French Concession is a new all-day dim sum place that recently opened in Hillcrest, occupying the former Celadon.
It’s the same owner (Alex Thao), but a new restaurant name, menu and concept. When we visited, the interior was still pretty similar to Celadon.
The dim-sum menu, which is served all day, offers most of the popular dim sum items and a few twists on traditional dishes. There is also a craft beer menu. The prices, as you can imagine, are higher than the dim sum you’ll find at most Chinese restaurants in San Diego, but the quality is better and it’s a less intimidating atmosphere for the non-Chinese speaking audience.
We were invited to dine at the restaurant and let the chef choose some dishes for us to sample.
Chinese Broccoli Rice Rolls
I’ve had a lot of versions of rice rolls at dim sum but this was the first time I saw one filled with Chinese Broccoli. It’s a combination that actually makes a lot of sense, since steamed Chinese Broccoli is another popular dim sum item, but I’ve just never seen them together. The rice rolls were well prepared. Thick, chewy, and not too sticky. The broccoli was a little hard to break down, so while I liked it in theory, it was hard to contain the broccoli in the rice roll when eating it.
This was one of Mr. K’s favorites. I enjoyed the filling. As a personal preference, I don’t really care for deep fried wonton wrappers so I didn’t enjoy the dish quite as much as Mr. K.
Fried Sugar Cane Shrimp
There was a generous amount of shrimp filling and the breading was crunchy and light.
Steamed BBQ Pork Buns
The buns were soft and fluffy. I do wish there was a tad more meat filling though.
Pork Sui Mai
These were pretty standard and didn’t really stand out.
Ham Sui Gok
This is one dish I always have a weakness for because the skin is made of rice flour and has a chewy texture much like mochi. Normally at dim sum restaurants, the interior pork filling is filled with the fatty, unwanted pieces. But here, it was filled with lean meat and has a much cleaner taste to it.
Honey Glazed Walnut Shrimp
I enjoyed the extra large shrimp used though I found it was too heavy on the mayonnaise.
This dish wasn’t garnished as pretty as other orange chicken dishes I’ve seen, but it was tasty. The chicken was crisp, the orange sauce had a good flavor and balance to it as well.
Overall Thoughts: We enjoyed most of the dishes here and did feel like the quality is a step-above from typical dim sum places. The fact that the dim sum is served all day is another plus. I did find the prices to be a little too high though. I don’t mind paying a little extra for better quality food, but I thought the portions and quality didn’t quite match the prices. They do offer happy hour when the dim sum prices are half price, which may be a better option for those who find the regular prices too expensive. I also would like to see them open a little earlier (they don’t open until noon).
You can view the full menu here.
Please note, as indicated above, we were invited to dine here and the meal was complimentary. I was not further compensated for the review and my opinions are all my own.
3671 5th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101