The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Dim Sum at East Harbor Seafood Palace in Sunset Park

Waiting for dim sum
They don't make palaces like they used to.

For those who aren't familiar with Chinatowns in New York City, here's a quick little lesson: There are three major ones, in Manhattan, Brooklyn (Sunset Park), and Queens (Flushing), with more on the way because daaamn, there are a lot of Chinese people. Out of those three Chinatowns, the one I've been to the least is the Brooklyn one.

But I'm slowly building my Sunset Park repertoire of "places my stomach has ravaged." Two weeks ago I ate at East Harbor Seafood Palace with Diana, Olia, Chichi, Adelyn, and Greg upon Diana's recommendation. The restaurant was crowded at noon on a Sunday, and we had to wait about half an hour for our number to be called. In Cantonese. Maybe they'll call your number out in English if you don't know Chinese, but I'm not sure. Thankfully, Diana and Adelyn know their Cantonese numbers, while do one to ten in Mandarin, crappily at best.

table o stuff


little taro cake nuggets?

Taro cake nubs: Not the official name, which I hope is something like "Happy Golden Taro Treasure Delight." This was one of my favorite dishes of the meal and the first time I ever had it at dim sum, but I love most taro (and turnip) cake-based things. It's way easier to share when cut into bite-sized cubes instead of the usual rectangular slab.


Clams in black bean sauce: Tastes like clams in black bean sauce. I'm usually indifferent to shellfish, so...that's all I have to say. It's good if you like clams.

pork rib nubs?
Rib bits.

Steamed pork sparerib nubs: Another dish I'm usually indifferent about. Tastes like a pork nub that's half meat, half bone.

har gow
Shrimp dumps.

Har gow (shrimp dumplings): You can't eat dim sum without har gow. Plump shrimp dumplings = yay.

rice noodle rolls with squidgy meat filling rice noodle rolls with shrimp

Rice noodle rolls: Another "must order" during dim sum. Rice noodle rolls have always been one of my favorite dishes—thin, soft rice noodle skin filled with MEATY DELIGHTS. I preferred the shrimp-filled one over the the beef paste one.

rice noodle-wrapped crullers

Rice noodle roll-wrapped crullers: I don't know why I like this dish so much. It's pretty boring—fried bread encased in rice noodle—and I can't think of any other situation where a carb-on-carb would taste good. But I like how the rice noodle layer gives an extra bit of chewiness to the bread, which is also sort of chewy. In conclusion, I like chewing.

Vegetables, yes.

Kai-lan (Chinese kale): Chinese vegetables are my favorite—tender with a bit of crispiness, perhaps a hint of bitterness to remind you that this is a vegetable, but mostly sweet (in a vegetal way). My friends and I usually get a vegetable dish to offset the meat and carbs.

other dumplings..with..stuff in em
Ruffled dumplings.

Some sort of steamed dumplings: ...In an eggy skin! I forget what was in these. But they were probably good.

tasty little dumplings
Blob dumplings.

Pan fried shrimp and chives dumplings: These may have been the shrimp and pea shoot sort Scratch that original statement! Like har gow, they've got the translucent wheat and tapioca starch skin. I like these more than har gow for the veg component and for being a bit crispy.

tofu skin wraps
Tofu skin rolls.

Tofu skin rolls: Steamed tofu skin filled with meat and vegetables.

this stuff is so good

Bak fan yu (deep fried whitebait): Thanks to the twitter army for identifying the fish for me. This was the first time I had ever eaten deep fried whitebait, and I got hooked right away: They're the fish-based version of french fries. They taste more like "crispy crust matter" than fish, but the pin dot eyes give away their aquatic origins. If the "deep fried" bit weren't enough to make them delicious, the heavy application of salt and pepper should do it.

egg custard tarts
Little tarts.

Dan tat (mini egg custard tarts): I was too slow to try these, but everyone else seemed to like them. Looks like there are a gazillion layers of pastry goodness.

mochi black sesame seed paste mochi

Sweet black sesame paste-filled mochi dusted in crushed peanuts and sugar: Mochi at dim sum tends to be awesome—very soft, just a little chewy, and just sweet enough.

dofu fa

Dofu fa (hot soft tofu with ginger syrup): A comforting dessert if you grew up with it, and maybe even if you haven't. Although extra firm dried tofu is my favorite for savory dishes, silky pudding-soft tofu is my favorite for dessert. The tofu is pretty flavorless on its own; a good ratio of syrup-to-tofu makes every bite worthwhile, as it did here.

steamed buns filled with lotus seed paste lotus seed paste and egg yolk steamed buns filled with custardCREAM FILLED!!
Steamed buns.

Dessert steamed buns: One filled with lotus seed paste and a salted egg yolk, the other with egg custard. I preferred the custard; although I tend to appreciate disparate textures, the fluffy, soft bread seamlessly smooshed into a full belly of warm, creamy custard for a mouthful of awesome. I'd much prefer a warm custard-filled steamed bun over other more popular custard-filled desserts, like doughnuts or choux pastries.

fried mantou, such a good idea dip!

Fried mantou: File this under "Impulse Buy." I saw it at another table and initially hesitated to tack on another dish to our bulging bellies, but THERE IS NO HESITATION WHEN IT COMES TO DEEP FRIED BREAD NUBS DIPPED IN CONDENSED MILK. Ye hear that? You order that shit right away. The outer crust, although deeply golden, is very thin; you mostly get soft, fluffy white bread, which you then smother in thick condensed milk (at first the cart lady only gave us one little dish's worth—hell no, we asked for another). It won't change your life, but, like many other dim sum desserts, is an appealingly simple sweet that seems to taste best in the context of dim sum.

East Harbor Seafood Palace got thumbs up from all of us. As Adelyn said, $12 per person (including tax and tip) = DIM SUM LOVE 4-EVER. This is why I rarely go for a non-dim sum brunch where you'd end up paying $12 for a plate of pancakes.

Roaming Around Chinatown

This looks familiar
Compass with chocolate.

After dim sum, we roamed around Chinatown for a bit. First stop was Fei Long Supermarket, where I focused on candy more than anything else. This candy coated chocolate/compass combo immediately whipped my brain back to childhood; I vaguely remember seeing this candy when I was a kid at a local Japanese supermarket and thinking, "YES THIS IS WHAT I WANT, candy plus a doohicky I'll never use." Whether my mom ever gave into my wishes, I can't remember. I loved the Japanese method for sucking in children by combining a weeny bit of candy with some of toy (as opposed to a plain old toy-less Snickers bar or pack of Skittles).

Tamagotchi gum
Tamagotchi candy.

Because my tween obsession with Tamagotchis rages on, I bought a pack of strawberry milk-flavored Tamagotchi candy that I spied near the checkout counter while waiting in line. I'm so easily sucked in by cuteness; if I lived in Japan I'd surely blow most of my money on useless cute stuff. Although the candy comes in a gum-shaped packet, it's actually just gum stick-shaped fruit chews. Or sort-of-chews—the candy dissolved rather quickly. The best part is that each stick comes wrapped in a different paper featuring an illustration of a Tamagotchi with some sort of message (the only one I understand says how to say "Thank You" in English). If I had known that at the time I would've bought five packs.

Diaper? Godly Tribute?
Diapers. God.

After Fei Long, we went to Hong Kong Supermarket a few blocks away. Aisle 1 features diapers and Godly Tribute (that is, stacks of papers and incense for burning).

Fail cakes.
Fail cake.

We stopped into Savoy Bakery for a bit where we saw some mildly frightening Mickey Mouse cakes and less frightening Pikachu cakes. At least, I think that's Mickey.

cake to jello
Triple delight.

Chinese bakeries fare better with undecorated desserts. Too bad I wasn't hungry enough to try this cake-gelatin hybrid.


East Harbor Seafood Palace
6301 8th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11220 (map)

Fei Long Supermarket
6301 8th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11220 (map)

Hong Kong Supermarket
6013 8th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11220 (map)
718-438-2288 (map)

Savoy Bakery
5922 8th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11220 (map)


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Kåre Week, Day 4: Dim Sum, Random Art, and Arepas


Elizabeth / February 7, 2010 8:43 PM

those "blob dumplings" are most likely to be Chinese chives (I call them doggy veggies bc the name in Cantonese is "dog vegetable") that have a distinct odor to them. They could be snow pea shoots but the dumplings I encounter of that sort are typically Chinese chives!

by the way, have you tried Thahn Da for Viet sandwiches in Sunset Park? They have 2 locations - one on 8th Ave and 57th St and one on 7th Ave and 60th St. If you go to the 7th Ave location, you can also order noodles and such and sit down to eat.

roboppy / February 7, 2010 10:28 PM

Elizabeth: Ah, I think you're right about the chives. I just googled shrimp and chives dumplings and got back the blobs.. :) Thanks! I LOVE CHIVES.

Nope, haven't tried Thahn Da! Good stuff?

droidy: Haha, appropriate name!

cc / February 7, 2010 11:12 PM

Back in the day, when I visited NYC with more frequency, I would go to Golden Unicorn for dim sum...but I never really loved it. So I thank you for another dim sum option. My Philly spot ain't bad, but it just seems like most places in any of the New York Chinatowns have more variety. Or maybe it's just me.

Ed B. / February 8, 2010 5:45 AM

The ruffled dumplings kinda sorta look like shark's fin in the Philippines, at the very least, that's how shark's fin dumplings look like. :-)

kim / February 8, 2010 7:48 AM

Chinese gai lan is one of my favorite greens because of its got a 'bite' to me. Don't like mushy food. :P

I love the black sesame mochi too! When I was a kid, I used to dig into it and let the pasty sesame bleed out...yum...

Rebecca / February 8, 2010 8:39 AM

The 1st time I took my husband for dim sum, he spied a containter of white stuff and got all excited, thinking it was rice. (He was a little overwhelmed with all the new food.) Turned out to be tofu, lol.

Since neither one of us speaks Cantonese or Mandarin, dim sum is always an adventure.

Elizabeth / February 8, 2010 9:09 AM

Thanh Da sandwiches lack in size compared to Ba Xuyen but if you're in the area closer to the N train station, stop by here! But you should REALLY sit down at the 7th Ave location for noodle soup or a rice dish. Extremely fresh, cheap, filling. And the place is owned by actual Viet people! Just be aware they close at about 8pm so don't go there for dinner.

Hayleeey / February 8, 2010 11:04 AM

I can't help but burst out laughing at the Mickey Mouse cakes.

I miss Dofu Fa, I might have to ask my parents to make it for me sometime... and the cake hybrid looks interesting :)

roboppy / February 8, 2010 1:08 PM

cc: I've only been to Golden Unicorn once a few years ago. There are so may dim sum places in NYC though that I feel like I should try em all before going back to one. :)

Ed: Just googled it and yup, those look like the same dumplings! Good to know.

Kim: I cooked pea shoots the other day and overdid it just a smidge. :[ I don't like mushy vegetables either.

Rebecca: I hope that tofu was good. :) I think I'd be totally overwhelmed at dim sum if I didn't know Chinese or what I was eating.

Elizabeth: Eek, maybe I can check it out for lunch one weekend!

Hayley: I didn't even realize it was mickey at first. I thought it was like..a deranged rat.

Donny: I haven't tried those places yet.. :O I think I may have eaten dinner at the second place you're talking about, but not dim sum. Anyhoo, gotta put Pacificana on the list.

acims / February 8, 2010 8:58 PM

Wait, you're a Taurus? I thought you're a Virgo? Did they have different zodiac signs to choose from? (re: compass thingie) Does the compass actually work properly? Wow, did I just write every sentence as a question?

Julie / February 9, 2010 11:22 AM

If I could eat with my eyes, I'd be very content right now. As it is, I'm just jealous, and sad because you missed the egg custard tarts--one of my favorites! My boyfriend and I are preparing for his parents' visit next month. We'll probably do dim sum on the Sunday they're here, and his mom will probably dominate the dim sum carts (we get dim sum on carts, not trays). It's one of the times I'm actually happy about her dominatin' skills. ;D

Joe DiStefano / February 9, 2010 1:19 PM

Wow Robyn...that's some tasty looking dim sum. Just wanted to point out that N.Y. Noodletown also has bak fan yu, I believe the menu lists it as salt-baked white fish. It is damn good too!

roboppy / February 10, 2010 12:06 AM

Adelyn: I didn't even notice the Taurus thing until you mentioned it. ;) Nor did I notice if they had different signs. And I dunno if the compass works. And yup, I'm a Virgo!

Julie: I prefer that ANYONE else dominate the carts besides me.

Joe: I haven't been to Noodletown in ages; I'll have to remember that!

D: DIM SUM 4 EVER..I should make that into a button.

Suzanne / February 10, 2010 12:50 AM

mmmmm....I love dim sum! Your pictures are mouth watering! The egg custard tarts are one of my favorites -- I could probably eat a whole plate of them :o)

reese / February 10, 2010 9:58 PM

You make me crave for dim sum now. Must go to Chinatown this Sunday. Reading Robyn's post is baaadddddddddddddd

Amy / February 12, 2010 10:40 AM

hey that's right behind my house! my dad takes us there all the time, so we're kinda like VIPs there. he could've gotten you a table way sooner!

sigh. i miss chinese food sometimes...

roboppy / February 12, 2010 1:28 PM

Suzanne: Funny you say that cos I think I DID EAT A WHOLE PLATE ONCE...or maybe those were also the sesame rice balls. I was at an event with lots of Taiwanese food in colleg eand I was near some sheet pans filled with egg custard tarts and sesame rice balls. And I was alone. Annnd no one was watching me. So I gorged a bit. I should note that they were miniature ones. :)

Nicholas: I'm full of godly goodness.

reese: I hope you fulfill your craving!

jenn: Dim sum will fulfill that craving, and make you feel like exploding!

Amy: VIP! That's awesome. I think I miss Chinese food if I don't eat it at least once a week, haha.

Winnie / February 14, 2010 3:06 PM

I love your blog, been reading it for years, love the food porn. Especially the food porn. I recently had my tonsils taken out and I just drooled over your blog for weeks. [I found out dofu fa is great when you can't swallow anything solid!!] :)

I personally like Park Asia which is around the corner from East Harbor but I've been to East Harbor a lot too and they are just as good [but louder and bigger]. I never had the whitebait but I'll definitely try that another time. And the fried mantou! Last time I spotted those was when I studied abroad in China. I can't wait to go to East Harbor and look out for those.

I grew up with dim sum in Brooklyn. There are smaller dim sum restaurants by the Avenue U Q-train station. The one I go to is called Asian Flame [love the name]. It's small and dim sum is good early in the morning when it's fresh.

I have the same photo as the "Diaper and Godly tribute" sign when I did my religion paper on Chinese worship.

I'm a total sucker for cute asian food packaging too. :D

Amy / February 14, 2010 6:43 PM

Love those rice noodle-wrapped fried crullers - I use the fried insides to soak up soy sauce. This post makes me miss traditional Chinese food and group lunches so much! Hope you're having a happy Chinese New Year, Robyn! and V day too.

roboppy / February 16, 2010 10:36 AM

Winnie: Thanks for reading my blog for so long! Haven't tried Park Asia, but it was bustling the last time I went by there. I'll put that on the TO EAT list. And I didn't know about the other restaurants by Ave U...AHH OOH GOD TOO MANY PLACES TO EAT AT!!

Amy: Hope you had a good CNY / V-day too! I just ate lots. Lots and lots.

reese: Thanks, you too!

Naomi / April 7, 2010 3:46 PM

After thinking about this post, and then planning for some months I finally got out to East Harbor. It was Tuesday at 1 pm, and still packed! Everyone loved it.

Thanks for eating your way around town, it brings me so many good meals, and saves me from the gross ones.

Robbert / July 20, 2011 5:01 AM

I had an awesome time, great and tasty food, nice servers. The servers were helpful and patient in telling what is what. This is the biggest selection of dim sum that I have ever been too.

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