One of the burdens of being considered an expert in various aspects of Bay Area dining is that one is expected to show off one's expertise to visitors, and the impact of a bad meal on one's reputation is incalculable.
So, after a taco-truck crawl last night (that went well), I was assigned to take the visitors (my 19-year-old cousin from England and his three friends) out to show off my dim sum skills.
The problem was picking a place that (1) was in the downtown/Chinatown area (within a reasonable lunch distance from my office); (2) had cart service; (3) had an interesting selection; (4) wasn't as expensive as Yank Sing. I rejected Harbor Village (downhill reports, expense, not the atmosphere I was looking for); Dol Ho (I wanted more carts, more bustle, and a bigger selection); and several places that don't have cart service (Kan's, Great Eastern, Louie's).
In the end, even though I'd never been there, I chose Gold Mountain.
It turned out to be perfect. At a little after 1 pm it was busy but not full; there were lots of carts and the selection was excellent; the price was right ($65 after tax but before tip for five of us, four being healthy, growing boys, and enough leftovers we probably could have fed one more -- five is a awkward number for dim sum and I ordered pretty lavishly). The quality was not great but good; the standout was the spinach dumplings in the green wrappers, and nothing was really bad (although a couple of things would have benefitted from being hotter).
In short, it was just the experience I was looking for. The boys really enjoyed it, and they were game and tried the jellyfish and chicken feet (which the cart lady was very dubious about -- she apparently has never had an all-Anglos table order chicken feet).
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