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Dim Sum Confidential

Clarissa Wei takes us into the dim sum kitchen at Ocean Star. I'm thinking the picture of the mound of chicken feet would give sausage factory photos a good run for their money.


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  1. " I'm thinking the picture of the mound of chicken feet would give sausage factory photos a good run for their money."

    This photo alters the age old question somewhat to "How did the chicken cross the road?"

    1 Reply
    1. For me, Ocean Star has always been number 1 for dim sum in LA. I've tried many of the others like Elite, NBC, Empress Pavilion, Golden Dragon, etc. but my top favorite is still Ocean Star. Maybe it's just the simple ambience and/or ladies with pushcarts which I like?

      1. Thanks for posting, Chandavkl.

        Dim Sum appears in its many shapes and flavors! It's all so magical!

        I always have wanted to peek inside.

        1. it was a brutal sight indeed. especially the tub of leftover fingernails. (not shown)

          7 Replies
            1. re: Chandavkl

              After seeing people prep live chicken, which my family cooked shortly after, I'm not sure if I can be grossed out anymore.. but even then, a tub of nails sounds pretty horrid.

              1. re: blimpbinge

                I find the premade ahead of time frozen dim sum more offensive than the toenails (so a "steamed to order" dim sum is basically heating raw frozen dim sum made the day before), but then again there's no other solution for the level of customer scale, unless they start the shift 2 to 4 hours earlier and even then it's not possible with the shift size they have.

                1. re: K K

                  that is quite bad actually

                  Which other of their items are frozen then thawed?
                  I wonder how many other shops do this?
                  Should I just ask if I can buy them frozen to go?

                  For a place of this size, and has been opened for this long, i'm kind of disappointed.

                  1. re: K K

                    There is nothing wrong or unusual in using frozen dim sum items, if they are made inhouse.

                    1. re: K K

                      I don't have a problem with frozen dim sum if they are made in the same restaurant. Restaurants usually don't use frost-free freezers like the ones in most homes. These don't try out the items like what happens in home freezers.

                2. re: ClarissaW

                  Thanks for confirming what I already suspected......

                3. Oh, now I'm starving for dim sum. Too late for today, will try for tomorrow.

                  1. What astounds me is "12 people." 12 people make all the dim sum? I've never been any good at making dim sum, but it strikes me as somewhat labor intensive. I've also always wondered at the economics of it. For cart dim sum I usually go to 888 and on the weekends the remarkable variety on offer and the size of the crowds and the prices (I don't know that any group I've been with has ever been able to spend more than $12 per person - and even then we practically had to be taken out of there with handtrucks) just boggle my feeble little dim sum addled mind.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: estone888

                      One can only hope that they don't suddenly figure out that they can rename it sushi and change the ordering method to omakase...then all bets are off when it comes to what you'll be spending per person (although it may be better in terms of personal health).

                      1. re: estone888

                        12 is a lot of people. Almost too many in my opinion.

                        It's not that hard to make most dim sum items and many are not labor intensive at all. Things like pork spareribs, meatballs, sticky rice, etc are made and prepped ahead of time. And "gai lan" takes almost no prep aside from steaming and cutting and then saucing by the cart ladies.

                        As to things like shu mai, har gao, or baos if one person can't crank out 100 in 30 minutes or less they need to be let go.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          As to things like shu mai, har gao, or baos if one person can't crank out 100 in 30 minutes or less they need to be let go.

                          This may not be a hyperbole.

                          I don't remember the head count at DTF but I think it's 6-8 ish. Definitely not 12. They cover the masses just fine and make them all fresh.

                          1. re: Porthos

                            Did I say it was hyperbole?

                            My mom would send me to bed without dinner if I could not crank out dumplings at a 5/minute clip when I was in grade school.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              I took an Asian dumpling class from Andrea Nguyen last weekend. I was surprised at just how quick and easy the dumplings could be assembled. And dough and fillings can be done well in advance. I'll be making some this weekend!

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                I was just pointing out that the comment, though outrageous sounding to those not as familiar with the industry as you, may not be far from the truth. Meaning, I agree :)