimp. There are very good pancakes with green onions. And a beef roll made with oxtail is more or less a dim sum dish. At least enough for a revisionist view of food. The kitchen is open, visible, and efficient enough to deliver the dishes to you in a hurry, so that with a happy belly you can stroll through the main business structure to see if there’s any wiggle room left on your cards. of credit after the abuse of the holidays.
As I’ve discovered over the years, while there’s fun in making dim sum at home, there’s even more fun in eating it at a friendly café like Dan. Servers smile warmly and locals seem thrilled that they don’t have to travel to the San Gabriel Valley for their fix of dumplings. The place looks like the latest incarnation of Dan Modern Chinese restaurants.
If dim sum whenever you want is the next big thing, I’ve got my chopsticks ready – there’s always room for one more dumpling of soup.
Merrill Shindler is a freelance food critic based in Los Angeles. Email [email protected]
modern chinese dan
- Rating: 3 stars
- Address: Manhattan Village, 3160 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Manhattan Beach
- Information: 310-546-1588, danmodernchinese.com/pages/manhattan-beach
- Food: Chinese
- When: Lunch and dinner, daily
- Details: Tea and soft drinks; no reservations
- Atmosphere: This easy-to-miss branch of a fast-growing Chinese dumpling chain, near the Manhattan Village food court, is somewhat hidden around the corner from a main street. There are oversized glass windows and a view of the kitchen and dumplings being built. This modernist dim sum house serves its small menu of dumplings, soups, fried rice and a handful of entrees much of the day, allowing those hungry for soup dumplings in the evening a place to go that’s as good as anything in Monterey Park and surrounding areas.
- Prices: About $18 per person
- Suggested dishes: 6 types of soup dumplings ($6.50 – $8.50), 4 types of dumplings ($6.50 – $10.50), 3 types of soup ($9.50 – $14.50), 5 types of fried rice ($12.50 – $19.50), 7 small plates ($6.25 – $14.25), 6 large plates ($9.75 – $18.25), 4 side dishes noodles ($14.50 – $19.50), 6 vegetable dishes ($10 – $14)
- Credit card: CM, V
- What do the stars mean: 4 (World class! Worth the trip from anywhere!), 3 (Most excellent, if not outstanding. Worth the trip from anywhere in Southern California.), 2 (A great place to go for a meal. Worth the trip from anywhere in the neighborhood.) 1 (If you’re hungry and it’s nearby, but don’t get stuck in traffic.) 0 (Honestly not worth it write on it.)