Emerald Chinese Cuisine – Dim Sum Disaster


Here’s a precursor to my post.  The carts are GONE.  No!!!


Although San Diego dim sum could never come close to comparing to SGV (San Gabriel Valley) or the Bay (SF or Oakland – Chinatown), I felt my cravings could always be temporarily satisfied at Emerald Chinese Cuisine.  They have been a staple in the Convoy area for decades now and their prices were always decent.  We had our go to dishes that were pretty good here, but the last time we came by (a month ago roughly) we found the doors shut.


I was happy to see the closure was only temporary due to remodeling.  I figured that was a good thing since the restaurant was pretty run down by then.  We finally made it back up yesterday and found a new restaurant inside… literally.

Everything from the carpet, chairs, tables, ceilings, and wait staff have changed.  Hmmm… looks nice, but am I going to like this?

We sit down and the first thing we notice is there are only about half the people inside than normal.  Next it’s incredibly quiet.  Why?  Because there are no more carts and loud pushy Chinese women hawking their dim sum plates.  What!??  Although this has been a slow trend trickling out of Hong Kong the past decade, I certainly thought Emerald would be the last to convert.  (No carts is supposed to be “higher class” because the plates are served to you fresher… I don’t buy it.)  The way you order now is to fill out a scan tron and give it to your server.


Next, I look at their menu and my jaw drops.  The price for tea is $1.50 per person now (more than double before).  Checkout the dim sum prices now too… super expensive.  Not too long ago, they would have specials on Mondays and Wednesdays where all sizes would be priced as a small.  I’m pretty sure those days are gone!  Regardless, these prices are not sustainable in my opinion which they are going to find out very quickly.


We ordered our typical favorites, including har gow (shrimp dumpings), lo mai gai (sticky rice), har cheung (rice noodles with shrimp), and hom sui gok (deep fried dumpling with ground pork and shrimp).  I think the har cheung was the best of these and we liked the veggies on top.  The har gow was okay.  The hom sui gok was smaller than before.  And the lo mai gai was bland and lacking in flavor.


I was excited to at least get a good pork siu mai (open top steamed dumplings) which is my favorite.  However, this was overcooked and the outside skin soggy (shouldn’t happen!).  The flavor was just okay, but not better than before.


The ngao yok (beef ball) was also just okay.  The texture was a bit inconsistent as there were a few fibrous chunks in there that shouldn’t have been.

IMG_7153cAnd finally we tried their shrimp siu mai (open top steamed dumplings) which I did not care for at all.  The skin on the outside was once again overcooked and texture was a bit pasty.  I’m going to say without a shadow of a doubt the chef has changed!  Oh yeah, the menu is now more limited and a couple dishes my Dad requested were not even available.


As you can see we didn’t order too much.  We had a couple add on items later, but guess how much it cost for 3 adults and two kids?  $70!!  Are you kidding me?

The truth is I’ll be going elsewhere next time (probably China Max).  Why the heck would we pay almost double for a lower quality dim sum experience?  Sorry Emerald, you’re going to have to figure out another way to finance your remodel.  And while I don’t know for sure, it certainly seems like the ownership has changed hands.  Huge changes like this don’t typically happen otherwise.  I hope they figure it out someday, but it’s going to be quite awhile before I return.


As you can see even my son was ready to leave!


Emerald Chinese Cuisine
3709 Convoy St
Ste 101
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 565-6888



About Michael

I couldn't be luckier to call San Diego my home the past couple decades. America's "Finest City" is bursting with delicious eats in nearly every corner. Whether you want savory or sweet, fancy or rustic, you can have it all! I have the awesome job of uncovering some of these gems, and sharing them with you. When I'm not chowing down, I also write about $$$ at www.financiallyalert.com. Thanks for stopping by!

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8 Comments on “Emerald Chinese Cuisine – Dim Sum Disaster”

  1. Oh nooo!! I posted about a similar experience (actually I think ours was worst) here at Emerald last year. It was pretty traumatic that we haven’t revisited since. The remodel looks nice though! The new ordering system is interesting but I would miss the dim sum carts too. Our go to dim sum place is still Pearl in Rancho Bernardo. They had a one price dim sum special a few times a week.

    1. Haha, just read your Emerald post Faye… sounds about right! I guess I’ve been such a regular for so long, I knew all the ins and outs (more specifically, what NOT to order).

      I swear though, if they had their good chef working (probably moved him to Pearl), their dim sum used to be spot on! Sadly tho, it has never been consistent. I suppose that’s the silver lining… maybe they can get better? At these prices tho, I’m not going to find out any time too soon. 🙂

  2. I used to work with a vendor who was from Hong Kong, and when he’d come here for business meetings, he ALWAYS requested we go to Emerald for lunch (as a result, I have had the luxury of eating their dim sum probably 100 times!). Over the years, we tried to get him to go to other places, but he absolutely refused, stating that Emerald was “the most authentic” in San Diego. I have to wonder now, how disappointed he’d be with these changes. So sad. 🙁

    Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. Well. I’d like to thank your blog for inspiring me to go to Pearl yesterday to order dim sum (for lunch to go). I’m sad to report that I think they might have raised their prices too (EXACTLY as listed in that scantron thing you have up above).

    PLUS (this is a BAD plus), they moved the standard chicken feet and steamed spareribs to the $4.88 MEDIUM side now (didn’t tell me this until AFTER I ordered it thinking they were still ‘small’ as listed on their website as of yesterday). So 4 items cost me about $21. TWENTY ONE bucks. 🙁

    I’m looking at the take out dim sum menu now – did you notice all the dim sum prices end with the lucky #8. Interesting.

    1. Faye, thanks for the quick report back! Sorry to hear Pearl took a similar hit. (You saved me a trip North to find out for myself.) Guess I’m gonna have to save up my all my SD dim sum cravings and load up in SGV. 🙂

      I didn’t get a to go menu at Emerald, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see lucky 8’s trailing everywhere. We’ll see how lucky they feel once they see their patrons leaving in droves!

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