Let me preface by saying that Rachel and I are both dim sum noobs, so a trip to one of the area’s most popular dim sum restaurants was long overdue. With our friends Keith and Casey, we drove out to Wheaton Plaza for a New Years lunch at Hollywood East Cafe.
As soon as we were seated, the carts came rolling by. The first cart contained an assortment of steamed plates, so we went with an order of shrimp and pork dumplings to kick off our meal. I particularly enjoyed the steamed beef balls. With a slightly different texture than your typical meatball, the beef balls were full of flavor yet light and airy.
An order of their baked roast pork buns was a hit amongst our table. The buns were not piping hot when we got them from the cart, but regardless, they provided a nice combination of sweet and salty.
As the carts rolled on, our plates stacked higher and higher. The steamed spare ribs with black bean sauce was one of the heartier dishes of the day while the baby bok choy was deliciously garlicky.
One dish that really stood out was the shrimp rice noodle crepes. This was my first encounter with rice noodle rolls, and given that my dexterity with chopsticks is minimal at best, my tablemates had a blast observing my futile attempts.
Just when we though we were full, the dessert cart came around, so we decided to get a plate of deep fried sesame balls with lotus paste. This is clearly an acquired taste as I wasn’t that big a fan of the pastry, though I was more than happy with everything else we ordered.
Speaking of which, considering everything we got, the bill was rather reasonable. The total was around $60 before tip, or $15 per person. Not too shabby especially since I’m fairly confident that I didn’t mention every single dish we ordered that day. The service was friendly as well — everyone was very helpful explaining each item in the carts.
All and all, Hollywood East Café was a great introduction to dim sum. Between this and Ping Pong, there’s simply no comparison: Hollywood is legit dim sum in terms of both food and atmosphere, I actually left full (something that never happens at the latter), and it wasn’t overpriced. Bottom line, if I’m going for dim sum, I’d rather make the drive to Wheaton.