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.
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.
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.
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.
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.