Dim Sum Favorites at Jing Fong in Chinatown
People frequently ask me, "What's the best dim sum in New York City?" My answer is always the same: "I don't know." Unfortunately, my Chinese heritage does nothing for my knowledge of good Chinese food.
But I can say what dim sum restaurant I've been to the most: Jing Fong. It's huge, crowded, and chaotic during dim sum prime time (around noon, although the earlier the better) on the weekends. So far I've been satisfied with the food, a big draw being that you can mindlessly pull dishes from the carts and still only end up paying $15 or less per person.
Here are some of my favorite dim sum dishes that I've been eating for the past few decades. By no means is this a definitive guide, considering that my tastes fall on the tame side. But if you're wondering, I have tried the Chinese favorite of chicken feet, and its a few light years away from my list of "Foods I Would Repeatedly Eat and Recommend to Others."
Rice noodle rolls: If you like rice noodles (my personal favorite due to the slight bouncy chewiness), you'll love rice noodles rolls. They're just large sheets of steamed rice noodle—most commonly filled with bits of dried shrimp, pork, or beef—rolled up and given a squirt of sweet soy sauce.
Deep-fried bacon-wrapped shrimp: This dish doesn't need further description. The name contains all the major key words of "want": deep-fried, bacon, shrimp.
Chinese broccoli: You have to go to the buffet-style table in the middle of the dining floor for this: a huge plate piled with more sweet, slightly crunchy Chinese broccoli than you think you can eat. You should get this to offset all the carbs and fat in your belly.
Taro cake: These dense, rectangular slabs of pan-fried taro and rice flour studded with bits of pork are lightly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. On its own it has a slightly sweet flavor from the taro, but needs to be dipped in the accompanying oyster sauce for that punch of salty, umami goodness. This also requires a trip to the central buffet table.
Fried sticky rice: Sticky rice is commonly prepared steamed in lotus leaves, but this version has the additional benefit of being fried, making it a little drier and chewier. It's full of all kinds of goodies like sweet, fatty bits of Chinese sausage, mushrooms, and peanuts.
Any steamed dumpling made with wheat starch and tapioca skin: Aka, any dumpling with translucent skin. The most typical are the pink har gao, or shrimp dumplings, but I'm a big fan of the snow pea leaf and shrimp dumplings. I honestly don't know what's in the other ones (we pretty much grabbed any transluscent-skinned dumpling that came our way), but as they're all good, I don't think it matters.
Deep-fried sesame glutinous rice balls: These sweet lotus seed paste-filled, sesame-covered balls are meant to be eaten for dessert, but I have no problem starting my meal with these babies. Additionally, I think I once ate more than ten of these in one night (in a miniature version, if that makes any difference). Each bite is a combination of nutty, crispy, chewy, sticky, and sweet. It's easily my favorite Chinese dessert, although egg custard tarts come in at a close second.
20 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY 10013 (b/n Canal Street and Bayard Street; map)