Windsor Dim Sum Cafe, minor quirks and non dim sum recs?
Windsor Dim Sum is a treasure.
I have only two quirky complaints:
1) When the orders arrive fast and furious I have no idea of the relationship between what I have ordered and what I am receiving. The servers work hard and quickly and are English-challenged so their descriptions are not patient and pellucid.
2) I have not yet figured out why everything with XO sauce is twice the price of dishes without. For example, Pan Fried Turnip Cake with XO sauce is $5.95 while plain Pan Fried Turnip Cake is $2.95, I know that XO sauce is better than simple Maggi sauce, but twice the price? Or is the portion with sauce larger than the portion without?
With that out of the way, I want to turn to more serious issues. I know this is heresy, but I am willing to consider other parts of the menu that look interesting. Has anyone tried the Hot Pots. Lamb with Dried Bean Curd Thread and Braised Beef Brisket with Turnip sound particularly appealing. Are their noodle dishes anything special?
I await your pellucid responses with gratitude and patience.
(But not too much patience since I plan to eat there tomorrow night)
The great Windsor Caf hot-pot experiment was only half successful. They did not have lamb with dried bean curd thread. While they had braised beef brisket with turnip it seems that its twin masquerades under another name in the $5.95 special snack category, white turnip and beef entrails. We wound up getting that smaller portion.
This was my fourth visit to the Windsor. Just before Christmas I tried to go there three times for lunch, but only made it twice because of the length of the line. That missed time I wound up at Gourmet Dumpling instead.
The difference between lunch and dinner or at least between lunch in December and dinner in April is remarkable. Midweek dinner in April had no lines at all. The place was only about a third full. As it happens I did walk by Gourmet Dumpling on my way to a 7:30 dinner at Windsor that April night and the Dumpling line was out the door. The clientele for lunch at the Windsor was mostly Chinese. At dinner time, mostly Euro-Americans.
Because there were fewer customers the service was more attentive and the explanation of the dishes actually pellucid. So this time I knew exactly what we were getting, dish by dish, at least most of the time.
The three of us tried to order more than we got, as will be explained below.
From the $5.95 special snack list we chose:
Pan-Fried White Turnip Cake with XO Sauce
Pan-Fried Rice Noodle with XO Sauce
Spicy Salted Silver Fish (small)
White Turnip & Beef Entrail
We had also wanted to order the hot pot of braised beef with turnip, but the cashier who was doubling as the one who took our order told us that the turnip and entrail dish was basically the same as the hot pot, simply a smaller portion. We choose the special snack size rather than the larger hot pot. At this point we also ordered the spicy salted sparerib, but in the end it got confused with hot pot and special snack and was lost in the shuffle. When we realized towards the end of the meal that it had not arrived, we simply dropped the idea. We were already stuffed. It will have to await the next visit.
From the Dim sum $2.95 list we choose
Shark Fin with Pork Dumpling
Steamed Shrimp Dumpling
Jade Pearl Dumpling with Coriander
Chicken Feet with Black Bean Sauce
Steamed Roast Pork Bun
Fried Stuffed Eggplant with Oyster Sauce
I had never had Silver Fish before and they were my hit of the evening. Tiny sliver fish deep-fried in a light batter served on a bed of lettuce and other greens with chucks of pepper corn. The combination of hot crispy salty tiny fish with crunchy cold greens was excellent. It disappeared.
The two xo dishes were good, but they did last until take-away time. Having had those dishes before, the novelty has worn off. I found them a bit too doughy for my taste. On the other hand I could order the stuffed eggplant over and over, It is served pipping hot and the salty sauce over an envelope of fried soft eggplant containing, I think, a generic pork shrimp paste is excellent. The shark fin and pork dumpling are also very good. The other dumplings, shrimp and jade pearly were good, but I have trouble remembering the difference between the two. The picture menu describes the jade pearl as containing crab meat, as does the black on white order menu but the formal yellow menu only lists coriander. Whatever, what we got had no crab and not much coriander.
I liked the chicken feet with black bean sauce more than did my comrades in gluttony, and so I was forced to finish most of it myself. Had I known of their abstinence in advance, I could have skipped the pleasure. The sauce was very good and the feet were fine, but not so fine as to want to polish off the whole plate of feet single-handedly. I have described the steamed roast pork bun elsewhere,
under the BBQ pork thread so I won't repeat myself.
Now to the White Turnip and Beef Entrail special snack aka the min-portion of the Braised Beef Brisket with Turnip. This was the other dish that got doggy-bagged. In fact it is braised beef brisket with tripe and white turnips. We all liked it and would happily order it again, but it lacked some of the more aromatic spicing that I have enjoyed in hot pots I have eaten and loved. A chunk of five-star anise for instance would have enlivened the dish.
With tax and generous tip this came to about $54 for the three of us, filled to the gills with leftover snacks for the next day.
I was with friends one night and one of the other members of the party ordered their General Gau's Chicken. We all froze. Would this curse our whole order with the kitchen?
When the waiter delivered the dish to us, a cook from the kitchen came out and just eyeballed our table, as if to say "those fools...?"
I did notice that they charge more for it in comparison to their regular low prices (I think it's $11), perhaps its like penalty charge for such an un-authentic dish?
But back to the chicken. It was really good. Super thin, flash fried, standard steamed american brocolli, but comforting in a way.
I may endure the icy stare and re-order on my next visit.
The "Pan Fried Rice Noodle with XO Sauce" is one of my favorite dishes in the city, period. The rough-hewn "noodles" are closer in texture to chewy pan-fried gnocchi, and the salty, complex sauce plus the wok-charred chives (garlic chives maybe?) and bean sprouts are to die for.
re: Jolyon Helterman
Is this at Winsor or at Great Taste? Nsenada's reference is to Great Taste's spicy salted ribs (i think) while most of the thread is about Winsor. The Great Taste paper menu doesn't list Pan fried rice noodle with XO sauce" but I'd like to try it based on your rec.
201 Main St, Milford, MA 01757
A good XO sauce base is fairly expensive (lots of dried shrimp, scallop, etc. in the XO sauce IIRC) when you buy it from the store. Sort of like using Wild Turkey bourbon in a BBQ sauce.
If you're curious what dish is which, take some pictures and post them and we'll be able to tell you what you ordered...
Hi VM. I've enjoyed your contributions to the Shwarma thread. RE 1). Language is usually an issue and I appreciate the at Winsor, things come out when they are ready (especially important fro fried items) and favor Winsor over the cart places for this very reason. 2) XO sauce is a deluxe item but as Ilovedessert points out, the portion is also larger. 3) I've not strayed from their dim sum menu but any good dim sum place is probably OK for noodles and it would be standard for families to order chow fun or chow mein to supplement their dim sum orders. I would also try their congee, which is excellent.
To your point about freshness, one way to guarantee freshness is to ask for some minor customization (an old trick from eating at fast food joints :). For example, ask for "with scallion" when ordering the steamed beef rice noodle roll (cheung fun), then they make it to order (and the difference can be noticeable). I also occasionally ask for congee w/ chinese sausage (lap cheung), not on the menu and they look at you funny but will humor your oddball request.
nice idea. I find it's only critical for fried food and not sure they would custom make those. I also have the embarrassing problem of being Asian American but speaking Cantonese like a 3-year old. Hence, in Chinese restaurants, making special requests puts me at a disadvantage that I would not have were I Caucasian or spoke my ancestral language better.
The XO sauce dishes are much bigger, entree-sized, dishes. XO sauce itself is also a prized ingredient. The turnip cakes are pan-fried with bean sprouts and Chinese chives, and the other versions simply replace the turnip cakes with rice cakes or rice noodles. It's very different than the plain version, so I encourage you to try it next time.