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Jun 19, 2012 04:36 PM

After-Hours Dim Sum Etiquette?

Mr. Swank and I happened in to Hei Lei Moon yesterday about 2pm, when the lunch rush had died down. There were a couple of waiters listlessly pushing half-empty carts. We ordered whatever was available, which wasn't much. Yet we were not offered menus -- just the dim sum slip. However, the dining room was occupied with a handful of other tables, and we noticed people getting interesting-looking dim sum delivered directly to their tables.
Is this something we should've known to ask for? Without a menu, how would we know their offerings? Just curious if it's possible to order dim sum at a dim-sum place, even when carts aren't rolling by, if that makes sense.

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  1. Usually you can ask for a menu or for a dish if you aren't offered it. I went to China Pearl in the morning a couple weeks ago, and there weren't yet enough people to have the carts out, so they gave us menus with all the items (including pictures). You could certainly ask for that any time, though if you order something that is on a cart I assume they will probably give it to you from a cart. This is one of the reasons I prefer Winsor over all the others, though. Always an ample menu, interesting specials, and everything nice and hot.

    5 Replies
    1. re: hckybg

      Specials at Winsor? I haven't seen anything new there in years. This doesn't stop me from eating well when I go there, but knowing there will be new items to try is strong incentive to visit frequently.

      1. re: KWagle

        Not specials, I guess--I was thinking of the more expensive dishes that are on a different part of the menu. Specifically, I meant the rolled rice noodles with the bean sprouts and the other dishes that are a couple dollars more and not dumplings, etc.

        1. re: hckybg

          Oh, I didn't know they had those rice noodles--the ones standing on end? I've never tried those. (They almost never have the large rice rolls at dinner, which is somewhat annoying.)

          1. re: KWagle

            They call them pan fried rice noodle in XO sauce. They are about an inch long and sort of crispy. They are on the "special snacks" menu.

            1. re: hckybg

              Damn, that stuff is amazing. We (by which I mean me) had to order a second one. How could I not have known about this until now? Thin rice noodle, tightly rolled, coated in something, pan fried with a nice bit of char. My new favorite dish at Winsor.

    2. you have to ask for it by name usually...ask for a menu if they have one)...

      1. These cart pushers apparently are not paid by the amount they sell, and are not trained to understand customer service. They have no incentive to do anything beyond pushing carts, often listlessly. Sometimes they don't even bother covering every table. Most Chinese restaurants are all about food. Pampering their customers never even crosses their minds.

        I have called managers over (if insight) when the carts don't come to my table, or when I want a special item. I have also left my table and walked over to a cart for the hargow before they disappear. Etiquette? What etiquette?

        3 Replies
        1. re: eatntell

          I've actually had really helpful servers at Hei La Moon. Last winter, I was there on the late side, and was hoping they'd have more cheung fun with shrimp (the carts were out of it). I asked the waitress to help me find out if they had anymore, and despite language barriers, she investigated for me. Sadly, I was out of luck and the dish was gone for the day....but it's certainly acceptable to ask waitstaff for things, and they do try to get you what you want.

          I also agree with hargau below that it's often a good idea to ask a manager or waiter who isn't running a cart.

          1. re: Dave MP

            This is also the item I always ask for if I don't see it when I've been at CCC.

          2. re: eatntell

            Chasing down carts, managers, or whomever looks the most capable of providing is par for the course at any old-school dim sum place. You have to know what you want and order by name. That said, HLM has had some of the most response staff I've come across.

          3. I never go to cart dim sum during the week or after hours.. Sunday 10-12 is the only time i will go.. That said, even during those hours, if there is something i want that i dont see, i ask a mgr or waiter (not cart person) and they usually go find it if its available.

            1 Reply
            1. re: hargau

              You can definitely order something if you don't see it at Hei La Moon. So, if that happen again, I'd just summon a waiter, point to the interesting looking thing, and ask for the same. Or if you're feeling intrepid and the people seem friendly, just go over and ask them what it is and what it's called.