With the turnover in management and staff at Bao I figure I needed to go back and check out the updated fare there, and then compare it to The Palace which also re-tooled earlier this year. Consequently I stopped by Bao for dinner (!!!) on Tuesday and then The Palace for lunch today. In my opinion, there is no clear winner. Each does some items extremely well, while other items are very mediocre. The one highlight dish was the crispy fish cake at Bao, which was, well, delightfully crispy, and easily supplanted my favorite noncrispy fish cakes at Red Egg in Manhattan Chinatown and D T Dim Sum in San Leandro. On the other hand, the egg tofu, while not awful, was not particularly good given that this is a tough dish to get wrong. Deep fried taro with chicken was an interesting variation of this standard. Chicken siu mai was OK though chicken chunks were too large. Over at The Palace, props go to the shrimp rice noodle roll with the regular rice flour on one side but a deep fried sesame crust on the other. Beef cheung fun and shrimp ball with sticky rice were also very good. However the baked bbq pork bun was bad, as were a couple of the other dishes. XLB was meh and chicken potstickers were so so..
In final comparison, The Palace has carts and Bao doesn't. The Palace is a little cheaper (avg. $4.50 per item vs. $5 at Bao). Both have good with the bad. Even if they charged San Gabriel Valley prices you wouldn't see me at either one, and at double the price neither is a destination location. However, if you are on the Westside, and can't make the trek to the SGV, both Bao and The Palace are perfectly sane choices. Plus extra props to Bao for the best chicken dim sum options anywhere. But it is sad to say that while I am fond of saying Chinese food keeps evolving and getting better, I wish it was 1997 when we had our choice of Royal Star or VIP Harbor Seafood for dim sum in WLA.