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.
18 East Broadway (betw Catherine & Market St; map)
New York, NY 10002
Mm, they all look so tasty! A shame the dishes didn’t seem to live up to expectations though.
I always have to wait til I’m in London to go for dim sum, as there aren’t really any nearby where I live on the south coast!
Hungry Jenny x
Greasier = BETTER! Fact.
It would be great if dim sum was less greasy. I always get lip gloss. That elderly man and grandson comment made me laugh because it is SO true!!
I’ve also stopped having dim sum because of the greasy. Excess oil doesn’t mean better taste, especially when it’s not even olive oil. Though the dim sum places in Flushing are better than Chinatown.
yea, getting knocked over in Chinatown seems to happen too much.. that shit is just crazy. And I haven’t been to Golden Unicorn in such a long time.. they have separate tables for everyone now?
@Hungry Jenny – Never had dim sum in London. Will try if I ever go back.
@Nicholas – Greasy can be good, but it depends on the oil. I can eat insane amounts of bread with olive oil and insane amounts of rice with sesame oil.
@someguy – Yes, so true. And when the shover is an old man, you can’t even shove back!
@kim – I grew up in Queens so I never understand why people say dim sum in Flushing is so much better. Other foods are definitely better, but dim sum seems to be only slightly, not drastically so. It’s still nowhere near Hong Kong.
@Danny – I get knocked over and yelled at all the time in Chinatown. Now I just find it funny. Yeah, when I went to Golden Unicorn there were a lot of small tables. No sharing necessary, loved it.
I was at Golden Unicorn about 3 weeks ago, and we did have to share a table! I was in a party of 5 and we shared a table with 3 grumpy middle aged women. It sucked because it was hard for our entire party to talk to each other due to the curve of the round table. The food was great but the atmosphere was tense.
@Jodie – Perhaps because you had a larger party and/or they were very busy? There were plenty of small tables around us, with four people or less, and no one had to share. They even gave a woman who came in after us a table to herself.
Is Golden Unicorn the place with bacon-wrapped shrimp with pringles and mayo dipping sauce? I’m making it a person goal to try that dish.
Otherwise, Dim Sum in Manhattan gives me a headache since I have to compete with the crowds. You mentioned that you’re liking Golden Unicorn more, but it seems that the food is just ok. I’m going to check out a Dim Sum place in Brooklyn soon, if you’d like to join us!
@TheSpatulaQueen – I didn’t see the bacon wrapped shrimp that day, but I have seen it at other dim sum places. As for Pringles, I’m speechless…
Yeah, GU isn’t spectacular, but better than other places in Manhattan. Let me know when you’re going to Brooklyn. I love food outings!
Dim sum in Brooklyn is very crowded, people start at 10am or earlier!!
@someguy – Yikes, I’m definitely not an early bird.
I’m a big fan of Chinatown Brasserie which near Cooper Union. Amazing dim sum = )