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Jun 8, 2008 03:02 PM

Good news: Fresh dim sum returns to Reno

CaiE's Oriental Cafe opened Monday in south Reno in the same shopping center as Smith's. In addition to a regular Chinese menu they offer dim sum. They have a limited dim sum selection Monday through Friday and expand the dim sum menu to 38 items on Saturday and Sunday.
After trying five dim sum items today I can say I like CaiE's Oriental Cafe. The quality is roughly the same as the now closed The One. I expect I'll be going back to try more.
I was actually on South Meadows Parkway to try a sushi place this morning when I checked in again on CaiE's, which has been under construction for some time. The open sign was up so I went there instead. I had no idea they served dim sum but when I walked through the door the waiter handed me a dim sum menu. I was in business.
I ordered sixitems: siu mai beef, siu mai chicken, a chick spring roll, a chive and shrimp dumpling, a shrimp dumpling and a noodle rool with barbecue pork. I substituted the chive and shrimp for the mango pudding I had originally ordered, because I know Janet would want a report on the mango. But they were out.
It was all good. No failures. The siu mia chicken and beef were items I don't remember seeing on other dim sum menus. Seems like it's always pork. The chicken was pretty good, maybe the best thing I tried. The staff recommended the shrimp dumpling over the shrimp and chives, but I actually liked the chives better. There was something pasty about the shrimp in the shrimp dumplings.
The noodle roll was good, but I think I preferred the noodle roll at The One. The CaiE's noodle rool was a little too watery. Plus they put straight soy sauce over it. I think the noodle roll at The One had something else with the soy sauce.
The owner originally opened a store in Carson City and has plans for another one in Reno, I believe. She said the dim sum is made fresh each morning in Sparks and shipped out. She's also working on getting permission to let her manufacturre dim sum so it can be sold in other places.
I liked the dim sum at CaiE's Oriental Cafe and I look forward to going back and trying some of the non dim sum dishes. I can also see a Chowdown there some Sunday in next month or two.
The dim sum menu says they open at 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, but the regular menu says 11 a.m. I'm not sure what time they open.
By the way, the art work on the wall was drawn by the owner.
CaiE's Oriental Cafe
770 S. Meadows Parkway #101
Reno, NV 89521
(775) 853-9668

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  1. Lana and I joined Steve Timko and our friends Glenn and Lisa for dinner at CaiE. Steve’s post lauding their dim sum intrigued us enough to meet there for a full blown meal.

    We began with a selection of dim sum, which was mostly on the mark. Vegetable dumplings, har gow with shrimp, and siu mai with pork were fresh tasting and delicious. Shrimp stuffed mushrooms were bland while the potstickers suffered from a mushy stuffing. I would love to try their full assortment on a weekend morning when it was freshly made.

    I always order hot and sour soup at any new Chinese restaurant. There were a few great versions in my hometown in Chicago, but mostly I’ve been disappointed. Unfortunately, this version was just ok.

    Our first dish to arrive at the table was Peking Duck. The skin was beautifully crispy and served with rounds of Chinese bun dough, green onions, and hoisin. Our server was kind enough to make a mini sandwich for each of us. This was an all star dish and my only complaint was that we ordered only ½ the duck. My next favorite dish was a deep fried flounder with special house sauce. The skin was wonderfully crispy and the flesh moist. There didn’t seem to be a sauce, per se, but some concoction of chopped vegetables on top. The dish worked well and we were all picking at the bones. I highly recommend this dish.
    Combination chow fun noodles were good, but I prefer them crispy on the edges. This can only be done with fresh rice noodles, which were readily available in Chicago’s Chinatown. I doubt there’s a noodle factory in Reno. The meats and sauce were flavorful. String beans with black bean sauce were crunchy and had a rich flavor without being overwhelmingly salty, which can often happen with Chinese black beans. Although the dish was enjoyable, they need to use authentic Szechwan green beans to make this a killer veggie. Surprisingly, the mu shu pork was the weakest entrée. This is usually a pretty simple dish but the pork was cut into strips I felt were a bit large and the accompanying vegetables were bland and watery. Service at this cheery eatery was friendly and attentive.

    CaiE, the owner, is delightful and friendly. She even introduced her teenage son to the table for a nice chat. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that he will be matriculating at Brown University next year. This has been the best Chinese food I’ve tasted in Reno. I look forward to a return visit soon. Now, if I could only find some soup dumplings!

    1 Reply
    1. re: RevrendAndy

      Good review, RevAndy. I jus twant to echo how good the Peking Duck was. I think it's the best I've had at a Reno-area restaurant.
      Someone else said the dim sum has improved since they opened, so I'll have to check it out again.

    2. I tried CaiE's last week for lunch and will definitely be returning. I was happy to learn that it is not only vegetarian-friendly but vegan-friendly. One of their lunch offerings is vegetables or some type of meat (your choice) stir-fried in one of four different styles and served with rice (choice of white or brown). I ordered the vegetables and I believe it came to about $6.45. They were out of paper menus, so I'm going off memory here.

      I got a bit more than I could eat in one sitting. There were large pieces of vegetables, clearly very fresh, including mushrooms, baby corn, carrots, onions, baby bok choy and zucchini. My only difficulty was with the baby bok choy, which was sliced vertically in half - rather large to eat easily. The hoisin-based sauce was tasty and everything was steaming hot. Though it was marked as "spicy" on the menu, it had only a faint hint of warmth, so just about anyone could eat it without discomfort. I did need to add soy sauce to achieve my desired level of saltiness.

      While I waited for my food, I caught a glimpse of somebody's pan-fried egg noodles with stir-fried something-or-other on top. The noodles looked great - a springy, totally non-soggy mound of them. Won-ton soup and fried rice are some of the other items I noticed on the menu.

      I can't comment too much on the service, since I got my food to go, but I felt comfortable while waiting for my food and the staff seemed friendly.

      Overall this was a great deal on a very good and probably pretty healthy lunchtime meal.

      1. This seems like THE most stupid question.... We're coming from the lake tomorrow/Saturday and taking my 88 y.o. MIL to lunch. The food sounds great and she does like Chinese food. BUT ---- to her ---- a restaurant MUST have some ambiance :( Does this place qualify at all? I'll google this also and see what I can see. Whether we go there tomorrow or not, we'll definitely go there. Thanks.

        2 Replies
        1. re: c oliver

          Don't know the answer to this one, Steve can help you out, I'm sure. But I can say Palais d'Jade on Moana and Lakeside is Chinese with ambiance, and the food is decent.

          1. re: c oliver

            I like the place, but no it's pretty sterile. The owner has her paintings on the wall, but no other ambience to speak of.