99 Essential Restaurants 2014


photo by Amy Scattergood

If your ideal weekend brunch involves not pancakes and mimosas but rather shrimp har-gow and chrysanthemum tea, the San Gabriel Valley and its formidable, frenetic dim sum scene probably is where you want to be first thing Sunday morning. Specifically, you might want to head to Lunasia, perhaps the most formidable, most frenetic dim sum restaurant of late, a sprawling emporium in Alhambra where you’ll put your name down on a long waiting list and will be handed a pencil and a paper menu in return. The menu unfolds like a map. You’ll huddle with your group and check off your desired dishes one by one: Yes, a few orders of fantastic, fist-sized, pork shu mai, and certainly the fluffy BBQ pork buns — but also Lunasia’s take on pan-fried turnips, tossed here in a blistery XO sauce, or the white radishes fried to a delicately crunchy puff. This might be one of the most decidedly modern dim sum stops in the SGV, so you may not be surprised to count four flat-screen televisions on the walls. Dim sum and the Dodgers? There is no better place in town to catch a game.

-- Tien Nguyen