Dim Sum Dining at 88 Palace

by JudithG

New York City and Chinatown are synonymous with dim sum, especially for a weekend brunch. Rolling carts offer many options, all with delectable ingredients inside

Dim sum is bite-size portions, similar to French hor d'oeuvres and Spanish tapas, that are served on a plate or in a basket in a Chinese restaurant. Steamed dumplings are a good example. Finding authentic Hong Kong-style dim sum in New York City isn't difficult but finding the very popular 88 Palace Restaurant can be complicated for some.

The restaurant is located at the downtown tip of the island under the Manhattan Bridge and on the second floor of the East Broadway Mall. This sprawling, noisy emporium of dim sum carts and waiters bustling about is not to be missed. The food is inexpensive and terrific.

The Low-Down at 88 Palace

You'll swear you're in China when you enter 88 Palace. It attracts hundreds of Asians and the buzz here is not in English, although the menu is in both languages. 

"This is the real deal," said a diner recently. "You'll see all of Chinatown in here."

Tablecloths cover the numerous round tables and there's plenty of room for the dim sum carts to roll about as there is for the waiters taking individual orders. Large panels can be arranged throughout the rooms to create walled-in areas for large parties. The restaurant holds up to 800 people. 

The New York City Health Department inspects all restaurants year round to enforce food safety regulations. 88 Palace recently received an "A" rating. 

Expect a full restaurant any time of the day (open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily), however, the best time for the best dim sum selections is 11:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Everything is made fresh on the premises. 

Prices are very low. Plan on $2 to $4.50 for a small plate. At $15, any diner will be full. 

88 Palace has an online menu for take-out and onsite stations (close to the escalators) for a dim sum grab on the go. 

 

What is Dim Sum

As easy as its pronunciation, dim sum is easy to understand and order.The tradition began in China when travelers stopped for a cup of tea and a snack. Today, the experience is still based in that tradition but the "snacks" are now considered more of a meal and best shared with others around the table. Ordering several options off a dim sum cart is typical. Although chopsticks are the norm, ask for silverware if needed. Tea is also a norm; don't ask for coffee.  

Each table gets a card and the waiter stamps the diners' choices. Pay at the end with a 15% to 20% tip, usually shared by the waitstaff.  For a detailed dim sum introduction, click this article

Dim Sum Dessert
Dim Sum Dessert
Judith Glynn
Dumplings
Dumplings
Judith Glynn

What's on The Menu

With 70 different dim sum choices at 88 Palace, and more with specials, items take an adventuresome foodie palate to consume. Examples are jelly fish, steamed bean curd, crispy prawns in cream sauce and turnip cake. Since dim sum can be viewed on the carts (few waiters speak English), pointing or a guess at what the items are can make for an interesting meal. 88 Palace is the only restaurant that makes pumpkin dumplings. Its sesame cake is unique because its size is similar to a clementine. The establishment is perfect for vegans and is kid-friendly. 

Table filled with dim sum
Table filled with dim sum
Judith Glynn

If You Go

88 Palace Restaurant is located at 88 Broadway between East Broadway and Forsyth Street, New York, NY 10002. Phone is 212-941-8886. Open seven days a week. 

Official NYC Information Center–Chinatown - 212-484-1222. At the triangle where Canal, Walker and Baxter Streets meet.

 

Updated: 07/19/2015, JudithG
 
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JudithG on 01/25/2015

You're right, Digby. Now that I think about it they are more like tapas because of the size and variety. But are hor d'oeuvres better known than tapas. What do you think? I can change it. .

Digby_Adams on 01/25/2015

I always think of dim sum as the same think as Spansh Tappas

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