BEST IN SHOW: Lobster with ginger and scallion is one of the winners at Winsor Dim Sum
When dining out, comedian Henny Youngman always asked for a table near a waiter. At most of Boston’s dim-sum palaces, my strategy has always been to sit near the kitchen door, to get the little plates off the cart when they’re hottest. Winsor Dim Sum has introduced two exciting reforms: dim sum made to order, and dim sum — classically served as brunch or tea snacks — available all day. The former makes seating arrangements less necessary, but still a good idea.
|Winsor Dim Sum Café | 617.338.1688 | 10 Tyler Street, Boston | Open daily, 9 am–10 pm | VI, MA | Beer and wine | No valet parking | Access up 14 steps from sidewalk level|
Of course, no Chinese restaurant bets the mortgage on any single theme, so the menu also includes a considerable assortment of Hong Kong seafood, a sprinkling of Szechwan dishes, plus congee, bubble teas, and even sandwiches.
Various kinds of Chinese restaurants have been housed in this space, yet it remains a simple upstairs dining room. There are two Chinese pictures on the wall, and a third of a waterfall with a cheesy flickering-water effect. At night the room resolves into three very large tables and some smaller ones, with all the big tables our night occupied by a single family birthday party. The partiers were eating Cantonese dinner food, and we wanted what they were having. So we had dim sum for appetizers, and then tucked into the Cantonese menu with relish.
Off the dim-sum list, we started with “pork and shrimp dumpling” ($2.75), which produced four piping-hot barrel-shaped double bites of exquisite, juicy freshness. These were like the original shumai, before Japanese restaurants got a hold of them and began making them smaller and more tightly wrapped. I thought “crabmeat dumpling with soup inside” ($2.95) might be one of those Taiwanese type, where you use a straw to get the broth out of the dumpling before you try to eat it. In fact, we got one triple-size Peking ravioli floating in a bowl of “superior stock,” the pork/chicken broth that is the basis of much of Cantonese cooking. With a few mushrooms flavoring the shredded shrimp, it was an excellent snack.
Crab Rangoons ($5.95), while not traditionally included in dim sum, were obviously house-made, with perfectly dry-fried wonton skins and a cream cheese filling that came to the table hot and melty. So that, too, was an endorsement for the concept of dim sum made to order. An order of spicy salted squid ($5.95; $9.95/dinner portion) was very salty, very peppery, and very crisp. So was a dinner order of spicy salted shrimp with shells ($5.95/$10.95), with the additional virtue of a sprinkle of mentholated Sichuan pepper on top.
Our most exiting dish was lobster with ginger and scallion (seasonal, recently $13.95), fresh and sweet tasting, hacked into easily de-shelled pieces with a very light dusting of flour to hold the ginger and scallion flavors. I also liked it with a sweet, red vinegar dip, though that may have belonged to one of the fried seafood platters