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Dim Sum Insight Needed (PHX)

Howdy, all.

J. is coming into town for a long holiday weekend and I would like to find a great place for Dim Sum. I haven't seen a lot lately about either Golden Buddha or C-Fu.

Any recent Dim Sum updates on either of these two places or someplace that gets overlooked?

Any insight is greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Chowhounds!

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  1. I seem to remember Great Wall getting good reviews for their Dim Sum on the board, but that was a while ago. You will need to further investigate that.

    I was not impressed with the food I ordered off the menu at Golden Buddha but the Dim Sum smelled wonderful.

    Have a great long weekend!

    1. C-Fu has traditionally been my favorite, but Great Wall might be the best/most consistent dim sum in the Valley right now. I haven't been to either recently enough though. : (

      1. Would love to weigh in on a recommendation for you Seth, but all I can offer is another disappointing experience from this end re Golden Buddha. Had hoped to experience those tales of greatness others claim to have had, but so far have yet to see anything that would make me want to cross the street, let alone drive 30 mins x town for. Hope that helps. Maybe when summers over (and they replace a few staff - we saw arguments and attitude the last time that really should have gone the customers way). Best of luck!

        1. Count this as another vote against Golden Buddha. I was not at all impressed with the dim sum. I grew up eating dim sum in San Francisco's Chinatown, so I might be a pretty harsh critic, but I certainly didn't eat anything at Golden Buddha that would entice me back there. I have not tried C-Fu or Great Wall, so I have nothing to offer in the way of dim sum recommendations.

          1. Another vote for C-FU here. Although I haven't been there in a while either.

            I'm seeing a trend: we all need to eat dim sum more frequently


            1. Thanks for the input, all. I was thinking that would be the case since I hadn't seen anything about either C-Fu or GB since at least the end of last year.

              Now, I have to decide if I want to "take a chance" on C-Fu. I will make J. decide. :o)

              1. i'm willing to risk my rep on this one. i am almost certain i could be calling into court as a chinese food expert. i actually got a handwritten christmas card from my local deliveryman this year. (and yes, that is totally, totally wrong). We are NYC Jews originally, so we've spent the last 20 years scoping the city's chinese food.

                Although absolutely nothing compares to the wonder that was China Doll in its heydey, there is still good dim sum to be found.

                C-Fu started great, but I have found it to be on a decline the last two years. The food is almost always cold, its insanely loud and I prefer my dim sum without the owner grabbing the least popular cart and screaming at each table as he goes by, trying to convince you you want what he's got. I find that also, their selection is waning. The final insult is when we noticed our bills for dim sum creeping up from the "i can't believe we go this much food for-oh yeah, its dim sum" to "hmm. we could have gone to brunch with this money". Because it takes 30 minutes to pay, you've got some time to think about it. That said, C-Fu is still a great choice for dinner when they don't have a private party.

                Great Wall was always our backup, but be prepared to wait. And wait. And wait. The food is good, but honestly, not great. Atleast its busy enough that the food is always fresh and hot, and they do have an interesting selection, and a varied selection. I just don't like the particular taste of many of their things. Their spare ribs and treasure rice don't follow the recipe I'm used to, have a somewhat off taste to me.

                I was so pleased to hear good things about Golden Buddha, and I will tell you that on 7 visits I've been equally impressed each time. They're fast. The carts go around consistently delivering hot food. Their is not a huge amt of variety, but enough to satisfy. its clean, and you get in quickly, and you can pop into the market right after for more yummies or a walk about. I've yet to make it there for dinner because I'm always there for dim sum.

                My vote? Golden Buddha. Hands down. I'm honestly very surprised that the opinion isn't shared.

                could you recommend a specific restuarant in chinatown for my next visit to SF? on two visits i've been disappointed each time by the either undimsumness of the dimsum (who orders dim sum off a menu? bring me a freaking cart) or the overly greasied yuckiness of the dim sum. We've asked for repeated recommendations and have walking up and down those hills ad nauseum, and have finally given up as have most people we know. if you've got a recommendation, I'm all ears. We've got a great place in chinatown, NYC.

                oh and whoever said the 8 treasure duck soup at silver dragon tasted like ass? I was there this past weekend and was SHOCKED to discover it did indeed have an ass-y aftertaste. Too bad. It used to be great. I was not, however disappointed at the rest of our meal, including the dry scallop fried rice, the chow fun and the lobster in black bean sauce.

                1 Reply
                1. re: hzp

                  hzp: I'm afraid I can't be of service on SF dim sum recommendations because it has been about 20 years since my last dim sum in the Bay Area. But I'm sure the hounds on the Bay Area Board will be able to provide all the information you need for delicious San Francisco dim sum.

                2. We like Great Wall, but that's partly because it is close to where we live. I think C Fu probably still has a greater variety of dim sum, but we haven't been there in over a year. The service at Great Wall at mid-day Sunday can be nonexistent. However, we always make sure to grab a plate of our one of our favorite guilty pleasure foods -- chunks of Chinese roast pork with crispy skin. We tried Golden Buddha once, about six months ago, and found that a lot of the dishes came out lukewarm. If I were taking someone from out of town I would probably go to C Fu.

                  For hzp -- I don't know about San Francisco, but in Los Angeles you can find fabulous dim sum at Empress Pavillion in the downtown Chinatown.

                  Sarah C

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: kittyfood

                    Empress Pavillion....

                    Have great memories of that place. Anybody know if it is still great? Used to live in CA and it was amazing. Whenever my father came to visit (born & raised in Canton, China and in the restaurant business for 55+ years), it was Empress Pavillion, Sam Woo's in Irvine, Seafood Paradise. Similar scenario when I lived on Oahu. Great Chinese food there too.

                    To this day though, nothing comes close to my memories of Empress Pavillion for dim sum. Suckling pig, insane har gow, mini-egg custards...

                    Was actually searching to see if anybody had posted anything on China King. Sounds like it is liked but nothing transcendental.

                    We still go to C-Fu for dim sum on weekends. Best Hong Kong or Tao Garden for dinner. Have had a number of celebrations at C-Fu though (wedding reception, pop's 75th birthday, etc.). Just introduced my dad to Asian Cafe Express. Not bad & super cheap. Most of our favorite dishes are the ones posted on the walls.

                    1. re: ccl1111

                      just ate @ Golden Buddah @ the COFCO Center the past two weekends.....
                      it was great! Lots to choose from....carts were frequent and everything was hot and flavorful. I especially love the brasied chicken feet and the spareibs w/ garlic and black bean.....

                      We love C-Fu as well....but the drive is further for us.
                      Sometime we go to Jade Palace on Shea and 92nd st...they offer dim sum on Sundays only.....
                      Don't miss the roast duck and the clams in balck bean sauce.....

                      1. re: ciaogal

                        We usually do GB once or twice a month. We tried C-Fu and both got major headaches afterwards. That's never happened at GB.

                  2. Hi Seth,

                    I wish I had more time to research and give you some advice before the weekend. I had a similar conversation with some editors of the local Asian newspapers and they gave kudos to Great Wall and C-FU. But that was about 2 years ago.

                    I see varying opinions above, but I'm a fan of Golden B. - for family style dinners. Never tried them for Dim Sum. Then again, I've never been a big fan of Dim Sum. Here, LA, San Fran and 2 trips to China. Love, love, Chinese, but dim sum was never my thing.

                    That said, there seems to be no clear choice for dim sum. Why not treat her to a nice buffet? That seems more fitting for us.

                    1. C-Fu Gourmet today at lunch!

                      Go figure Seth;

                      Had to drive out to Tempe today to see a car, and found myself having to wait for the dealership to find it during lunchtime <long story> which meant: We had 90 minutes to kill with C-Fu Gourmet Dim Sum only minutes away!

                      1. Shrimp Balls: Overdone, cool, stuck to bottom of pan. Our favorite, but dangit these can be like little pieces of heaven and as it was they were sooo average.

                      2. 'Shark Fin Dumplings': Like spam with added white stuff that seemed more like pork fat than shark fin. Again, overdone (coulda played ping-pong with it & it would have held together), cool and stuck to bottom of pan. Dangit.

                      3. Sticky Rice wrapped in Banana Leaves: This was actually pretty good. Hard to mess this one up tho imho.

                      4. Pork Dumplings: My one non-vegetarian son really wanted them, especially when the hostess came over and fawned over how they were the 'best seller' and how 'people loved them best' etc. Hard, cool, and stuck to bottom of pan. Not even a 'dangit' on this one. I'da been happier microwaving a frozen bag of Trader Joes potstickers than these.

                      5. Gai Lan: WOHOO! Best item on the menu! When the hostess saw that we were seafood-eating vegetarians <Pescetarian? :-) > she seemed to take pity on us and brought over a picture-based menu (wish we woulda had that early on) Where we spotted the Gai Lan and a eggplant dish. The Gai Lan came topped with Oyster Sauce, and if you purchase your authentic asian cooking items at a store like, say Safeway or Frys you'll undoubtedly recognize the tang of the brand of oyster sauce used. Made me think immediately of some poor chap that went to...Pink Taco maybe? And reminisced of the bean dip that tasted like the canned Frito Lay type. Started laughing actually.

                      6. Eggplant: Actually, this could have been stellar except that they were starting to get a tad hard to cut I'm guessing from the advanced holding time. These were warm however as compared to the rest.

                      7. Mango Pudding: For dessert, not like picture at all. Picture showed 4 slices of Honeydew melon with a nice Strawberry in the center. Ours came with 4 chunks of pineapple.

                      The staff really were quite nice to my boys and did attend to them sweetly refilling their drinks and asking them what they wanted, how we were doing, etc. Love 'em to tears, but the food they were dishing out made this my first and last visit.

                      Bill came to $29, $6 tip. Included in this were 2 soda's for the boys and hot tea for myself.

                      Read the review of the chap that loved the Golden Buddha - Can we go with you sometime? :-) Not only our luck, but the luck of everyone I know that has tried that place has been incredibly poor, with all relating identical issues. Figuring you either work there/know someone that does - or you're incredibly good looking!

                      Would love to hear a good dim sum review. Don't like writing about negative experiences - especially my own. Although I value others scathing reviews immensely...which I guess is why I sucked it up and did this one. Wish it was better news!

                      Take care

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: dean

                        "Read the review of the chap that loved the Golden Buddha - Can we go with you sometime? :-) Not only our luck, but the luck of everyone I know that has tried that place has been incredibly poor, with all relating identical issues. Figuring you either work there/know someone that does - or you're incredibly good looking!"

                        well, you know, i do have breasts, but frankly, i don't think they help much and lord knows i don't work there or know anyone who does (were that i could get in faster/get discount). That said, sure, always looking for people who want to attend dim sum. Might just be we have different tastes.

                        you know, har gow (the shrimp balls) do stick to the paper or bottom of the pan, pretty much everywhere. there's rice flour in the dough, they have to stick, its the gluten. Ever make em? i actually think the treasure rice (rice in leaf you called it) is pretty easy to screw up, but yes, C-fu does it decently.

                        i look to key dim sum dishes to gauge. har gow, sui mai, treasure rice, black bean spare ribs, spring rolls, and possibly the shimp in rice wrapper and mustard greens in oyster sauce. if these core items are good, i am happy. I don't usually bother with the deserts, wacky drinks (such as at C-Fu), etc.

                        1. re: hzp

                          My fault - shoulda included more detail in previous post.

                          Hate to lambaste the poor sods, but one particular moment was particularly poignant: Server had incredible difficulty getting items mentioned previously *out* of the container. Nervous laughter ensued, and her colleague came over to try to help. More nervous laughter - and then the boss came over... We ended up having 3 different ladies over and - between the 3 of them - they finally managed to loosen the product up enough to remove it without tearing it 'too much' >:-o !

                          What's worse, about halfway through our meals we saw an asian male and his anglo male friend sit and begin eating next to us. After the 1st couple dishs the quizzical looks on their faces started, and they abruptly paid and left <no cel phone ringing, just amazed/disappointed looks, apologies from Asian chap to his friend...that kinda thing>.

                          Really was trying hard not to skewer C-Fu too much, but yikes. I think I'm up for JacksBrain response re: Trying them on a weekend tho. Hate to give up if there's hope!

                          PS Whaddya think? Should a reviewer/poster such as myself - especially when reporting news that's not particularly flattering - go easy & just report the big stuff, or go into lurid detail (what I was trying to avoid to an extent)? Had my first ever poor meal at Giuseppe's the other day <Takeout> but wouldn't reveal it to a soul unless someone asked specifically, or it happened again... Want to keep the good energy on the new board! :-)

                          1. re: dean

                            What's funny is that scene with the two guys reminded me of the one weekday I was there. I took some business associates there thinking it would be like on the weekends only to have bad service and food that was less than fresh. I apologized a lot that day.

                            I prefer the details in good or bad experiences since my idea of good or bad may be different from the posters.

                            1. re: dean

                              I don't think it does anyone any good not to disclose details of what occurred on your visits.

                              I know I sound like a parrot to people who read my blog, but mentioning details - good or bad - are a "snapshot in time" of when you went. Good, bad or ugly, people get a complete picture by looking at all of those snapshots.

                              As for my original request, all of the comments have steered me toward heading away from Dim Sum and toward a brunch setting this Sunday. These comments - again, good and bad - have helped me greatly.

                              When I write my reviews, I often worry that people will think poorly of me because I didn't have a great experience like they did. But, I am not helping anyone by sweeping anything under the rug.

                              Post the details, make your comments, and let others learn from all the experiences. :o)

                          2. re: dean

                            C-Fu is significantly better on the weekends. I went there once on a weekday and I'll never do that again.

                          3. One place that nobody has mentioned yet, and it's where I have been going to lately, is China King, on Ray and Alma School in Chandler. All the standards are good there, har gow, siu mai, etc. I would still have to say C-Fu still has the best variety though.

                            1. Just a quick note...I don't think I've ever had anything AWFUL at C-Fu - but I'm known there. Still ....some average stuff during the week, for sure. However, to Dean's note that "the oyster sauce was like that from Safeway or Fry's" - that'd not be so. I do know where Ron L. does his shopping - and it ain't at Safeway or Fry's.

                              1. You could always go to the new Ranch Market and have Mexican Dim Sum... some seafood from the back, various entrees from the "deli" area, bring it all together at a picnic table - best enjoyed with a South of the Border coke (sorry Seth, you'll have to go without diet this time).

                                That, or the dining concept known as "CostcoDimSum." Best again on weekends :)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: tastyjon

                                  CostcoDimSum! it's so true Hubby and I did that this wknd... best samples there.

                                2. Another place to try for dim sum is Jade Palace on Shea and 92nd Street. They only do it on Sundays...it is hot, flavorful, and a nice variety. They have all the favorites...

                                  1. seftel just posted on this place... anyone else here been (know someone mentioned it above) ?

                                    was going to hit buddha this weekend, but might be willing to trek to chandler.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: hzp

                                      China King is decent to very good depending on the type of things you like to order at dim sum. I prefer C-Fu Gourmet and Great Wall.

                                      http://www.iamjacksbrain.com/ - searching for dim sum will bring up my visits to all three restaurants.

                                      1. re: hzp

                                        We tried China King after seeing the review and were incredibly underwhelmed. We got there with well over an hour left for dim sum, and they literally had the same 2 or 3 carts roaming. They never were restocked while we were there. And they also seemed to congregate around one table. We finally left and went to Lee's Sandwiches.

                                      2. Tried China King for Dim Sum lunch today....it was good!
                                        Everything was Hot and Flavorful! Chicken feet were braised perfectly and fell off the bone! The spareibs in garlic and black bean...wonderful!
                                        I recommend it.....
                                        A nice variety for a weekday lunch!

                                        1. why are people complaining about C-Fu's dim sum? I think it's the best, and I've eaten dim sum in NYC and SF, with Taiwanese American ppl who lived there :)

                                          I would say eat C Fu dim sum on Sat or Sun only. On Sundays tho there is a post-church crowd, so I would shoot for 11:30am on Sat. There's never a wait for a party of 2 or 4, at least for us...

                                          1. I'm glad to see that I'm not alone in my satisfaction with Golden Buddha. My prior DS experience has been limited, but I've been several times. Twice now with my son's grand-mother who spent years living in NYC and has far more experience in Chinese food than me. Let's just say she's pestering me to go again.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: VictorLouis

                                              We've never had bad food at Golden Buddha. We experienced some horrible service once, but other than that, it is usually very good.

                                              1. re: Firenza00

                                                We eat frequently at Golden Buddha (closest place to home with good chinese food), dim sum and dinner and have never been disappointed! We've also had consistently good service.