Speaking of dim sum - you can get it for cheap in a no-frills, no ambience restaurant in Marin. I eat there whenever I get the craving, which is frequently.
House of Lee
887 Fourth St.
San Rafael, CA
Open 11:00 - 9:30
Most plates are $2.00 and they serve all day long. Tea you get for free. You order from a separate menu, and sometimes you have to specifically ask for it if they just give you the regular lunch or dinner menu.
There are 32 items on the menu, and comparing things to the dim sum official contest entries, we have the following.
-- Har gaw (steamed shrimp dumplings). These are simple, good. $2.20 for 4
-- shui mai (steamed pork balls with black mushroom)-- tasty, with a rather dense, rubbery texture. You could play ping pong with these. $2.00 for 4
-- Turnip cake with pork (pan fried). Maybe this isn't my thing, or maybe they don't do it so well. I'm not qualified to pass judgement. $1.80 for 3
-- Steamed spareribs with black bean sauce. This is one of my favorites. If you have a real hunger for those ribs, you can get them on the regular menu in chow fun format or at lunch as a rice plate. $2.00 for a small D-S bowl
-- Steamed chicken feet with black bean sauce. Call me culturally handicapped, but these are too extreme for me. $2.00
-- Noodle crepes with shrimp. Really good cold dish. $3.00 for 2. They also have a BBQ pork version which I like even better, a beef one, and a dry shrimp and green onion version. All $2.70 for 2
-- Deep fried taro balls (?) They have something they call "Deep fried shrimp and meat dumpling" It's one of my favorites - meat goodies enclosed in a chewy dough, shaped like small footballs, and fried giving it a crisp outside skin. $2.00 for 3
-- Egg custard tarts. Haven't tried them. $2.00 for 3
Now for more favorites.
-- Good ole BBQ pork steamed buns. Very nice and light and traditional-tasting. Good for sopping up the juices from the spareribs. $2.00 for 3
-- Steamed beef balls. Large, tasty, light-textured (almost fluffy) meatballs. $2.00 for 3
-- Sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves with pork. I'm crazy for these. $2.00 for 2