Finally, Modern Dim sum in Santa Monica

Restaurant: Xino [1, 2]

Location: 395 Santa Monica PlSte 308Santa Monica, CA 90401. (310) 755-6220

Date: February 7, 2011

Cuisine: Modern Dim sum

Rating: A little heavy, but I’m glad to have some more good dim sum on the westside.

 

Xino is another of the new Santa Monica Place restaurants. I detail the whole deal with the new mall and it’s transformation in my Zengo review.

This one is more or less Chinese, but a sort of modern Chinese, and at lunch they serve real dim sum!

View from the patio. Lunch, on a monday, February. 79 degrees and not a cloud in the sky.

My brother presents the dim sum menu. This place is a lot like Ping Pong (REVIEW HERE), the modernized  dim sum I went to in Washington DC. It doesn’t have the traditional cart format, like The Palace (REVIEW HERE). This has advantages and disadvantages. The carts allow more control over the pace of the meal, but made to order is fresher.

Chinese mustard, chili, there was also soy and various sauces served with different dishes.

“Chili Spare Riblets, Sweet Chili Sauce, Asian Slaw.” These were pretty meaty, but fried up like orange beef. Gratuitous, but pretty darn tasty.

“Shrimp and Mango Dumpling, Ground shrimp, mango, firecracker sauce.” Crunchy wanton fried, tasty shrimp and mango inside, and a zesty soil garlic scallion sauce. What’s not to like.

“Shrimp Dumpling ‘Ha Gow‘ Shrimp, Bamboo sShoots, Rice Wrap.” Classic Cantonese dumplings. Good examples of the type.

“Stuffed Eggplant with Shrimp, black bean sauce.”

Crab Rangoon, Cream Cheese, Sweet Vinegar Reduction.” Not the totally typical rangoon, at least the sauce. Good though, and more filling than most examples. The sweetness of the sauce went nicely with the fry and the cheese.

“Kung Pao Chicken Lollipop, Sweet and Tangy, Crushed Cashews.” This was my least favorite dish, not that it was bad, but it was a little heavy, like hot wings crossed with that nut crusted chicken you sometimes get on the airplane. Very fried.

“Salt and Pepper Soft Shelled Crab, Fresh Chili, Spring Onion, Toasted Garlic.” This was some good crab. The only problem was that it cooled so fast. Basically, fried soft-shell. Nothing wrong with that.

“Candied Walnuts & Honeyed Prawns, Orange Zest & Frisee.” This is a variant of the classic prawn, walnuts in the sweet mayo sauce. This one is lighter, zestier, very yummy.

“Shanghai Dumpling, Pork, Ginger, garlic, Vinegar & Ginger.” These are basically the classic soup dumplings, but very good examples of the type, and nicely served with the vinegar in the little cups so that they don’t break apart on the steamer. Wow!

“Lobster Potstickers, shrimp, pan fried crisp.” These were some pretty awesome potstickers, typical on the outside, nice yummy lobster on the inside.

“Pork Siu Mai, Pork, Shrimp, Shitake, carrots, Egg Wrap.” Another typical dim sum dish, executed very well.

“Lotus Leaf Wrapped Sticky Rice, ‘Lo Mai Gai’ egg, chinese sausage, dried shrimp.”

Open the little packet of joy.

Examine the goodies inside. Also an excellent example of type, one of the best I’ve had.

Cool couches and booths on the patio. Pretty slick spot. And the food was pretty tasty, and reasonable. The above feast was only $66 including tax! What makes the real difference here is that they have a real Hong Kong dim sum chef — so despite the corporate trappings and location, and the slightly jazzed up variants, this is some solid dim sum.

For a second Xino review, click here.