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Hot, fresh dim sum at Hei Lei Moon over the weekend

I'd been disgruntled about dim sum options lately. China Pearl left me cold -- literally -- as I'd choked down one too many gummy dumplings there. Chau Chow City smells strange, and the filth of the bathrooms made me wonder what the kitchen might look like. I loved Gitlo's -- and was sad to see it close. Hei Lei Moon had been my go-to, but slowly that too began to disappoint (especially after a few visits to Sunset Park in Brooklyn, where I found delicious, hot, fresh, varied dim sum at East Harbor). We'd been going to China Pearl Woburn simply for convenience's sake. It was *ok* but not wonderful.

Last weekend, out-of-town chums suggested we try Hei Lei again. So we went. It was raucous, wild, frenzied, and delicious. Shrimp noodles were marvelous -- pillowish and melty. Had absolutely delicious clams in black bean sauce, riddled with garlic. I sopped up the sauce with pork buns -- some of the most flavorful I've had in recent memory. Chive dumplings, shrimp dumplings, sesame balls, chicken feet--all went quickly.

The place was absolutely jammed with hungry people, and the cart-wielders moved quickly and cheerily. Miraculously, we waited a mere 15 minutes for a seat. My one complaint was the tea -- maybe we didn't know which type to request. It was extremely tepid and weak.

I'm happy that Hei Lei Moon was such a wonderful experience. We even paid to park (and we Swanks are a parsimonious bunch), but it was well worth the $10!!

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Chau Chow City
81 Essex St, Boston, MA 02111

China Pearl Restaurant
288 Mishawum Rd, Woburn, MA 01801

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  1. For the record, I've eaten at China Pearl many times and while the quality is uneven the temperature or sexiness of the dumplings (to cover all senses in which the OP might be using the adjective "hot") has never been an issue.

    Still, if heat is paramount (and freshness) one is best off at a menu-based place, not cart-.

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    China Pearl Restaurant
    9 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

    1. great to hear that. we must try it. btw, it is Hei La Moon.

      p.s. what ever happened to your search for uplifting dining? did you try any of the suggestions?

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      Hei La Moon
      88 Beach St, Boston, MA 02111

      1 Reply
      1. re: opinionatedchef

        Yes! I was going to post about that separately. Golden Garden did the trick, thanks!

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        Golden Garden
        63 Concord Ave, Belmont, MA 02478

      2. I was at Hei La Moon over the weekend and it was better than normal, but I thought it was because we were there later than usual.

        HLM is my go to cart dim sum place. Swank have you tried the order off the menu places in Ctown? Bubor, Windsor Dim sum, or the place next to the liquor store 1/2 bakery 1/2 sit down, I'm blanking on the name of.

        Did you do the validated parking at HLM? not as good deal as it used to be but less then full price. You pay full price when you get your tix, and then you pay $6-8 inside HLM (used to be free), and your get refund when you drive out (It worked on Sun, but not sure of other days of the week).

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        Hei La Moon
        88 Beach St, Boston, MA 02111

        5 Replies
        1. re: lc02139

          Darn! I didn't know about the validated parking - we shelled out ten bux or so. I've also not been to any of the cartless spots you mention. Heard of Winsor; what's Bubor?

          1. re: Swankalicious

            bubor cha cha. a malaysian restaurant on beach street that also serves dim sum

            1. re: galangatron

              galang, have you eaten there? at Panang in Harv Sq I used to get 3 dishes i'm still seeking:
              fried tofu wedge stuffed with bean sprouts in peanut sauce; and fried taro nest filled w/ curried veggies; and coconut milk pudding with taro and black rice. do you know if bubor has these(or i'll google their menu, sure). thanks much.

              1. re: opinionatedchef

                those are all very common malaysian dishes. you should be able to find them at penang and bubor cha cha. pulut hitam (black sticky rice in coconut milk) is also available at the juice bar on harrison ave

                1. re: galangatron

                  great. yes, i had that dish at juice bar, but have you noticed that their coconut milk component is very weak? i wonder if they use canned or frozen or powdered coconut milk (I have to use alot of powder to get a strong coconut taste).

        2. RE Tea, the default tea is jasmine tea which i find too flowery for dim sum. I was taught as a lad that bo lei is better for dim sum as it is a stronger black tea that helps digest the fat in a dim sum meal.

          1. I have to wonder why you didn't mention Winsor Dim Sum Cafe, which is amazingly good. And I also have to wonder why anyone in the greater Boston area would go to China Pearl or Chau Chow City more than once. Winsor also has the advantage that you can go whenever you want--they serve till a bit after 9 every night--and weeknight evenings there's plenty of street parking. I've also been happy with the dim sum at Great Taste, but they only serve till 4.

            I'll have to check out East Harbor if the timing ever allows. I can also recommend Hollywood East outside of DC, if you're ever down that way. HWE has a greater variety than Winsor, and has been excellent on every visit over the course of the past year, and I think overall they do better work. But over several years, Winsor has never disappointed me, and that's saying quite a lot.

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            Winsor Dim Sum Cafe
            10 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

            3 Replies
            1. re: KWagle

              "wonder why anyone in the greater Boston area would go to China Pearl .... more than once"

              For the tapioca coconut soup (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7610... ). My own experience of CP is that the food is adequate on average. Some things are so-so, some are a bit gummy, but some show flashes of excellence. If you've had just one experience there you may have missed the high notes -- and I agree that the highs may not be enough to balance the lows if food is your only consideration. For us there's the overall atmosphere of the place, with its multiple levels and general air of fading grandeur, the tradition we've established of taking kids there from the ages of 3 or 4 to early teenagehood, and, as I said, that tapioca coconut soup.

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              China Pearl Restaurant
              9 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

              1. re: KWagle

                k, i don't know if i misread you, but just fyi, the bummer about going late for dimsum at Winsor is that they sell out of items before 4 even sometimes (as i can attest because their baked pork bao are my favs in Ctown and I've been take-out turned away twice so far at 4pm).

                1. re: opinionatedchef

                  I've never tried to order the baked pork buns. The only thing I haven't been able to get at night is the fried dough in rice noodle, which they claim to be unable to make, despite being able to make both fried dough and other rice noodle rolls. I've started to consider ordering the components and reassembling them myself...

              2. Try China Pearl in Quincy. When they first opened, everything was just, eh. But I've been there twice since they got rid of the carts and made most things available on order. Everything now arrives hot and fresh and tastes much better.

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                China Pearl
                237 Quincy Ave, Quincy, MA