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Best place in Philly for Dim Sum newbie?

Hello, Looking for recs for best place for Dim Sum newbie. I've been with friends on vacation and now want to try back at home. On a related note, where can I get good steamed barbeque pork buns in Chinatown? Thanks!

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    1. re: joluvscards

      Imperial Inn has been a favorite of mine for over 10 years.

      Address 142-6 N. 10th St, Philadelphia, PA, 19107
      Phone 215/627-5588

    2. Lakeside is a very, very good choice (delicious food and extremely friendly/helpful staff), but I personally think that the barbecued pork buns (called "cha siu baau" in Chinese) at Ocean Harbor on Race Street are slightly better.

      1. are you looking for 'to go' pork buns from a bakery, or at a dim sum place? If you mean bakery, I'd say Mayflower. I haven't tried some of the new ones though.

        lakeside has the best dimsum, however they don't do carts. though the made-to-order is really what makes it better, i think the dim sum 'experience' suffers a bit. If you go during prime dim sum time to a place like Ocean Harbor, the quality difference is still there, but negligible if that's an experience you dig.

        1. The dim sum at Lakeside is really wonderful. It's a very plain-looking little place, no ambience, and I think it's cash only.
          Everything is freshly made. The menu is huge; try as many things as you can. Very (unbelievably) inexpensive. All the dumplings are great, but don't miss the beef/peanut ones. Each type has a different wrapper and shape.
          We never get to entrees there because we can never get past the dim sum. We have taken many people there, and everyone enjoys it.

          4 Replies
          1. re: sylviag

            I don't understand why everyone loves Lakeside so much. Part of the dim sum experience is the noise, chaos, and confusion along with great food and Lakeside is just too quiet. Also, it's weird to order things if you've never had dim sum before. I think that many people find Lakeside to be less intimidating because it's decidedly less crazy than your typical dim sum parlor but really, that's part of the fun!

            I grew up going to dim sum every sunday with my parents and I find that Ocean Harbor across the street from Joy Tsin Lau is FANTASTIC. It's loud, it's crazy--and there are cart ladies who will gladly tell (or show) you what they are offering. I highly recommend going to Ocean Harbor or some place where there are carts instead of Lakeside where you sit and order things you may not have much familiarity with.

            Dim sum everywhere tends to be inexpensive. At Ocean Harbor, as in practically every dim sum parlor you'll encounter in this country, there are three sizes. Small, Medium, and Large. Most things are in the small to med. size and I believe they are anywhere from 1.50 to 2.50 a dish. There are "large" or "special" dishes that are pricier--anywhere from $5.00 and up.

            1. re: lawslaw

              Have to totally disagree w/you on Joy Tsin Lau, LL. Went there once, a while back, with some people who really knew their dim sum. During the meal I felt the food was really mediocre but didn't say anything. However, one of my dining partners, who was very mfamiliar w/the dim sum scene in Philly, also commented on the lackluster quality. I think it has been riding on its reputation, not the strength of its food, for years.
              My favorite dim sum places are Imperial for "traditional" cart driven dim sum. Lakeside gets my vote for best dim sum in Philly. It's all about the food quality, not the ambience. Plus the waitstaff is extemely friendly and helpful. That's why Lakeside gets everyone's vote. Not to mention two big eaters can stuff themselves silly for a total of $25.

              1. re: lawslaw

                The reason people love Lakeside so much is because of the quality of the food. We have had dim sum many places, including top places in San Francisco, and Lakeside is up there with the best of them - if not better.

                Of course, if atmosphere comes first with you, then you are certainly right to wonder why people like Lakeside - it has definitely lacking in atmosphere. It is not noisy or crazy or anything like that.

                We have taken many people to Lakeside, including two food writers, and they all love it. We were originally guided on what to order by Craig Laban's review which is hanging outside. This is a good way to get started, if you're not sure. Other times, we had suggestions from people sitting near us.

                We all have different priorities when it comes to our chowing. But that's one person's explanation for the popularity of Lakeside.

                1. re: lawslaw

                  The other big advantage to Lakeside is that you can get dim sum all day long.

                  That said, Ocean Harbor is my go to choice for the cart experience

              2. My husband and I tried to go to Lakeside-- based on this discussion-- but they're closed for vacation until the 9th. Next Sunday, I suppose. We went to HK Garden Seafood Restaurant on Race (btw 9th and 10th) instead. We don't know all that much about dim sum, but everything was delicious (and I'm a pork bun aficionada). There was a bit of a language barrier, but nothing that couldn't be solved with smiles and pointing. Most of the dishes were $2-2.50.

                1. Lakeside Diner..hands down. Prepared to order, ultra fresh product!! Never had a single bad thing. Only drawback...No alcohol. But I've seen people bring in there own beer and wine, although I've never attempted this. Get there SOON! It's on 9th street between Race and Vine...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mlane

                    Lakeside Deli is so yummy. Very close to dim sum in New York City.

                    1. re: fan4food

                      Very close to "typical" dim sum in the apple or the best? I've had lots of dim sum in nyc.

                  2. rondo - I think lawslaw was saying that OCEAN HARBOR (across the street from Joy Tsin Lau) is great, not Joy Tsin Lau itself.

                    For the most part, I agree with what everyone is saying:
                    - Ocean Harbor has fantastic food, if you don't mind the crazy and loud atmosphere, and sometimes rude service. Definitely my choice for cart-style dim sum.
                    - Joy Tsin Lau I didn't particularly care for, plus I thought the restaurant had a very unappetizing smell which really detracted from my enjoyment.
                    - Lakeside Chinese Deli is great overall, although some of my favorite items are not as well done as Ocean Harbor's. Also, the last time I went, the Chinese broccoli dish we received was completely devoid of salt (and thus flavor), which was a disappointment. The staff is friendly though, and they only take cash.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: worshipsf

                      You know, my husband and I tried Lakeside on Sunday and we weren't that impressed. The roast duck was excellent, but everything else was a bit less flavorful and there was a lot of heavy grease. The staff was very friendly, but it was quite dirty. I still plan to try Ocean Harbor and New Harmony Vegetarian, but I'm going to go back to HK Golden Phoenix for sure.

                      1. re: therealpotato

                        Did you order dim sum at Lakeside, or "regular" dishes (the dim sum is cheaper per dish)? I find their regular dishes to be substandard. A simple vegetable saute was way too salty and kind of expensive - like $10 instead of the usual $7. The noodle soup is ok but the hand drawn place is better. Stick with the dim sum.

                        Honestly I've never really liked the Cantonese-style dim sum in this country (but I've never had it in San Francisco or New York). Ocean Harbor's chicken feet, pork buns, eggplant, and vegetarian rolls are pretty good. Lakeside's dim sum is ok, but I didn't like the oft-recommended peanut dumplings at all since they tasted a little fishy...Lakeside's taro (the spiky ones) and red bean filled sesame balls are much better than Ocean Harbor's very oily versions.

                    2. Ocean Harbor.

                      Chicken claws.