Dim Sum at Golden Unicorn – NYC
I don’t do it enough, but I love dim sum on the weekends. Even if the dim sum offerings in New York aren’t too imaginative, it’s still a nice change of pace from the typical brunch. (I mean really, how many eggs can you eat every single weekend?) In Manhattan, as of now, 88 Palace is my favorite, but I’ve recently started liking Golden Unicorn. It’s one of the more well-known spots and for good reason. The food is good (albeit greasy), the restaurant is cleaner than other dim sum joints (if you’re into that kind of thing), and you don’t have to share a table (sharing is not caring). Usually I don’t mind sharing a table at Chinese restaurants, but some days, especially in the mornings, I don’t want to get up close and personal with my fellow New Yorkers. That’s what New York subways are for.
Dim Sum began with har gow (steamed shrimp dumplings). The little dumplings were nice and plump, but could have been hotter. Unfortunately, that’s the consequence of carts. It’s fun to have food wheeled up to your table, but quality always suffers.
Steamed rice rolls with beef, another classic, also made a appearance at the table. Rice rolls are usually my favorite any time I go eat dim sum, and this time was no exception. Of course the meat filling could have been less paste-like, but the beef in rice rolls always seem to lack texture.
The shrimp puff was your typical crunchy taro shrimp puff, but with a little bit of cheese inside.
Although the cheese flavor wasn’t too strong, I liked the fried puff. Even after making a few rounds, the puff was still crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside.
The steamed spare ribs, heavy on the pepper, was extremely tender, but also very greasy. One bite and it was instant lip gloss.
When eating greasy dim sum, greens are always appreciated. Unfortunately, the Chinese kale (gai lan), slicked with flavorless oil, didn’t offer respite. The saving grace: slight crunch at the stems. I’m a strong believer overcooked greens belong in the trash.
And to round out dim sum, I always need carbs, usually in the form of sticky rice wrapped in a lotus leaf. The steamed sticky rice with chicken at Golden Unicorn was average. It could have been more fresh, but it served its purpose: filling carb satisfaction.
The total for the meal without tax was $26.20. It’s more pricey than other dim sum restaurants, but it’s possible to get your own table, and in Chinatown, personal space is priceless. Case in point, as I was exiting the building, an elderly Chinese man and his grandson shoved me aside so they could leave three seconds faster. Classic.
UPDATE (4/11/10): Looks like with the warmer weather, getting your own table isn’t quite so easy anymore. Unless you want to share, get there early.