Saturday, July 7, 2007

China Max - San Diego trip

I love me my dim sum, and so does Tara. I looked through the Cali boards on CH for good dim sum places in San Diego. I saw a few places mentioned, and China Max seemed to get good reviews. Emerald and Jasmine did as well, but I decided to try CM. Sunday morning we plugged the address into Matilda (my randomly chosen name for my Magellan Roadmate 360 GPS, a godsend for foodies. :) ) and we headed out from the Hilton. In short order, we were on Convoy looking for the building. Luckily I recognized the building from a picture on it's website and we pulled in.

We got there a half hour or so after they opened and only a few tables were occupied. We were taken to a table along the back wall. The hostess had grabbed a couple menus, but inexplicably, she took them back to the hostess stand with her. We're not quite sure why she did that. She did drop off a dim sum list and a pencil so we could select our choices. There was a picture menu on the table for dim sum, so you could see what they looked like before ordering. Unlike most places, dim sum wasn't wheeled around on carts. They took your order and brought your selections out. We made our choices and waited for a waiter/waitress to stop by. And waited. And waited. The staff seemed to hit an invisible force field on their way to our table. They would head towards it, and then veer off to a larger table. This happened probably a dozen times. The restaurant filled up, but we seemed to be in limbo. Eventually, someone pointed to our table and one of the staff reluctantly came by to take our order. At this point, we weren't overly impressed with service.

We ordered shumai, shark-fin dumplings, a beef-filled ball that Tara likes, shrimp egg rolls, shrimp balls rolled in crunchy noodles, and one or two other others that I forget. I also got a pot of tea and Tara some coke. Once the order got in, the dishes came out in stages. All of it was very good. One thing I noticed was that the shumai and shark-fin dumplings seemed to have distinct fillings. At Golden Buddha here in Phoenix, they seem to have the same filling in different shapes. Among the last things to come out were the shrimp balls, and they were huge. I was full by that point, and Tara couldn't even finish one of them. The had wider and thicker noodles than at GB. They looked good, but I was in danger of a belt breach. We had no complaints at all about the food. It was on par with what I've had in NYC, Boston, and San Francisco. The service, however, was pretty bad. Not sure if they were concentrating on the bigger tips or what, but we certainly felt red-headed.

At dinner later that night at Saigon (write-up forthcoming), our waitress mentioned that she liked Emerald and Jasmine better than China Max, even if they were more expensive. The next trip to SD, we'll probably try one of them.

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