Delicious and smoky noodles
  • Delicious and smoky noodles
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China Max

4698 Convoy Street, Kearny Mesa

Though Emerald Chinese Seafood Restaurant is my go-to spot for dim sum, I recently decided to shake things up and finally check out China Max, a place that friends have been telling me about since forever.

As with most of my favorite Asian food joints, China Max is located right on Convoy. Unlike Emerald and Jasmine — the two major dim sum spots on the street — China Max forgoes the hustle and bustle of food carts. Here, guests order off the menu. But for me, it’s the hustle and bustle and excitement surrounding what might be coming out of the kitchen next that makes dim sum the just-as-entertaining-as-it-is-tasty experience it is. Bummed to be missing out on that sort of random food selection fun, David and I tucked into reading the extensive menu.

Shrimp shumai

We ordered some standards, such as shrimp shumai and those lightly fried footballs that contain minced pork and veggies. Here I could taste the difference between made-to-order and the food cart; the footballs were gratifyingly crispy on the outside, and the shumai was hot and fresh.

Nice and crispy footballs

The wonton soup was not very exciting. The broth was very mild, bordering on bland. We jazzed it up with some chili sauce and salt.

Wonton soup, mild bordering on watery

The potstickers, though flavorful (a bit too much ginger for my tastes, but David loves that), could have been cooked for a little longer and made to be crispier on the outside. These did not seem like they had done much actual sticking to any pot.

Potstickers, not very potsticky

By far the most interesting and flavorful dish we sampled was the noodles. These had a nice smoky flavor, and were much less greasy than all of the other versions I've tasted.

In the end, our bill was about $30 more than it would have been at Emerald. The food was fresh and flavorful and the atmosphere was quiet and relaxing, and the service friendly, but overall the experience lacked everything I love about dining out for dim sum.

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Ken Harrison June 10, 2014 @ 12:33 p.m.

Thanks Barbarella, My mouth is watering and I may need to make a trip from North County now, since there are no Hong Kong style Asian places here. I love China Max's dim-sum, but get tried of the higher prices and bad service. The are very friendly up to the time of your food service. If your are non-Asian, you get completely ignored if you want to order something else or need something extra. I learned to order an additional Coke and my fork first, cuz they don't make eye contact with you once food is served. They runaround like they are very busy, but will never look at you in the eye so you can get their attention. Maybe its cultural thing. Also expect language problem if you have a special request or order. Years ago I wanted just a bowl of vegetable soup to go, ended up costing me $11.50, only to realize already on the 805, that the order wasn't what I wanted. But I will still go because they have a fav on the menu that others don't. And their shrimp in rice dumpling is probably the best. I recently ate at prehaps not the best dim-sum but very cheap. When you just crave dim-sum but low on cash - paper plates and plasticware are fine. The Yum Cha Cafe, 6933 Linda Vista Rd. Most items $2.00 or less. They use the carts only on weekends, but dim-sum served 7 days, evenings too.


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