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Columbia Dim Sum - Impressions of Oriental East and Jesse Wongs Hong Kong [long]

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Columbia Dim Sum - Impressions of Oriental East and Jesse Wongs Hong Kong [long]

Dzoey | Sep 11, 2005 09:00 PM

After reading many posts on this board about the wonders of dim sum, I decided to try tasting dim sum again after having been put off initially when I tried it about 15 years ago in Vancouver (I'd never had authentic chinese food before and was completely unprepared). I've been to both Jesse Wongs and Oriental East a half dozen times. My appreciation for dim sum has grown with familiarity and what was first a little scary I now view with anticipation. I do not know the names of the dishes I selected, just how they are described to me when the cart rolls past the table. I tend to rate flavor over authenticity, but am happiest when both are aligned. The food at both is good, and many of the same dishes are available at both (is dim sum a traditional fixed set of dishes?)

I found the cooking at Jesse Wongs to be lighter and less oily, at least for the dumplings. Jesse Wongs also has more dumpling choices that circulate and the carts seem to circulate more often. The shrimp and leek dumplings were light and had no taste of oil. There was also a scallop-in-spinach-tortellini that was excellent, tying east and west together. Not heavy or soggy at all. The stuffed bean curd was good as well with the filling keeping its texture amid the wet bean curd. There was a cut-up chicken in soy sauce that was OK, but nothing special. The sticky rice (a favorite of my kids) was very sticky and the rice tended to stick to the leaf wrapper - this was somewhat frustrating for the kids. The baked BBQ pork bun was sticky and very sweet, so much so that some of the bbq flavor was masked. The ribs were OK and nicely suckable. The atmosphere and location of Jesse Wongs is very nice. It is well lit, clean, and well decorated. The staff is friendly and patient, ("What's in that?") most speak English, and made me feel comfortable.

We enjoy the food at Oriental East as well. The sticky rice is very good, not too sticky and packs a lot of flavor. The baked BBQ pork buns are very good, having a sweet dough with a nice dolop of BBQ pork inside. It's my son's favorite. The stuffed bean curd was identical to one I had a Jesse Wongs as was the fried rice (comes in a small overturned glass bowl). I found the dumplings to be greasier here than Jesse Wongs. The ribs are very good here, even my picky daughter likes them. The sauce is nicely flavored and there's more meat on the bones than I expected. The atmosphere of Oriental East is nothing remarkable. The restaurant is located in an old shopping center on Rt 40 and looks its age on the outside. The inside is clean and the lighting a little subdued (this could be a design choice). The staff is friendly and patient, not many speak English, but they will get one of the staff who does if things get too confused. The owner comes and chats with a lot of the tables in Chinese and it seems like a "locals" place. After a few visits it was easy to feel comfortable here as well. My children like the steamed rice at Oriental East better as well, though I couldn't tell the difference.

In summary, I found most of the dishes to be of similar quality with Jesse Wongs dishes being a little lighter. The offerrings are similar as well, with Jesse Wongs offerring more types of dumplings and Oriental East offerring more types of dishes that I was not adventurous enough to try (feet dishes and innards dishes) The atmosphere is nicer at Jesse Wongs and the prices at Jesse Wongs are higher as well (though not drastically so).

Finally, I've found it's important to go for Dim Sum during peak times. 11:45-1:30 seems to be best. Taste and variety at both restaurant lessen as the end time approaches. Both will happily prepare dim sum from the menu for you, but it's more fun to pick it from carts, and that works best during peak times.

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