Houston Dim Sum

Mr DSG and I had a wonderful dim sum lunch on Friday. We ate at Golden Palace on Bellaire. We had spare ribs, siu mai, tofu skin rolls and lop cheung bao. We ate until we were stuffed and the bill was only $8.60! I cannot believe how well one can eat in Houston for such a reasonable amount!

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A couple of years ago, I read an article somewhere about Dorothy Huang, a Chinese cookbook author and teacher, who was offering classes in Houston. After a bit of research, I signed up for the “dim sum lunch.” Ms. Huang took us to Golden Palace. It was a wonderful afternoon. She was so knowledgeable and friendly, and what a treat to be there with such an experienced and helpful guide. She gave us all checklists with everything available and we, with her advice, chose exactly what to order. Like everyone else, I made notes about which things I preferred and wanted to order again. However, unlike everyone else (I suspect anyway), I pretty soon afterwards misplaced my list.

But I am mentioning this because, according to Ms. Huang, the reason she took us to Golden Palace was because it’s her favorite dim sum restaurant in the city.

So, DSG, good choice!

http://www.houstoncooking.com/dorothy_huang.htmof

BTW - if I recall correctly, you’re from the SFO Bay Area, right? My son & family live out there and I visit often. My son’s best friend is an ABC and we’ve been to dim sum frequently at Koi Palace, and at a couple of the places in Milpitas. Since you’ve got “dim sum” in your name, I’m assuming you’re a good one to ask about best places. What do you think about Koi Palace, and those two big restaurants in Milpitas? Where would you recommend we try next?

There used to be “classes” like that in the Leisure Learning catalogs. I’ll try to remember to pick one up if I see it.

DSG, Was it “by order” or did they have the rolling carts on a Friday?

No carts. Strictly by order although the menu listed prices which were way more than we paid. I expected that our bill was going to be at least double what we paid.

Hi there
I have never been to Koi Palace although the reports are that it is the best in the area. Yank Sing is also excellent for dim sum. Let us know the next time you are out here. I’ll take the day off and come meet you!

I’ll definitely do that, thanks! I’ll round up the whole family. It’ll be pretty fun, I’m sure. Appreciate the offer.

That has to be a mistake! $8.60 for both of you?? Sorry the group missed you. When you next return maybe we can schedule a dim sum group event. I would definitely need a guide for that.

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I know I was shocked too. But that was the bill. (Before tip of course). What I’ve noticed is that we can eat in Houston and not get charged the $1.25 - $2.00 per person for tea and the same amount for a small bowl of rice that we get charged in CA.

A couple of threads to get you started:

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Michelin starred dim sum restaurant coming to the Galleria - it’s a year away, though.

Houstonia

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Wow, Bruce…that’s really something. And such stunning dishes. Pretty exciting. I get that the Galleria area is probably the perfect location for an upscale eaterie like this, but I wish it were going in somewhere else. I usually avoid the Galleria like the plague because of the traffic and parking. This will be one place where I’ll actually hope for valet.

Yes, I think a commentor on one of the linked articles said this ‘Jewel Box’ addition to the Galleria is aimed at the upper 1% of the upper 1% - I’m not their kind of folk. But it is parking and traffic around the Galleria that has kept me away from ever trying E-Tao for the soup dumplings.

I’ve been a little under the weather this week so will try to do a little catching up. I ran by Dim Sum To Go in the Viet Hoa Center, also known as the Beltway Plaza, on BW8 @ Beechnut. A friend who is a a bit of a dim sum fancier told me about this place a couple of years ago and I’ve been a handful of times. I thought I’d refresh my memories before tomorrow’s excursion. He stops off on the way home from work regularly.

Pork Shao Mai (pork meatball dumpling) and Har Gow (shrimp dumpling). The skins on the shrimp dumplings are a bit more translucent than they appear in the photo. These are packaged 4 to a tray (the pricing on the website is irrelevant) and come with a sweet soy sauce and house made chili sauce (pictured).

Lo Mai Gai - glutinous rice stuffed and steamed in lotus leaf. Filling is pork plus other ingredients. This is my first time to try this.

Rice noodle roll (coeng fan?). The online menu says fresh jumbo shrimp but this is dried shrimp and scallion. Also first time for this.

Hong Dao Crispy Cake is the correct name for this I think, sweetened azuki red bean paste in a baked, flaky, but very dry and dense, pastry. I’ve had steamed versions of this from 6 Ping bakery (there’s a location in the same center) and Hong Kong Market and I prefer the steamed version of this - but then, 6 Ping is pretty hard to beat for Chinese pastries.

I also had a steamed milk custard bun that I neglected to take a picture of but was very good.

I had concluded this is a father-son operation and that is borne out by the About Us link on the website and posts on Facebook. They don’t post often but it’s interesting.

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Alice Levitt in Gastronaut

I’ve come across several mentions lately of this ‘unheralded’ place - sounds like it should surely be on any Dim Sum Smackdown or Dim Sum Tour, or, uh, Dim Sum Dish of the Month agenda.

Our Dim Sum gathering was at Golden Dim Sum, 10600 Bellaire, about a half mile outside BW8, on the right side of the street headed west, just before Kim Son on the left. I’d never heard of it before and it’s easy to miss, back in the corner of the center with a small street side sign.

It is our host’s favorite place, I’m told. Arriving about 11:20 on a Saturday, it was only about 25% full but filled up by noon and stayed packed with a line of waiting customers at the front of the restaurant. I was told it’s even busier on Sundays. It was more than 90% Asian clientele.

We started wth several dishes to share off the regular Cantonese menu. You order off a menu (displayed on the website); there are no carts. Once the food started arriving, my group went into a boarding house feeding frenzy. This was not a group of foodies taking time to compare the finer points of dumplings and steamed buns, etc., this was a bunch of ravenous animals. I had a blast and will look forward to going again (as well as trying some other dim sum places where the experience may be a bit less frenetic). I was sitting next to the host who did all the orderng and kept shoveling food onto my plate saying ‘You ordered this, eat this.’ I had no idea what some of it was and several things I asked for never appeared.

I thought the pork and shrimp shiu mai was much better than Dim Sum to Go but not the shrimp dumpling. The baked milk custard bun was light years better. I’ve had better versions of the fried turnip cake and steamed bbq pork buns. I was seated in the corner, opposite the point where the servers put the dishes down on the Lazy Susan and missed out on several dishes I wanted to try because they were all gone by the time they got to me including the fried pork dumplings and fried shrimp puff. But I was stuffed and my friend kept shoveling food onto my plate and got a to go box for me.

There was absolutely no time for pictures. Next time, I will just leave the camera at home and be much more aggressive in asking and reaching for what I want. And pick my place at the table more carefully.

We ordered 18 dishes, I think. There were 11 of us and the bill came to $105 and some change. With tax and a 25% + tip, it was $13 a person, a bargain for all that food. We paid cash which gets a 5% discount.

Besides the pictures on the website there are several hundred photos on Yelp!, many uploaded by the owner, and a short video of the interior of the restaurant. Yelp reviews are all over the place, of course.

So when are we going to have a dim sum get-together? Give me a couple of weeks to recover from this one and I’m ready to eat!

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They say on their website that the chef is well known from the SF Bay Area. Any idea who that is and where he/she worked before?

LOL. It is always helpful to space the order out by submitting several separate orders. I go into ‘ravenous animal mode’ when I don’t want to see a steaming hot tray of dimsum getting cold. Then again, its not as much fun if 5 steaming hot trays of dimsum all arrive at the same time.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s just puffery but I’ll ask my friend if he knows next time I see him.

I had lunch with my friend today. He said he knows the owner of Golden Dim Sum and has known him for years but doesn’t know the chef. He mentioned he/she was from SF but didn’t know where he had worked (I asked). He did say that would mean he/she was from Hong Kong; as he put it ‘all the Dim Sum chefs in San Francisco are from Hong Kong.’

I asked him about why he goes to Golden Dim Sum. He says he used to move the events around but by general agreement among the participants, they settled on Golden because of quality, consistency and cost.

He says Golden Palace was good 20 years ago but he won’t go there now; he says it has gone way down hill. He says Fung’s is good but inconsistent and pricey. The meal we had at Golden Dim Sum for $13 each, including a generous tip and a 5% cash discount, would have cost about $21 at Fung’s. He takes clients and people he just wants to impress to Fung’s and they love the restaurant but he takes friends he wants to share good Chinese food with to Golden.

I asked him about cart service vs. ordering off a list and he was very emphatic that he prefers ordering off a list. He repeatedly stressed that ‘Chinese people like food hot,’ really stressing hot over and over. Food that is not hot is not that good, he said. At a restaurant with carts, food may come out of the kitchen and it could be 15 minutes before it gets to your table. At a restaurant where you order off a list, food should come directly out of the kitchen to your table and that will be better. The implication was that non-Chinese people don’t value hot food as much.

He says in Hong Kong the old line Dim Sum places still use carts but all the newer places don’t.

And that’s the wisdom of Wah Li regarding dim sum.

I’ve found out he does these get togethers every couple of months not just twice a year so there should be another one coming up in a few weeks. I hope I behaved myself well enough last time to be invited again.

[quote=“brucesw, post:19, topic:2122”]
I asked him about cart service vs. ordering off a list and he was very emphatic that he prefers ordering off a list. He repeatedly stressed that ‘Chinese people like food hot,’ really stressing hot over and over. Food that is not hot is not that good, he said. At a restaurant with carts, food may come out of the kitchen and it could be 15 minutes before it gets to your table. At a restaurant where you order off a list, food should come directly out of the kitchen to your table and that will be better. The implication was that non-Chinese people don’t value hot food as much.[/quote]

Yes this can be sometimes a problem with carts that the steamed food cool down a little. There are four ways around it.

  • If the dining hall is big, get a table near the kitchen entrance where the carts come out.
  • Walk straight up to the carts that just come out of the kitchen with your ticket and get your steamers instead of letting them come to you.
  • Instruct the cart person to get you the steamers stacked in the middle vs the top (where it loses heat quicker)
  • Or, if the steamers they set on your table barely has steam coming out, just tell them to take them back.

There is no fun eating steamed dim sum that aren’t steaming (and off-topic, any type of noodle soup). Fried and baked stuff can arrive warm for me. Btw, all of these are culturally acceptable (and normal) so it is not being pushy.

I personally think that the temperature differences between getting orders from servers versus carts aren’t that big, especially if you don’t have a table in the hinterlands. It takes the server time to drop the steamers off from table to table so food can cool down as well.

There aren’t too many of those in HK that still use carts really.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

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