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Jan 30, 2009 12:00 PM

Dim Sum this Sunday, Chinatown

Haven't been to a big hall since I was a kid. Can anyone recommend a place this Saturday for lunch in / near Chinatown to coincide with the dragon parade? For a group of 5.

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  1. A frequently discussed topic. Here's one more recent thread.


    1. Golden Unicorn on East Bway..... Triple 8 at 888 Bway in the Mall.,,, King Sea Food on East Broadway,,,, 30 Pell st. i dont know the new name

      7 Replies
        1. re: Lau

          I was pleasantly supirsed with king sea food. I didnt want to wait on long lines at Golden Unicorn. This place used to be Nice restaurant , so i figured id try it. No tourists there as it doesnt advertise that it has dim sum. It even has a "secret" entrance thru a clothing store, with an elevator in the store. Many of the dishes are very good, overall quality i think is better at Golden Unicorn, but I do enjoy the turnip cakes and Lo May Gai at King Sea Food,,and many other dishes. I recommend checking this place out.

          1. re: foodwhisperer

            ok thx, im pretty anti golden unicorn, but ill give king a try

            1. re: Lau

              Have you been to GU recently,,,, years ago it was good, then not so good,,,recently ive been real pleased with the assortment and the freshness. I go there with Chinese friends who enjoy it too. King Seafood is more down home, and as I said before , check it out

              1. re: foodwhisperer

                i havent gone very recently, but ive gone so many times over the years and i never liked it...im kind of in the complainer camp that isn't a fan on manhattan dim sum, but always willing to try something, so ill check out king seafood

            2. re: foodwhisperer

              Is the dim sum pretty much the same as Nice's dim sum was?

            3. re: Lau

              HSF was one of the origianl dim sum places in china town. Nam wah bakery was the first I think , the pork buns used to be great at Nam Wah

          2. The subject of the best Dim Sum in Chinatown brings out very many varying opinions. I have been eating in Chinatown for over 40 years and all the places that will be suggested have greatness in them...but they will also suffer from an occasional miscue as well. The opinions and tastes of anyone or everyone are different and unfortunately the negative comments are sometimes unfair. With places that have carts, some days you just will not get the selection you are looking for and the same items keep coming around. does that make it bad....for me the answer is no. I like all the Dim Sum Houses...and even the little coffee shops. They all serve their purpose.

            Here's another thread that goes into a little further detail...


            BTW, I prefer Jing Fong....but Chatham 6 and the old HSF location on Bowery are on the short list to try.

            My best recommendation......get to your place before Noon...

            12 Replies
            1. re: fourunder

              I agree. Sometimes I just want to be entertained by the cart ladies. Other times I want to order off the menu. Also, Carochinha, there is no parade today. A small one tomorrow followed by the big Dragon Parade next Sunday, Feb. 8th.

              1. re: fourunder

                They all have greatness? I haven't experienced any greatness in the big eating halls. Well, MAYBE the kaya buns at Jing Fong. But all of this is to ask you what you find great at each place. For the record, I haven't been to King Sea Food, Triple 8, or 30 Pell but have been many times (though not to recently) to Jing Fong, Harmony Palace, and Golden Unicorn, among other places. My standby is Dim Sum Go Go, where I HAVE experienced some greatness. Their tripe is wonderfully tender and flavorful; their chicken feet are probably the best I've had in Manhattan; their dumplings with Chinese parsley have at their best been really refined and delicious, with very thin wrappers; and their tapioca custard dumplings, with tapioca wrappers, at their best, have been one of the best desserts I've had at a dim sum place. Some of their other stuff - especially their mediocre buns - is not nearly as good. But I've found the place head and shoulders above the big eating halls I used to frequent.

                I have to add that it really doesn't help that I was spoiled by eating so much fantastic dim sum in Malaysia (+Thailand/Singapore) from 1975-77.

                1. re: Pan


                  To use Jing Fong as an example....if you or any one else finds some things , or just one thing you like, it's possible you have found greatness. As (scoopG) has noted, she enjoys being entertained by the cart ladies. Maybe I am treated better than you for some reason and I get better and more fresh food than you do on any particular day. How many people do you think Jing Fong serves on any weekend day.....1000, 2000 or more.....so everyone else is wrong and you are correct. It's evident you feel your tastes are better than mine and every one else's....More power to you. As I noted in the thread attached and as others have explained....Dim Sum Go Go is more like Hong Kong style, but I do not enjoy it as much as other places in Chinatown. I've been to both Vancouver and Toronto and I agree the Chinese food is excellent in both cities....however does that mean I stop eating in New York's Chinatown other than Dim Sum Go Go because you and others on chowhound think it's the best? I can only surmise your tastes are more refined than mine and you enjoy a more personalized attention to service. My expectations are not as grand and I enjoy the atmosphere at Jing Fong....it's simply my opinion.

                  BTW, the OP asked for a big hall recommendation.....and that's what I provided along with my thoughts on future comments which you proved me to be correct.

                  Happy Chinese New Year to you and Peace.

                  1. re: fourunder

                    Perhaps you didn't understand the point I was trying to get at in my last post, which was to ask which specific items you've found great at the big eating halls, "pay it forward" in kind by mentioning specific things I've had that at their best have been great at Dim Sum Go Go, and express my opinion to date about the big eating halls vs. DSGG (and of course, I added a side point, somewhat lamenting that my previous experience has spoiled me for New York dim sum that others may rate more highly than I). The key sentence in the post was: "But all of this is to ask you what you find great at each place." So which items do you find great at each place? That could be really useful information, if you choose to share it.

                    As for freshness and service, I've had plenty of fresh items at big eating halls in Chinatown, and personal service is pretty unimportant to me at low price points (at least 90+% of the meals I eat are low-end). I've had plenty of great experiences at big dim sum eating halls with delicious food, just not so far in Manhattan.

                    I, too, wish you peace and hope you, too, consider your tastes more discerning than the masses who, for example, are perfectly happy to patronize chains every day. Isn't the whole point of Chowhound that we hounds consider our taste superior to that of non-hounds, and that food is worth arguing about?

                    1. re: Pan


                      Where do I start? I actually did understand your post, but I chose to use only one place as an example to explain my views. I did not center it around actual food items....as I find all the food good....but it's the entire experience where I find the true greatness. Naturally, most of the time we go to places we prefer.....the key word there centering on prefer, unless we are given a recommendation for somewhere else that is good and we give them a try. As to specific items....again, Mine and the table's choices are the typical old stand by's we prefer and have enjoyed over the years. The clams in bad black bean sauce or even the blanched Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce makes it to the table...... Are they really great....definitely not...but some at the table still enjoy it and request it every time we go. The Har Gow, Shu Mai and etc., are also not great, but it the end, it falls into the entire experience we share as a table of family and friends where our memories are made. These NYC Chinatown excursions for me started with my parents when I was small...and they continue today with my son, nephews, nieces, friends and business associates. For the record, I love all Dim Sum and most all any type of ethnic dumpling......but the only Dim Sum I find truly amazing and great are the Deep Fried Taro filled with Ground Pork.....tastes great and I do not know how the hell they make them with the crispy outside.

                      I regret if you feel I was argumentative in my reply to your post, and you have my sincere apologies if you did....but I was actually only trying to be self deprecating in my humor. My entire life has been centered around food in some way...other than needing it to survive.....my parents owned three restaurants, I tended bar through college, and I worked in both the private and corporate sectors of food hospitality since. My curiosity and opinions as a result often dwell more than on the food alone and I guess I am more understanding of miscues restaurants experience. Due to my history....I know restaurants have good days and bad. When I rate a restaurant, I am not as harsh as others because I have been there. If you have ever read any of my posts in the past.....I rarely criticize any place and I am a defender of the house, so to speak, and my responses reflect those views. I also very rarely say anything is the best and I never get into any discussions on tipping....as these topics are all too subjective for me....With reference to my original comments and my response to yours, it is why I did not mention any item specifically. I have been down that road on this site before......Not with you, but others who say the only two places that have really good Dim Sum are Dim Sum Go Go and Chinatown Brasserie...... More often than not, their fans get into how Dim sum should be, not actually what it is.... I find that notion offensive, as they know better and more than the rest of us...which I also find ridiculous. Unless the wrapper or skins are overly thick and gummy....I find someone telling me the the Dim sum is better at (X) because the skins are thinner and more delicate....therefore better, very silly. Again for me, it comes down to preference. I'm a guy from New Jersey...I know there are some very good Chinese restaurants throughout the city....but I will never get to them for the simple reason....my excursions to New York for Chinese means lower Manhattan and Chinatown. I'll find something I like at any of the bigger halls...and I am happy with that.

                      Ill end my thoughts now on your comment of:

                      I, too, wish you peace and hope you, too, consider your tastes more discerning than the masses who, for example, are perfectly happy to patronize chains every day. Isn't the whole point of Chowhound that we hounds consider our taste superior to that of non-hounds, and that food is worth arguing about?

                      I do not feel my tastes are superior to any one else........just different if not the same. People are free to enjoy whatever they wish. I have eaten a lot of bad food in my years at friend's homes and in restaurants recommended by others.....I would not dare to say anything other than *thank you* for their generosity......but yes, we can argue about food anytime.

                      1. re: fourunder

                        I get the point about enjoying being with friends. I grew up on the Upper West Side (until I was 10, and again from 12 on, the intervening years being in Malaysia), and when I was a little kid, an excursion to Chinatown was a fun event. We used to go to Nam Wah, where as a 4-year-old, I played with the owner's son; my father and I used to get Manchurian (?) hot pot at a restaurant right off Chatham Square on East Broadway; and our favorite place was Foo Joy, a Fujianese banquet food restaurant (they said) on Division St. I still remember their Ironside Steak, which had pineapple slices and maraschino cherries on top.

                        But there is a difference between having great company and great times and having better than merely OK food. So while I would never pass up an invitation from friends to go to a place like Jing Fong, would have fun, and would have a perfectly OK meal, the experience would be even better at a place whose food I enjoyed more. Also, I now live downtown, and Chinatown is virtually my back yard. So instead of an excursion, it's a 15-to-20-minute walk. I'm sure that influences my attitude a fair amount.

                        Today was my birthday, and my friend took me out to Lupa. My friend's company would be great anywhere, but the fact that we shared delicious food (and had a very good waiter, though that's less important) made the experience better.

                    2. re: fourunder

                      just to possibly clear up something said by fourunder, and i mean no disrespect when i say this, but dim sum go go is so far from hong kong style dim sum. i don't want anyone from HK to go to DSGG because they think it will remind them of home. i'm from HK, but even my mexican husband went to DSGG and knew it was probably one of the more americanized dim sum places we've been to and he's only spent a total of 3 weeks of his life in HK. personally, i've been to only a handful of dim sum places in chinatown (like the big 5) and none of them are even on par for mediocre dim sum. i took my dad to jing fong (i was so stupid to have taken him to a Chinese place i had never tried) and he was pretty appalled, as was i. he was born and raised in HK and was offended at the quality of the food. i was really embarrassed.

                      1. re: kim e

                        Do you mean the food is Americanized or the surroundings? It seemed pretty close to some of the HK dim sum I've tried, a lot closer than most other places, especially in terms of freshness.

                        1. re: kim e

                          jing fong is terrible, ive been saying that for years and ill stick to it, so is golden unicorn, harmony palace, oriental garden, golden bridge....basically all the big dim sum halls in manhattan are pretty bad, very cheap, but very low quality dim sum

                          with respect to DSGG, I understand why people can say it is "americanized" b/c it looks cheesy (trust me i was pretty skeptical the first time i ate there) and its very english friendly. It certainly doesn't look like HK dim sum places. That said, the dim sum is off the menu (most HK dim sum places now serve off the menu), the dim sum is substantially fresher than the cart places and while its just decent dim sum and def not the best dim sum (i eat in LA all the time and i go to HK regularly) its certainly much better than the previously mentioned manhattan places. Also, im not sure where you are eating in HK, but this is much closer to modern HK dim sum (although the variety is fairly weak) that ive generally been to than anywhere else in the city although like i said it doesn't really look like an HK dim sum place, in fact it doesn't look like any dim sum place ive ever been to.

                          kim_e - also if ure looking for better dim sum, go to flushing, the food is better across the board

                          1. re: kim e

                            kim e,

                            No disrespect taken. My characterization of referring to DSGG as Hong Kong Style Dim Sum is a result of others telling me so. from this post:


                            1. re: kim e

                              Well, I grew up in Hong Kong / Japan and I go to Dim Sum Go Go because it is one of the least Americanized dim sum places in Chinatown. I am not surprised that someone from Hong Kong will be appalled by the dim sum at Jing Fong, because it was indeed below average using Hong Kong standard.

                              Actually, I am writing this in Hong Kong as I am having my regular trip every 2 months to Hong Kong. What I have in Hong Kong is very similar to the stayle of dim sum that are served in Dim Sum Go Go, just much higher in quality.

                          2. re: Pan

                            I personally, dont like Jing Fong, although it is a very popular place. I find their shrimp to have a "iodiny" taste, and overall food quality not that good. I much prefer Golden Unicorn, and King Sea Food, and Chatham. 30 Pell used to be my favorite but it's not as good as it was when it was called Hong Gung. Triple 8's is a favorite of Chinese friends of mine , a very interesting place. and downstairs in that mall has great little shops

                        2. I went Sunshine - formerly HSF- a couple of weeks ago with 16 people. Food was great and the restaurant was very accommodating to our big party. 46 Bowery, just south of Canal St.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Amanda F.

                            Do they have the steamed bao and har gow that HSF used to have? They were the absolute best ever...

                          2. Oriental Pearl - 103 Mott St. Really good and underated/unoticed by most on this board.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: michele cindy

                              i thought it was going to be good (not well known, totally chinese clientele), but i thought it was so so when i went:

                              1. re: Lau

                                I trust your opnion. Sorry to hear that! I'll give it another go. They do have this really good steak on their menu. I think it's called special steak or something like that.

                                1. re: michele cindy

                                  i've only been there once to be fair, so its always possible that i just had an off day

                                  i haven't tried normal items on their menu (some dim sum halls have good food, but ehh dim sum) and i like the dish you're talking about

                                  1. re: Lau

                                    Today , I had a realization. I've gone to Chatham for dim sum take out mostly, for years. It's good. I didnt realize that the place that once was Pho Banh is now also Chatham, but Chatham Square restaurant...I didnt want to go back and look at all the threads on dim sum,,but everytime i saw someone mention Chatham i assumed it was the old chatham . I havent tried Chatham Sq, but I tried to get a cha shu bao there today and they didnt have any they sent me to Chatham. I will try Chatham Sq dim sum as the pictures looked good.

                                    1. re: foodwhisperer

                                      chatham restaurant (the old one you've been to) is fairly decent, it used to be better a long time ago when it was called hop shing...its still has good cha siu bao although sun say kai is better and i like their take out dim sum although its been a while since ive gotten it

                                      chatham sq (the new one that used to be pho bang) has pretty decent dim sum, but it can be fairly inconsistent; my advice is to a) sit upstairs, ive noticed a decline in quality when i sit downstairs and b) if possible go at peak time during the weekdays, not sure why, but its better then (maybe all chinese clientele then?)...i wrote a long report about it when i first went, which was quite good, but since ive been back several times its been hit or miss

                                      here's my report:

                                      1. re: Lau

                                        thanks for the advice Lau. I used to go to Hop Shing quite often, now to chatham mostly for the Char siu bao. I want to try the ChathamSq, so thanks for the upstairs advice. I go during the week often for dim sum. and all chinese clientele sounds good to me. Tomorrow I'll probably go to Golden Unicorn.,,I'm going with a chinese friend of mine who gets the 10 % discount

                                        1. re: foodwhisperer

                                          btw if u want cha siu bao, id hit sun say kai (specifically steamed cha siu bao)...i think their's are the best now including Mei Li Wah and Chatham (hop shing). Make sure they are the ones that are fully closed, ive had it once there where it was the kind that is sort of open at the top (not smooth on the outside) and it wasn't that good.