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Jan 4, 2013 06:13 AM

Sunday Barnes and dim sum brunch

I received tickets for the Barnes as a Christmas gift - last Sunday in January, 2 pm ticket. I would love to go to Chinatown for dim sum brunch before. Any suggestions as to the best one? I've been to Ocean City, Ocean Harbor, Joy Tsin Lau and Imperial Inn for a weekday lunch, but never for Sunday brunch. Also need advice on timing. We will probably come into Market East on Regional Rail then cab from Chinatown to the museum.

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  1. You seemed to have previously enjoyed Imperial Inn the most in the aforementioned. Why not try visiting there at 1045-11 AM on Sunday? That's the normal time when things are busy enough so that the cart offerings are freshest, but not so busy that you will have to wait very long. I've never had to wait at Imperial Inn as it has a lot of space and isn't as popular as Joy Tsin Lau or Ocean Harbor.

    My personal preference leans slightly away from Joy Tsin Lau for political reasons (which have nothing to do with the food) to Ocean Harbor as I enjoy their seafood-focused dim sum and sunlight from their window as well as the hustle-bustle. Please let us know how you do and what you get!

    7 Replies
    1. re: mookleknuck

      Writing this post set off a craving, so my friend and I went to Imperial Inn for lunch today. I am wavering between Imperial and Joy Tsin Lau for our Sunday excursion. 11:00 is a good suggestion o the time. That will allow enough time to eat/explore -- there will be four of us, and I am the only one who has had dim sum before -- then get to the Barnes for our ticket time.

      BTW, I do like Ocean Harbor, but the times that I have been there, the big sunny window looked out on big, full dumpsters.

      We went to the bakery at 9th and Race (Bread Basket?) and they STILL had moon cakes. They must be the equivalent of fruit cake -- they never die : )

      1. re: PattiCakes

        11:00 is a good time before the crowd get to be pretty bad. Usually, the line at Imperial Inn is not nearly as bad, so time is not as critical.

        <I do like Ocean Harbor>

        Ocean Harbor or Ocean City. I don't remember there are any big window except the front door, and there aren't many sitting tables there.

        1. re: PattiCakes

          Patti, glad to hear that you love dim sum so much. =D I'd agree with cwdonald downthread saying that you will need at least two hours at the Barnes. There is a LOT of art packed in each room and it gets quite crowded. If you have a morning ticketed entrance, might I suggest that you head there first with a break for dim sum at 11, then head back to the Barnes? The weather is supposed to be fairly nice and it's not that bad of a walk, either. For an Impressionist lover, you might easily while away four hours (don't step past the line, whatever you do). Of course, starting your day off with dim sum with a stop at Teatalk and then going to the Barnes is nice, too.

          Re: Ocean Harbor - I never sit by the window so that I never see the dumpsters. Just close enough to enjoy the sunlight. Although maybe my memory is failing here...

          Did you mean Bread Top House? That's at 10th and Race. How did you like their offerings? What did you get? Heh, mooncakes are best fresh, but yeah, they'll stick around!

          1. re: mookleknuck

            <Ocean Harbor - I never sit by the window so that I never see the dumpsters. Just close enough to enjoy the sunlight.>

            Ocean Harbor does not have a window. It has a glass door. But you cannot sit next to the window since there is where the guests waiting area. The nearest table is still 20 feet from the glass door:


            Are you sure that you two are not talking about Ocean City?

        2. re: mookleknuck

          <My personal preference leans slightly away from Joy Tsin Lau for political reasons>

          Please tell me why? I want to know. :) Thanks.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Haha. The last time I entered JTL, there were pictures of the owners with certain political figures celebrating the owners' fundraising efforts for those people. As I was with friends and their friends, and one of those friend of a friend happened to be related to the owner, I couldn't very well leave. I haven't returned to this day.

            1. re: mookleknuck

              <certain political figures celebrating the owners' fundraising efforts for those people>

              Oh yeah, I noticed all those photos, but my understanding is that the owner pretty much has photos (presumbly with donation) with every one she can. George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, Michael Nutter....etc. So I don't think she has a strong politcial leaning.

              <I couldn't very well leave>

              Man, you must really not like that political person.

              Since you don't like Joy Tsin Lau, do you go to Ocean Harbor more or Ocean City more? It is said by a few people that Ocean City has improved a lot in the last few years, and grabbing business from the two big (Joy Tsin Lau and Ocean Harbor). Talk to you later.

        3. Patti do you have a time on your Barnes tickets? The crowds can be oppressive there. I personally would go to the museum as early as possible and then dine afterwards. And you really need to allow at least two hours for the museum. Have a wonderful time and am looking forward to hearing about the trip.

          1 Reply
          1. re: cwdonald

            We are ticketed at 2 PM.

            I am really getting confused between Ocean Harbor and Ocean City. The one with the window I talked about is almost at the corner of Vine. I am not part6icularly fond of t6he pone across the street from Joy Tsin Lau.

            Mook: Yes, Bread Top House. It is OK, and right on the way back to where we catch a bus. My friend likes it because many of the items are wrapped & she likes taking them home to her boys. I like it because I can pick many of the items myself and don't have to ask. The bakery I liked the best was the one on the other side of Joy Tsin Lau, near the hand-drawn noodle place.

            My 2 year old grand child likes the little moon cakes because they are tea-party size, and we slice them into little pieces like a doll cake.

          2. Dim Sum Garden is my favorite Dim Sum spot. Awesome soup dumplings (crab and pork), scallion pancakes, pork and chive soup, chive/cabbage pork dumpling, etc.
            Also its right by the market east rail stop (literally 30 second walk)
            Deff go to Dim Sum Garden

            2 Replies
            1. re: THEBIRDMAN

              Dim Sum Garden is not cart service, though, correct? Since my DH and our guests have never had dim sum before, I would prefer some place with the carts.

              1. re: PattiCakes

                Yeaaaaa dim sum garden is not the prettiest place in the world lol. but the food is awesome. not carts.

            2. Dim Sum Garden is a small restaurant under the eaves of Market East, right by the bus stop for cheap rides to NYC and Washington DC. It is a la carte only. And it has no atmsophere at all.

              I agree with you that while the quality of the food at the cart restaurants will be inferior, the overall dining experience will be better at any of the other restaurants you have mentioned.

              6 Replies
                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I was not offended by the decor at Dim Sum Garden. It looks terrible from the outside, but once inside I found it to be clean and bright, with a little bit of an IKEA vibe.

                  1. re: sadiefox

                    I went to Dim Sum garden today, just 2 hours ago. The place was alright. The staffs were friendly. I had the soup steamed dumplings and the regular (water boiled) dumplings. The soup dumplings were good, although not the top notch I have had, and I cannot be sure if they were any better than those from Sakura (a block away). They also tasted as if sugar was added. I talked to the waitress and cashier about this, and she said that maybe this is the style of the Shanghai dumplings, which made me think she simply works there and not related the restaurant.

                    The water boiled dumplings were good too, but could be a bit thicker. This may be because this is the take of Shanghai interpretation of Northern dumplings.

                    Foods were good especially for the inexpensive price point (about 50% cheaper than other restaurant dumplings).

                    For clarification, when most people refer to dim sum, they mean Cantonese dim sum. These are not Cantonese dim sum by any stretch of imagination. These are mostly Shanghai dim sum with a twist of some Northern influence. They are good and they are cheap, but if you are looking for Cantonese dim sum, then this is not the place.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      I seem to remember that many of the staff were from Fuzhou. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think that Shanghai dumplings normally have any sugar added, and that Fuzhou food often will be on the sweeter side. Did you ask the waitress or cashier?

                      1. re: mookleknuck

                        I ask the waitress/cashier. She was the person who the customers order from and also the person who the customers pay the cash to. She is young, attractive, 30's age Chinese lady, highlightened her hair with a shade of red (probably more information you wanted to know) :P

                        I asked her if they are from Taiwan actually because her Chinese sounded like the official Taiwan Chinese (without the Taiwan Hookien So I knew she is either from the so called Mainlander in Taiwan or some provinces close to Nanjing. She replied that "we are not from Taiwan, we are from Shanghai" I don't know if the "we" include herself or not.

                        The soup dumplings (小籠包) are signature of Shanghai dishes and many of the items were listed as Shanghai this, and Shanghai that. I detected a trace of sweetness in the soup dumplings. They were not incrediably sweet, but they were sweeter than any normal pork can acquire.

                        I will visit them next time, and ask again. I don't detect any trace of Fuzhou or Hookien accents from her.


                        1. re: mookleknuck

                          I went to Dim Sum Garden two more times now, and tried many more dishes. I again confirmed with another employee today. They are from Shanghai. I must have an unusual face, because they now recognize me. :)

                2. Patti, how was your Sunday? Where did you go? What did you eat?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mookleknuck

                    Our tix are not until 1/27, however we may try to get them changed. The couple we'd like to go with are busy that day, and other couples under consideration would not be up for dim sum. Don't worry, I'll update!

                    1. re: PattiCakes

                      If you couldn't change them, we'll go happily!