First of all, the name..... through a bit of convoluted Mandarin translation and transliteration, "Dean Sin" actually means Dim Sum. So the name really means Dim Sum World. Now you know.
Slogged through 2+ hours of rain soaked traffic to get there for dinner last night and found the place locked up tigher than a steamed xiao long bao. This was around 7:30-8:00pm.
What's the deal? Have they closed down again for another holiday, or do they just shut down early? Or have they, *gasp* closed for good?
We wound up crossing the street to experience the similarly oddly named Qingdao Bread Food. Again, this is a poorly translated Chinese.... essentially the character for "bread" more accurately represents "flour" or "noodles". (This is an extremely rough explanation, simplified for Chowhounds-at-large, so Mandarin speaking Chowhounds, please bear with my clunky explanation.) In addition, in China, a restaurant called "noodle house" would be a real mom and pop operation (which this place is) and a place with proper servers, etc. would be called a restaurant ("fan dian"). A more elegant translation of the Mandarin would be "Qingdao Noodle House", not "Qingdao Bread Food". OK, moving on.
So, our first impression.... as we walked through the door, we were struck with an intense familiarity. It felt like we were back in China. Seriously. This place has the look, feel and smell of a typical mainland Chinese restaurant. The odd odor of spices or cleaning chemicals. The baby crib in the corner with the wet naps. The buzz-cut owner with the would would not be out of place at all standing at the Qingdao train station with his shirt hiked up exposing his belly. This was a little slice of the mainland right here on Garfield.
We ordered the much-praised sole with leek dumplings, the noodles with meat in brown sauce, and the tofu appetizer. The fish dumplings were definitely the standout dish. Really juicy, bursting with flavor. The skins were a little soft to our taste, but still adequate. They are served with a sort of pureed garlic paste. Delicious.
The tofu appetizer was standard, sliced pressed tofu with peppers. An adequate preparation of this standard appetizer dish.
The noodles with meat in brown sauce was merely ok. The noodles themselves were great, but my Lovely Tasting Assistant felt the meat tasted "old" and the sauce lacked the punch of flavor that it really needed. A dollup of chile paste helped improve this dish tremendously.
One item I saw but didn't try are the potsickers..... the kind where they make the slurry which browns and crisps up, and allows the dumplings to slide out of the pan like one pancake. When you break apart the dumplings, each one has a potato chip-like halo of crispiness around the edge. We'll definitely have to return to try this one.
Total bill with tip, $21. We'll return.
So, what's up with Dean Sin World?