Monday, February 25, 2013

Disappointing Dim Sum c/o Ocean Harbor

Earlier this month I sent out the call for interested dim sum participants, of which there were a few. You can't really do dim sum without a critical mass of at least two, but really an ideal number is closer to four or six. With the help of BC's more extended social Philly network we got to four. Leave it to me to plan a dim sum outing on the Chinese Lunar New Year. Lines are always an issue with dim sum if you go much past 11, but on a holiday? Pissssssh, the worst. Of course I didn't actually understand it was a holiday until I was walking to Chinatown from Market Street and firecrackers were being lit all over the place. But thwarted I was not going to be. BC had arrived just a bit before I had, and already had a number in hand. Thus began the epic standing in the crushingly full lobby/stairs area waiting for our number to be called. We were joined by BC's friends S. and A. Eventually we got to the top of the stairs and our number was called. I'm not going to lie that I was pretty much entirely non-plussed and totally annoyed that we were then seated at the table immediately at the top of the stairs where a good 50+ people were all waiting for their numbers to be called. This crowd of humanity spilled up to the stairs and into the aisle between our table and another set of tables. Not only did this mean that people were constantly bumping my chair and generally breathing down my neck, but it also resulted in a complete barricade between the carts and our table. None of the cart ladies bothered to push through and we were simply sitting there sipping tea and craning to see what was going on. I get it, it's a holiday, space is at capacity. But seriously, why even have a table if the patrons are going to struggle and grump to get any service? Sigh. Between an arched eyebrow to the manager on C.'s part and my literally getting up and going to carts to get additional snacks and point out our unserviced table, we did ok, but I didn't see a number of my favorite treats. No shrimp dumplings. No sesame balls.
Not as large a variety of dumplings on display. My suspicion is that they were grabbed by folks seated right by the kitchen in the slightly less densely populated areas of the space. If I had been in such a spot I would certainly be pleased with myself.
Chinese broccoli was decent.
I know that this crowded madness was a result of the holiday, but this is the third time I abandoned my generally favored Joy Tsin Lau to give Ocean Harbor a shot and I was simply not impressed. Dim sum is always a pretty cutthroat process - you really gotta work to get those dumplings, or more tea, or a glass of water - and generally that's part of its charm. But this was not charming, holiday or no. That said, I was glad to get a little taste of dim sum after quite a lull. And it was good to see BC and meet some of her buds.

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