Weekend Lunch: Dim Sum at World Tong in Brooklyn

This may surprise you, but over the weekend I don’t eat lunch in Midtown. (Why would anybody???) I do however feel the same hunger on Saturdays and Sundays that I feel during the week, and my tastes don’t change either (fat man likey good food). So, I’ve decided to share a few of my weekend lunches that would fit the very high Midtown Lunch’ing standards (namely- cheap, fresh, authentic and delicious!)

If you love Dim Sum, aka Chinese brunch where small plates of dumplings and other steamed and fried goodies are served off of carts that roll around the restaurant, it stands to reason you’ve been to the Manhattan Chinatown.  If you are serious about finding the best Dim Sum in New York, you’ve probably made the trip down the 7 to Flushing in Queens.  And for the most hardcore of fans, there is Sunset Park, the strip of 8th Ave. known to most as “Brooklyn Chinatown”. 

But as I found out this weekend, the best Dim Sum in the city may not be in any of those places.  It might just be three stops past Sunset Park on the N line, at a little place called World Tong.  Formerly home to Joe Ng, who was lured away to the very upscale Chinatown Brasserie in Manhattan, World Tong has been a favorite of hardcore Dim Sum aficionados for awhile, but the train ride (combined with the fact that Joe isn’t there anymore) has kept it mostly under the radar.  Hoping to avoid the Chinese New Year crowds, we headed out this weekend to check out what many have called the Best Dim Sum place in New York City. 

Dumpling porn, after the jump…

I will readily admit that I am not an expert on most things.  I’ll write about hamburgers and pizza you can get in Midtown, but I’m no expert.  (I leave that to guys like Ed Levine & Adam Kuban.)  I love sushi, and have eaten at some of the more expensive Japanese restaurants in the city… but I don’t think I could tell the difference between really good toro and sublime toro (it all tastes delicious to me!).  But if there is one thing that I don’t mind considering myself a connoisseur of, it’s Dim Sum.

After years and years of “research”, in every major Chinatown in North America (Boston, San Francisco, L.A/Monterey Park, Vancouver, and of course New York), I feel pretty confident in my ability to recommend a good Dim Sum place.  I also know the pitfalls of taking somebody else’s opinion (i.e. Chowhound or Zagat’s).  While occasionally you’ll get lucky, (I’ve read about World Tong very often on Chowhound) many of the posted recommendations or “votes” that go to determining the winner of a “best of” contest, may come from people with a different view of what makes a Dim Sum place good or bad.  For example, I love you to death, but if you don’t eat chicken’s feet, how can you determine if a place is the best?  I also find that many recommendations come from people who don’t like large crowds, or are intimidated by the process- so they complain about service, or their inability to get food or understand what they’re ordering, at some of the larger, more authentic places.  Listen to these people, and you’ll end up eating at the easiest place, not the one with the best food. 

For me, here are the key elements in a great dim sum place.  Freshness. Quantity. Variety.  In many ways, for me, variety is the most important.  You can get  shu mai (open topped pork and shrimp dumplings), har gau (shrimp dumplings), and pork buns everywhere.  What I’m looking for is something new- to be surprised.  Show me something I’ve never seen before, and I’ll be hooked. 

I tend to like the very large Dim Sum halls, because the more people there are, the more variety there tends to be.  Unfortunately, the larger the place is, the more likely you may sacrifice quality for quantity.  Small places, some of which ask you to order off a menu, may be fresher and of a higher quality, but the selection is usually smaller, and if they don’t push the food around on carts, it’s not dim sum.  I don’t care what anybody says.  You might as well just go to a normal restaurant, and order off the menu.  Carts is part of (if not most of) the fun.

World Tong in Brooklyn is an aberration.  Small (to medium) by most measures, the food never stopped coming.  And not just quantity, but variety and quality to boot.  All the standard dishes were fresh and delicious, but they gave me some things you don’t get at every Dim Sum place in NYC.  And did I mention the food never stopped coming?  All the dumplings pictured above were outstanding, but here were a few of the real highlights:

Chicken Feet.  Oftentimes the tiebreaker when determining whether a Dim Sum place is just good or something truly spectacular.  My brother, a chicken’s feet connoisseur, opined that these may have been the best he’s ever had.

Pork w/ Cracklin.  The more the merrier when it comes to Dim Sum… so I invited along some friends- including the first profiled Midtown Lunch’er ever (and co-owner of the Brooklyn Kitchen).  This was his favorite dish.

Pork Pie (Innards).  Think miniature apple pie, but with roasted pork instead of apples.  Wow.

Pig’s feet.  I think pig’s feet are my new favorite thing.  These weren’t as good as the ones at Hakata Tonton, but delicious nonetheless.  (And haven’t you heard?  Collagen is good for you!) (Update: Hakata Tonton has been closed by the DOH.  Very upsetting.)

Durian Pastry – A perfect gateway food to actual durian, the big spiky fruit whose innards have been said to smell like stinky socks.  It is said to have a taste and consistency similar to custard, or a stinky french cheese, with an onion aftertaste.  Delicious right?  Even better when mixed with sugar and baked into a pastry.  The ones I’ve had at Jin Fong in Manhattan’s Chinatown are deliciously sweet and custardy, but at World Tong you get a feel for what durian might actually taste like.  Amazing.  I think I’m ready for the real thing now… 

Ironically, as the N takes you above ground at the southern part of Manhattan, you get a nice overhead view of Chinatown- allowing you a moment to wonder why the hell you are passing all those Dim Sum places to ride another 30 minutes on the train to some little place in Brooklyn.  One meal at World Tong, and you’ll never question it again.

World Tong, 6202 18th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11204 (Bensonhurst) (718) 236-8118
Take the N to 18th Ave. It’s on the corner of 62nd St. & 18th Ave.


  • Zach, next time you go get another dim sum “must” – the tripe. It comes in a bowl with brown gravy & turnip. Good for a hangover too, like most innards. p.s. Chowhound hasn’t been good for about 5 years now.

  • how can you have dim sum and not go for some lovely, gelatinous turnipy patties? i find they’re usually a good test of how good a dim sum place is (is it swimming in grease? bland? too flan-like?) also, chicken & pig feet always remind me of my childhood (sigh).

  • Zach, I respect your dedication to the BK. Next time your in Sunset Park (isn’t that a movie with the dude from Onyx?), you should check out Tacos Matamoros located at 4503 5th Ave. Top notch tacos al pastor and the chalupas are the truth.

  • Chowhound,Zagats,time out et al; a waste of bloody time.

    Start off as a good idea then they get a bit up themselves.

    Unlike Zach, he allows things to flow and opinions to be expressed.(Zen Burger review!)

    Take a look at Off the broiler. Jason Perlow has lost the fucking plot altogether.What was once a very intresting and wide ranging food blog has now become a diary of his new health and fitness lifestyle(with pictures of his basement gym, i shit you not).Also,he once described himself as a VIP on his own BLOG.
    The tit.

    Nice dimsum pics btw :)

  • Hey that’s right by my house! I find that place overpriced and not as good as it should be considering how much you’re paying. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good, but I think they took the price higher because they know they’re the only chinese restaurant in the area that serves dimsum/tea. Oh, and it gets extremely crowded on weekends.

  • i’m confused; where can i get dim sum in midtown?

  • Rudy, spot on as usual – Jason Perlow has lost it but will always get respect for slamming Jim Leff & the Chowhound idiots for being the addled hippy beatnik fukwits that they are. Like you said – started great, now completely disposable. Even Ed Levine is a shadow of his former self. Keep your copy of his NY Eats bible, it blows away his current rants on whatever diet he’s blowing now.

  • Zach, I think you’ve convinced me to be more adventurous when I go for dim sum. Thanks

  • I live in Bklyn and have been there several times recently. A group of us from mouthfulsfood.com (with some chowhound overlap) went this Saturday as well after I mentioned that World Tong is serving some fresh, innovative dim sum right now. We had a similar experience… excellent offerings, large variety, many dishes I’ve never had before. They may well have someone as good as Ng (or better) in the kitchen… I’d recommend going asap before another changeover occurs. Although they do seem to keep up a high level regardless.

    By the way, the CH “outer boroughs” board is still reasonably viable for ferreting out some good food. Besides World Tong, there’s a Szech. place on 5th Ave (& 87th St in Bay Ridge) that I found thru a posting and it’s been great the 4 times I’ve been there so far. I think Wayne’s painting with a little too broad a brush.

  • I feel like we really need to talk a little bit more about the roast pork in the puff pastry… that was magic in my mouth. I dreamt about them last night.

    Them pork with cracklins were no joke either!!!!

  • Man, I need to jump on the N train… You are totally spot on with the chicken feet thing. Dim sum is totally for chicken feet eaters, and there definitely has to be carts. The other day I went to eat dim sum and the tale next to me ordered FRIED RICE off of the menu. Might as well burn a hole in my heart. fried rice at dim sum.

    I second the suggestions of turnip cake and tripe at any dim sum place. There is also this fried taro thing that has ground pork in the middle.

  • Here are the top 3 “Outer Boroughs” entries on Chowhound right now:

    Sripraphai First Timer 26
    Lunetta – What Happened? 2
    Di Fara’s: How much is the best NY slice of pizza worth? 91

    I dunno about you, but 91 people blabbing about how much a Difara’s slice is worth just screams “WASTE OF BLOODY TIME” at me. Not worth reading to find the very few gems with so many other good food sites out there… like MIDTOWN LUNCH!

  • Wayne: I’m the last one to argue that the signal to noise ratio on CH is very poor. Dont open those threads… they’re obviously not worth it. Instead, focus on the threads with potential, especially when posted by those with good reputations. For example, the long threads on the Flushing food stalls inside the 2 malls yielded 7-10 places that were unbelievably good and completely unknown to me. “Surly” or one of the others posting even drew a map & included a basement floor of stalls I didnt know was there. The thread by Peter Cherches (who has a good food blog himself) has gotten me to Florence’s, a family run Ghanian place in Harlem.. incredible home cooking of authentic ethnic food & is getting me to Maytex, another Ghanian place, this time off Flatbush Ave in Bklyn. I’m not trying to sell the site… I’ve been there since before it was well known and before Perlow, Plotnicki and many of my friends at mouthfulsfood broke away. I just think there’s more there than the crap you’re accurately describing.

  • I’m drooling!

  • I’ve been going to World Tong ever since it first appeared in the Voice and in CH; the food remains fresh, inventive, and diverse. Beyond that the staff has always been very helpful; they even made room for me to bring a collection of 12 10th graders for their first dim sum experience.

  • Wonders- not sure what they charged you the last time you went but our meal for 6 (healthy eaters) was $72. As far as I’m concerned that’s pretty cheap for a hearty meal.
    I’ve paid far more than that in Manhattan chinatown.

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