VIP Harbor Seafood
11701 Wilshire Boulevard< (at Barrington Avenue)
Los Angeles, CA 90025
I admire the hard core. The ones who go to great lengths. Out of their way. That extra mile. Like surfers who squeeze into a wetsuit so that they can catch a gnarly wave in 42 degree ocean water at 4 a.m. Or the artist who will teeter dangerously atop a crumbling wall just to get the most amazing photograph of a sunset, ever. Hard kore, with a k, because that’s killer.
And there are also the hard kore fooders. Or foodists (I hate the word “foodie" and refuse to use it). He who gathers eleven of his most reliably wired friends to simultaneously call The French Laundry starting at exactly 8 a.m. because someone will get through to reservations. She who will eat ramen for a week just so she can blow $500 on a dinner for two at Urasawa. The guy who lives all the way down in San Clemente but will drive fifty miles for fire-breathing soon doo-boo in Koreatown. Wait in line for 45 minutes for a taco. Or a hot dog. Or dumplings. Or Armenian roast chicken.
I’ve been in the hard core camp before. In fact, I would say that I am there MOST of the time. Calling The French Laundry? Tried, but failed. But some day, that re-dial will get me through! Ramen five days in a row? I think I did that... just last week. I even brave the streets of the Korean ghetto at the dangerous hour 3 a.m. for yook-gae-jahng. Okay, but I draw the line at 45 minutes in line. Maybe twenty minutes. Half hour tops, and it better come with some goddam “garnish,” if you know what I mean.
But there are a few times when I fall into laziness. When the hard core foodist in me has to hibernate. I need to re-charge from the latest research romp down san vicente in an in-depth study of regional Italian restaurants. I need to re-load after that last drive through the ‘hood for barbecue. I’m just. Too. Focking. Tired. And Can-we-just-pickup-roast-chicken-at-Ralphs-just-don’t-tell-anyone? Convenience.
And that’s what happened when a craving for dim sum hit me in one of my conveneince phases. A craving on the cusp. Not enough of whip me out of my lazy daze and get me in a car to drive 45 minutes to the SGV (not even 30 minutes to C-town, downtown), wait another 45 minutes for a table, then sit through the cacophonious Cantonese din with a hangover, just to dine on chow fun and cha shiu bao. But still enough of a craving that I would settle for sub-par har gow at VIP Harbor Seafood, 90 seconds from my house, with valet parking, and a subdued Brentwood atmosphere. Soft-core.
I’ve been there many many many times before. How many times? Lots. And I know that it’s a pretty westside-ernized version of dim sum, but sometimes, you take har gow, shu mai, chicken spring rolls, vegetable dumplings, chow fun, eggplant shrimp, bell pepper shrimp, and especially garlic dou miao, in whatever way you can get it. Not to mention those naughty little deep fried sesame balls. Jin dui?