Now I've had Dim Sum
Thank you all so much for all the help and advice you gave to make my first Dim Sum experience go smoothly.
My husband and I studied your comments and took notes. We...there were 3 of us....went prepared with a cheat sheet. Not that we used it.
We got there early. I knew it was a good sign when we saw a bus load of Tibetan Monks getting off in front of the restaurant. Now mind you there were a bus load so while it was a good sign I figured I'd better scury to get in the restaurant and ducked in before they all got off the bus. They had a private room. I felt a little ashamed.
We were promply seated and ordered tea. We were also asked if we'd like forks which we refused. The tea was constantly refilled along with our cups throughout the meal. I like green tea and drink it often. The tea at Ocean Palace was ok, but it in no way dampened our experience.
Now let me tell you I can be a little impulsive and excitable. Not necessarily good traits when you have women pushing carts that are filled with good smelling food. Right off I picked 3 baskets from the first 2 carts. Chicken feet was my first pick...I just had to try. They were delicious in spite of the bones. These actually were my husband's favorite. I also picked Shrimp Dumplings and BBQ Pork in a sweet bun. All were very good, but we had only been there 5 minutes. I decided right there and then I'd better not even look at the carts. I left the rest to my husband and daughter.
They ordered Steamed BBQ Pork Buns, pork dumplings, red beans in a fried dough, and then pork bean curd skin roll.
There was also a counter where you could get chow mein, vegetables, the blood cubes, pork patties along with other things, but by the time we noticed it all we were stuffed.
You can see we made a few mistakes so when I go again and yes I will be going. I will go to the counter and get the vegetables and possibly chow mein. I will also go at a later hour. By going early the restaurant was pretty empty so there were cart jams and they were almost coming too often for my impulsive nature.
Once again thank you for all your help.
I wouldn't bother with the chow mein. Unless you live in a complete culinary wasteland (I dunno if Houston counts, I've never been), you can get decent chow mein anywhere, any time, and you don't want to fill up your finite amount of space with a pile of noodles. I second (third?) the notion of the chinese broccoli or other greens, tho. Not only to break up the grease, but also for vegetable balance.
Are you sure they served you green tea?
I concur with fara (is this a first??) and Pei. Recruit your friends. Dim sum is best with between 6 and 12 people. Any fewer and you won't have the variety, any more and you'll have to split to separate tables.
You have so many things to try, too! The steamed-and-then-pan-fried turnip cakes, pickled jellyfish (it's REALLY good... tastes a bit like pickled daikon), lap cheong bao (sweet Chinese sausage in steamed bun dough), deep-fried shrimp paste on sugar cane spears, jin dui (sesame or lotus paste in balls covered with sesame seeds), dou fu fa (hot silky tofu with ginger syrup)... it'll take you a number of visits to get through it all!
I'm so glad you enjoyed it... it's a brunch like no other!
great to hear you had a positive experience! the advice that all the chowhounders gave you, plus that last link to this post really illustrates the beauty of chowhound and I think it's a wonderful community; glad you were able to get some advice out of us. like fara said, there are no mistakes, only more chances to eat dim sum!
In general, I never order buns or pastries, since I'd usually go to an actual bakery for that stuff; dim sum must haves are always the steamed shumai or hargau and usually the deep fried taro filled with minced meat as well as the short ribs and yes, chicken feet. other than that, just use your eyes; the freshly fried stuff is usually good, but I almost always avoid the "tray" specials; they're never that good and too big a serving. Like a previous poster said on the advice link, always nice to order a chinese broccoli or something just to cut all the grease that dimsum usually provides. The stuffed vegetables over by the "special" section are usually good, but the clams in black bean sauce (depends on the place) are not always cooked with the utmost care, so I've had more than a few no-so-great clam dishes before. Also, the sticky rice in lotus leaf is usually good, but the sticky rice in the upside down clear rice bowl is usually not that good.
anyway, have fun on your next trip!