We're long time fans of dim sum and regularly visit Chinatown in Philly to enjoy it. We recently tried to go to one of our favorites, Ocean City, and were surprised to see that it was gone! The name is still in front and it appears to be undergoing renovation, hopefully it will be back (though our last visit there this past summer was a major disappointment - they were using pre-packaged frozen dim sum bought from somewhere else, and were just heating it up in back, we saw the boxes full of frozen pieces in the kitchen).
We then went to the H.K. Golden Phoenix, which also seems to have changed hands in the past couple of years (and has been redecorated). We used to go there years ago and liked it, but then it went downhill and we discovered Ocean City. Sad to say, but it was, by far, the worst dim sum we have ever had in our lives.
To us it seemed very much like the dim sum was frozen and just reheated. It was dry, flavorless, and of very low quality ingredients. The pork bau contained only bits of fat (and what appeared to be red dye of a color not found in nature), and little actual meat. The doughs of the pastries ranged from dried out to soggy, and with no flavor. Most of the dim sums were brought out individually and had to be ordered from a menu. There was only one cart with very limited offerings.
We always try to find at least one dish to like wherever we go, but at the Golden Phoenix, this wasn't possible. It was just awful.
In desperation (and hunger) we went to Ocean Harbor, which was still very good. Our only dislike of Ocean Harbor has always been that they often don't have sticky rice, which is our favorite dim sum (they sometimes have sticky rice balls, but it's just not the same as the real thing wrapped in lotus leaf).
Is this use of pre-packaged frozen dim sums a more widespread trend? Are other dim sum places resorting to this cheap trick of cutting costs at the expense of making the food flavorless and almost inedible? It would be such a shame....