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Jan 21, 2008 07:42 AM

Where is the Best Dim Sum in Manhattan? [Moved from The Best board]

I used to go to an excellent Dim Sum restaurant in NYC that was in Chinatown and on the second floor. I cannot remember its name. It is not TRIPLE 8. Any ideas? Or, does anyone have a good recommendation for some serious and authentic Dim Sum? Thanks.

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  1. i like the golden unicorn alot....

    18 Replies
    1. re: bethanyj

      definitely recommend golden unicorn. For dim sum on the healthier side/less grease, i would recommend chinatown brasserie...more upscale too

      1. re: sara1213

        Right. At quadruple the price and nowhere near the authenticity...

        1. re: Gastronomicon

          Agree with you on quadruple the price, which will prevent me from ever going back to Chinatown Brasserie unless somebody else is paying. However, it's only inauthentic when compared to historic dim sum served off the cart. It is authentic when compared to the type of dim sum currently served of menus in Hong Kong, Vancouver, Los Angeles, and other places around the world.

          1. re: Chandavkl

            I'm a big fan for dim sum made by chefs of extraordinary skill. For someone who has eaten a lot of dim sum in SF, Vancouver, and Hong Kong, how does the chef match up? What would you recommend on the menu? Does he do anything unique and out of the ordinary?

            I don't expect dim sum to be cheap, and I'd be willing to give Chinatown Brasserie a shot if the chef is remarkable. Menu looks a bit boring though at first glance.

            1. re: sfbing

              Well left unsaid but implied is that I wouldn't go back to Chinatown Brasserie because I can get the same quality for much less money back here in Los Angeles, just like you can get the good stuff at Koi Palace or Yank Sing in the Bay Area. (Yank Sing may be a bad analogy in that their pricing is like Chinatown Brasserie.) Chinatown Brasserie is noteworthy compared to the rest of the dim sum pack in Manhattan. That's probably how they can get away with charging so much. But compared to high end LA or SF dim sum it's not a revelation. For example, one of their signature items is the snow pea leaf with shrimp dumpling. Artistically made with little black dots on the wrapper that make it look like shrimp eyes, it's certainly delicious. But at $1.50 or $2 per piece, it's certainly not three times as good (or even twice as good) as the same item which costs 45 cents at You's Dim Sum on Broadway near Stockton in SF Chinatown.

              1. re: Chandavkl

                Well the cost of living is greater in NYC. And CB employs more staff at higher wages, uses the freshest ingredients and has a top flight Chef in Joe Ng on board. It is also spotlessly clean with a full bar service. Comparing it to places in Chinatown(s) is not entirely valid. It is difficult to overcome this conception that Chinese food has to be inexpensive.

                1. re: Chandavkl

                  Actually, having dined at Yank Sing of San Francisco many times, Yank Sing is head, shoulders and pelvis above Chinatown Brasserie. I went to Chinatown Brasserie and it was so underwhelming from a food quality as to be utterly bleahriffic. Oh, and actually cheaper, if you can believe it.

                  1. re: Gastronomicon

                    Thanks for the feedback, guys! I guess this means CB is bumped from my list this trip. I think I'll be heading out to Yunnan Flavor Snack instead. I saw a beautiful pic of a bowl of noodles on a blog somewhere and I gotta try it.

                    1. re: Gastronomicon

                      BTW, I meant that Yank Sing was actually cheaper than Chinatown Brasserie, just in case I wasn't clear.

                  2. re: sfbing

                    CB definitely does dim sum at a high level. I don't know that he'd be in the upper echelon world-wide, but at this point likely the best in NYC. The menu does look boring but the point is to produce high quality versions of classics. Word on Eater is Joe Ng is planning on opening a restaurant that "...will feature some unusual dim sum, including saffron soup dumplings and Peking duck sliders" so who knows how that will turn out.

                    If you're coming to NYC from SF, I would focus on the stuff that's truly NYC. The basis for David Chang laying the smackdown on SF.

                    1. re: fooder

                      When you start going off the beaten track of dim sum staples and coming up with all sorts of "variations" with none of the staples, then it's no longer dim sum. Call it Chinese hors d'oevres. Call it Chinese tapas; Chinese small plates; Chinese dreamplates; whatever. But don't call it dim sum. There's a certain expectation of staples when you say "dim sum". In that respect, Yank Sing has the staples such as Har Gao, Siew Mai, etc., even though they have their own inventions. And being a NYC native, I'd prefer dining in Chinatown for better and cheaper dim sum. Heck, even Dim Sum Go Go beats Chinatown Brasserie on both quality and price!

                      1. re: Gastronomicon

                        I strongly disagree. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, there is a difference between dim sum and yum cha. They have different entries in the chinese wikipedia. Saying you expect some "staples" of dim sum is like saying general tso's chicken is a "staple" of Chinese food. Different regions have different customs.

                        I just don't think this post offered anything new you hadn't said before while at the same time the rant seems misguided. I do think people should note the difference between dim sum and yum cha when asking about the best of one or the other.

                        By the way, CB does have staples like har gao and turnip cake.

                        1. re: fooder

                          i don't think Gastronomicon's rant is misguided...there are indeed staples of dimsum, and that's true in HK, Vancouver, San Gabriel Valley, and other places where good dimsum is sold...dimsum is a Cantonese thing, so regional variation, while sometimes evident (e.g. in Thai-Chinese and Chiu Chow places), is tertiary to the discussion at best...

                          For my personal taste, i don't want to go to a place that's trying to sell Peking duck sliders, etc...i'd prefer authentic, top-notch Cantonese dimsum...i think G's rant was a reaction to the emphasis on fusion/marketing (at the expense authenticity, quality, mastery of culinary tradition) that one finds too often throughout NYC and other cities (Shanghai, for example)...

                          1. re: fooder

                            @fooder: As you yourself said in your post, there's a difference between "yum cha" and "dim sum." I'm referring to the dishes in "dim sum" specifically and I couldn't care less about the teas as I'm not a tea afficionado. I prefer my plain, boorish chrysanthemum over bo lei or sau mei or jasmine.

                            It is true that different regions have different customs but in dim sum, the major differences are only between the northern and southern styles. The difference in dim sum between, say, a Cantonese dim sum and a Teochew dim sum is negligible since they're both southern provinces. One example of a difference you'd find in a northern-style dim sum is the availability of hot, salty soy bean milk. I've yet to encounter the salty version of soy milk in a southern dim sum parlor. However, it is a staple of the northern style of dim sum that you might find in, say, Beijing. Another thing that the northerners do well which the southerners can't hold a candle to are chilli sauces. The northerners have chilli sauce variations that can challenge the flavor of the South-East Asian variations (note that I'm talking about "flavor" and not "spiciness" or Scoville rating of the chilli sauces--you can have a chilli sauce with a high Scoville rating but still be utterly bland with regards to flavor).

                            Are the offerings of har gao and turnip cake at CB the "traditional" version or something they "jazzed up"? It's been a long time since I've gone back to CB since the culinary experience wasn't worth the financial imposition. For more avant-garde dim sum, I used to prefer Dim Sum Go Go but while it used to be good, it has lapsed since the owner (Veronica? She used to sit at the cashier's desk) is no longer overseeing things directly.

                            1. re: Gastronomicon

                              I'll try one last time, but that's it.

                              Yumcha refers to the whole dining experience. Usually in the big chinese restaurant, drinking tea and getting your dim sum off of carts. When most Americans say "dim sum", they mean "yum cha" because they want it to be "authentic". That doesn't mean that usage is correct. Dim sum specifically refers to the food and food style, which doesn't have to be served in that setting at all.

                              If you were to have traditional English afternoon tea (yumcha), then you would expect to have cucumber, smoked salmon, and other traditional sandwiches. But if you were to just make tea sandwiches (dimsum), you could do a variety of things. That's my problem with Gastro's view that dimsum must contain traditional staples. He's thinking of yumcha, not dim sum.

                              Gastro, CB's har gao and turnip cake are as one would expect, just done in a high quality manner. I just think your misguided hatred of CB doesn't benefit anyone on the board. This isn't Yelp.

                            2. re: fooder

                              looking at the wiki just tells me dim sum is a subset of yum cha but c'mon, seriously; the two terms are used interchangeably, am I right or what?

                                1. re: bigjeff

                                  As KTinNYC said, you are correct. But since fooder wanted to get persnickety, I decided to answer along the same vein.

                2. Maybe it was Jin Fong? 20 Elizabeth St 2nd Fl
                  New York, NY 10013-4802
                  Phone: (212) 964-5256

                  1. Unfortunately, the quality of dim sum has really gone downhill in NYC.

                    Some of the best to be found these days is at Chinatown Brasserie. At least the caucasians don't need to worry about communication barriers. It's sort of like going to Applebees for Chinese food, though.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: mahalan

                      Is it really worth it? I can't bring myself to go there since it's in NoHo, and I live right near Chinatown. Seems silly to leave the area and pay double or triple the price.

                      1. re: Steverino79

                        Based on what you've posted here, I doubt you will consider it worth it. Others might.

                    2. I like:
                      Oriental Garden on Elizabeth Street
                      Ping's Seafood on Mott Street
                      Dim Sum Go Go on East Broadway

                      Jing Fong in Flushing is good too. The one in Manhattan is crappy, but some people like to go for the experience.

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: MooShu

                        Jin Fong? Crappy? I'm not authority myself. But I recently took a Chinese friend who doesn't bother with dim sum in Chinatown, preferring to go to Flushing. She thought it was so good (as good as the one in Flushing, according to her), that she took her entire family there for her mother's birthday. From what I heard, the family agreed. I thought that sufficient confirmation that it must be pretty good.

                        1. re: JoanN

                          I was at Jing Fong recently and it was awful, greasy and unappealing.

                          1. re: KTinNYC

                            i totally agree w ktinnyc! i was not please w rude service either-and terribly didssappointed w jing fong-was my first and last time!

                            1. re: UES Mayor

                              Once in a while, because I know Jing Fong is popular and also that Jing Fong offers a wide variety of dim sum, I would recommend people to go there. However, I was there a few times when it wasn't the cleanest (maybe it was just a very busy day?). When I was there a few years back, the table I dined on was dirty and I saw food scraps /paper /chopsticks all over the floor. I lost quite a lot of appetite when I saw that. Let's hope they have cleaned up somewhat.

                              1. re: UES Mayor

                                Honestly, Jing Fong is still my go-to place when friends and relatives visit and want the full dim sum experience. I agree that it can be a bit greasy, but it's still reliably good food. There are so many places in the area that I try out, little places where I know I won't get the full experience with carts but I figure the food might be better--and it's not. I wind up saying, "should've gone to Jing Fong."

                                To me, Oriental Garden next door is one of those spots, though to be fair, I haven't had some of the seafood that's supposedly their specialty.

                                If your main concern is food quality, I think Dim Sum Go Go and Ping's have noticeably better, fresher ingredients, though the prices are definitely steeper.

                                Oh and Joe's Shanghai is a great one, but I haven't been to dim sum there. They don't have a separate dim sum menu, do they? I've peaked it at brunch time, and I just saw a lot of regular dinner dishes, but I could be wrong.

                                1. re: Steverino79

                                  We just went to Jing Fong's again. It is our current favorite. Food is better than Ping's based on my experience. Jing Fong has more variety and a banquet hall atmosphere. Saturdays are less crowded than Sundays. Dim Sum Go Go is also very good (no carts, smaller more contemporary atmosphere).

                                  1. re: Steverino79

                                    sorry dude. jing fong is horrible.
                                    i agree on ping's. although ping's is much smaller, the quality is a gazillion times better and fresher.

                                2. re: KTinNYC

                                  It's intriguing that the reviews of this place can be on such opposite ends of the scale. I was there fairly early on a weekday, and with a Chinese friend who was able to converse with the waitstaff. The same friend, who brought her family a couple of weeks later, also arrived early and said they were all chatting with the waitstaff as well. Could something as simple as the day you go and/or being able to communicate with the people bringing around the carts make a significant difference in the experience? It wouldn't surprise me if that were true.

                                  1. re: JoanN

                                    I speak Cantonese so that's not the issue but seeing as how the food is already prepared and come in carts it shouldn't matter if you speak the language or not. It's not like there are some trays that hold the good stuff and the other trays are to given to none Chinese speakers.

                                    For years my parents lamented the fact you can't get good dim sum in NYC and in Manhattan in particular. Dim sum was always better in Toronto, Vancouver, and in parts on California.

                              2. re: MooShu

                                If Pings is the slightest bit edible, then they are horribly inconsistent.The last time I went, my shrimp har gow was mushy to inedible. Rotten mush. That is just an example. I usually let a dish slide but everything was disgustingly stale. It was a thursday and not a busy weekend but that is poor excuse to serve bad dim sum. I've had better dim sum everywhere else. Not the best but a whole lot better.

                              3. Dim sum places that are on the second floor:
                                Jing Fong on Elizabeth Street
                                Golden Bridge on Bowery (formerly known as Silver Palace)
                                Golden Unicorn on East Broadway

                                I used to live in Chinatown...