The question: I'm looking for dim sum recommendations: Chinatown or lower Manhattan preferred!
Sietsema’s response: Don't believe anyone who tells you Nom Wah is the best — it's mediocre, but very picturesque and worth visiting for the old Chinatown flavor. Royal Seafood (103 Mott St.) used to be the spot, now Joy Luck Palace across the street is better.
One of the ways we judge dim sum is by the Hong Kong-style innovations. Joy Luck Palace has plenty, while doing superior versions of old standards. And it comes around on carts.
It's worth traveling to Sunset Park to check out any of the five dim sum palaces there, — which, in traditional fashion, serve dim sum only until 1 or 2 p.m., then switch to a Cantonese seafood menu. Bamboo Garden (6409 8th Ave.) is my favorite. [Editor’s note: Bamboo Garden unfortunately closed. but has now reopened!] For an upscale take on dim sum, try Pacificana (813 55th St.)
No place to recommend in Flushing, since it's mainly Taiwanese and Northern Chinese, though the Taiwanese have their own dim sum tradition, which is more American- and Japanese-oriented.
For a real jolt, back in Manhattan, go to Jing Fong on Elizabeth Street, said to be the largest restaurant in New York City and offering really quite good dim sum. By the way, the best time to go is around 11 or 11:30, when the dim sum is supremely fresh and the wait on weekends is probably 15 or 20 minutes.
These places generally open around 9 a.m., but if you go then — I'm talking about weekdays here — the places are empty though the dim sum is still great.