Dim Sum at 88 Palace in Manhattan Chinatown
We love dim sum at Serious Eats, but don't eat it as much as we'd like to. Although eating dim sum is a casual affair, it takes more planning than a typical brunch; preferably, you'd have a group of at least ten people to get the most variety out of your buffet-on-wheels. And then a solution appeared: Why don't we plan to eat at a dim sum restaurant once a month and report on the goods? Oh, what tough assignments we have.
For our first group dim sum outing (with ten people, as it should be), we chose 88 Palace, the same dim sum restaurant that Calvin Trillin went to on his eating tour earlier this month. Overall the dim sum was good—not the best, not that bad—and cost only $9 per person. You could find more variety at other restaurants though. Here are the highlights of our meal, after the jump.
Har Gow (shrimp dumplings): Steamed dumplings made with wheat starch and tapioca starch are filled with sweet shrimpy goodness.
Gou Choy Gow (Pan fried chives and shrimp dumplings): These crispy skinned dumplings are well stuffed with ground chive and shrimp.
Beef meatballs with tofu skin: Soft and super-moist. Balls of meat, you've done well.
Pig stomach herbal soup: Don't let the name turn you off; it's surprisingly good. Pig stomach has a pleasingly chewy, meaty texture, and the "medicinal" soup was really tasty.
Steamed Cha Siu Bao (roast pork buns): Soft, fluffy, light-as-a-cloud bread filled with sweet bits of roast pork. Dim sum doesn't feel complete without roast pork buns.
Baked Cha Siu Bao: Sweeter than what I'm used to, but still good.
Steamed pork spare ribs: These were okay—juicy and somewhat tender. It's hard to mess up this dish.
Haa Churng (Rice noodle rolls stuffed with shrimp): Soft, slightly chewy sheets of rolled up rice noodles filled with shrimp and doused with sweet soy sauce. It's one of my favorite Chinese dishes.
Jun Gee Gai (Lotus leaf-wrapped sticky rice and meat): Soft, chewy sticky rice mixed with fatty pork bits, chicken, and Chinese sausage. Yes, you want this.
Naw Mai Fan (Sticky rice): Like steamed sticky rice infused with meat bits, but drier and chewier. One of my favorite dishes.
Tripe n' stuff: Only for the adventurous...
Rice noodle-wrapped fried dough: Slightly sweet, chewy, airy fried sticks of dough wrapped in sheets of rice noodles may seem like a weird combination, but the different textures go together well. And it's two carbs in one.
Deep-fried mantou (steamed bread) with condensed milk: Little nuggets of soft, steamed bread surrounded by a thin, crispy, golden crust went well with the sweet, condensed milk. This was the first time I had ever seen this dessert, although I had heard of it before.
Egg custard tarts: There were some of the flakiest egg custard tarts I had ever come across. Warm, light, flaky, and delicious.
Jin Dui (deep-fried sesame seed rice balls): Possibly my favorite Chinese dessert ever. Chewy, crispy glutinous rice balls coated in sesame seeds and filled with thick, sweet red bean paste.
Mini Jin Dui: A miniature version of the above. Easier on the stomach, but the smaller size messes up the glutinous rice-to-filling ratio.
Boiled chicken feet: Even for those who normally like chicken feet, these were a miss. If you go, bypass the boiled version from the steam table in favor of the braised ones served off of the carts.
88 East Broadway, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10002 (the East Broadway Mall under the Manhattan Bridge; map)