If you love dim sum — and very few of us don't — you can now get it in the somewhat unlikely neighborhood of Pasadena, on Colorado Boulevard very close to the Old Town world of Urban Outfitters and the Cheesecake Factory. Perhaps the owners of Lunasia, the popular dim sum house in Alhambra, took pity on us. Whatever their motivation, they opened the second branch of Lunasia on Sunday.
Lunasia Dim Sum House serves, as you'd hope from the name, dim sum every day, all day — most Chinese restaurants serve it only at lunch — letting you order the little plates of dumplings and buns and other appetizer-sized items on little check-list menus from opening until closing.
The new restaurant is smaller, and has a more abbreviated menu than the original Lunasia in Alhambra, with dining rooms both upstairs and downstairs, colorful banquettes and a giant flat-screen television affixed below the upstairs balcony. This should come as no surprise for those who frequent the Alhambra location, which has maybe four flat-screens in the dining room, making it a very good place to watch sporting events — should you like college basketball or, come summer, baseball with your plates of har gow and xiao long bao.
Another thing that Lunasia does that many dim sum houses do not is take reservations. If you've ever stood in a seemingly interminable line during lunch hour in Chinatown or the San Gabriel Valley, you'll know what a huge asset this can be.
In addition to the repeating plates and steamers of dim sum, there are also larger dishes, including plates of fried salt-and-pepper chicken wings, roast pork knuckles, roast Cornish hen, roast duck, Macau-style pork belly, fried rice, chow mein, hot and sour soup, and — yes — kung pao chicken.
There's no booze at Lunasia, but they do have lots of tea to choose from, including chrysanthemum, Taiwanese jasmine, oolong, Yunnan pu'er and Fujian shoumei white tea. I guess you can try watching March Madness sober — just order more shar gow, the pan-fried turnip cake, maybe the excellent sticky rice wrapped in lotus leavess, and another pot.
Lunasia Dim Sum House, 239 E Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 793-8822, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. lunasiadimsumhouse.com.
Beause taking pictures of xiao long bao is almost as much fun as eating them, on Instagram @ascattergood.