This low-key dim sum restaurant was one of the first places I visited when I moved to Los Angeles. I didn’t know it at the time, but Elite turned out be a succinct introduction to all that is great, good and completely unique about the LA restaurant scene.
Like so many of the city’s best food spots, it’s a thirty-odd minute drive away from…well, just about anything, and located on a characterless road in the eastern suburb of Monterey Park. (So far, so LA). But the lack of a sceney atmosphere is made up for by a truly authentic eating experience - lots of elderly Chinese folk quietly putting away their breakfast dumplings at 10am on a Thursday - and by some of the best dim sum I’ve ever had.
I was lucky enough to visit with a host who ordered about 80% of the menu (hi Emily!), which meant that our vast round table was groaning with bamboo baskets and plates of all sizes. Some of the dim sum fare I was familiar with - slippery, sesame oil-slicked cheung fun, plump har gau, cloud-like char siu buns - and some was totally new. Soup dumplings that dispense a mouthful of warm broth upon first bite turned out to be a particularly memorable revelation.
The longer I live in LA, the more I’m convinced that the best food in the city comes not from the astronomical hotspots of Beverly Hills, or even the hip fusion restaurants of downtown LA, but rather in strip malls, food trucks, and out-of-the-way institutions in places like Monterey Park.