Name: Monterey Palace Restaurant.
Concept: A dim sum restaurant with no carts. You check off what you want from a paper menu and hand it to the waiter when you're ready. This eliminates you or your Chinese grandmother having to get up from the table to track down the woman pushing a cart with shumai before she runs out. In front, there is a Sam Woo-ish deli where you can buy roast duck, pork, char siu, sausage and other items to go.
Dish that represents the restaurant and why: The giant shumai. On the menu it's just called shumai, but it deserves the adjective. Plump pieces of shrimp and pork are wrapped in a thin, crinkled noodle wrapper and topped with bright orange crab roe. These dumplings will require a couple bites and a dollop of chile.
Or the roast duck, proudly on display in the deli case at the front of the restaurant. The meat is tender and greasy in a good way, each piece attached to a thin layer of fat and crisp skin.
Runners-up: It's a traditional dim sum restaurant, so expect everything from chicken feet to spare ribs, rice noodle rolls, har gow, egg yolk buns, char siu baos, crispy taro cakes and egg tarts for dessert. There's even stir-fried noodles for that person in your group who insists he only eats chow mein. You know the one we're talking about.
Who's at the next table: A group of older Chinese men sharing a laugh while sipping hot tea; a young child sitting in a high chair, busily pulling apart a baked char siu bao into small pieces; a family of 12 exchanging gifts for a birthday party.
Problematic: The parking lot is total demolition derby. Watch your back, front, sides and any other conceivable angles when attempting to park or get out. There's parking on the street, but pay attention to the time limits.
Info: 1001 E. Garvey Ave., Monterey Park, (626) 571-0888.
My friends call me a dim sum monster. I like it. Follow me on Twitter @Jenn_Harris_