Dim Sum at the Golden Unicorn
Only one thing can coerce me to get out of bed on a Sunday morning, take the Subway downtown, and brave the crowds in Chinatown when the weather is bad and I have a hangover from the night before: dim sum at the Golden Unicorn.
For you food novices, dim sum is a Cantonese style of dumplings served in bite-sized portions, along with pots of jasmine tea. Instead of a traditional restaurant service, carts of small steam baskets and plates are wheeled around so you can pick and choose whatever you’d like, and then the items are marked off on your check.
As a Chinese hybrid kid, I grew up with dim sum being a special treat on a Sunday afternoon, and I always look forward to going to Noble Court in Bellevue whenever I’m visiting home. In NYC, however, it’s not as convenient to have to schlep my way to Chinatown and get bombarded by hundreds of people who look like they could all be my ancient ancestors – but the food is so freakin’ good, I don’t mind waiting almost an hour for a table once in awhile.
I’ve gone to the Golden Unicorn a handful of times with my friend Bekki, and we always order the same stuff. She loves the spareribs, turnip cake, and sticky rice; and then I’m basically good with a plate of shrimp and chive dumplings, and about a dozen shrimp and pork shumai. Not gonna lie, shumai is pretty much the only reason why I’m obsessed with dim sum. They’re plump, juicy, and fill me with all kinds of happy ass feelings. When the nice Chinese ladies roll the steam cart stocked with baskets of shrimp and pork shumai to our table, it takes every ounce of self control not to say, “Yeah, you can just leave that here.” I usually eat them until I feel absolutely sick and disgusting, but that’s the beauty of jasmine tea – it cuts through the grease, settles the stomach, and then you’re ready for a couple more rounds.
Once we shamelessly stuff our faces for awhile, we always finish off with mango pudding. For whatever reason, it’s not the most popular dim sum dish when I look around the restaurant, but I could eat that stuff by the bucket. It’s thick, creamy, and mango-y… so if you don’t like it, then there’s something wrong with you. The Golden Unicorn serves their mango pudding straight-up, but other dim sum restaurants may pour condensed milk over the top.
Finding a dim sum restaurant in New York City’s Chinatown isn’t exactly difficult, and there are some other “famous” places that tourists and locals tend to flock to. But with the flashy name and hype, those restaurants have also become insanely overpriced. ($5 for a basket of four shumai? Shut up, no.) So the Golden Unicorn is tops in my book. Out of all the times Bekki and I have gone, we have pigged out until we couldn’t stand it anymore, and still never paid more than $25 each.
Stop by if you want some legit dim sum dishes for a good price, but be ready to wait awhile for a table – the place is packed by about 11:30am. Also, if you only have a party of 2-3 people, you’ll probably have to share a table with strangers. But everyone’s busy enjoying the dim sum or screaming at each other in Chinese, so it really doesn’t matter.
For more information, visit www.goldenunicornrestaurant.com.