I have previously given Boston’s top two rated dim sum houses, China Pearl and Winsor Dim Sum Cafe, pretty mediocre reviews. But after a long night of celebrating the holidays in Boston some dumplings seemed like just the thing to take the edge off the impending hangover. Since the Winsor and the China Pearl were the only spots open early on a Tuesday morning, I gave them another shot. Unexpectedly the food at both places was better on a slow Tuesday morning than on the packed Sunday mornings when I have previously been to these restaurants. Or maybe it was just the restorative properties of salt, fried food and pork working their magic on me.
A lot of the items on the menu at the Winsor weren’t available this time around, perhaps because it was a slow Tuesday over the Christmas break. The pork shumai and the pan fried pork dumplings were available and were really good. The pan fried dumplings were large and cooked gyoza style, with the flat bottoms of the dumplings pan fried almost to the point of being blackened, while the topside of the dumplings were steam cooked. I really enjoyed how the flavor of the charred wrapper mixed with the juicy, well seasoned pork filling.
The China Pearl was also serving a reduced menu, this time around they didn’t have the hot table serving seafood set up. We tried the steamed shrimp balls served from the carts that circulate between the tables. The shrimp balls are crystal shrimp style dumplings that are round and pleated like soup dumplings and are served with a single garden pea balanced on the top. The shrimp balls were really good and I highly recommend them. The filling was made of chunks of shrimp that tasted sweet and fresh and popped when I bit into them. The rice flour crystal wrappers were strong enough to hold together the filling, but weren’t thick and gummy.
In my last review of the China Pearl I wrote “The various fried dishes we tried were greasy and heavy, and for several of them the cook seemed to have a heavy hand with the MSG.” But for this outing the fried dishes were light and fresh tasting; the salt and pepper fried head-on shrimp were excellent. The shrimp are not available from the dim sum carts and have to be ordered from a waiter.