You can’t see some of the food held in metal containers, but their smells waft through the room as cart after cart passes by your table. Eventually, someone stops and asks what items you want to indulge in next, and with every new dish you get more and more full until the food coma hits.
That’s the experience of sampling dim sum, a Chinese food staple normally reserved for the brunch hours. Los Angeles has a thriving dim sum scene and you can find plenty of dim sum restaurants throughout the city.
But one hotspot lies right near campus — Chinatown. The cultural space greets visitors with plenty of stores and a sprinkling of galleries as well as restaurants as far as the eye can see — many of them dim sum eateries.
To help you explore the offerings of the many dim sum eateries in that area, the Dim Sum Crawl will offer Angelenos the chance to try dim sum items with unique beer pairings. Sponsored by the Los Angeles Chinatown Business Improvement District, the event takes place Thursday, April 18, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets go for $60 and you can only buy them until midnight tonight; that admission gets you samplings from four restaurants and four breweries.
The restaurant list includes Empress Pavilion paired with Noble Ale Works, Mandarin Chateau with Eagle Rock Brewery, Hop Woo with Kinetic Brewing Company and Plum Tree Inn with Craftsman Brewing.
“We wanted to do this to let people sample the different dim sum restaurants in Chinatown,” said Linh Ho, principal of Ideation Agency, who helped plan the event. “People know it’s known for dim sum but it’s hard to find which one to go to, so we wanted to curate all the dim sum and create a menu where people can really explore options besides just dumplings.”
Eagle Rock Brewery was the first onboard, and founder Ting Su invited others to join the fun. The restaurants were chosen based on what they offered best. Dim sum eating usually happens in the morning but the beer pairings transformed the event into a nighttime one. That might seem strange for some restaurants, but they’re all for the event.
“They’re not used to serving dim sum at night, some of them, and then we’re also looking at a pretty good-sized crowd, so I think to serve that many people at night, logistically it will be different than what they’re used to,” Ho said. “But everyone has been very supportive with the idea and we had people ask us before to do dim sum events in Chinatown, so it seems like an obvious thing we should do and we’re glad we’re finally able to do it this year.”
The event requires you to get a little more risky in your eating, but that might pay off for fans of the non-traditional.
“The people that go to this event will be foodies that are a little bit more adventurous,” Ho said. “We want to appeal to people that love dim sum but that also have an adventurous spirit — those that are willing to try things outside of the regular dim sum repertoire.”
That means the normal offerings of fried vegetables and dumplings but also more out-of-the-ordinary treats, including a beer float the end of the night.
“This is also a progressive dinner,” Ho said. “We start with smaller bites and as the evening rolls on it gets a little bit heavier and at the end of the night we’ll have had a savory meal, but we’ll also have a beer float. It’s gonna be French toast with ice cream with beer from Craftsman Brewing.”
After that, the afterparty will take place at Grand Star Jazz Club. This is the first event of its kind in Chinatown, so it naturally warrants a celebration afterward. Participants also get a souvenir glass to take home as their trophy for a long night of eating and drinking.
Ho just has two very important tips for Dim Sum Crawl-goers:
“Bring your appetite. Bring some walking shoes.”