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Hei La moon was better then ever today!

Today a group of us went to Hei La Moon in Boston. We had not been in a while. One intersting thing was that they opened a basement level of the restaurant up. Looks to be larger then the original restaurant down there. We didnt sit down there but it made our wait for a table for 10 upstairs much much shorter. We got a great table right by the exit of the kitchen, this was ideal as all the carts were full and hot when they got to us.

We found everything to be great today, much better then we had remembered even. Some of the items we got: (multiples of each)

Shrimp and beef stuffed rice noodles, shu mai, har gau, shark fin dumplings, tofu skin rolls, congee, ribs w/ black bean sauce served over rice noodles, Yellow custard buns were perhaps the best ever, Egg tarts, steamed pork buns, baked flaky pork pastries, sticky rice in lotus leaf, fried shrimp w/ taro, fried shrimp w/ chive dumplings were twice the size as anyplace else, Taro dumplings w/ pork inside, fried calamari-always great here, snails, chicken feet, turnip cake, chinese greens w/oyster sauce,seafood in tofu skin, steamed shrimp/chive dumplings, and many others I cant remember or dont know a name for!

Total bill $140 w/tip. Cant wait to go back.

After the meal we walked to Rainbow Cafe for Boba Tea drinks. They had a good selection all made with ice cream and real fruit. I found the boba pearls themselves to be really too mushy though and too big for the straw. Perhaps we got the bottom of a batch or something.

www.dimsumtimes.blogspot.com

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  1. I haven't had much luck with the boba at Rainbow Cafe either. Love the cuttlefish balls though.

    4 Replies
    1. re: limster

      Im pretty new to the Boba scene and have yet to find a place in ChinaTown that i really love.

      So far my favorite place for it i think is the lollicup place in the 88 food court. Their boba seems just right to me in firmness and has a honey sort of taste to it that others dont have.

      In chinatown I have tried 3-4 places including the juice bar in the eatery, rainbow cafe, a couple others that i cant remember the name of. None have really thrilled me.

      I also tend to like many of the slush or milk type drinks at lollicup where most of the China Town places seem to only have the real fruit type.

      Any suggestions?

      1. re: hargau

        I haven't been to Infusions in Allston in a while, but it's been a favourite in the past. Totally worth trying.

        1. re: limster

          noted. I really want to find a place I love in China Town though because it makes a great after dimsum treat.

        2. re: hargau

          I haven't had the boba at the Rainbow Cafe but they do an amazing fruit shake with ice cream and coconut milk - pineapple has been my favorite so far but the mango and coconut are tasty too. I like them w/ the small tapioca pearls, the ones that are clear and translucent, otherwise known as "xi mi"

      2. Does Hei La Moon serve dim sum on weekday nights? What is parking like in that area on a weekday evening?

        1 Reply
        1. re: VivreManger

          No I believe its only during the days. I also recommend going on Sunday around 11-12 for the best variety and freshest selection. We always park in the garage which is above the restaurant, pretty handy. $10 flat rate for sunday, i believe you can get $5 off with a stamp too.

        2. thanks har gau for exc report.. i'm definitely heading there next. you've not mentioned msg- do they use it, do you know? (maybe you saw my CH question about dimsum and thirst? i found out it's msg caused)

          1 Reply
          1. re: opinionatedchef

            We are heading back again this coming Sunday. Everyone uses msg. Some places more then others and some items more then others. For instance i have found the pork buns and rice in lotus leaf to have alot of msg at some places but delicate steamed things like har gau or chow fun would not. Seems to vary from visit to visit at all places.

          2. Went to Hei La Moon for the first time today with some business associates.

            I could not quite keep up with what we were eating because the dishes came so fast and furious but among them were shu mai, har gau, shark fin dumplings, steamed pork buns, sticky rice, fried shrimp w/ chive dumpling, and steamed shrimp/chive dumplings.

            The most interest were dumplings with a filling that tasted like chestnuts. Really good and quite out of the ordinary.

            I can't wait to go back to Hei La Moon.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Bob MacAdoo

              nobody makes those fried shrimp and chive dumplings better. One of my favorites. We call them "green things" for lack of a better name! Try it sunday AM around 11-12.

              1. re: Bob MacAdoo

                They don't use actually shark fin, do they?

                1. re: Alcachofa

                  Not down here...it's more a "looks like shark fin" dumpling and because it's implied that it has shark fin, it's more expensive than regular dumplings.
                  I did have it in Toronto at a somewhat upscale chinese restaurant and it actually did have shark fin (and their food was tastier). It's too bad price constraints down here keep dim sum so uninventive...dim sum dishes could be a lot more interesting..

              2. Sorry to report a disappointing lunch at HLM today. Sui mai were overcooked the fried shrimp and celery rolls were cold and soggy. Even the mustard was funky. Bean curd skins were as good as usual. It's been a while since I been at peak times so maybe just an off session. I'll return before passing judgement.

                3 Replies
                1. re: gourmaniac

                  I have always said. Sunday Am-afternoon is the time to go, any other time at any of the places is a crap shoot and imho catered to tourists.

                  1. re: hargau

                    That's odd, because when I go on a weekday all of the dim sum restaurants are 99% asian, don't seem to be catering to tourists.

                    1. re: paulgardner

                      99% of 10% of the crowd. When you go on the weekend the crowds are larger, the stuff doesnt sit on the carts as long and get either cold or overcooked as the complaint was. Also the variety of items is better. You go during the week, yea there may be some asian clients but i find more often then not they are having a light snack like a bowl of congee or some chicken feet and reading the newspaper. They are not coming with entire families and buying $200 of dimsum like we are on the weekends.

                2. Hit up Hei La Moon this Saturday. We sat downstairs, which was a first for me. We ordered too much, but only a fraction of what hargau mentions above. The downstairs servers bring small trays of some items (like Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce and fried baby squid) and I feel like that definitely compromises the integrity of the dish. The squid was cold. Harumph! We probably should have gone at 12 instead of 11 because around 12:30/1pm the carts started serving items like those fried block things (don't know the name!). I loved the shu mai, tofu skin rolls, steamed rice in lotus, seafood meatball, & har gau. Overall very tasty.

                  We were bummed that the eatery has closed its doors for sure - I agree that there's really not excellent boba tea in Chinatown (Rainbow cafe's drinks are tasty, but you're right, the boba is mushy and poorly formed).

                  1. We do love Hei La Moon. Went there on Sunday, and although the crowd was as huge as ever, the wait was about 20 minutes rather than the hour or so we have come to expect. Once again, they consistently offer a wide variety, good quality, and items are reliably fresh. We remain delighted to live in a town lucky enough to have a great dim sum place!

                    1. We went to Hei La Moon again today, maybe it was the rain, but they were not as busy as normal. Still was plenty tasty. Didnt see the Calamari come around though.

                      The exciting news is I finally found a Boba Tea that I really liked. Funny thing is its in the same block as H.L.M. I didnt catch the name of the place but its a bakery right around the corner from Hei La Moon. I got a Taro Green Tea Boba, and it was really tasty with nicely formed medium sized boba balls and perfect blending/flavor. I really liked it. They also have great pastries and other buns.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: hargau

                        THis is the Double Rich Bakery. I like their buns, hom sui gok, and congee and I've posted a couple of times about it.

                      2. I went to Hei La Moon this summer with my husband, who grew up in Hong Kong, and a half dozen friends based on hargau's suggestion.

                        I was mortified.

                        It was horrible and I was ridiculed by my husband who grew up eating at the finest places in HK, and who prefers (as do I) Chao Chow City though all dim sum in boston is pretty bad compared to SF (not NY, though, which is only a little better).

                        Hei La Moon's skins on all their dumpling type things is super-thick: a sure sign they are giving you less for more. Their vegetarian selections are really limited. The steamed buns have so much bun and so little filling you need a magnifying glass to see the latter. All the fillings for the veggie items--steamed rice rolls, dumplings, buns, was identical, and worse--CANNED. The Calamari was soggy and overpriced. Nothing we had was fresh or even fresh-tasting.

                        The only thing that was the same as CCC was the "dofu fa" which
                        is really hard to mess up.

                        And at 10am the crowd was ridiculous--only after some serious flirting did our wait time get cut to 10 min but if I hadn't been "connected" it would've taken over an hour because as we left some people were still waiting.

                        8 Replies
                          1. re: JennyL

                            With the recent reviews, is this an official Downhill Alert?

                            I hope not - HLM has been very very good to me.

                            1. re: Bob Dobalina

                              Don't know about Downhill Alert - it could be a case of different strokes, combined with some inconsistency from one day to another.

                              I went once this past summer, also spurred by the raves from this board, and was also pretty disappointed. hargau clearly LOVES shrimp-based dim sum. BarnyFotheringayPhipps is allergic. I'm fully aware that an intolerance for shrimp is a serious handicap when trying to enjoy Cantonese dim sum, but more often than not we manage to get things he can eat and enjoy at other dim sum places, especially China Pearl. At Hei La Moon, just about all he was able to eat were cha siu bao, and they weren't very good cha siu bao. Oh, and the canonical plate of Chinese broccoli. We would have enjoyed a plate of calamari if we'd seen any, but they never appeared. And this was prime time on a weekend morning.

                              On the other hand, we had one of our best dim sum experiences in
                              a long time at China Pearl this past Sunday. Everything seemed especially hot, fresh, and tasty, and there was an unusually wide variety of shrimp-free options, including a couple of different all-veggie items (a large tofu-skin roll and a small hargau-like dumpling).

                              We still need to check out some of the other places that do more of a non-Cantonese dim sum, such as Shangri-La and...isn't there another place in Belmont or Watertown? We've had a couple of really good experiences at Chung Shin Yuan. But they're harder to get to by public transportation, and most of our friends have trouble accepting the fact that it's not what they think of as a "proper" (Cantonese-style) dim sum experience, so we don't do that very often at all.

                              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                Yeah, I'd say it's a seriously downhill alert-- their food was very disappointing. Also the shrimp dumplings were very salty--too much MSG, which isn't the case at Chao Chow City--and they had too little actual shrimp. That was appalling, to tell you the truth. And the buns had way more steamed rice than filling! If you're going to skimp on lotus paste, which costs next to nothing, that's a bad sign. I wanted to like it, a lot, esp after the first news I got here about it, but there was no way to leave CCC after this visit. But I guess it depends on what you're looking for.

                                1. re: JennyL

                                  The shrimp dumplings i have got there have nothing but shrimp in them and are twice the size of CCC. This is the 1st time i have ever heard anything neg about hlm. with tons of people posting here saying they think its the best.

                                  Steamed rice in buns? I have never got any bun with rice in it, I guess thats a different type that we dont order.

                                  I agree, it depends what your looking for I guess. I see you are a vegetarian, so i guess you order different things and look at different things then I. You eat shrimp though, I take it.

                                  1. re: hargau

                                    re: steamed rice in buns -- I think that's referring to the rice flour used in the dough.

                                    1. re: limster

                                      yes that's absolutely right. This is a very popular dish that tends to be announced in Chinese, it is steamed rice buns with fillings in it-pork, chicken (which is mostly pork!), lotus paste, sometimes bean paste. you can tell how stingy a place is by how much they put inside the buns. In this case, there was next to nothing in the buns. So I wouldn't recommend ordering there this very authentic and usually generously prepared dish.

                              2. re: JennyL

                                reposted: since the Chow-Police didnt like one line of it, they deleted the whole post.

                                Sorry you didnt like it. We have been to hei la moon aprox 30 times and have never experienced anything like what you describle. We have been to Chao Chow city and china pearl aprox 60 times each and prefer hei la moon.

                                I have never waited more then 20-25 minutes tops for a table for 6-10 people at either place. Now that the downstairs is open at H.L.M it is aprox 1/2 the wait it used to be.

                                I will agree that dimsum in HK is better, as is dimsum in SF, and dimsum in Toronto. However we are in Boston.

                                I have never noticed any of the skins to be thicker then anyplace else. Some of the items are physically 2x the size of other places. The shrimp/chive fried dumplings, the Hargau, etc.. Even if the skin was 1/2 inch thich which it isnt, those items would still be larger.

                                I dont understand the part about "seriously flirting"? So you are saying if a female, seriously flirts with the all female staff at the front while they are extremely busy working, you get in quicker?

                                As for the vegetarian dishes, We stay away from them anyway, not our style. I can only think of perhaps 3-4 at any of the dimsum places. Limited at all of them. Really not a place for someone who doesnt eat shrimp and/or pork since 90% of the dishes have one or the other.

                                The calamari at H.L.M is by far the BEST you can get at any of the dimsum places. I have photos of it and of the sorry plate you get at C.C.C both on my blogsite and there is no comparision. HLM's calamari is all the mini leg bunches, not the rings, very crisp and flavorfull. Others give you a cold plate of rubber band rings with no legs.

                                Makes me wonder if you were at the same restaurant even!

                                To each their own, one less group to wait in line with! :)

                                Here is another persons blog with photos of the shrimp dumplings and calamari in question. They loved them as well. Looks like plenty of shrimp and very thin skin to me.
                                http://www.eatanddestroy.com/?p=64

                              3. Finally got over there today ... I am having a hard time saying it's better than chow chau city but it was awfully good. We had xiao long bao, taro stuffed with pork, shrimp dumplings with chives, turnip cake, slimy noodle (don't know the real name, but the deliciousl long canneloni type noodles with shrimp) shrimp with taro, sticky rice in lotus leaf but we didn't see any calamari. I especially liked the very friendly service -- we were desperately searching for the shrimp with taro but it never came. The bright spark in our party asked the manager who promptly disappeared and had the next cart featuring fresh shrimp and taro come to us first. Everything was fresh and as hargau has said, it's all pretty generously stuffed, as were we at the end of lunch.

                                I do love CCC but I think HLM is a very close runner up, if not the best in town.

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: yumyum

                                  the long noodles with shrimp or beef are chow fun (not to be confused with chow foon). Funny you call them slimey noodles, we call them slippery noodles! The one you call shrimp/taro we call "porcupines", one of my favorites but no matter where you get that one, you have to make sure its fresh on the cart cause those get cold fast. The shrimp/chive dumplings, did you get the fried or the steamed version? We like both, but i especially love the fried ones.

                                  1. re: hargau

                                    Porcupines is a great name for those little buggers. They were a teeny tiny bit greasy, but that's not always a bad thing.

                                    Our shrimp dumplings were steamed. And delicious.

                                    I'll definitely be back to try more. We were kind of trying to be good. Ha!

                                    1. re: hargau

                                      I call the chow fun, "those flubbery things".

                                      I believe the shrimp/taro porcupines are called "wuoh HAH?" Something like that.

                                      If the "calamari" is the same as the fried squid, I believe that was called "yow yee". I had the fried squid last week, and it was the opposite of soggy.

                                      I am most likely WAY off on the pronounciation of these items.

                                      1. re: Alcachofa

                                        It's the tone thing. Even after we repeated it back a few times you could tell we were still pronouncing it wrong. Probably saying something insulting. Gawd!

                                        Why didn't we see the fried squid today? (Not that we needed it.)

                                        1. re: yumyum

                                          Even asking for something as simple as shu mai or har gau, they often do not understand the way we pronounce the things.

                                          I dont think the selection at any of the places is the same during the week as on the weekend. The squid comes out on the cart with the snails and the head on shrimp. Did you see that cart at all? It is not one of the heated carts, just a typical 2 level roll around cart.

                                        2. re: Alcachofa

                                          I thought the taro dumplings were called wu gok - but really, I don't speak Chinese.

                                          yumyum, the man in vest that speaks English incredibly well was able to locate the squid for us the last time. If you're sitting on the basement level, it comes around on cocktails trays, as does the broccoli, head on shrimp, and squid.

                                      2. re: yumyum

                                        Xiao long bao at dim sum? How were they?

                                        BK

                                        1. re: BJK

                                          Just okay. I feared they'd be nuclear so let them cool off for a little too long. I much prefer the crab and pork dumplings at Taiwan Cafe although they aren't true xlb.