Bitter melon ball. The faintly bitter green wrapper contrasts with a sweet sesame filling. Beguiling, sophisticated and even faintly addictive. Sea Harbour Seafood, $3.20.
tasting greens are good, but dipped in the silky fermented bean curd sauce that accompanies them, they're outstanding. New Concept, $4.98.
Scallops and shrimp in spinach pastry. A delicate seafood shiu mai with a bright green wrapper and a topping of shark's fin and crunchy masago (capelin) roe. A gorgeous symphony of textures. New Concept, $3.98.
Shrimp balls in spring roll pastry. The seafood is rolled in strips of paper-thin pastry, which fry up as crisp "hair." The texture is lovely. Ocean Star, $2.90.
Three-layer squares. A light, refined dessert of orange-strawberry gelatin dotted with tart wolfberries and layered with coconut. Sea Harbour, $1.98.
Almond-crusted taro balls. A luscious, creamy lotus seed filling flows out of a baked taro pastry when you bite into it; it's all covered in toasted almond slices. Ocean Star, $2.90.
Tofu custard topped with dried scallops. Mounds of tofu are so luxuriously soft, it's hard to pick this up with chopsticks. Contrasted with the intensely flavored dried scallop on top, it's spectacular. 888 Seafood, $2.80.
— Linda Burum and Charles Perry
Dim sum's A-list
Sea Harbour Seafood, 3939 N. Rosemead Blvd., Rosemead, (626) 288-3939; 1015 S. Nogales St., No. 126, Rowland Heights; (626) 965-2020
Mission 261, 261 S. Mission Drive, San Gabriel; (626) 588-1666
Din Tai Fung, 1108 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia; (626) 574-7068
New Concept, 700 S. Atlantic Blvd., Monterey Park; (626) 282-6800
888 Seafood Restaurant, 8450 E. Valley Blvd., No. 121, Rosemead; (626) 573-1888
Ocean Star, 145 N. Atlantic Blvd., No. 201, Monterey Park; (626) 308-2128
Empress Pavilion, Bamboo Plaza Centre, 988 N. Hill St., Los Angeles; (213) 617-9898