Tuesday July 6: Ten of us crowded around a table to enjoy a guided tour of dim sum, led by Yimster. He and Mrs Y had translated the "Chinese only" menu that is in a plastic placard on each table, each item $4.99 (Yimster claims that non-Chinese are charged more, but I don't believe it).
Some of the items were just OK, some were quite good. There were no "clinkers" as far as I am concerned, but I am rather forgiving. For example, the wrappers on the har gow were rather thick, but the filling was tasty. The food was not overly salty, and the textures were good. The steamed meatballs were a winner, and so were the rolls wrapped in bean curd skin (we tried both steamed and fried, both were good). I also liked the eggplant with shrimp paste stuffing, though the same stuffing was used in several of the dishes.
The tea was a new experience for me -- chrysanthemum mixed with regular tea. Never had the combination before, and it was good.
Dishes not on the dim sum menu included crispy-fried pork intestine (large intestine, to be precise), and fried quail.
The truly memorable dish was the last -- a dozen huge oysters, perfectly cooked: steamed in the half shell with black beans and toasted garlic. Lots of delicious juices. $4.99 for six! As good as the ones at the Great Eastern, but half the price.
The company was great, of course. I think there were five Caucasians at our table, and that was five times the total number of non-Chinese in the whole place. When I walked in, I didn't have to ask -- the hostess immediately directed me to the Chow table without a word. Of course it was noisy and crowded, though the crowding eased up at 12:30.
However, the remarkable thing was the cost -- $77 before tip. We left $9 apiece. Price per value is the best ratio I've come across.
Afterwards we loitered on a corner and compared the egg custard tarts from Ruby King (three for a dollar) with the ones from Napolean Bakery (50 cents each). Both bakeries are on Franklin, on opposite sides of 8th street. The tarts from Ruby King were still warm, and not as sweet as the Napolean tarts. Both were OK, but paled in comparison to the "Gold" standard (Golden Gate on Grant Ave in SF Chinatown). However, Ruby King at 3 for a dollar wins the prize of most calories for the money.
327 8th Street (between Webster and Harrison)