Not very encouraging. So I guess you don’t put much stock in the NYT write-up. I would not consider the UWS location, as we stay in Chinatown when we’re in the city.
The food at the UWS is comparable the Chinatown location (although, as you say, more expensive), and the panfried radish/turnip cake is actually much better at the UWS. I agree that the service is a weak point. My experience with the food has ranged from pretty good to ok. I have had the occasional very tasty dish there, and nothing comes to mind as being bad.
I just scanned the NYT article - it’s more of a writeup on an old local institution that’s still around with the third generation joining the business (than suggesting it’s better than anywhere else).
I’ve taken guests there because of the “typical” banquet room and carts, and they’ve enjoyed it. Golden Unicorn generates a similar reaction.
Nom Wah was similarly written up a few years ago which sparked new interest, especially from visitors - the long lines were not because the food was better (most of it is better elsewhere). But history is worth something, and a NYT article will do a lot for a place.
Haven’t been to Golden Unicorn or to 88 Palace yet. Both seem to please people. A couple of years ago we went to Joy Luck Palace after reading some good write-up somewhere. We went with some cousins who live in Portland, OR. They were very unimpressed.
I tried joy luck palace twice with completely different experiences.
The first time, they seemed to have run out of food at a little past noon. There was a long wait while they replenished, and even then the same few carts made the round over and over. 45 mins later, after trying a couple of the available dumplings (that were mediocre compared to the usuals), we left and went elsewhere.
The second time, they were in better shape. The food was plentiful and circulating. Their har gow might have been the best at the time - plump, tasty, skin just right. The other dumplings were good, everything with slightly thicker skins than elsewhere, but also better stuffed and well flavored.
When I tried to go back, they had already shut down for good.
It’s worth trying different places when one’s risk is low - ie for locals. But if you’re coming in and eat dim sum rarely, I always suggest the same two places. You may have a 7/10 meal instead of 8 or 9, but it won’t be much lower than that, and someone who isn’t eating there (or similar) all the time will likely place it higher than my own ongoing assessment over many visits.
There are, of course, non-Chinatown options that are of higher quality and flavor than anything available in Chinatown, at a price premium of course.
Have you tried Shun Lee on the UWS? I’m curious how they compare, because the price points are similar.
Shun Lee used to be excellent, but has had several cycles of awful back to good in the past two decades. Currently okay but not great imo.
I noticed another place opening up - on Columbus maybe? Tri Dim - believe they have one one the UES.
I didn’t know that Joy Luck Palace had closed its doors to the public. So I looked them up and found the report on eater.com. That’s probably where I came across them in the first place. We liked the place, but as I mentioned, our cousins from Portland did not.
About 15 years ago we went to one of the upper scale Chinese places with cousins from Westchester. It may have been Shun Lee Palace. At the time there were two or three like that. We liked it very much.
Do you know anything about Golden Unicorn or 88 Palace?
Have not eaten at Shun Lee in at least two decades. I was taken to dinner there (I think at the time it was in a different location), and I remember generally liking the food and generally being awestruck at the prices. Didn’t know about Tri Dim. Thanks for the tip.
Golden unicorn is where I take people for the cart experience. Food is good, consistent, and their machine is well oiled for the weekend rush.
Non-cart go-to is Dim Sum Go Go. I don’t veer much from these for visitors unless there are extenuating circumstances.
Shun Lee had two locations - east and west. They closed the east side one a while back.
Don’t take Tri Dim as a tip - I’ve never eaten there
We like that place, too.
From this: http://www.shunleerestaurants.com/ it appears that both locations are still open. It must have been the east side location I ate at.
While we’re digging into the past, these two are interesting:
Realized I have been remiss in coming back to correct my view of the UWS Jing Fong, which is now my favorite non-Chinatown dim sum option.
The food is excellent (the service less so, but that’s not why I go there, so it’s not really worth digressing).
Thin skins, perfectly cooked, some interesting options (crispy mushroom cheung fin for eg) — not a lot that I haven’t enjoyed immensely.
My experience of Jing Fong changed over the year. Initially, I liked it ok. I didn’t think it was that great. Over the years, I actually gradually like it more. I like Gold Unicorn a little better, but Jing Fong selection is excellent. They also had freshly cooked small plates…etc.
I agree with bcc that Jing Fong is not “no-hold-barred”, but it is good.
Over the past two years my impression of Jing Fong has gone up, too. I actually liked Tim Ho Wan when they first opened (I managed to get there twice on weekdays when there wasn’t a line), and then when they opened a branch on 9th between 43rd and 44th I ate there several times. My early experiences of Jing Fong were in Chinatown where I took groups of people for Lunar New Year, more for the spectacle. The food was a bit uneven, but there was a lot of variety. In the last three years I’ve gotten dim sum (and other dishes) from Jing Fong and have come to like them more. Previous comments on Jing Fong (mainly comparing it to a Boston dim sum stalwart) are here and here.
Another enjoyable meal at Jing Fong UWS this weekend.
Sadly, they seem to have done away with my favorite crispy wild mushroom cheung fun, but the shrimp (wafer) version was also very good (my companion had never eaten it before and loved it so much we got a second order.
Tried a new-to-me dumpling - spinach, shrimp, and crab - which was pretty tasty.
The har gow were a bit less refined than the last few times I’ve visited (slightly thicker and stickier skins), but still tasty.
( I don’t know that this is reflective of anything, but I had not noticed in previous visits that they are well-patronized by folks who appear to be of East Asian origin - we sat outdoors, and were one of only 2 non-Asian parties.)
Has Jing Fong improved since it had to move out of the big eating hall on Elizabeth St.? I always found it fine before, just never really standout, though if you could get things hot, there were something pretty pleasant items.
My better experiences have been with the UWS location. As I mentioned upthread, my experiences of the Chinatown branch were in the big hall, usually when I took groups of people there for a Lunar New Year celebration (it was that if I was in NYC, or China Pearl if I was in Boston), more for the atmosphere and spectacle than for the food (some dishes were very good, but many were, as you say, just OK). I haven’t been to the Chinatown location since the big hall closed, but have had the UWS food about a dozen times in the last 3 years. As I said, it’s been improving and is now, as @Saregama observes, quite good overall.