Ocean Star downhill, alas
I shoula listened. Been going to Ocean Star for close to two decades, IIRC. Last time I participated in a thread about dim sum, two other posters expressessed recent disapointment with them. I was dubious.
Nevertheless, as Cam the Chowpup gears up to go to school in the great Mid-West (Columbus OH, which I'm guessing doesn't have much dim sum) he demanded to take the "homies ("homeys"?) and homiettes" for a last round of dim sum, and picked OS over some of the newer menu places as an old fave of his.
We got there at 10:20 am this morning. There were empty tables, and we were seated Immedaitely. That shoulda told us...
Har-gow were gummy and ever-so-slightly "fishy"; rice-noodles with shrimp not light and bouncy, but kinda "sticky";we never did see the carts with roast chicken and duck, or mango pudding.
Cam's verdict: "Next time, NBC!"
The watermelon juice was good though.
That is why I rarely go to dim sum that early, anytime before 11:30AM. Unless the place is busy, there won't be a quick turnover of fresh food, and the selection will be more limited until the place is bustling. I doubt going to NBC Seafood at the same early time will make much difference.
My last Ocean Star visit a few months ago was really good, as we showed up around 11:45AM. I don't think we had to wait for a table on that Saturday afternoon, as the place was just starting to fill up at that point.
Crowds at most restaurants in SGV are down a bit. Go to any of the major dim sum joints (Sea Harbour, M261, Elite, Triumphal Palace, etc.) and the crowds will not be what they were like just 6-8 months ago.
We went out for dim sum during the July 4th weekend, twice, and both times the servers and managers noted that table turnover was significantly down.
Only place that seems to have held up pretty well is Top Island, where they are really peddling cheap prices, rather than good food.
I was wondering if the slowing economy has affected dim sum places as it has many upscale and casual dining restaurants.
But last time I tried to go to Elite, I saw a line that was doubled what I had waited 45 minutes for at my previous Elite visit. I think those people must have waited at least an hour to get in that afternoon. Ended up going to Triumphal Palace that day, with no wait for seating. Got lucky there, though, as the restaurant filled up as we ate, and there were people waiting for tables when we left.
The key to getting dim sum without waiting is to have 2 or 3 backup restaurants in mind in case you run into a major crowd at your first choice. If you can't see the front entrance or lobby from the car, send someone to the restaurant lobby to find out how crowded it is.
My last Elite visit was the last time I waited that long for dim sum. My regular wait time for dim sum is now 5-10 minutes. If it looks to be longer than 15 minutes, I drive to the next dim sum place on my list.
NBC is not as good anymore either. They have been slipping. I warn you not to order the rice noodles with shrimp, rice noodles with beef etc. - very mushy gummy. And the lotus buns have been a hit and miss lately. Last month the lotus paste seemed to be mixed with filler so it wasn't as tasty. But then I ordered again 2 weeks ago and they were back to normal (yummy). And the shui mai seems alittle more fatty to me. I miss the good old days!
re: tangy tart
Went to Ocean Star this past Saturday, and got to agree...it's gone downhill. Food is bearable, but no where close to what it was a few years ago. However, NBC has gotten down right terrible. Went there couple weekends ago. My fiancee was so disgusted with the food that we walked out after ordering several dishes. I'm pretty sad over this since NBC's been my go-to place for over 20 years now.
Elite's been one of the few places that have remained reliable.
This is "perfect-dim sum time" thing is a complex multi-variable equation, unfortunately suggesting the potential downward feedback spiral: seems to me that if a dim sum palace is slipping downhill, fewer people will turn up early to get in; this means the turn-over of food will then slow down further, meaning, per ipsedixit, that the food won't be as good early in the am, resulting in a further loss of reputation, etc ad infinitum. I'm guessing that the proximity, and wait at, other adjacent dim sum-eries also has some effect.
My condolences. :( 10:30 a.m. should be just fine back when we used to go to Ocean Star (and the dim sum was great years ago). None of my Dim Sum Hounds visit Ocean Star for the reasons you listed: their Dim Sum just isn't good any more.
Just out of curiosity, have you tried Sea Harbour or Elite?
i was there today at 300,had 2 orders of dim sum ,the chicken feet were great,the spare ribs were luke warm and didnt taste so fresh.they charged me for tea which i didnt want.i asked for a water refill which i didnt get.the selection was not great at that time,they were out of my favorite thing