Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Philadelphia Dim Sum


vigna
 Share

Recommended Posts

I think you're right, the only things I've seen Lakeside push without being ordered are the fried balls of crunchiness. I can imagine that it would be weird if one was expecting a range of dim sum to be offered like a typical cart place, but I usually just ignore them and order from the menu.

As will certainly be documented here, the Ducks and company are trying to eventually visit all the places that do dim sum around town, so hopefully, soon, we'll have pretty recent reports from most of the places, at which point it'll be time to start again. Darn.

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My guess with the deal with bringing only the fried stuff out is to ensure some degree of freshness and hotness. The trouble with carts is that once they've made their rounds a couple of times, the fried stuff that hasn't been taken get cold and soggy. At Lakeside, I'm guessing that they fry (or reheat) a bunch of the fried stuff out when a new batch of people arrive. Everything else is probably sitting in the back on steamers or a big vat.

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Four of us went to Lakeside for dinner probably a little over a month ago and got a bunch of dim sum. It was all good, but the general consensus was that Ocean Harbor is substantially better for dim sum; I myself think there's no comparison. Speaking quite generally the depth of flavor I get at Ocean Harbor just wasn't there.

See, that's interesting, because I had a completely unmemorable experience at Ocean Harbor -- which I'm willing to write off because we went super-late (2, maybe 3PM) and they were almost shutting down for the day, so things weren't as fresh as they could have been.

That is the main reason I'm a fan of Lakeside (in small groups!) -- relative freshness of product compared to the other places I've been (Imperial Inn, Ocean Harbor, Ocean City, Joy Tsin Lau). Nothing beats the Bay Area for American dim sum, but Lakeside satisfies my jones... especially the steamed BBQ pork buns, lotus leaf-wrapped sticky rice, and har gow. I had a bowl of the bigjases' congee, which was tasty as well (and it comes with the crullers and stuff already mixed in, which isn't true at all the Chinatown places).

I'll have to try Ocean Harbor earlier in the day. Also, I hate translating Chinese dishes into awkward English phrases, cause, well, it's awkward. ("Cruller" is better than "fried dough", though.) And finally, I promise to stop ordering everything all at once -- I will learn to pace myself!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Percyn, what's the dish second to the left in the bottom row?

How was the food in terms of quality? It's hard to tell from the pictures, but some of the dishes don't look all that well executed (the cha siu bao, for example--the bao part looks dry, and the lotus-wrapped sticky rice looks like it barely has any filling--but like I said, it's hard to tell from pictures...).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Percyn, what's the dish second to the left in the bottom row?

That's the squid, which was fried in what seemed like rice flour or cornstarch.

Overall I thought the quality was good, though some commented that Lakeside was better. I do prefer the tripe from Lakeside and yes Lakeside's cha siu bao is probably better too.

A few dishes from Imperial Inn stick out in memory though...those are the duck, the crab claw, the shumai, chicken satay (could have been a hit warmer) and the squid.

I welcome other Dim Sum Mafia attendees to comment....

The food highlight of the day for me did not occur during Dim Sum, but came in the form of take out I grabbed from Penang while in Chinatown.

Chicken (bone-in) Rendang w/Roti - OOOOHHHH SOOOOO GOOOOD !!! Reminds me of a dish I used to get from a small restaurant in my childhood, expect that version came with a hard boiled egg in the gravy.

387277968_21e7a742a0_o.jpg

Edited by percyn (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

How was the food in terms of quality?  It's hard to tell from the pictures, but some of the dishes don't look all that well executed (the cha siu bao, for example--the bao part looks dry, and the lotus-wrapped sticky rice looks like it barely has any filling--but like I said, it's hard to tell from pictures...).

it was more 'industrial' seeming. i mean, i'm not sure how to put it. but at ocean city, for instance, even though it's a giant place like imperial in, it doesn't seem as rushed or... well, kinda brusque.

the duck was great. the tripe was real tasty, but watch for the chunks of vegetables in there -- some are actually thumb-size pieces of ginger. salt baked squid also enjoyable.

p.s. what i mean to say is if i'm doing dim sum, there are several other places i'd choose above this one.

Edited by mrbigjas (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Beautiful pictures, Percy. So that's what you got at Penang. We got some sesame noodles at Lakeside afterwards. yum!

Now back to the dim sum...I'd say the quality at Imperial Inn wasn't as good as Lakeside. The duck and the greens were probably the best of the lot. The duck had a crispy skin, and the greens were nice and garlicky. I also liked the stuffed peppers, the congee, and the tripe. Good, but not great. The rest of the dim sum just wasn't warm or tasty enough. The har gow fell apart when I tried taking it out of the steamer. Basically just two pieces of frozen shrimp wrapped in dough. The turnip cake lacked the essential oyster sauce. When I asked the waitress, she just gave me a blank look. Hmpf. And yes prasantrin, the sticky rice in lotus leaf was a little light on the filling--mostly sausage and not much else. So Imperial Inn is not the best I've had, but I've had worse.

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Id have to agree with most people here and say Lakeside. The Chinatown isnt that large and Id say they have the best dim sum around there. The people are nice and the food is decent. I only say decent because Im from NYC and the food is definetly alot better there.

Besides, Lakeside may be closing soon because the owners may be retiring

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks to Katie for the heads-up: Elisa Ludwig does a dim-sum survey in the City Paper.

Her conclusions seem to generally square with those in this topic (at least so far, we haven't had many reports from South Philly yet...)

I'd only argue with her diss of the baby bok choy at Lakeside. I almost always get that, and it's always been great when I've ordered it.

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

As always, nice pics, Phil.

I was under-impressed by Saigon Maxim. The fried dumplings were excellent. They have a portable fry cart that comes around to finish them off, which is just brilliant; I think I need one of those for my own house. And the deep-fried bacon-wrapped shrimp nuggets were great. (How could they not be?)

But everything else was only okay, I thought. Many of the steamed dishes were over-steamed and gummy, and none of them really rocked my world.

It could be because it was Saturday; the place was fairly empty, and there wasn't a lot of turnover or a huge amount of variety. A Sunday trip might be more satisfying, I don't know.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As always, nice pics, Phil.

I was under-impressed by Saigon Maxim.  The fried dumplings were excellent.  They have a portable fry cart that comes around to finish them off, which is just brilliant; I think I need one of those for my own house.  And the deep-fried bacon-wrapped shrimp nuggets were great.  (How could they not be?)

But everything else was only okay, I thought.  Many of the steamed dishes were over-steamed and gummy, and none of them really rocked my world.

It could be because it was Saturday; the place was fairly empty, and there wasn't a lot of turnover or a huge amount of variety.  A Sunday trip might be more satisfying, I don't know.

I thought they had more hits than that: the pork and peanut and the chives dumplings, the turnip cakes, the baked deserty stuff in the last picture. I thought only the more popular steamed stuff suffered, and I do believe that was because they had piles of it sitting on one cart most of the time we were there. And my search for decent sticky rice continues. I'm in the "Let's try a Sunday camp".

And Jeff, you are a proud, proud man: where's the picture of the turnip cake, huh? Couldn't do it, could ya?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think we were all pretty much on the same page: the freshly-fried dumplings were very nice, both the pork-filled ones, and those greenish looking ones that were stuffed with chives and no small amount of garlic.

The pork and peanut dumplings were good, but the beef and peanut version at Lakeside is a touch better, I felt.

The beef that was used in the steamed meatballs and as a filling for the rice-noodle rolls had an interesting sweet, citrusy tang. But there wasn't nearly enough filling in those rice rolls, and the noodles had indeed gotten a bit gummy, well, gummier than they should be.

The sticky rice had a nice variety of treasures hidden in the rice, but it sadly just didn't taste like much. The steamed barbecue pork buns were good, but not too different from others we've gotten around town, that's one item that's been pretty reliably decent most places I've been. Lakeside's were better, probably because they're inherently fresher.

The sweet stuff was fine, but not exciting.

Service was generally pleasant, but even though the place was pretty empty, we had some really long gaps when we couldn't get anyone's attention, either for more food, or just refills on tea or water.

I think a sunday visit might be in order just to see what they can do when firing on all cylinders, but there wasn't much calling me back other than the fried dumplings.

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Beautiful pics, philadining.

Fry carts, cool. Chive dumplings are one of my favs, but the problem is that they're usually not fried enough, and they looked good here.

Not having been on this round, by looking at the har gow, the skin does not appear as translucent as it should be. That's something that can be corrected by a Saturday/Sunday. Also, I've never seen greens on the rice rolls before. Not that it's a bad thing...just saying.

But since I haven't been yet, I'll be willing to give a Sunday a try.

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

Hi folks,

I'm bumping up this thread to ask for your suggestions... My fiance and I are planning an October wedding in Center City. Since neither of our families (or friends from college/high school) live in the area, we will have a lot of out of town guests. We're excited that our (mostly midwest-based) family will get a chance to leave their cars at home and experience Philadelphia like we do on a daily basis.

Keeping that in mind, we'd like to throw a morning-after-the-wedding "brunch" and to avoid pricey hotel warming trays of scrambled eggs, and let people see more of the city, we were thinking that dim sum would fit the bill nicely.

So, the challenge is to find a dim sum place that could accommodate a party of 100+ on a Sunday morning. I think that the carts are the way to go, and we'd pick up the tab at the end.

Our guests will be concentrated in several hotels around 18th and the Parkway (proximity to the wedding venue). We'd prefer to not have to pay for a bus to shuttle people... so if they could walk/cab it easily, that would be best.

Our usual dim sum places are Lakeside (too small), and Saigon Maxim (too far... you could take a cab there, but getting back would be tough, especially for out-of-towners).

My knowledge of the rest of the Chinatown dim sum scene is lacking... any suggestions of places that would have large enough space or private rooms and have good dim sum? No point in singing the praises of dim sum only to bring people to a subpar place.

Ocean City? Imperial Inn? Does anyone have experience in attending a large dim sum gathering in the city?

Thanks in advance! We're looking forward to lots of "research" for this event.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i still prefer ocean city. and the upstairs room is definitely big enough to host your party. they always seem to have crepe paper and banners and whatnot up there, so they're used to having lots of people. in fact the front of the room is kind of separated, and has a stage and everything, and a whole bunch of tables. i bet you could fit your 100+ people in there.

sounds awesome.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i still prefer ocean city.  and the upstairs room is definitely big enough to host your party.  they always seem to have crepe paper and banners and whatnot up there, so they're used to having lots of people.  in fact the front of the room is kind of separated, and has a stage and everything, and a whole bunch of tables.  i bet you could fit your 100+ people in there.

sounds awesome.

yeah, I second ocean city. they're my favorite cart place so far (to be fair, haven't been to ocean harbor or joy tsin lau; on the other hand, I never really hear anything great about those places for dim sum). I went to a banquet there maybe four years ago and I want to say there were close to a hundred people there, so you should be ok. don't know if they'd do carts for a private party, though, or if everything would have to be plated, but regardless, it would be fun!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ocean City was my favorite dim sum place in the city until I went to Ocean Harbor. Both are big, both can accommodate banquets (in fact when we were at Ocean Harbor for dim sum yesterday there was a banner wishing some Natalie Nguyen a happy birthday in the back over the stage), and both have solid dim sum.

I think that Ocean Harbor surpasses Ocean City in terms of quality (food is slightly better), variety (I've been there many times and every time I go I spot something I've never seen before on one of the carts), and friendliness (Ocean Harbor is the only dim sum place I've been to - and trust me I've been to many in boston, nyc, and toronto - that gives the white people the warm dim sum. i.e. removes the container on the top of the pile to serve you one of the ones underneath, closer to the warming device).

We usually go to Ocean Harbor on the weekends during peak dim sum hours, but they also serve dim sum on the weekdays (from 11:30 - 3 I believe) if you want to check it out during off peak hours. There will be fewer carts but everything is just as good.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 7 months later...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...