New Concept

Originally uploaded by illewminator.
New Concept is supposedly named for its innovative approach to dim sum. It's a chain of 28 restaurants in China and 1 here in Monterey Park, home to every Chinese person in the US (ok, that's a slight exaggeration, but you get the picture).

Wanting to try out this supposed "new concept" in dim sum after reading about it in the LA Times, two friends and I decided to give it a try one Sunday morning. First off, you'd better go with someone who speaks Chinese, as the hostess will give you a little piece of paper with your number on it (written in English), but only calls out the numbers in Chinese. We waited about half and hour for our table, so clearly, this place is pretty popular with the locals -- a good sign (I was fearing hoardes of white people who might have also read about it in the Times).

The dim sum is ordered from a menu, kind of like a sushi menu (no carts clamoring for your attention). You look at the list and check off the items you want. Not entirely trusting the one Chinese-reading person in our group, I asked for an English menu and received a laminated version which I checked against the Chinese menu and it appeared to be exactly the same -- another good sign.

We ordered about 5-6 items from the printed menu, which was a good move, because we ended up also getting several of the off-menu "specials" carried around by the waiters.

As you can see from the photo, the dim sum is very attractively presented. I think the green wrapped one has a crab and shark fin filling. Everything was delicately prepared and presented, delicious and fresh-tasting. This also means that the portions of the non-dumpling items like noodles or veggies are considerably smaller than what you might get at your standard dim sum restaurants.

The desserts also looked to be innovative and attractive. The only item we managed to fit in were these lightly fried green tea mochi balls filled with that ground-up black sesame seed filling (I call it black sand). I wanted to try the pumpkin filled dumplings, but we were too full. Next time...

Overall review: definitely worth a try. It's more expensive than standard dim sum (I think we spent close to $20 ea.), but it's a nice deviation from the usual.

New Concept is on Atlantic Blvd, about halfway between the 10 and the 60 freeways -- it's a few blocks south of Garvey on the east side of the street.


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