I'd arranged to take a dear friend out for dim sum, and although I hadn't eaten at Chau Chow City in a few years, I was drawn by their green-lipped mussels in a mayo-shallots-bechamel sauce. It had always been divine. We walked through the tired decor of the first floor and up to the dim sum area on second floor and were seated immediately. Good sign. Here are some observations in no particular order:
* This was New Year's Day and despite this, there wasn't a sense of hubbub that one gets in a truly good dim sum restaurant.
* Noted more Caucasian than Asian diners. Might be a sign. Might not.
* Not a lot of carts and all moving slowly.
* Ordered the Japanese eggplant with shrimp paste from the hot-cart and asked the server (who spoke no English) that it be served hot. It came to the table stone cold.
* Finally spied those mussels which I had remembered as hot and unctuous. You guessed it, cold and mussels rubbery.
* Pork dumplings were similarly cold -- the wrapper thick and unappealing.
* Lobster rice dumplings appeared to be half shrimp, half lobster.
* The vinyl tablecloths all look and feel generally grubby and the room in its entirety seems stale and worn out and vaguely unclean.
To sum up: Chau Chow City's food was significantly below par. Setting was unpleasant. 99% of serving staff were completely unable to understand English. And, to top it off, it was more expensive than my usual other favorite dim sum palace elsewhere in Chinatown. I do not plan to return.