Usually, I hear two places mentioned. One is Hei La Moon, a huge, bustling two-story restaurant in Chinatown that serves dim sum the tradition way, where servers roll carts full of dim sum to all the tables, tempting diners with visual displays of all the enticing dishes. It's a place that's popular for weddings as well as large group functions.
The other place, which I only heard about more recently, is Winsor Dim Sum Cafe. Winsor is completely the opposite of Hei La Moon. It is a tiny, unassuming restaurant in the middle of Chinatown. There are no carts. Instead, you order dim sum items individually, and the kitchen makes each item to-order. Furthermore, dim sum is available anytime of the day, every day of the week (not just weekend brunch!). Imagine, you can stop by on any random weeknight to get your dim sum fix.
After hearing more and more people declare that Winsor had the best dim sum in Boston, I knew that I had to go try it. This past year, I finally had a chance to visit while my mom was in town, and subsequently went back several times.
The tiny dining area consists mostly of large round tables. Don't be surprised if they ask if you are willing to share a table with another group of people. We did, but it wasn't too bad. Bryan and I sat at a large round table with another group of three people. There were chairs separating us from the other party, so it didn't feel too intrusive.
Food is very reasonably priced, with most dim sum dishes costing $3.49 a plate. Larger plates cost between $7 - $10, but overall, you won't spend too much money on a very satisfying and tasty meal. Pictured below is a selection of dishes that we've tried. In general, the food here is very good and you won't be disappointed. It is truly one of the best dim sum places in Boston.
I love the Fried Stuffed Eggplant ($3.49), a dish that especially shines because it's made-to-order. Japanese eggplant stuffed with shrimp is deep fried and served with oyster sauce. Yum.
Their Crab Soup Dumpling (Xiao Long Bao) is solid. I like the fact that they are on the smaller side, which I find to be more authentic (at least according to my limited experience eating xiao long bao in Shanghai). The flavors are fine, and overall it is pretty enjoyable.
I find myself drawn to the Pan Fried White Turnip Cake with XO Sauce ($7.50) every time I am there. I have a weakness for pan fried turnip cakes, especially when they are really nicely charred. I've had this dish a few times here, and it's usually pretty good, though the level of "char" varies a bit (see photo at the beginning of the post compared to the one directly above). Of course, I prefer it more charred.
Stir Fried Yu Choy (a mild, leafy vegetable common in Cantonese cuisine - $8.95) is pretty standard and tastes fine here. I usually like to get some greens to offset all of the seafood or carbohydrate-heavy dishes that we are ordering!
I also really enjoy the Crispy Fried Bean Curd Sheet Roll ($3.49), which they execute very nicely (yay, made-to-order crispy rolls are typically crunchier!). There are several varieties of this dish. You can order a vegetarian version (filled with bamboo shoots, mushrooms), pork filled, or even a plain one. We've tried the vegetarian one, which was delicious.
Jade Pearl Dumplings ($3.49), filled with crab, has a rice-based translucent skin and comes topped with a colorful green scallion or carrot top.
The Steamed Shrimp Dumplings ($3.49) has a similar translucent skin, but it's thinner and filled with shrimp and chives.
Bryan and I both love Beef Tripe steamed with ginger and scallions ($3.49).
These Deep Fried Pork Dumplings ($3.49), which are essentially huge deep fried, ground pork-filled "mochi" balls, are fantastic. I love the chewy texture of the outside, and the filling is pretty tasty. They also have a deep fried sesame ball on the menu, which is a sweeter dessert version.
The Steamed Shrimp Rice Noodle ($3.49), which is really more like rolled up rice sheets, is also really good. I always love the soft, almost slippery texture of the rice "noodle", especially with the fresh shrimp, fragrant cilantro, and slightly sweet soy sauce.
Chinese Fried Dough with Sweet Soy Milk is a classic Chinese breakfast treat, and they do a fine job of it here.
Fried Stuffed Bean Curd ($3.49), which is stuffed with shrimp, comes out hot, crispy, and all around delicious.
The Spicy Salted Squid has nice flavor but the squid was a bit tougher than I would have liked the last time we went. We still all loved the flavors, and ended up polishing off the entire dish.
All in all, I think it's hard to go wrong at Winsor Dim Sum Cafe. Virtually everything I've ever ordered has been very good. Try to go earlier in the day, if possible, because they do run out of popular items. We really, really wanted to try the baked Chashu (BBQ) buns on the menu (we loved the version we tried in Singapore), but alas the restaurant had run out of them on a Sunday evening by 6PM.
I guess that's all the more reason for me to go back!
10 Tyler St
(between Beach St & Kneeland St)
Boston, MA 02111
Tel: (617) 338-1688