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Best dim sum in chinatown?

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  • Westy Dec 10, 2012 08:41 AM
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hello -

I was asked to find the best dim sum place in Chinatown for a team lunch. Any ideas?

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  1. I think Winsor Cafe is by far the best. No carts, though, so if that is important to you, you may want to look elsewhere (I can't recommend any since I only go to Winsor now, but I'm sure someone else could help).

    1. No idea of "best" but I've been to China Pearl many times, and Hel La Moon once. Both are good and do carts.

      1. how many people? Windsor, for example, isn't huge.

        1. Empire Garden is another dim sum spot in Chinatown closer toward the downtown crossing side. Very large open space (a former performance space I believe). My family usually goes there, Hei La Moon or China Pearl - those are the "big 3".

          http://modernistfoodie.blogspot.com

          6 Replies
          1. re: trillen

            Sorry, trillen, I can't recommend Empire Garden (also known as Empereor's Garden and Imperial Garden).

            There are four big Dim Sum places in Boston's Chinatown, not three: Hei La Moon, China Pearl, Empire Garden and Chau Chow City. Empire Garden is easily the worst of the bunch, although (because?) it has a really impressive setting, inside the former Center Theatre (originally Loew’s Globe Theatre).

            Other than Empire Garden being really, really bad, I think the other three are all okay. I had a nicer experience at Chau Chow City recently, and a worse experience at Hei La Moon recently, but in general they are similarly mediocre. I would only recommend going to one of those "Dim Sum Palaces" if you have a large party, or really like the experience of the carts and the cacophony.

            But for the best Dim Sum food, you are much better off to going to places that make them to order, like Winsor, Great Taste or Green Tea 2 in Newton. Are all places with menus better than all places with carts? Of course not. But the ones in Boston happen to be.

            1. re: lipoff

              I've never been to Windsor Café so I cant comment but Chau Chow City is absolutely horrible for dim sum - I can't even include them in the discussion. As for Green Tea, they microwave their dimsum "to order" - any place that does that, I can't respect.

              1. re: trillen

                I have been eating dim sum in Chinatown for about 25 years and I do not find the dim sum at Chau Chau "horrible". I eat regularly at China Pearl, Chau Chau, have been to weddings and dim sum at Hei La Moon and have had dim sum at Empire Garden though not recently. I find them all to be interchangeable...good to very good but not great.

                1. re: bakerboyz

                  "interchangeable" is a word that I'd use as well. I tried to follow people's reported trends up & down, note which places were better for X or better for Y, etc.

                  At the end of the day I felt like any variability I saw between the 4 major houses was just as likely to be due to random chance than what the name on the front of the place said. So now I just go to whichever is the most convenient and/or wherever my companions want to go.

                  1. re: jgg13

                    I agree with you guys. Sometimes I don't get the strict devotion people have to a particular dim sum place (excluding Windsor, of course, which is freshly made).

                    They've all been good-to-very-good, and I don't think I could pass a blind taste-test if you presented me with similar common dim sum items from either of the big dim sum houses here in Boston.

                2. re: trillen

                  where did you get that info on green tea? Have not been in a long time but always found it to be very good. Used to really like the one in framingham that closed down.

            2. Winsor is easily the best dim sum in Chinatown, and the best I've found on the east coast, but Great Taste is also good and has a few items on the menu that Winsor doesn't.

              1. we do Chau chow on weekdays and hei lei moon on weekends. strangely enough bubor cha cha, the Malaysian spot, has pretty decent dim sum that you can order off a menu. so it comes out hot and relatively fresh.

                5 Replies
                1. re: bostonfoodz

                  I am told that Bubor Cha Cha no longer has any Malaysian dishes on its menu, has gone over to a traditional Cantonese, largely dim sum oriented format.

                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    I think Bubor has the best dumplings of the dim sum places I've tried here. The sticky rice is also great, with plenty of chicken, sausage, and mushrooms, no peanuts, which I prefer.
                    Great Taste has delicious rice rolls, fried sticky rice, and oh, those turnip cakes. Much tastier (granted very different) than Winsor's.
                    Winsor was good overall, and I want to go back, but I was rather disappointed with their pork buns, which people on this board love. I thought they were overly sweet and goopy with too little meat. Bubor came closest on the buns with generous filling that wasn't too sweet, but they had a slight sourness from what was likely too much rice wine. Great Taste's had very stingy filling, mostly dough.
                    Winsor's stuffed eggplant and chicken feet were especially delicious from the selection of items we got.
                    So they all have their strengths and weaknesses.

                    1. re: saria

                      Based on your post, I just tried Bubor Cha Cha and agree. They are the best har gau and siu mai in Boston. Plump and fresh and the skins on the har gau are thin if a little sticky. They aren't refined but overall better than the others and good value. Also enjoyed the sticky rice (again a very generous portion). Thanks for the rec.

                      1. re: gourmaniac

                        Glad you liked it!

                        1. re: saria

                          Based on the posts, we tried Bubor Cha Cha today, Sunday. I would say superb.

                          No carts, order off a plastic menu w/pics and an erasable marker. Really easy for a dim sum novice.

                          We skipped the sticky rice but had an assortment of dumplings, including a fabulous shrimp/spinach, shrimp/eggplant and fried daikon cake. I'm not a fan of the soft, dough buns..so no comment.

                          I have a fondness for the cart type places for the fun and great variety but this was clearly better quality than China Pearl; my current fave of the cart places..but as others have said, there is a sameness to the larger places. They say in the NFL, on any Sunday, any team can beat any other. On any Sunday, 1 of the big dim sum places will be better than another..:)

                          I am a fan of Winsor and I hate the x is better than y path; but the obvious question is which is better? No offense to the Winsor fans (of which I include myself) but today's BCC was better than my memory of Winsor a few months ago. Lighter wrapping on the dumplings, better fry job on the eggplant, lighter consistency/better crisp edge to the fried cake.

                          I'd welcome other opinions from the dim sum lovers here who've tried both.

                          No line at 11ish to noonish. Always a handful of tables available.

                          Haven't tried Great Taste yet.

                2. Any dim sum place in Boston have beef tendon? I 've seen them a lot in NY but never in Boston in 20 years!:(

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: joebloe

                    Great Taste has beef tendon noodle soup so that you can order that with your dim sum. Great taste hasn;t been mentioned yet but it stands up well to all but perhaps Winsor.

                    1. re: gourmaniac

                      As non-cart places go, I greatly prefer Great Taste to Winsor.

                      1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                        Same here. I usually hate fighting the Winsor crowds, but returned recently because we had a gift certificate. Sure enough - while food was good (though their XO stir fried daikon cakes left a lot to be desired), I was surprised at how much more expensive the meal was. Their "specialty" dim sum (usually at the bottom of the ordering slips) are a good dollar or two more than comparable items at Great Taste. My mom and I pigged out for about $12 per person the same weekend, while our bill at Winsor came out to about $16+,and no where near as stuffed.

                        1. re: kobuta

                          I usually go to Chinatown at night when there is parking, so Winsor is my only choice, and I've never had to fight even a single crowd there.

                          I've been to GT occasionally, and have enjoyed them, but not as much as I've enjoyed Winsor. I wish there were more opportunities to have dim sum after dark.

                          1. re: kobuta

                            Went to Winsor last yr on Xmas day. Willing to try Great Taste or Bubor Cha Cha this yr. There's only the 2 of us, and my dc is not a fan of dim sum. Do either of those restaurants have other items on the menu besides dim sum that you can recommend?
                            (I might just steer us back to Winsor...)

                            Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all you hounds!

                            1. re: CookieLee

                              Great Taste actually has the menu of a typical "cha chaan teng" (HK style cafe) - good noodle soups, congee, rice and noodle plates. I've never had big family dinner, but we've done a few quick early evening meals and I've really enjoyed their food. I don't recall anything on their menu that is particularly unique, but what I've tried has always been well prepared and tasty. For example, every once in a while I get a hankering for the Cantonese style gu-loh yook (sweet and sour pork). The version I had here is my favorite rendition in the Boston area.

                              1. re: kobuta

                                Great Taste has a few Chinese-Portuguese dishes (from Macau) such as Portuguese Chicken casserole with spaghetti. It wasn't fantastic when I tried it, honestly, but it was certainly unique. Winsor also has a large menu of non-Dim Sum items.

                                1. re: kobuta

                                  Thanks, kobuta and lipoff. We went to Dumpling Cafe, for lunch. We really enjoyed the xlb dumplings, roasted duck buns, wonton soup and hot & sour soup. Next up, we'll go to Great Taste. I liked the look of the noodle soups at Dumpling Cafe, but I'll check them out at GT first. I have yet to try congee, I'll think that will be on my New Year's list of foods to try this year.

                                  1. re: CookieLee

                                    I've tried congee lots of places in C-Town.
                                    My favorite so far is the Pork and Preserved Egg congee at Windsor. It's towards the bottom of the dimsum menu (for a medium sized bowl). Or you can get a huge bowl of the same under Congee.

                          2. re: gourmaniac

                            Does Great Taste have dim sum every day, or only on the weekend?

                            1. re: Allstonian

                              every day. I use their bakery a lot but don't get dim sum or lunches nearly as frequently. Perhaps a change for the new year.

                              1. re: Allstonian

                                I didn't pay strict attention on this visit, but it used to be offered daily until 4pm. Not sure if the 4pm time limit still exists.

                                1. re: kobuta

                                  it does

                          3. We usually go to Windsor. Used to frequent Chau Chow City, but the sheer filthiness of their restrooms made me wonder what on earth goes on in the kitchen. Had a "meh" experience at Hei Lei Moon, another usual fave, the other day -- very limited dim sum options, indifferent service, and everything arrived cold.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Swankalicious

                              I have found the restrooms filthy at all the large dimsum places. I assume you went to HLM on a weekday. I have always said on here that regardless of when places might say they serve cart dimsum, the ONLY time/day i consider going is on a Sunday in the 10-12 range... Any other day or time and your chances of disappointment are very high.