East Manor (Kissena Blvd.) Flushing Dim Sum - good, and cheap!
We visited this large, old school style Chinese banquet facility on four occasions for dim sum recently. We weren't disappointed.
We went once, just to re-visit after many years' absence. On that visit, we discovered that the restaurant is offering all "small, medium and large" dim sum plates for $1.50 each. Now, if we'd seen the sign offering the low-price deal, we probably wouldn't have ventured there for fear of crowds, or, worse, inferior, cheap product. Neither were the case. The crowd is kept in control by the staff. The dim sum is very, very good.
The usual culprits: xiao mi, har gow and the like, are consumed at such a rapid rate that they're very fresh when they come out on the carts. Wide noodle with beef or shrimp actually has the correct texture -- it's not pasty mush as in some other dim sum restaurants.
Chicken feet are a large portion and very, very tasty. Sticky rice was full of goodness and appropriately seasoned. Steamed beef intestine was snappy-tender and flavorful.
There's a table with a dozen or so casseroles in pots, on warmers. One takes one's dim sum check and brings it up to the table where a portion is served and your check marked appropriately. Honeycomb tripe in gravy ($5.25) with white turnip was tasty but hadn't been cooked long enough so it was a bit chewy. A stew with fish balls and winter vegetables ($5.25) was redolent of seafood and mushroom flavors. The fish balls were unremarkable.
The other items that break the "all plates $1.50" rule are the delectable, chunky shrimp balls wrapped in bacon. They're a bargain at $6.25 but too greasy for many people, as they're not baked, they're dusted with flour and deep-fried. These little darlings are very Hong Kong style, and are served with a little dish of mayonnaise.
Next to the hot-food table is a little area where customers can get some items (turnip cake, stuffed peppers, stuffed eggplant and various baked goods) before they're put onto the carts. No wonder there wasn't any turnip cake on the carts! The little baked-goods corner doled out plates of dan tan (egg custard in flaky pastry - 3 @ 1.50) and flaky pastry triangles filled with roast pork ($1.50) were delightful fresh out of the oven.
We normally take Pu-Erh tea with Chrysanthemum blossoms with our dim sum. On every visit they gave us too much tea (leaves, that is) and the tea brewed to a very dark color rapidly. It isn't as good as the Pu-Erh we've had elsewhere, but wasn't bad. I will occasionally have a Tsingtao beer with my dim sum. I'm pretty sure the place has a liquor license, but no matter which member of staff I asked they'd just nod and run away -- the beer never, ever appeared. And we asked for it in Chinese.
One very strange thing happened to us. On our first visit, we ordered a lot of items, intending to take one or two pieces of each back to give to dim sum-starved relatives in Connecticut. We had a veritable fleet of little steamers on the table, and one of the waitresses walked by pushing her cart and said (in Chinese) "why did you order so much?! They won't give you a doggie bag!" We were shocked and concerned, until we saw a waiter handing a bag and some containers to another table. We got one, too. The poor lady had *no idea* what she was talking about.
Some diners hate it when a restaurant imposes extra charges and fees. The parking is cheap at $2.00 -- but we were surprised they charged at all, as many of their competitors do not. The bill also had two charges, $1 per person for "seat/tea" charge and a 15% auto-gratuity, that some diners may consider "nickel and diming." The parking charge was indicated on an outdoor sign. No signage indicated seating nor service charges. Once, while cashing out, we spotted a non-Asian diner tried to argue with the cashier about the auto-grat. No luck. He was surrounded by scowling managers, and eventually paid up, much to the relief of those of us waiting on a pretty long line for the lone cashier.
We're going to return to this restaurant, and may even try their dinner offerings. The dim sum experience is just as bustling, busy and chaotic as anywhere else. The food is as good as, and many times better, than most Flushing places. Indicative of at least the volume they do, if not the quality of their chefs, is the fact that we never once got a dish that'd either gone cold or dumplings that had gotten hard around the edges.
46-45 Kissena Blvd, Queens, NY 11355
I can't believe I didn't remember to add that the $1.50 dim sum offer is valid weekdays, only.
Flushing's dim sum scene is competitive, but *nobody's* going to offer discounts/deals for week-end dim sum.
East Manor's sister restaurant East Buffet, on Main Street in Flushing, offers dim sum to go for $1.00 a serving (3-4 dumplings) -- after 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. on weekdays. You'll see the line forming in the lobby of the restaurant shortly before the "dollar boxes" go on sale.