There seems to be a Chinatown in every major city in the United States. Boston is no different and I came to Hei La Moon for dim sum.
I’ve been to many cities and different countries in the world. I always make an effort to have dim sum if there’s a Chinatown or a large Chinese population. It’s become a conscious effort to taste different interpretation of dim sum utilizing local ingredients. However, not all dim sum is created equal. The best dim sum would be in Hong Kong at Tim Ho Wan followed by Melbourne, Los Angeles, Shanghai, San Francisco, and Sydney in no particular order.
Dim sum is a Cantonese cuisine originating in Southern China. There’s practically a dim sum restaurant on every corner of Hong Kong and the Guangdong province. Dim sum is linked to the yum cha tradition and dates back to days of the Silk Road. It has evolved into a time for family gatherings on the weekend and Chinese elders congregate at their favorite dim sum restaurant after their morning exercises. It’s also one of my favorite things to eat.
Hei La Moon sits across from Boston’s Chinatown Gate. The banquet style restaurant resembles every loud Chinese restaurant I’ve come across in my life. The raucous of steel carts trekking around the restaurant while patrons talk over each other to be heard. It sounds like people are upset at each other; however, it’s a normal speaking volume to Chinese people. The tacky furniture that matches the overuse of red and the two large dragon statues in the middle of the restaurant.
The service is no different than any other Chinese restaurant. Dim sum is order off the cart, the wait staff stamps your bill and waiters are indifferent about whether you ordered Coke or Diet Coke. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has eaten at any authentic Chinese restaurant. Don’t take it personally as it’s more of a cultural thing.
Now, the food. There are two dishes of the menu I always judge dim sum; it’s the Shiu Mai and Har Gow, which are the cornerstone of every dim sum menu.
- Shiu Mai – The pork and shrimp dumplings came in fours. The golden wrapper sticking it tightly like a newborn caressing his/her mother’s chest. The plump Shiu Mai had a bite to it but it lacked the extra flavors to make it memorable. The black mushroom didn’t add to the plump juicy flavors when compared to some of the best dim sum I’ve had. In addition, there wasn’t any crab roe used as garnish on the traditional dish, which is essential to give it an extra boost of flavors.
- Har Gow – The tapioca was poorly wrapped around the shrimp dumpling. The tapioca wrapper should be transparent and should display the filling of the dumpling. However, Hei La Moon’s Har Gow was thick and the texture was rough. The generous portion of shrimp was overcooked and the wrapper stuck to the paper lining the wood steamer. It was a disappointing attempt at one of the cornerstones of the dim sum menu.
- Wontons – The wontons on a dim sum menu comes down to personal style as many dim sum houses don’t offer it. The golden wrapper was thin and snugged around the pork and shrimp filling. The wontons were cooked perfectly as the juices filled your palate when you bite into it. It had a sharp flavor to it due to the ginger and it was easily the best item on the menu.
Hei La Moon was a packed house when I left it. Its clientele was still filling in as I rush out to jump in my Uber and head to the airport at 1:30 PM on a Sunday. Boston’s Chinese population is no where near other major cities like New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles. Therefore, I wouldn’t expect quality dim sum in Boston as Hei La Moon was a mediocre dim sum experience.
Read our other Boston articles here.
- Service - 5/105/10
- Presentation - 5/105/10
- Flavors - 4/104/10
- Decor - 5/105/10
- Ambiance - 5/105/10
Hei La Moon sits across from Boston’s Chinatown Gate. The service is no different than any other Chinese restaurant. However, not all dim sum is created equal. I wouldn’t expect quality dim sum in Boston as Hei La Moon was a mediocre dim sum experience.