Boston area dim sum

Had dim sum at Great Taste last week. Long wait for the food to emerge, after checking off the boxes, but it was worth the wait. Fragrant, freshly steamed sticky rice in lotus leaves, lovely shrimp dumplings with chives in translucent wrappers, pork fried in shredded taro-root, and the always wonderful fried tofu with XO sauce. The only clunker was dry Chinese sausage in a very doughy bun. A friend and I ate well, and the total bill was about $25.


Went to Joyful Garden in the Watertown Mall on Mother’s day. It was legit, similar offerings and quality to any of the big cart places in Chinatown, Also similarly packed at 11:00 on a Sunday. I don’t know whether Mother’s Day contributed to this or if it’s normally that busy on the weekends.


Just to keep things unified a bit, we also have a Joyful Garden thread with a discussion of dim sum there. I’m linking to to it below, to bring that discussion into this fold:

Here are a few take-out dim sum experiences over the past year or so. I know we have a thread specifically on dim sum takeout but I thought I’d park this here and link from there to this post.

  1. We’ve done takeout from China Pearl in Boston several times. Our fondness for China Pearl is largely for its festive atmosphere. We’ve done the Lunar New Year there every year for over twenty years (except occasionally when we’ve been in NYC, whereupon we’ve done Jing Fong), usually with a large group. As for the dim sum itself, there was usually better to be had at Winsor, Great Taste, etc. Over the pandemic, though, they were cooking in small quantities and making a lot of things to order – and the quality shot up. Their dumplings were all very fresh and bursting with flavor. We loved their sticky rice in lotus leaf, their steamed and their fried shrimp dumplings with chives, and their pan fried pork buns. Unfortunately they’ve cut back even further in their Chinatown operations and are now only open weekends.

Eta: China Pearl Dim Sum menus (both locations).

  1. Two days ago we did takeout from Winsor for the first time. (We’d chosen China Pearl over them because CP offers curbside pickup and W requires you to come in.) It was spectacular. Their fried shrimp and chive dumplings were bursting with tender shrimp, the Szechuan tripe was very tender and nicely tingly, and the panfried turnip cakes with xo sauce was, as @sunnyday observed above, much superior to the straight pan fried versions usually available elsewhere. There were three diners in the restaurant when I picked up around 3 p.m. Friday.

Eta: Winsor menu on Chow Bus.

  1. For the sake of old times, we did pickup from Shangri La the weekend before they closed. This was more a nostalgia trip than a great dim sum experience. It was sad to see all the steamer baskets, etc., all piled up, also ostensibly for sale.

To keep separate threads separated let me link here to this comment

@Saregama: Some questions:

  1. What did you get at Winsor?
  2. Which are your NYC usuals with more delicate wrappers?

My usuals include har gow, shiu mai, and cheung fun, plus more depending on how many other people are eating. I also got the steamed spare ribs with black bean.

The dumplings were probably 40% larger than NYC. Har gow skins were thicker and stickier, cheung fun noodle was actually lovely, but the filling ratio was much lower because the noodle was rolled over in more layers. Also the sweet soy wasn’t good - way too sweet. Ribs were good. Flavor of everything was good, but a bit shy of NYC.

From memory, I recall China Pearl being a bit closer to NYC, but I haven’t eaten from there in years now. Need to refresh my memory next time.

My most recent NYC metric is Jing Fong (UWS) which was superb a couple of weeks ago. (Their Ctown branch was not a favorite - I’d take DSGG over it any day.)


Winsor is indeed spectacular. I have no idea why people choose mediocre steam cart joints instead.

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Seems more like nostalgia than anything else here in the US. It’s probably what most Chinese immigrants who’ve been here a while remember, and that’s how many of the dim sum places were set up decades ago. When you go to Hong Kong today, nearly all the dim sum places I went to are like Winsor where you note what you want on the menu and the waitstaff will bring all your dishes to you.

I much prefer this to running around and chasing carts. I guess you don’t always get to see what you order first, if you’re a dim sum newbie, but given that most dishes are small portions I think it’s fun to order blind and give things a try.


I understand the food quality argument that you and @KWagle are making, but let me offer a defense of the spectacle of the cart. There is a real charm in having carts roll by and selecting things from them. And there’s the lovely fading grandeur – all that gold and red – of the “palaces” in which cart action often occurs: the main room at China Pearl, the NYC Chinatown location (now gone) of Jing Fong, etc.

Another argument in favor of the cart is that cart places, in my experience, have greater variety than the menu places. You have that big steam/fry table at CP or JF, for example, with all kinds of steamed and fried seafood, greens, and other stuff. Plus, try to get them to griddle turnip cake at your table in a menu place.

But, I do get the quality over quantity argument – just making a case for variety.


Had another round of spectacular takeout dim sum from Winsor yesterday, spectacular even after a 30 minute drive home. Standouts were the shrimp and chive dumplings (both the steamed and fried versions), the modestly named Shanghai chow mein (with thick, chewy noodles), the deepfried bean curd sheets, and rice cakes with XO sauce (texture tossup between the same dish with slightly less chewy turnip cakes). But the standouts among the standouts were the chau chau dumplings (pork with chopped, crunchy water chestnuts and peanuts), the fried fish cakes (flat, scallion-pancakey disks with a thin layer of fish paste, and really superb panfried dumplings, juicy enough to almost be soup dumplings. There was a lot more, all very good. Total price was $97, but we’ve gotten 6 meals out of it already, with enough left for a good lunch for two tomorrow.

@Saregama had commented above on the differences between Winsor dumplings and the ones from Jing Fong. As it turned out, I had JF dumplings on Tuesday in NY, so did a small test:
The Winsor dumplings are larger, but not by that much. The weights were 1.2 oz and 1.06 oz (JF, har gow and shu mai, respectively) and 1.35 oz 1.15 oz for Winsor for the same dumplings. The wrappers on the Winsor shrimp dumplings were, as @Saregama says, much thicker, as the pictures suggest (you can see through the JF ones). The shu mai wrappers seemed comparable.

While comparing, the Winsor dumplings being compared were $4.75 each for three ($5.79 if you order online), the JF ones $8 (online price).


@fooddabbler and everyone else — any post-pandemic (can we say that now?) dim sum updates?

Heading up in a month or so and ready for a dim sum visit!

(I think the last cart meal I had - pre-pandemic - might have been Hei La Moon…)

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Had dim sum at Ming’s in Quincy last month, and it was quite good. There were push carts, but only for the dishes you check off. They have some slightly unusual/upscale/expensive dishes; I remember liking the cuttle fish ink har gow quite a bit. And place was busy with tons of takeout orders, being ferried from the kitchen to front desk by a few robots constantly asking people to get out their way, much to my own amusement.


Unfortunately, it may be post-pandemic for most of you, but it’s only late-pandemic for me, and my dim-summing in the last two years has largely been take-out from Winsor in Chinatown about which I’ve talked upthread.


Like Fooddabbler, I’m also in late pandemic mode—not dining inside restaurants yet—so I can’t be super helpful. The one tidbit I can offer is that Hei La Moon recently moved. Details here at Boston Restaurant Talk.


I’m being optimistic… I’m not sure I’ll actually do it when push comes to shove… but, planning another booster and staying optimistic.

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Thanks - as I recall one of the benefits of their old spot was parking. Will have to look into the change if we’re going to venture out.


OK, you’ve strong-armed me into a more substantive response. I assume when you come here next you’d like something to compare against NYC, and I’ll use JF as a reference point (in the comparisons below, Winsor is W and Jing Fong is JF):

  1. All standard dumplings (har gau, siu mai, etc,):
    I have to give it to JF on balance (see above).

  2. Turnip cake:
    Again, JF on the looseness of the “cake” over every other tightly packed version.
    Ymmv, and you may well prefer W.

  3. Fried shrimp and chive dumplings:
    Absolutely W.

  4. Sticky rice in lotus leaf:
    Toss-up because the two versions are different. W has Chinese sausage, GF has shrimp.

Apart from all this, the W menu is significantly larger (although it lacks a particular JF favorite: Chicken and Salt Fish Rice) and I suggest you wander off the official dim sum list to “Special Snacks” and visit dishes such as the panfried rice noodle/cake with XO sauce. I haven’t had the time yet (although I do have the gumption) to try “White Turnip & Beef Entrails”, or “Cart Sale Noodle Soup” (intriguing one, that), but perhaps you will and you’ll report back.


Another takeout from Winsor a few days ago, another success. Prices are higher now than a few months ago (as everywhere) and just for the record I’ll list the old and new prices in a few places.

Knockouts (the ones with an “[N]” are ones we tried for the first time):
Chau chau pork dumplings with peanuts (and even crunchier water chestnuts)
[N] Spinach and shrimp dumplings (our usual is shrimp and chive)
[N] Steamed chicken buns (we usually do pork)
Sticky rice in lotus leaf w/sausage
Fried shrimp and chive dumplings (we adore this enough to get 3 orders lately)
[N] Pork and preserved egg congee (if you get it to take out, stir up the salty egg yolks from the bottom).

Price/dish: $4.95 previously, $5.69 now

We also got for the first time salty fish and chicken fried rice (I was wrong above when I said they did not have it) – a light version, but very tasty ($10.95 previously, $12.95 now), brisket lo mein (the beef is 5-spiced), egg yolk lava buns (not as oozy as I’d like), spicy salted squid (a little burnt), and panfried pork dumplings with a pasty pork filling that reminded me a bit texturally of the pasty beef fillings in many Jamaican beef patties.

Our usual dessert here is the silken tofu, always excellent.

With tax and tip the total cost was a shade north of $150. We got about 10 meals out of it (but we’re no longer the huge eaters of yore). $15/meal is very good value for food of this quality, but it’s not rock-bottom-cheap either.


If you like your lava buns oozy, you should do a quick resteam to get it super hot! Most dim sum places don’t get them to true flowing stage, probably for safety reasons as well.

One of my favorites at Windsor is their crispy bean curd sheet rolls. When they do that will, it’s a crisp, not too oily, really tasty, and vegetarian roll.

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Won’t that further congeal/cook the yolks?