If you're going to try dim sum at Golden Coast, there are a few rules. Rule number one: bring a friend (or two). Most of the items come in sets of two, three or four – three turnip cakes, for example, or four shrimp dumplings. If you want to try more than two things, you're going to need back up.
Rule number two: Don't be scared. Unless you're a dim sum regular, there are going to be some things on the menu that you're not familiar with. If something looks tasty, just order it and try it before you find out what it is (otherwise, you'll let your fear get the better of you).
And finally, rule number three: go to Golden Coast on the weekend. During lunch on Saturday and Sunday, you don't have to order from the menu. Friendly servers push carts loaded with food around the restaurant. When one passes your table, just flag them down and ask what they have. Also, if you can get a seat near the kitchen, do – when I was there during Sunday brunch, servers kept bringing hot dishes out from the kitchen to sell.
Since it was my first time at dim sum, I let my buddy E.J. (from the blog Loudersoft.com) do the ordering. I decided early in the meal that I would trust his judgement and try whatever he picked out. And I stuck with that, until the chicken feet. There was something about a silver canister filled with little claws that I couldn't get into, no matter how good E.J. Said they were.
We started the meal with a big bowl of chicken and rice soup that was thick like porridge and had pieces of preserved duck egg. It was the kind of chicken soup that you want when you're super sick, the kind that can probably cure just about any ailment, physical or emotional.
After that, we had plates of shrimp dumplings and pork, shrimp and crab wrapped in thin steamed wrappers. There were lotus leaves folded into thick rolls and filled with chicken, sticky rice and pieces of sweet, meaty sausage that we opened like presents.
We ate fried buns filled with pork and delicate, lacy steamed buns filled with taro. There was a plate of clams in brown sauce that tasted a little like pepper steak. There was so much food, and it just kept showing up in covered silver bowls and on small white plates.
For dessert, we pulled a few selections from the three-tiered pastry cart. We got a plate of coconut Jello (at least, it tasted like coconut Jello, if Jello was thicker and had richer, more authentic flavor). We tried finger-shaped pastries filled with coconut cream and gelatinous taro balls filled with peanuts and shredded coconut.
Here's a taro ball from the outside:
And from the inside:
Our dim sum lunch took about two hours, mostly because we couldn't (or didn't want to) stop eating. When we went to the counter to settle up, I was terrified that the bill would be insane, but our tab came to about $50 for four people. All of the dim sum plates (even the ones with multiple pieces) sell for less than $5.
If dim sum isn't your thing, you can order from Golden Coast's regular menu, which has traditional Cantonese dishes and seafood. Don't hesitate to bring a crowd to Golden Coast – all of the tables are big and round to accomodate groups and families. The restaurant is open daily from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m., with dim sum cart service on the weekends.