CHEF TONY DIM SUM
DIM SUM & THEN SOME COMES TO PASADENA
From Chef Tony He, better known as Chef Tony, comes his Old Town Pasadena namesake restaurant, which aims to serve reimagined dim sum. From the chef beloved for his Sea Harbour restaurants—known for its upscale dim sum and Cantonese seafood fare—is a new location that offers modern Chinese dim sum made with quality ingredients.
According to the powers that be, Chef Tony Dim Sum aims to elevate traditional dim sum. The dishes are a reflection of Guangdong Cantonese cuisine layered with refined touches and high-quality ingredients. Guests won’t find rolling carts here, instead all dishes are made-to-order and include ingredients such as freshly shaved black truffles and gold leaf touches.
“The goal of our first U.S. location is to create a memorable dining experience, serving dim sum to a new generation of diners,” says Chef Tony. “Guests are welcome to sit at the bar solo, order a cocktail and try our house special dim sum platter or celebrate with a group of twenty in our private banquet hall.”
Chef Tony began his cooking career at the age of 15, apprenticing with some of the greatest chefs in Guangdong Province, China (formerly known as Canton Province). He later moved to Hong Kong where he further developed his culinary techniques, including training under “Abalone King,” Yeung Koon-yat. In 1992, Tony opened his first concept in Zhongshan City in southern China called Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant. Then in 1998, he immigrated to Canada to open Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant in Richmond, BC. It was such a huge success that he expanded his business southward opening Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant in Rosemead. It was ranked as #1 in the Top Ten Best Chinese Restaurant in Los Angeles in 2011 and 2012 by Los Angeles Magazine.
Now Chef Tony Dim Sum’s Pasadena location offers something for everyone, featuring 12 delectably delicious sections, including Starters, Dim Sum Steamed, Dim Sum Rice Noodle Roll, Dim Sum Baked and Fried, Seafood, Meat, Soup, Congee, Noodle, Rice, Vegetable, and Dessert.
With every dish made-to-order, Chef Tony spotlights Signature Dishes like the Sliced Chinese Broccoli with Black Truffle Sauce, Squid Ink Shrimp Dumplings with Gold Leaf, Sticky Rice Ball with Lava Salted Egg York, as well as elevated dishes such as his House Special Lobster Salad, Savory Deep Fried Chinese Donut, Deep Fried Crispy King Prawn, Eggplant Stuffed with Shrimp Paste, BBQ Pork Puff Pastry Tart, Pan Fried Shrimp and Pork Pandan Bun, Roast Duck & Minced Duck Lettuce Wrap (prepared two ways and must order in advance), and Roasted Crispy Chicken with Black Truffle (must order in advance).
I always think of dim sum as brunch fare, but Chef Tony Dim Sum is open for dinner, which was a first for me. During our recent visit for dim sum dinner, we started with cocktails, which to my surprise were pretty good. The cocktail menu isn’t vast but there were solid options such as an Old Fashioned, New York Sour (with Old Grand-dad Bourbon), and the Plantation Breeze tiki drink. There’s also sake and of course tea—a dim sum staple.
A favorite menu item of mine was the Savory Deep Fried Chinse Donut stuffed with mixed shrimp, squid and fish paste. Very tasty.
Another fave was the Squid Ink Shrimp Dumpling with Gold Leaf. The presentation is nice and destined to get you likes on social media. The Shrimp and Pork Dumpling with Black Truffle is another solid choice. How can you resist truffles?
While I’m not a big fan of eggplant, the Rice Noodle Casserole with Braised Eggplant and Minced Pork is a delicious dish. I’ll easily get that one again.
The Wok Fried Radish Cake with XO Sauce was tasty but it was very spicy—too spicy for our liking. Be careful with this one.
I was really looking forward to the Black Truffle Chicken with Cilantro and Onion but I wasn’t aware that the dish is served cold and I’m not a fan of cold chicken. This one was a miss for me, however, I liked it better the next day when I was able to heat up the leftovers.
The Fried Rice with Egg White, Fish Roe, and Truffle Sauce was a nice rice dish. Honestly, there are so many menu items to choose from that it can be overwhelming to order—even if you feel like you’ve ordered a lot. There are just too many outstanding options.
For dessert, make sure to get the Steamed Lava Salted Egg Yolk Bun with Gold Foil as it is delicious. The Coconut Pudding was somewhat bland but it is so cute and totally Instagram worthy.
It’s easy to lose track of time here and the next you know you’re experiencing a long and lazy meal at Chef Tony Dim Sum. The swank setting is comfy and I just wanted more and more of the delectable dim sum options.
Chef Tony is located at the Bear Building at 2 East Colorado Blvd in Pasadena. Open 11am to 9pm. Closed Tuesdays. Call 626-803-0028.
Story By: Jose Martinez
Studio Photography By: Slique Media
Photography Courtesy Of: Chef Tony Dim Sum