It is a beautiful foggy and rainy Sunday in Philadelphia. You know what that means? It is time for dim sum (for some). Many, including myself, prefer this Chinese tradition to the typical eggs and bacon brunch, mostly for the variety of dishes offered in one sitting. In Philadelphia, the best dim sum is of course located in Chinatown and includes restaurants such as Dim Sum Garden, Joy Tsin Lau and Ocean City Restaurant.
We followed the crowds to Ocean City where a crowd of people waited at the front for their turn to be seated. Luckily, the wait was not that long since we showed up after the 1pm lunch rush.
The food is served in steam table trolleys usually stacked high with bamboo or metal steamer baskets. Waiters push them around the restaurant from table to table, and you get to point to the dish that you want and order. Each table gets a card that is stamped. Each order typically costs only a few dollars adding up. Once seated, our eyes went directly to the many food trolleys circling the room. We selected the Har Gow (steamed shrimp dumplings), Shumai (pork), Siu Mai (open pork dumpling), a delicious shrimp and cilantro dumpling.
The Siu mai is a open-topped steamed pork and/or shrimp dumpling made with a wheat flour wrapping and is often topped with fish roe or grated carrot. This is always a favorite and is always one of our orders.
The zhaliang (friend, noodle-wrapped cullers) is a steamed rice noodle wrapped around crispy fried cullers topped with soy and hoisin sauce. The combination of the crispy and soft texture is a perfect contrast and tastes really good.
The Har Gau or steamed shrimp dumplings is always a favorite. It is a translucent dumpling made with wheat starch skin and tapioca to give it that stretchy texture. It is typically filled with shrimp only but sometimes if you get lucky scallions and bamboo shoots are used. The Har Gau is hard to find as it is typically everyone’s favorite. We waited around the longest for a basket of these.
Overall, our dim sum experience at Ocean City was pretty good. Despite the crowds of people, the service was pretty good for dim sum standards. We ended up eating way too much and only paid $30 for a table of two. Where else can you find such a grand feast for so little?