I would try Shanghai before any of the others. It's not over priced and the carts come around frequently enough so you don't get frustrated. I over all enjoy the food there, although there has been occasions where the food is lukewarm or they just simply ran out. They make delicious miniature egg custard tarts, but they're almost always out. Don't let them pawn off a giant dish of creme brulee on you instead. I tend to eat dim sum around 1-2, so perhaps its my own fault for going so late.
After Shanghai, I would give T & S a try. They have offer other dishes that I don't see at Shanghai, but one of the problems with T&S is that all the wait staff are half-brained asian college kids, as is the majority of the clientele. It's usually really loud and service is spotty. Also, sometimes the food is cold. They have really great baked bbq pork buns.
Kim Son is the type of dim sum that I remember going to as a kid in Houston. Usually a giant banquet hall will hundres of people cramming their tables with everything that passes by. I've heard that the Austin location isn't quite the same as the ones in Houston, but the Dim Sum options provided are really unique and special compared to the other dim sum places around town. They have a walk up station, which is nice if you don't feel like waiting around for food, you can explore the 7-8 options cooking or holding.
I'll be trying Chinatown tomorrow, so I'm excited to see what they have to offer and how they offer it, seeing as they are "upscale."
Some of the plates I enjoy ordering as staples for dim sum:
-fried taro and/or turnip cake
-chinese broccoli (for a vegetable)
-fried taro and pork
-egg custard tart
-clams in black bean sauce
-baked bbq pork buns
I am so surprised no one has listed Golden Wok off 35 and Parmer.
I used to go as a kid with my parents at these really nice elaborate places in the Dallas area and I always wanted to find such a place that sold the solid classics (Har Gao, Siu Mai, Nor Mai Gai). I spend all my cash at Golden Wok. I think for the price we pay (about 25 bucks for 2 people...and being so full we can't even eat dinner). They have the carts and all that but what's important is that everything is FRESH, FRESH, FRESH. This was my biggest complaint against Tien Hong. My poor boyfriend had his first experience there and swore it off alltogether. Finally, to appease my deprived life and dim sum cravings, we tried Golden Wok and haven't wanted to try any other place since. This is serious dim sum so a lot of it isn't dolled up or anything but the taste is what you're going for...it's priceless!
I have taken friends there who have never had dim sum and now they're the ones inviting me back to Golden Wok! A+ service to boot.
Ate at Chinatown and while it was perfectly adequate dims sum, I was less than thrilled. We aited a long time for the carts carrying shiu mai and potstickers to come our way, but we were often presented with trays of pepper shrimp in martini glasses and fancy chilean sea bass. It wasn't that those were bad, it was just that when I want Dim Sum, I don't really want fancy Asian appetizers.
Our next dim sum trip is going to be Shanghai.
I went to Shanghai last week and thought it was really good. Way better than Tien Hong. We got there around 11:30 on Sunday and it was busy, but we only waited 15-20 minutes. By the time we got out, there was a huge crowd. I'd definately go back, everything I had was great.
For years, the matter of the quality of Tien Hong has been one of fierce debate--going back to the 80s!
For my money, Pao's is absolutely fabulous. Even back when they were located downtown, and I was a vegetarian, it was splendid. In fact, that's probably my fave vegetarian place in the whole city (though it is actually in Westlake now).
Since the closing of our usual dim sum restaurant, Tien Hong, we were delighted to find dim sum relatively close to our house. Today several friends and I met to try the new place.
The front desk staff people were courteous and welcoming and our table of five were seated after only a short wait. The interior is pleasant, and I enjoyed all the light from your windows.
We ordered tea and water as we were seated. It seemed after several carts went by that this order had been forgotten. Finally I elected to get up from the table to catch another server and order these beverages that were then promptly delivered.
The various steamed dumplings (Hao Cao, Shiu Mai, Shrimp and Leek among these) were well made and delicious, although the shiu mai seemed carelessly formed. The sea bass in miso was quite delicious.
On the other hand the sticky rice in lotus leaf was wet like gravy and without flavor.
The jook/congee/rice soup was surprising to us for its thin consistency. Again, although we asked for this dish near the outset of our meal, I had to go up to the front desk and ask about placing an order. The flavor of the soup was fine at first but increasingly became overwhelmed by the amount of eggs. We were disappointed by the absence of crullers though we asked for all the toppings.
As we entered I saw the cart with the gailan (Chinese brocolli) and was delighted to know I would get to have this. Unfortunately, I never saw that cart again so we didn't get any greens.
I usually like to have a few fried dumplings but none were presented.
I am going back today to give them a second chance. Please please please be better.
Last time I was in Austin, I was brought here for Dim Sum:
I liked it a lot. The Citysearch reviews are also saying it's the best place in Austin. I especially suggest arriving early if you go with a big crowd; it gets crowded fast!
We like Marco Polo too. Not SF but neither is anywhere else I've found myself eating dim sum (NY, London, Boston, Vancouver,Toronto) and no place I've been anywhere else but SF just smokes it. Tien Hong on Burnet is okay but be sure and get there early as it gets bad later--a lack of quality control as the day goes on. I'm not a big fan of T& S but many are. And finally Twin Dragon on N Lamar works in a pinch.
Well, if you find some great dim sum in Austin, please let me know. We have a few mediocre places, but nothing that I've found is even close to the type of places near San Francisco. For dim sum in Texas, I would say some of the places in Houston are your best bet.
It is too bad we didn't get one of the mega-dim sum places in the new Chinatown Center. I guess I can't get everything at once! I'll just be happy with 1st Chinese BBQ.
Lily's Sandwich looks like it is now open and has bahn mi. Has anyone tried it?