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Oct 5, 2012 08:31 AM

Chinatown Dim Sum for rookies

Looking for a Chinatown dim sum restaurant for a group of four who have never done dim sum. We'll need some patience from the employees, I'm sure. Should be on a weekday for lunch. Also, any idea on.what time would be the least crowded? I'm thinking around 11 or after 2, but what do I know?

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  1. Not to worry. The servers are very patient. We have not been to Dim Sum in a while. I am sure you'll get some great recs from the Dim Sum regulars.

    1. oriental Garden if you want the best quality. Jing Fung (next door) if you want the Hong Kong zoo experience (it won't be too chaotic on a weekday.)

      1. I'd say Jing Fong.

        Hardly the last word in dim sum, but as swannee noted, you get the zoo experience which I think is fun (or at least different), and they have so many tables that if there is rarely a wait on weekdays.

        I'd also toss out Golden Unicorn as an option that has more of a sit-down feel.

        1. Going early is better. I've gone to Jing Fung after 2 PM and they had significantly fewer selections. I'm told by Chinese friends that Dim Sum is intended for lunch time, places that have it later in the day seem to have much smaller selections (altho I frequently have the evening Dim Sum at Shun Lee Cafe before Lincoln Center events).

          5 Replies
          1. re: GaryUES

            "I'm told by Chinese friends that Dim Sum is intended for lunch time"
            Perhaps in NYC?

            In E/SE Asia dim-sum is commonly eaten for breakfast stretching into late morning/early afternoon (when the selection is poor, true). There are places that start serving at 5 a.m. Many places will start to run out of stuff or be less good by 10-11 a.m. - except perhaps for the "classy places" or hotel-based dim-sum places where the clientele would be expected to start materializing only in the mid-morning or later.

            Even in Chicago some spots there start serving at 8 a.m.

            What time do the "earliest" places in NYC start serving dim sum nowadays?

            1. re: huiray

              Maybe not NYC but a USA thing.

              I grew up in CA and my Taiwan-born mother does the following in Southern California: arrive a little after 11am on a weekend, so that you are seated without a wait. However, the best carts don't show up until the dining room is full, closer to noon (especially the egg tarts!). But if you were to arrive at noon, you'd be waiting for a table. So get there slightly before the rush, sip some tea, stall a bit, and then dive in.

              However, she says, in Taiwan, the timing is totally different since people (especially retirees) go out for dim sum breakfast every morning, and early.

              1. re: kathryn

                Well, in Chicago if you arrive after 10 am at Phoenix (opens 8 am on weekends, 9 am weekdays) for dim sum on a weekend you'll likely be waiting, even if the carts may not start rolling until around then - you'll be ordering from cards/checklists in a rapidly-filling room around 9+ am. By 11 am it's often difficult to even get in the door because of the line down the stairs and the mob in the (upstairs) lobby.

                It used to be at Shui Wah (opened 8 am everyday; no carts, everything by card/checklist, no pictures) that the best time to walk in and sit down was 8.30 am or so. After 9 am or so you'd likely be waiting. Alas, the place in New Chinatown on S Archer is no more - it was one of the better places for dim sum.

                In NYC I'm aware that Oriental Garden opens at 9 am on weekends and 10 am on weekdays; Jin Fong at 9.30 am (daily) while Nom Wah drags its heels until 10.30 am (daily). Yes, folks in NYC go later - what time do you and your friends go for dim-sum in NYC, then? What's the earliest-opening place for dim sum?

                1. re: huiray

                  i know some people eat dim sum really early, but realistically i think dim sum is basically like brunch, i think the go time is really like 10-11am, definitely tapering off at like noon and later

                  for example my favorite dim sum place in HK only opens at 10am although if you go at 11 which is like peak for them you probably need a reservation or you're going to be waiting for a while

                  1. re: Lau

                    I had a great dim sum breakfast inside the Guangzhou train station in 1987 at 7:30 AM, and the place hadn't just opened. But I don't think you've ever been able to do that in New York. Years ago, I had dim sum breakfast at Harmony Palace at 9:30, and I believe they opened around 9. I'm not sure if they still do.

          2. Nom Wah Tea Parlor or Doyer Street. They have pictures on the menu. Any time during the week is fine

            10 Replies
            1. re: RussianGirl

              Sorry to highjack the thread but we are planning to walk over the brooklyn bridge next Sat. and wanted to do dim sum first (around 11:30). We've had dim sum before (once in London and Toronto and at Hakkasan in Miami) but never in NY so we are not complete novices but not super comfortable. We were thinking Dim Sum Go Go but should we be going to Jing Fung? We are open to carts or menu and assume we can't make a reservation at any of these places, but we don't want to wait too long for a table. Thanks

                1. re: AubWah

                  IMO Nam Wah has decent enough food, but is not the dim sum experience at all for someone who is seeking it.

                2. re: tlubow

                  I would also recommend Golden Unicorn. It's a real old school spot on East Broadway, the quality is as good as anything in Manhattan, and it's tourist friendly, with pictures and English descriptions of what's in each cart mounted on the front.

                  1. re: Peter Cuce

                    I haven't found the quality that good in the past - rather, it used to be on about the same level as Jing Fong and Harmony House/New Harmony (whatever their current name is), but you are credible to me, so I think it must have improved. Do you know if it came under new management in the last few years?

                    1. re: Pan

                      I have a slightly different take on Dim Sum in New comes down to preferences for taste from what has been formed over a period of time. For some, only the food is important, for others, it comes down to aesthetics in food presentation or quality...or the appearance of the restaurant proper.

                      Other than one participating in this thread, I believe all are credible, but I have learned to align myself with users whose tastes are similar to mine....I do not discount anyone's information, but I know what's important to them is just different for me.

                      I believe all places do some thing well. Some places more than others.
                      The one thing I applaud you for is having open-mindedness to accept the fact that Golden Unicorn may have improved .....many others do not and hold on to old opinions formed from more than a few years ago as their last experience.....or after one less than stellar experience.

                      1. re: fourunder

                        fourunder, by saying Peter is credible, I didn't mean to knock everyone else. It's just that I've met him personally and know more about his taste than I do about most other hounds'. And saying he's credible really means credible to me, in that I consider him both knowledgeable and someone whose tastes I believe to have a significant overlap with mine. Which is really a less well-phrased way of saying that I align myself with users whose tastes are similar to mine.

                        And restaurants do improve and deteriorate, so it's really not hard to imagine this happening almost anywhere.

                      2. re: Pan

                        For this group of people it's a good introduction to dimsum. It's pretty solid. Very good for beginners. I like the old school feeling.