In some ways, dim sum is Chinatown’s most distinctive product. After all, there’s often something for everyone. It consists of delicate dumplings, braised chicken feet, sweet fresh tofu, rice noodle rolls, fluffy steamed bao, tiny custard pies, and other small dishes, many requiring extraordinary skill to make. Here in New York City, dumplings often display a fine level of expertise with thin skins and opulent fillings. Competition between dim sum parlors has resulted in innovation, so that every time you visit Bamboo Garden or Royal Seafood, you’re likely to find something new on the menu (or a roving cart).
Dim sum is also conducive for group dining, and at the big round tables of Golden Unicorn, you’ll often see three or even four generations of families seated together, enjoying the little heartwarming morsels at prices even the humblest budget can afford. But that may be changing as dim sum is often offered all day long in smaller fast-casual establishments, and some of the behemoth older Chinese banquet halls such as Jing Fong have shut down, many as a result of COVID-19 (note that the Upper West Side location still operates, and a smaller version of the original is in the works). The good news is that in some of the older establishments, like Bamboo Garden, tables are more well-spaced out and precautions such as vaccine-card checking are in place.
Here are Eater critic Robert Sietsema’s favorite dim sum spots.
Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.Read More