review: MSP jun bo
my husband and i went there on a weekday for a first time. i haven't been to dim sum for a long time so was hoping to have something to satisfy the craving! i grew up in hong kong so the review is based on my experience with more authentic restaurants elsewhere from the midwest.
i've read other posts here that it's best to order from the menu. so we tried to do that (tho some items were already on the cart). since it wasn't busy, they didn't really have any one coming out with trays. also, some items on the menus can only be ordered on weekends only. service was pretty good. i like that they use candles to keep the tea warm.
here are the food we had (not in order):
1) siu mai (pork) - didn't really get to try it because it was undercooked (of course, my husband had already eaten it when i took a bit - luckily he didn't get sick). i tried 2 of them and both were not cooked through. i didn't say anything, and just left it on my plate. when the waitress came to ask if we wanted anything else, she saw my plate though and was apologetic, and they asked if we want another one instead. we were getting a bit full by then and there were still other food i want to try, so i told them we'll swap with something else instead, so they didn't charge us that dish. so it was quite observant of the waitress to notice it.
2) shrimp dumplings - they were okay
3) steamed tofu skin - has some chive and i think pork in it (its chinese name literally translated to 'fresh bamboo roll' for those who know chinese). not bad. tho i think it is made differently from other version i'd had, and usually the tofu skin is crispier? but again, this is from memory... hadn't had it for a few years.
4) spare ribs - not bad. not a lot of meat on the bones tho. the ones i like usually is just a tad more spicy (chillie).
5) sesame balls - i thought it'd be 'jin dui', with a thinnish crispy outside, and hollow inside (some put red bean paste or lotus seed paste it in from the restaurants i'd been, and much bigger size). this version is much thicker with some other paste in it that i can't identify. not bad. would've been better if it was served warmer.
6) pineapple bun - we took this home as i was too full by then (we heated it up in the oven). on the menu it didn't say it had custard inside, but i don't mind it. not the best pineapple buns i've had, but i love pineapple buns so this is prob one of the best items we'd had.
7) BBQ pork bun - the bun was fine, not a whole lot of bbq pork tho. i like bbq pork a little burnt/charred and this is not so. still okay to satisfy the craving.
8) golden sand bun - was tossing between this and the custard buns (too full to have both), but i have never heard of golden sand buns before. was told that they are only sold here in MN. the texture is very similar to custard buns, and with a yellow middle as well. but it is a bit more savory instead of just sweet as they said it is made with salted egg york instead (tho the texture is not as the same as you'd find in moon cakes - as mentioned, more like the normal custard bun texture). i really like this - a pleasant surprise. my fav dish of the day.
9) chicken feet - i'm indifferent about chicken feet so can take it or leave it - we ordered it because it was the first dish that came our way and we were hungry. it wasn't bad, a little 'gluey'. again, as with the spare ribs, i usually like it a tad more spicy/chillier.
10) coconut milk cake/pudding - one of my fav chinese desserts. it was okay - not the best i'd had, but not the worst either. the ones i like is a bit more spongy.
11) deep fried pork 'donut' - i forgot the exact name, but i think people called it pork donuts here so i'll use the same name - i couldn't figure out what it was when i first read 'pork donuts' here but i figured this is it (chinese name 'salty water angle' - don't ask me how they came up with that name). again, okay, not best and not worst i'd had.
12) egg tart - smaller than other egg tarts i'd had before. also more yellow than i'd ever seen. it was served cold (i love them straight out from the oven!) but they actually taste pretty good. would prob like it better if it was served warm/hot.
13) shrimp rice noodle rolls - probably the worst dish of the day. the noodle is too thick and not a whole lot of shrimp in it at all. like the sweet soy sauce they use tho.
so for 12 dishes total (since they didn't charge us for the siu mai), with tax and tips (already included in the bill, 15% i think) came to $50. we were pretty full tho and didn't even have dinner that night.
i read here that people had custard balls? didn't see it on the menu so not sure if they discontinued with it? just saw custard buns (and the custard in the pineapple buns). as far as i know, pineapple buns don't have any pineapples in them, they are called that because the top looks like the outside of a pineapple. i usually do like deep fried taro balls but didn't order them as i'd enough deep fried food for the day. didn't get to try the cow stomachs either (hope not scaring anybody, but i want to try all the standard dim sum items - also the reason why i didn't order the shrimps with bacon and asparagus - i heard good things about it here but i don't think i'd seen that as a dim sum item anywhere else before? and i can only eat so much in a day :)
so it wasn't a bad experience - and the posters here were right. it is not as good as other dim sum restaurants on the west coast or hong kong or melbourne australia (where i lived for many years - and they had hong kong chefs there for sure), but i didn't expect much in the midwest. it was still a fun day.
we didn't have time to go to the hmong market, maybe next time.
we did go to united noodles to stock up - i was impressed! didn't know it was that big and with so many different stuff! yes we bought frozen bbq pork buns and custard buns and turnip cakes. also bought the vietnamese coffee and filters here as i had it in a vietnamese restaurant here and love it- did a search here and found the necessary equipments at united noodles, and cheaper than getting it online. will definitely go back in the future.
no it wasn't frozen, it was refrigerated and it said 'keep refrigerated' on the packaging. we bought the one with stuff in it, i think they had a plain one, and they also had the taro cake. we had it today. was okay, not as good as the one my mum made (which i don't know how to...). since i haven't been to rainbow chinese, don't know how it compares tho. i took a picture of the packaging before cooking, i can post a pic later if you like?
Thank you, Ummmm, for this very detailed report. I hope your dim sum craving has been sated, for the time being anyway.
Your impressions of Jun Bo overall are very similar to mine. It's not like every dish is dreadful, it's just that nearly every one of them is slightly "off" in one way or another, like the shrimp rice noodle rolls which should be delicate and laden with shrimp, or the sesame balls which shouldn't have such thick skins, or the skimpy pork buns...etc.
I would say of Jun Bo in general that they are skimpy with the fillings, that the dumplings aren't as delicate as they should be, and that things aren't as warm as they should be (even when made to order), and that the sauces aren't particularly transcendent. But, overall, it's an okay experience. Not awful, not exceptional, just average.
I tend to stick to the more traditional dim sum items and I think that's where they fall the most short in terms of meeting expectations. If you order some of the less traditional items--where you don't have an ideal in your mind against which to compare--you might be better off, in a way.
I had custard balls on my first visit to Jun Bo. I just asked for them and they brought them. I didn't consult the menu. I just assumed they had them. (In fact, on my first visit to Jun Bo, I didn't consult the dim sum menu at all--I was so excited to try all my favorite things that I just rattled off my list and let them bring what they had. If I recall, the only thing they didn't really have was custard tarts--they offer them, but they weren't available for some reason.)
I'm glad you had fun at United Noodle.
re: The Dairy Queen
yes i'm still glad i went to jun bo and i agree with you that the traditional items are a bit off, and i probably like the golden sand buns because it's new!
there are definitely more different restaurants in the twin cities than in rochester. every year the local magazine will have a 'best of' restaurants/dish feather, and one question is what is the one restaurant that should open in rochester... without fail, the answer is always chili... enough said.