Kid Hit Menu Items: Unless your kid is one of those 100% dedicated, card-carrying members of the Mac N’ Cheese Only club, based on personal experience and conversations with friends, dim sum is a total slam dunk. Between the variety, textures and flavors at Elite in Monterey Park, both our kids were kept busy with sticky slick steamed rice noodle dishes, various dumplings, the artful steamed buns with stuffed with seafood and veggies cradled in mini foil tart pans, fried rice and whatever else we got that I lost track of. I ordered braised mushrooms with textured chewy bean curd thinking I’d have it all to myself, but this Mother’s Day selfishness didn’t go as planned.
Adult Perks: Having already had a Mom’s Day mimosa in bed and facing some rose drinking later on, we stuck with tea. Elite’s website does, however, show off some fancy bottles of wine. In terms of food, I saw folks chowing on chicken feet treats, while we played it relatively safe for our posse. During other meals Elite serves lots of traditional seafood delicacies (abalone, shark fin dishes — no thank you) that fill pages and pages of a lavishly illustrated menu. When it’s dim sum time and most items cost $3.38 each, if something sounds like it might be something you like, go for it!
Pros: Big dining room (as well as private party spaces) and rows of seats out front to accommodate waiting diners (see below) helps the Sunday crush, although not enough for everyone. It’s loud, and the food comes quickly, even without dim sum cart service. Dim sum made-to-order is better news for the food itself anyway.
Cons: Our older kid was psyched for the whole cart service experience. What five-year-old wouldn’t be?! Turns out Elite doesn’t do carts. Waaaa. (Not really, he handled the disappointment well.) Like all popular Chinese restaurants that do dim sum on the weekends, however, there IS quite a wait. I don’t know if it was longer on Mother’s Day than on any old regular Sunday. But it thankfully wasn’t nearly as long as I feared and I just made it to my massage on time (thank you again, awesome family!), plus we came prepared with good reading material. No matter, get here AS EARLY AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN.
Changing Station: No
High Chairs: Yes
Parking and Access: Parking lot in front, street parking for overflow.
Other Tidbits: Unless it’s Shanghai XLB we’re talking about, it takes a lot to get my husband to get on board for big Chinese meals. So I totally played the Mother’s Day card, and on a traffic-free Sunday morning we got to Atlantic Avenue in no time. Once we got our number (#36 while they were just calling out the low teens) I realized we’d been here before, although it was years ago and it might have been a different restaurant back then. Anyway, good thing I flexed some holiday privilege muscle because the kids got busy creating their own rice-pocalypse with the special veg and seafood fried rice, along with other antics involving tacky rice noodles (all good except the unappealing gloppy viscous pare rib topping on one of the dishes), pot stickers, veggie dumplings, gorgeous plump har gow, dry scallop rolls and more. Because prices aren’t printed on the menu, I was panicking before the bill came, wondering what my profligate checks (you mark your choices on the menu and hand it to a server) hath wrought. Turns out the total was LESS than what most of those fancy prix fixe Mother’s Day brunches I posted about cost per person. And we had a big bag of leftovers to share with a friend. Dim sum slam dunk, indeed.
700 S. Atlantic Ave., Monterey Park
Cuisine: Chinese/Dim Sum
Hours: Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.; Monday – Sunday, 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.; Weekend dim sum, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.