As 9Lives put it, "Boy, if this had been my first experience at Dim Sum, I wouldn't see what the big deal was".
Frequent dim sum partner 9Lives and I were looking forward to trying the dim sum at the new New Shanghai; it's always good to have another planet in the galaxy...After an hour spent begging for food, and paying through the nose for the privilege, we decided Chau Chow City has nothing to worry about.
Service on weekends is via carts, and we arrived at 12:15, prime time for freshness and variety, or so we thought. Seated in the room that we now call Outer Mongolia, even though the place was a little more than half-full, we finally got a cart to visit...We chose steamed turnip cake, stuffed rice noodle crepe, and a plate of mustard greens. Sadly, we had to eat it all without mustard, and chili sauce, or water, because they didn't appear, and it was too hard to snag any wait staff....The tea, however, was in lovely iron pots, and very good.
In their favor, the turnip cake was very moist, falling apart with sticky, fresh shreds...Luckily, we wanted the shrimp crepes, because that was all that was offered...I usually eschew this, not being my favorite texture, but I was STARVED, having walked to Chinatown...The shrimp, however, were very tasty, and the noodle was acceptable. The greens were greens...
Two hungry hounds, we needed more...But the cupbord was bare. I took my card and went on a reconnaissance mission, but couldn't find anything different. I had seen a congee cart while waiting for 9Lives, I asked for congee.
"Rice soup." Much discussion, consultation, and evident displeasure.
Without bringing the cart, so I could choose, they brought me a bowl of pork congee, beautifully garnished with crispy dough pieces..And forks and knives...Thanks, buddy, I could eat the food with chopsticks, if you'd actually serve me some food...I said I wanted fish congee, they asked, "With fried dough on top?"
Ten minutes later, the cart never came, I got plain fish congee with no dough..I asked for fried dough..The waitress looked at me as though I had come in looking for a pizza, as though there could be nothing more I could possibly need. She brought S+P. I made motions, I did cartwheels, I jumped through hoops...Finally, the fried dough that had garnished every other bowl arrived, in a parsimonious amount, I might add..
A Cantonese speaking couple was at the table next to ours, and I am sad to say, their grasp of the language didn't garner any better service, or any more of it...In fact, when we'd finally get something, they'd point, and indicate they wanted some of the same... ;)
Then, a heated cart went by, with windows...Oooh! But it was mostly fried dessrts, the only thing we chose was a fried shrimp and scallion cake..It was warm. It was not crispy...It did have a nice taste of ginger...We were slightly tempted by the salt-fried shrimp on the cart, but we later saw they had been making the rounds for quite awhile, much like the platters of sliced chicken..
Just then, a waiter came in with platters of the "House Special Chicken". Nobody was biting.
The first cart came around a few more time, with nothing new. Another cart finally arrived, after I went to chase it through the neighboring room again, which yielded a shrimp and scallion dumpling, which WAS good, fresh and tasty. But that was the only dumpling we saw..
We thought there HAD to be more, and asked for the dim sum menu they use during the week...After gawking at us like we were nuts, a waitress grudgingly brought it over...We looked, there was more, but we had seen most of it, and really weren't impressed. It was all very basic; steamed barbecue buns, steamed meatballs, LOTS of tripe, wrapped sweet rice...Maybe I would have ordered the salt and pepper silver fish, or pan-fried stuffed mushrooms, but at that point, we really didn't care, and didn't have much in the way of expectations...The waitstaff was clearly unhappy to have to be "cart ladies", they were unhelpful with suggestions or ordering, and we saw nothing fun or special going by, or on the menu...
When I finally got the attention of the phone-obsessed hostess, so I could pay out $27 (pre-tip) bill, I wondered how 6 little, lack-luster orders of dim sum could possibly justify being the highest I've ever paid, I mean, we left hungry..Sadly, i saw a whole list of different congees on the take-out menu I picked up on the way out, but I doubt I'll be back to try them. As we left, we looked around the room at face after face, staring unhappily at their food, when they finally got it....