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Another Dim Sum Suggestion Request

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Hey everyone! I know that there have been plenty of Dim Sum topics, and I have searched and read through many of them. However, even after having read through them, I am still uncertain of where to go.

Here's my story: My girlfriend is coming up to visit (shes from Maryland and I live in Northern NJ). We both go to the University of Maryland and have had Dim Sum once or twice at a local restaurant in a more Asian-dense area of Maryland. As she has mentioned wanting to see Chinatown a few times, I figured why not start off with some Dim Sum... Anyway, I am somewhat confused as to where to go. From all the previous threads I have read, I have basically narrowed the choices down to Dim Sum Go Go, Golden Bridge, Jing Fong, or Ping's. Am I missing some important choices? Anyway, I was wondering where you guys would suggest out of that list. Neither of us are speakers of any asian language and I am not completely certain that we remember the names of the foods we had liked or anything. Maybe you guys could suggest somewhere that would be relatively novice-friendly but not completely americanized? I know that one of the big issues is carts vs no-carts and as I have not yet asked my g/f her preference, maybe you guys could suggest one cart option and one no-cart option?

Note: I am not sure if this really matters, but we will probably be attempting to eat around 11:30ish am and it will probably only be the two of us...

Thanks so much.

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  1. If you MUST be in Chinatwon I would suggest Dim Sum A Go Go. IMHO Chinatown is way overated. If you're slightly more flexible, I would suggest Chinatown Brasserie on Lafayette - they have EXCELLENT dim sum as well as other great dishes and drinks.

    8 Replies
    1. re: rjm

      Agreed on both counts, but I would note that Chinatown Brasserie is very expensive.

      1. re: Pan

        Agree -- it's super novice friendly with accomodating staff, and a large menu. The dim sum there ranges from traditional to a little more high-end, experimental (lobster rolls, etc.), but you'll find it hard to get out at less than $30 a head.

        1. re: kathryn

          Yeah it looks like that is going to be a little to much right now... I think we are leaning towards attempting Jing Fong...

          1. re: kathryn

            Harrison, why Jing Fong instead of Dim Sum Go Go?

            1. re: Pan

              I guess mainly because it seems to have pretty consistently decent food along with good ambiance and carts... I feel like this meal is going to be an interesting adventure...

              Is dim sum go go heads and shoulders above places like Jing Fing in quality and other aspects? Enough to forgo carts?

              1. re: Harrison486

                For a casual dim sum eater, definitely not.

                1. re: Harrison486

                  "Is dim sum go go heads and shoulders above places like Jing Fing in quality and other aspects? Enough to forgo carts?"

                  Yes, by far. Unless carts are really important to you. That question, I can't answer. But the quality is several levels higher than at any of the dim sum eating halls. It's real artisanal dim sum.

                  1. re: Pan

                    I will have to consider this...

        2. If your previous contact with dim sum has been somewhere like Wheaton, Gaithersburg or Rockville, I suggest you go to Jing Fong for the ambience factor since I don't know if New York Chinatown dim sum is any better than what you're used to. Jing Fong does convey the feeling that you're in a dim sum palace in Hong Kong, which I don't think you can say about the others.

          1. Again, I have to say that the best Dim Sum I've had in a long while is Gum Fung in Flushing. Well worth the trip. Do yourself a favor, don't limit yourself to Chinatown in Manhattan.

            1. Thanks for all the responses so far...

              In response to the Chinatown/Manhattan vs Flushing and other parts: Im taking my girlfriend into Manhattan as she has never really been into New York City before. Im going to have to take her to all the touristy places that she wants to see, like Times Square and all, so I just figured if we are already gonna be there, might as well hit up Chinatown since its another place she wants to see...

              To the Chinatown Brasserie suggestion: I have heard that this place is pretty good, but I have also heard that it is relatively expensive. Is it worth the extra money as opposed to trying some place in Chinatown?

              As to where exactly in Maryland we had Dim Sum: I am not really sure where we were, but it was just a large room with various sized tables in it and carts coming by every few minutes.

              I sort of liked the idea of Jing Fong (or some other large banquet hall) as it seems like it would be an interesting experience and all, with the many carts and large area. My only concern is it being overwhelming and not exactly novice-friendly. Am I wrong? This is the reason I was considering a place like Ping's, which I believe has carts but a much smaller eating area.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Harrison486

                i am partial to 88 Palace, in a downscale mall under the Manhattan Bridge at 88 E.Broadway...full of Chinese diners even on weekday mornings...

                re: Chinatown Brasserie...it gets mixed reviews here...some, including myself, hated it and thought the dimsum was not only expensive but just plain bad...others have enjoyed the dimsum a great deal but admitted it's overpriced...but since you are in NYC, i'd recommend going to one of the Chinatown places for the atmosphere...

                1. re: Harrison486

                  "To the Chinatown Brasserie suggestion: I have heard that this place is pretty good, but I have also heard that it is relatively expensive. Is it worth the extra money as opposed to trying some place in Chinatown?"

                  I called it "very expensive" upthread. Whether it's worth the extra money depends on how much extra money you have and how you feel about spending $9 for a little plate of 4 dumplings. I had the best dim sum dishes there that I've had in the U.S., probably (this was a few months ago). So I thought it was worth it but haven't been back and probably won't go back until perhaps some time next year or so, if that. I spent almost $100 on 4 dim sum items and 2 cocktails ($12 apiece), including tip.

                  I think on two students' budgets, it would probably make more sense to go to Dim Sum Go Go. While its dim sum is not as good as what I had at Chinatown Brasserie, it is excellent and head and shoulders above all the other dim sum places I've ever been to in Manhattan. And it's pretty inexpensive. You might want to do a search under its name for reports on specific dim sum items, but most of the items I've had there were at least very good. Their tapioca and egg custard dumplings are wonderful, and their tripe is probably the best tripe I've had in a Chinese restaurant - they use honeycomb tripe and cook it until it's tender but still just a bit chewy. Very good chicken feet, too. Etc. You can have a look at their menupages.com menu:

                  http://menupages.com/restaurantdetail...

                  I'd tend to look at the items marked "Dim Sum" and ignore the rest. Others might disagree.

                  Here's Chinatown Brasserie's website:

                  http://www.chinatownbrasserie.com/

                  1. re: Harrison486

                    Chinatown Brasserie is not in Chinatown and it is lousy. For tourists, overpriced, and very hustler staff in terms of working you to check your coat, cocktails, fancy water, etc. All the prententious stuff suburbanites love, without good food. Go to Pings or Oriental Garden.

                  2. There maybe better places according to one's tastes and quirks but no one consistently delivers the full, classic, just like you saw it in the movies, dim sum experience like Jing Fong. Still, I'd never cross a picket line to go there but I can't remember how long it's been since that's been an issue.

                    1. It's close, but I think you should go to Jing Fong. There is definitely something to the ambiance of a large dim sum hall in Chinatown, especially on a weekend morning, and Jing Fong is the best of the bunch. There is a wide selection at Jing Fong of traditional dim sum items, most that I've tried are fresh and high quality.

                      I think Dim Sum go go has good stuff. But while it's nice to experience new items and different interpretations, I'm not exactly wowed by the creativity and I don't think the execution is any better or any worse than Jing Fong.

                      Chinatown Brasserie really does have outstanding dim sum. But as the other posters have suggested, it's tough on the budget. You might really appreciate being in a Chinatown joint where you can shake off an ordering misstep as a $2 loss, and that certainly isn't CB. Despite the name, you'll feel very far removed from a Chinatown experience at CB. But, although it's overpriced, all the dim sum is really, really good and a few things are on a higher order.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: zEli173

                        Thanks for that informative post!

                        I'm leaning towards Jing Fong for this first Chinatown dim sum experience, but maybe in a return visit I can try Dim Sum Go Go.

                        Chinatown Brasserie will have to go on my list as something I want to try one day also.

                      2. Oriental Garden on Elizabeth Street is, generally, better food. For a place of the same size as Jing Fong I'd suggest 98 Mott Street instead.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: batterypark

                          I had very good dim sum at OG this past Christmas and merely average dim sum there about a month and a half ago, of the same level I've previously had at Jing Fong, Harmony Palace, and Golden Unicorn. So yeah, there's a chance of getting very good dim sum there (though still not as good as Dim Sum Go Go), but you might not. I haven't been to Jing Fong since it reopened, though; does anyone feel the food is generally tastier now, or is it the same it ever was?

                          1. re: Pan

                            I went to Jing Fong this past weekend, and thought it was very good. Great dumplings of different kinds and this time, the 5 Treasure Fried Rice (I don't know if that's the name, but for some reason that's what I keep thinking it is) was really good, unlike the previous time. I've been to Oriental Garden once, and that was good too, but my friend said she had preferred Jing Fong. I think you'd have a good experience at either.

                            1. re: janethepain

                              Jane, did you go to Jing Fong before it was closed? If you did, please comment on whether the quality is the same, better, or worse this time.

                              1. re: Pan

                                I wasn't even aware that it was closed for a while. I think the first time I went was last summer though. I'm a relative newbie to dim sum, but Jing Fong was tasty to me. Maybe the items vary from visit to visit? I remember a stellar roast pork pastry last time that wasn't as good this time, and the bland rice last time was excellent this time. I'm curious about Dim Sum Go Go, I'll try that place sometime.

                                1. re: janethepain

                                  I haven't been to Jing Fong in some time (perhaps a year and a half, maybe even more), but in the past (and I had gone there for years), I'd found that the variability in quality had to do with how close one is to the exit from the kitchen and how recently things were made.

                        2. I just had Dim Sum at the newly renovated Hee Win Lai on 28 Pell St. Everything we had was delicious and not overly starched or overly sweetended which I find to be a problem in most places.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: DarthEater

                            Sounds like a place worth checking out! How thick were the wrappers? And just out of curiosity, is most of the ordering done from carts or not?

                            1. re: Pan

                              Cart style. I only ordered one thing with a crystal wrap and I admit that was a bit thick. It was filled with shrimp and shaped of an empanada. They have one of the best 'Hom shui gawk' which resembles an empanada, filled with minced pork and dried shrimp and deep fried. However I was happy with the fact that I didnt need to clean my food from any sauce. That is a big peeve of mine which has been happening quite often in Golden Bridge which is why I stopped going there.The problem with jing fung is that its cavernous sized restaurant makes the walk from the kitchen to the other end result in water logged dim sum.

                              1. re: DarthEater

                                Yeah. Which is why, if you eat at Jing Fong, it's best to be seated near the exit from the kitchen.

                                I'll give Hee Win Lai a try.

                              2. re: Pan

                                I have eaten at Hee Win Lai many times. The food is okay, but nothing spectacular. Friendly cart woman and friendly ambiance too.

                            2. So I went to Jing Fong this morning and probably got there around 12:30-1ish... While the service wasn't necessarily the greatest, having to chase down carts and search for some unique dumplings was kind of fun. The huge hall had quite a nice ambiance also. While I am not dim sum veteran, I thought everything that we had today was very good. My only complaint would be that as it got later, the amount of carts flying by seemed to decrease...

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Harrison486

                                From my experience, the best time to get to Jing Fong is between 11-11:30. This is so we are guaranteed a table and not have to wait outside. Sometimes it gets way too packed in there. Also, around noon most of the variety of dishes come out. It is, by far, my favorite place to go for dim sum.

                                1. re: David_NJ

                                  Even though we didn't get there till 12:30/1ish we didn't have to wait for a table so I guess we got lucky. Although, next time Ill have to try to get there earlier and see if it makes any kind of difference

                              2. I'm sure you have gone already so I hope whatever you decided worked out. I'm originally from SF and have yet to find a YankSing equivalent. Even in Oakland's much less famous chinatown, there are Tin's, Jade Villa and Peony's.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: local_guy

                                  I'm sure you can relate to this Outer Boroughs post.
                                  '

                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/418938

                                  1. re: local_guy

                                    Haha.. you are so right! I am from Northern Cal too! I heard Koi Palace in Daly City is good as well as East Ocean in Emeryville! In the late 80's, I used to skip classes at Berkeley then take AC Transit Bus # 51 to Jade Villa for dimsum then get a big box of take-out dimsum back to my apartment! Look what happened to me now as a result of not attending classes: Living in NY without great dim sum! haha.. Back then, Oakland Chinatown was just starting to grow.. it was soo tiny....

                                    Back to the subject, I think the closest I have had to Yank Sing-quality dim sum in NYC is Dim Sum Go Go, but it's still not as good as the places you have mentioned in SF Bay area. I was there a couple of weeks ago and their chicken feet had a refrigerator taste (it was enough to gross me out the entire afternoon!) Nontheless, the rest of the dim sum I got were pretty descent and service was prompt and efficient.

                                    After moving to NY a few years ago, I have been to Jin Fong several times (prior to their rennovation).... I really had concerns about their sanitation. I felt that restaurant was very dirty and the bathroom was soooo gross (i.e. dirtier than the average Chinatown restaurant, which are all not very clean!), although I have never gotten sick eating there. I felt funny when I ate at Jing Fong so I have not visited for years. Maybe their rennovation took care of the sanitation problem.

                                    In addition to Jing Fong and Dim Sum Go Go, I had also been to Golden Unicorn. The service was so horrible and rude... I really didn't care to go back there based on that. Plus their dim sum was cold when brought to our table.. another reason not to go. Ping's wasn't so great either.. My friends and I had to share tables with 2 other parties.. it was sooo crowded. Their dim sum was not any different than other mediocre places but I have to say it's a little more upscale and cleaner than other dimsum places in Chinatown. Lastly, in addition to Dim Sum Go Go, I also liked Sweet and Tart Cafe but the branches on Mott Street have closed down, I think only the one left is in Flushing.

                                    Let's hope there will be more quality dim sum places opening up in NYC. New York has a lot to offer in terms of good food but I think dimsum, in addition to Mexican, Vietnamese, and Thai foods are a bit weak in this town compare to Calif. This is a great city with a lot of opportunities so hopefully there will be good dimsum chefs coming here in the future and raising the bar higher.

                                    1. re: bearmi

                                      Well NY Chinatown dim sum is better than SF Chinatown. But then, Oakland Chinatown is better than SF Chinatown too, particularly with Peony and Legendary Palace opening more recently. Of course places in the East Bay and South Bay outside of the Chinatowns whomp all of them, though as a group they're probably short of what you can get in the San Gabriel Valley. Suggest you try Golden Bridge on Bowery. It was really good when it opened a year or two ago, though some people on the board have complained about it recently.

                                      1. re: Chandavkl

                                        "It was really good when it opened a year or two ago, though some people on the board have complained about it recently."

                                        And not so recently, too. ;-) (I think my post may be on eGullet and not here, though.)

                                        1. re: Chandavkl

                                          I used to praise Golden Bridge but lately its been horrible. If you want to turn off anyone to dim sum, this is the place.

                                        2. re: bearmi

                                          Jing Fong: greasy and ordinary
                                          Golden Bridge: Best variety, some real gems mixed with standard fare
                                          Oriental Garden: Best quality, closest to Vancouver quality, gets my vote
                                          Dim Sum Go Go: bland

                                          1. re: Buddha Belly

                                            I like Oriental Garden. Aside from the dim sum, they have a dish I think it's called "special steak" on the menu that is excellent.