Went to the Winsor Dim Sum Café for Dim Sum this weekend. And wow. Nearly everything, from start to finish, was terrific.
I'm always saddened when people insist on going to a Dim Sum Palace, like China Pearl or Hei La Moon, for Dim Sum, as if crowds, carts, and mediocre food are what makes Dim Sum authentic.
The Winsor Dim Sum Café menu is primarily Cantonese, but definitely has many Shanghainese dishes tucked in there, along with a small section of Northern style dishes. Normally, I prefer the latter, but as I was with a group from Hong Kong and Japan, we stayed mostly on the Cantonese side.
I won't list everything that we had, but did want to mention some of the highlights.
Beef tripe with turnip (radish?) was excellent --- a hearty stew that seemed just right for a cold and rainy morning. The nian2 gao1 (rice cakes) were just terrific, and one of the most authentically Shanghai dishes I've had in the US. Much better than Evergreen Shanghai's version in New York, and a more typically Shanghainese style (albeit not quite as good) as Shanghai Gate's in Allston. The chicken bun was moist, tender, and flavorful. Stuffed eggplant wouldn't have been out of place as a $12 appetizer at an Italian restaurant (it was even plated artfully!) The fried silverfish had a nice texture (but no taste) by themselves, but were served on a bed of shredded lettuce and a fiery hot mixture of chopped jalapeño peppers and chopped chives. We ate that one down to the bare plate and would have ordered another dish if we weren't already so stuffed. Red bean stuffed sesame balls were remarkably not oily. Lotus seed paste buns were moist and pliant.
The various dumplings we ordered were nothing special, although nothing bad. Same goes for the scallion pancake. The plain congee was a little tasteless (but then again, when is plain congee not tasteless?), but the sweet tofu (dou4 huar1) was also disappointingly tasteless, although it had a beautiful silken texture. The stuffed radish cakes were flaky but too coarse --- there are many varieties of these radish cakes, and I think next time I should order differently, if I can remember exactly which one we ordered this time.
And the tea was good! One of our party was vegetarian, and this is a good place for a vegetarian.
Service was surprisingly indifferent even though we were speaking Cantonese, but then again they let us linger for two and a half hours on a Sunday without complaint. There was a short wait when we arrived at 12:30, but no one seemed to be waiting at all by 1 PM. Maybe the heavy rain kept people home though.