Dim Sum for dumpling/bun crazed novice
So, hubby and I have done dim sum in NYC just once years ago as we generally just stop at the Dumpling House in more recent trips. We are taking my mother and father to NYC in May, and I'd love for them to enjoy a true dim sum experience. It will definitely be a cultural "leap" for them! Is there a "best time" to go? We're kinda wimps when it comes to the more exotic stuff, but crazy about dumplings (steamed and fried), veggies, and all sorts of buns. Thanks for any help you can share.
The best time to go is on the weekend around 11am. If you go too late in the day, they'll have run out of the good stuff.
Jing Fong is big and boisterous. Be prepared to be assertive in making sure you get what you want; I have a friend who will pounce on other carts because sometimes they run out before they get to you. I'd bone up on the names of dim sum dishes just in case you need to trap a waiter and ask for something (shrimp rice noodle rolls and egg tarts are sometimes elusive in my experience).
Jing Fong also has a few bar of food on the side of the room in addition to the carts, but I never saw anything interesting to me there.
Personally, my new favorite is Oriental Garden, but they do everything on trays. Oh, and they do communal seating, too, if that matters to you. My party of 3 was sat at a big round table with two other parties of 2-3 people.
Dim Sum Go Go is a great place for buns/dumplings. Not as traditional as some of the others, but also less hectic.
The Golden Unicorn is a great place for dim sum novices. The carts have pictures on them and there are plenty of them rolling. If a cart runs out of something you want, they will come back to you when they refill (at least, they have when I've been there). The food is really good and they have a great selection of dumplings as well as other things - fried seafood, desserts and the like. Its also big and boisterous, but clean and bright. I generally find that Saturdays are less crowded than Sundays, but yes, 11 am is the perfect time to go. When you go in to the Golden Unicorn, tell the person in the lobby how many are in your party and you will be sent to the appropriate floor. It is at 18 East Broadway, between Catherine and Market. Have fun!