Update Dec 24, 2009 My family and I stopped at Winsor Dim Sum Cafe again and it was again a solid dimsum, with one particular stand-out dish, which was surprising and refreshing for dimsum on the east coast.
Shrimp in Rice Wrapper (虾腸, ha cherng) - Very decent, skin could have been thinner, but a minor qualm.
Soup dumplings (小笼包) - Okay. Could use a bit more soup. The soup was fairly light and the skins were pretty thin and easy to break. Not bad, although this seemed more like a Cantonese version of these dumplings.
Chive dumplings (gao choy gao) - Interesting, the dried scallops an interesting addition to the filling.
Chicken Feet - Not bad, mostly the sauce flavoring things.
Tripe - Decent, but nothing particularly memorable
Steamed sponge cake (ma lai gou) - Kind of tasting like a steamed cupcake. A touch sweet. After trying the Korean pastries, could have used some wheat or rye to balance out the sweetness.
Beef wide noodles (干炒牛河) - Pretty solid stuff, beef tender. Essentially what you'd want from this usually oily dish.
Fish ball Rice porridge (Yu kao jeuk) - Fishball more tender than usual fish balls from the supermarket, the texture and taste more like real fish. Decent texture rice porridge.
Steamed custard & egg yolk bun - A left jab from nowhere. A unique and memorable bun that made my family go wow. Served hot and fresh. The usual egg custard in Chinese buns, but combined with salted egg yolk bits, resulting in a nice sweet & savory combo in flavor. The salted egg bits added a bit of course granularity, contrasting with the more smooth custard and the steamed bun texture. I still think the custard could have been stepped up even more with the addition of another ingredient to tamp down on the simple sweetness, but this certainly came as a surprise from Boston dimsum, which I not so long ago had given up hope on.
I will cut to the chase. After years of mediocre dimsum in Boston at numerous different restaurants (most recently at recently at Hei La Moon), it was refreshing having solid dimsum in Boston.
Granted, it wasn't outstanding nor was it innovative. *And* we did eat there on a Wednesday morning, instead on the busier weekend, so perhaps it wasn't a real test of what the food was like during the peak times. But still.
Winsor Dim Sum Cafe does order-style dimsum (akin to some sushi joints) instead of the more frenetic cart-style. I do have a soft-spot for the carts, but while it's really fun scoping out dishes as they pass by, when it comes down to it, if it makes the food quality better, I have no qualms with the made-to-order style.
Tripe - Noticably tender, nicely cooked.
1000 yr old Egg Rice porridge (皮蛋粥)- Also nicely done. Good texture & tasty. Nothing rave-worthy, but certainly a solid version.
Chinese donut (油条) - Freshly deep-fried with a good crunch to the outside. Perhaps a bit on the oily side, but I'm okay with that
?? Dumpling - Hrmm. One of the more so-so dishes. The dumpling skin was slightly thicker than average and the inside flavoring was somewhat bland.
Shrimp in Rice Wrapper (虾腸, ha cherng) - Somewhat standard, but decent version
Xiao long bao (小笼包) - So-so as well. The wrappers were a bit thin on the bottom and broke very easily, releasing what little of the soup was inside. The top fold, on the other hand, was a bit overly thick. The soup and meat flavors were ok, if not particularly memorable.
Shark fin dumpling - Strangely, much better than the other dumplings. I highly doubt that there was much shark fin in here, it having a more fishy/fish-ball type taste.
Shanghai Rice Cakes (上海年糕) - The house specials were the major mis-steps of our meal. Texture-wise, the rice cakes were on the jaw-bouncy side and flavorwise, this dish needed more sauce or some more flavorful accompanying ingredients, since the plain nian gou dominated the flavor.
Turnip cake w/ XO sauce - When ordering, we had thought this was just some fancier version of the standard turnip cake (萝卜糕) and were a bit surprised to see the large dish before us. I think this could have been an interesting twist. The turnip cubes had a nice outer crust to them, but flavor-wise, I found this to be a bit off. The XO sauce provided a slight spicy, slightly salty sharpness to the flavor, but was then followed by the wider needing-some-salt taste of the turnip cake. (And I must say that everytime going forward that I have turnip cakes, I will mentally refer to lovely texture of those at Jade Asian Restaurant in Flushing. These did not have that)
I'd be curious to try this again on a busier day to see if the more solid dishes do hold up or whether it was just that it was the slower Wednesday. It may be sometime before i'm able to do so, but I'm glad I was able to see a glimmer of hope for dimsum in Boston.
Winsor Dim Sum Cafe
10 Tyler Street Boston, MA 02111-1904 (Map)