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Hollywood East Cafe, Wheaton - Owner Janet Yu Now in Wheaton Shopping Center - STILL OPEN

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Tom Sietsema's review.

Big fan of the original Hollywood East and excited that they're now doing dim sum. Looks like the new place is right across the street from Good Fortune on University Boulevard, hopefully the competition will spur both to new heights. (It sure it won't make parking any easier round there on weekends, though.)

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I haven't heard good reviews of the place from my parents, my friends and my family's friends. I am curious to go to see what it's like but no one in my circle has anything good to say - food's poorly done and overpriced. Tom's review makes it sound pretty decent but I don't know how Sietsema's palate is when it comes to Chinese food.

They should've opened the 2nd place in a different location - it's puzzling that they opened the 2nd one so close. Just 'cause it works for Starbucks (well, that's another thread in and of itself) doesn't mean it'll work for them.

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I agree that it is weird to open a new place so close to the original (and keeping it open). I will say that I have had some great food at Hollywood East. I have found the food to be above the standard westernized chinese. I should note, I have only been to the original location.

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The original Hollywood East is not bad and the reason why it's above standard Chinese food is because it's not your typical Chinese-American restaurant. However, if you judge it as an authentic Cantonese restaurant, it needs some work.

It's been very difficult to find a good authentic Cantonese place here in the DC metro area. Ask most any Cantonese person around here and they'll tell you the same thing. Most of the places here are not consistent w/ their cooking. Good bets are Oriental East for dim sum and Mark's Duck House. New Fortune in Gaithersburg is pretty decent - we're going there tonight for an early Mom's Day celebration and we'll see how the food is.

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post-46-1116869932_thumb.jpg

And now for the close up... Smile! post-46-1116897186_thumb.jpg

Twenty of us gathered tonight for a 13-course Chinese banquet, organized by JohnB (thanks John!) There were some real highlights - the five varieties of dim sum to start were fresh and light, sweet, rich poached scallops with black bean sauce on the half shell, the crispy skin and tender meat of roast suckling pig got tucked inside moist warm thick pancakes, and the seafood "compilation" with dungeness crab, lobster, and clams was bursting with flavor. There were also some misses - particularly the whole fish that was overcooked and swimming in a too-sweet sauce (as were the giant prawns). Since I haven't sampled a lot of the area Cantonese, I will say that I will definitely go back for dim sum some weekend! As these photos will hopefully show, http://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=9AcM3Ddo0cMNA" target="_blank">http://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=9AcM3Ddo0cMNA

it meant that a lot of work went into the presentations, and the staff did a terrific job of keeping the food and drink coming.

Edited by crackers

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The fish and the prawns seem to me to be a more Northern style of cooking than Cantonese style. It just LOOKS too sweet in the photos.

The presentation and tableware are impressive. Quite fancy. I think I may bite the bullet and try the food one of these days. How much was the banquet, if I may ask?

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The fish and the prawns seem to me to be a more Northern style of cooking than Cantonese style.  It just LOOKS too sweet in the photos.

The presentation and tableware are impressive.  Quite fancy.  I think I may bite the bullet and try the food one of these days.  How much was the banquet, if I may ask?

I was surprised by how sweet and thick those sauces were. I had thought that "sweet and sour" sauces with red food coloring were more of a western invention (I'm sure someone will correct me if that's wrong). But you're right, they have done a very impressive job with the tableware, furnishings and decor. We were seated at two large round tables with enormous lazy suzans at the back of the room, so we had a good view of the entire large dining area. It was interesting to watch as the room was completely full by 7:30pm, then cleared out, and then started filling back up again around 10:30 pm! The banquet, including tea, was in the mid $70 range, plus tip. It was a dry night for me, so I don't know about drink prices (the wine choices offered by the waiter, who was somewhat challenged with English, were "red" and "white"). :lol:

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Nope, it's not really a Western invention. Well, it's been adapted to Western tastes but it's a Northern Chinese thing. (Please excuse my generalization - being Cantonese anything not Cantonese is "Northern" Chinese given our geographical location. LOL!) Especially the fried fish in sweet in sour sauce. What would've been better than that fish is a steam fish in soy sauce with ginger and scallions. Ooooh.

$70 bucks with a whole suckling pig, seafood, scallops, & etc? Hmm. I'll ask the expert about that price.

Oh yeah, don't expect much in terms of drinks in a Chinese joint. *shrug* We pretty much focus on the food - let the French do the wine and food pairing...hee hee.

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13-course Chinese banquet, organized by JohnB (thanks John!)  There were some real highlights - the five varieties of dim sum to start were fresh and light, sweet, rich poached scallops with black bean sauce on the half shell, the crispy skin and tender meat of roast suckling pig got tucked inside moist warm thick pancakes, and the seafood "compilation" with dungeness crab, lobster, and clams was bursting with flavor.  There were also some misses - particularly the whole fish that was overcooked and swimming in a too-sweet sauce

Thanks again JohnB for helping set this up and to Crackers for the visual trip down memory lane. I agree with her food comments, but want to also share the joy of crunching on the fresh snap peas in the XO Chicken and tasting really delicate fried rice (at the end, just before dessert). There was alot of food and while the kitchen did a good job of pacing between courses -- it was dizzying.

I saw what I hope are Dim Sum serving carts parked in an alcove and will definitely go back for a Dim Sum meal. Can anyone rate HE v Good Fortune Dim Sum?

In addition to good food, we had great conversation and I wanted to follow-up on the All-Clad Seconds sale. I just called All-Clad and it's Friday & Saturday (6/3 & 6/4) in the Washington (PA) County Fairgrounds. There are some Pittsburg area shops selling seconds that weekend (Crate), but the biggie will be at the fairgrounds.

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In addition to good food, we had great conversation and I wanted to follow-up on the All-Clad Seconds sale. I just called All-Clad and it's Friday & Saturday (6/3 & 6/4)  in the Washington (PA) County Fairgrounds. There are some Pittsburg area shops selling seconds that weekend (Crate), but the biggie will be at the fairgrounds.

Just for a little info --- That's about 4 hours from the Beltway. Take I70 to I68 (do not go to Breezewood and get on the PA turnpike) to I79 North.

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Had a spur of the moment opportunity to try Hollywood East with Mr and Mrs B and family and the two poorly behaved little Shorters last night. We ordered:

Cuttlefish with lightly pickled daikon Liked this, not sure how other members of our party felt about it.

Pan fried meat dumplings Good gingery pork filling, but I prefer a lighter dough and less greasiness. Not quite up to the A&J standard.

Salt and pepper anchovies Tiny, tasty, crunchy whole anchovies showered with fresh chilies and ginger. A hit with both my kids, and me.

Razor clams with black bean sauce Good fresh clams and not overwhelmed by the sauce. Emma loved the cool shells and took one home with her.

Oyster and pork casserole Loved the flavor combination, but it would benefit from smaller oysters. These were gigantic, among the largest oysters I've ever seen, and overwhelmed the sweeter pork belly.

Steamed Ling fish fillet with ginger and scallions Tender and fresh, if somewhat bony. Emma had this for breakfast this morning.

The Busboy kids reported that the Chicken Fried Rice and Beef Lo Mein were good but bland. The Shorter kids' chicken with broccoli in brown sauce was reported as "yummy" and nearly finished. :P

We ordered far too much rich food - a vegetable choice would have balanced the meal.

I was not overwhelmed by this place and on the whole prefer the old Hollywood East or New Fortune in Gaithersburg, but must try the dim sum (served Sat and Sun), and a dinner with some of the vegetable offerings before passing judgement.

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The Montgomery County Dim Sum Comparo invaded Hollywood East On The Boulevard today. We had six adults and four kids, and a whole lotta food...

  • abalone dumpling
    sui mei
    har gow
    sticky rice in lotus leaf
    congee (can't remember what was in it)
    chive & pork dumplings
    spinach & pork dumplings
    spring roll in rice noodle
    shrimp cheong fun
    BBQ pork cheong fun
    baked BBQ pork bun
    steamed beef balls
    beef tendon
    chicken feet
    dried shrimp in rice noodle
    spareribs in black bean sauce
    turnip cake
    clams in black bean sauce
    sesame balls
    Chinese broccoli
    some mysterious green dessert substance

This is not an exhaustive list - I know I missed several dishes!

The food, service, selection, and cleanliness were all dramatically superior to Good Fortune. We were offered absolutely everything, unlike at GF. The quality was very high overall, so it's quicker to point out flaws than to highlight all the, well, highlights. The sauce on the Chinese broccoli was very salty, even for me (and I'm a salt addict), and the pieces were too large and unwieldy to eat easily. The turnip cake lacked the fresh crispy edges that you find at New Fortune. I don't recall seeing a lot of pan-fried dishes other than the turnip cake and dried shrimp in rice noodle (which was new to me, and goes on the must-order list for future visits).

I shall allow the other participants to wax poetic (or otherwise) about the dishes at their leisure. I'm still in a pork-induced daze...

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There were a couple of different deep fried things that we had that I didn't see in your list, and the enoki mushrooms. We also got some la mein noodles, though I'm pretty sure my 8-year-old son ate most of the plate himself! I think the ingredients in the congee were preserved pork and mushrooms.

As Perri said, very very superior to Good Fortune. We were there at 1pm, and there was definitely no shortage of quality, fresh dishes coming out of the kitchen. I thought they also had a great way of dealing with the flow coming out of the kitchen. They had not just slow-moving carts circling around, but servers carrying trays that moved small amounts of different selections around quite quickly.

Standouts to me included the very rich and hearty congee, the pan-fried cheong fun (which I've never seen before), the siu mei (you could taste all of the ingredients, which was a huge contrast to the insipid offering from GF), and the BBQ pork cheong fun. I wanted to like the spring rolls wrapped in rice noodles, but it had sat out 2 minutes too long by the time I grabbed a piece, and the crispiness of the spring roll was mostly gone.

Disappointments to me included the abalone (bland), beef balls (likewise), and beef tendon, although that one may just be personal preference. When I order them at Joe's or Tony Lin's they're quite spicy, and there was no heat to be found on the tendons here, until I added chili paste myself.

Overall, this was very good dim sum, and I'm looking forward to seeing how my current personal yardstick, New Fortune, stands up in 2 weeks time.

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Of all the dim sum places the crew have visited so far (see Some Dim Sundays thread), this is the best. Or at least my favorite. Many dishes were better executed than at the other places we've tried, and there were others unique to HEOTB (as far as I know). Like the roasted pork in a flaky pastry (not that puffy white Bisquick-y stuff, which they also had), and an intriguing mushroom dish.

If you like dessert, HEOTB is the place to go. Our group ordered:

the ubiquitous so-called pineapple buns (not my favorite, but the best I've had)

egg custard in a flaky coconut pastry

a gelatinized coconut thing (big cubes, a bit hard to eat with chopsticks)

glutinous rice dough shaped like carrots and filled with something sweet (anybody figure that one out?)

glutinous rice with bitter melon, filled with black sesame seed paste

sweet soft tofu in hot syrup (impossible to eat with chopsticks)

sesame seed balls

Okay, mostly it was me who ordered all of that - thanks, gang, for indulging me. <_<

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The "carrots" were filled with custard, and they were almost too pretty to eat - but boy, were they ever tasty... I enjoyed the tofu in sugar syrup, but we need to ask for extra bowls and spoons next time.

Let us not forget the savory dishes! The tripe was lightly spicy, not at all bland or rubbery. I think Dean and I polished off the whole platter of clams with black bean sauce (were those Manila clams?). HEOTB's char sui is a bit overly sweet (New Fortune really sets the standard for BBQ pork), but it worked very well for the the triangular char sui pastries (we should have gotten more!).

I just wish they'd add more vegetable options to the repetoire. Fake carrots don't count. <_<

Oh, yes, I forgot - another new (to us) dish was hollowed-out squash filled with a shrimp mixture. Or was it a pork mixture? Or both? I didn't get a chance to try it, but it certainly disappeared. To me, the only disappointment was the steamed spareribs with black bean. The ribs themselves were nicely tender, but there wasn't a lot of black bean flavor present.

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I just wish they'd add more vegetable options to the repetoire. Fake carrots don't count. <_<

My +1 and I arrived early, tried to hold a large table and saw some carts roll-by before the others arrived (and the really big table in the far corner w/lazy susan emptied). Before folks arrived we saw: broccoli rabe, salt-crusted prawns, abalone shu mai, and spear-sliced peppers stuffed with shrimp and tempura fried -- but they NEVER rolled our way again!! Next time I'll try to sit closer to the kitchen entrance and (although the place was still hopping) maybe eat before 1p.

Both the savory and sweet dishes were wonderful and may have taken first place (from New Fortune) in my "best of" dim sum list. We also had the slippery rice crepe with either shrimp or pork (one dish of each), sticky rice steamed in leaf wrap, chive dumplings and really good sharkfin dumplings.

Janet, the owner, came over and very nicely explained some of the unique dishes. Another plus, the staff gave us several western-style utensils (including knives) to split the dumplings and sticky yummies into shareable sizes.

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Wow. Wish I had taken the time to read DR before going to Hollywood East last night. I'd read Sietsema's review, and obviously, he is better at ordering off a Chinese menu than we are. It was an extremely disappointing meal.

Appetizers: Spicy Shrimp Wontons. The wontons and the filling were fine, but they arrived in a VERY greasy broth - very unappetizing. Crispy pork was disgusting. Big, room-temperature chunks of pork that were mostly fat with small bits of pork. Mixed in were little pieces of the crispy batter, but it is hard to imagine that this pork was ever cooked.

Main courses: Chicken with scallions and ginger. Allegedly. None of the four of us could taste any ginger whatsoever. Chicken was prepared Chinese style (put the entire chicken on a cutting board, skin, bones and all, and whack at it with a cleaver). Result is chunks of chicken with bits of bone of varying sizes. Not fun to eat. I am no fan of chicken strips, but I am also no fan of having to pick little bits of bone out of my meal (or my mouth in front of others). Together with the very pale skin remaining on the chicken (making me wonder if it had been adequately cooked), virtually all of it remained on the plate. Husband had crispy duck with pineapple. It was like eating candy, it was so nauseatingly sweet. Friend one had chicken and scallops with mango. Utterly flavorless. Friend two had something we think was called crispy chicken with sesame. I didn't try that one. She said it was good.

Result: will never return. Will stick with Fong Li (Bethesda) for sit down and Cheong's (Bethesda) for delivery.

Ellen

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Result: will never return.  Will stick with Fong Li (Bethesda) for sit down and Cheong's (Bethesda) for delivery.

Ellen

It seems to me, even based on your own comments, you should try HE again only order right this time. I don't know about Fong Li, but based on reputation it's hard to imagine you couldn't do better at HE with a little care.

There is no Chinese restaurant I know of where you can get reliable help from the staff, at least not until they know you. Having been burned so many times in the past by non-Chinese ordering the authentic dishes (by accident or whatever) and then rejecting them, they just won't suggest the good stuff to a Westerner they don't know. They assume (correctly most of the time) that Westerners just don't like the authentic dishes. You're only real hope is to do your research before you go, such as here on this board. Otherwise it's hit or miss, and too often the latter.

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I've been to Foong Li in Bethesda twice, and I can't imagine spending money there again. It's mediocre Americanized chinese food at best, but at Bethesda prices.

Try going to Tony Lin's in Rockville, and asking for the Chinese menu.

I've been to HEOTB a couple of times and ordered off the regular menu, and had fabulous meals there - it's not just dim sum they do well.

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I've been to Foong Li in Bethesda twice, and I can't imagine spending money there again. It's mediocre Americanized chinese food at best, but at Bethesda prices.

Try going to Tony Lin's in Rockville, and asking for the Chinese menu.

I've been to HEOTB a couple of times and ordered off the regular menu, and had fabulous meals there - it's not just dim sum they do well.

I SWEAR I DID NOT ADD A SPACE AFTER THE "QUOTE" BEFORE ADDING MY REPLY ON THAT PREVIOUS POST BUT IT STILL LOOKS LIKE A TRIPLE SPACE...? I STARTED THAT ONE (AND THIS ONE) IMMEDIATELY BELOW THE WORD "QUOTE."

Well, I've been here 20.5 years and Tony Lin has gone up and down and up and down and up and down...we miss the House of Chinese Chicken. That place was quite good. And I acknowledge that Foong Li is nothing special, but it is reliable and nothing there turns my stomach.

Ellen

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I've been to Foong Li in Bethesda twice, and I can't imagine spending money there again. It's mediocre Americanized chinese food at best, but at Bethesda prices.

I've been to HEOTB a couple of times and ordered off the regular menu, and had fabulous meals there - it's not just dim sum they do well.

I agree with Dan - I have only had fabulous meals at HEOTB.

But please see my apples and oranges comment on the Foong Lin thread. Foong Lin is across from my office and has nothing in common with HEOTB. I still like Foong Lin's egg foo young.

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OK, so folks have continued to comment about my inability to order off a Chinese menu over in a different thread, so I am going to refer to their comments here. You all seem so dedicated to defending HEOTB that none of you have bothered to respond to the very specific comments I've made about the food.

Even more confusing, some of you have implied that I ordered Westernized Chinese food (as though that's an excuse for bad food) and some have implied that I ordered authentic Chinese dishes that I couldn't appreciate because I don't understand authentic Chinese cooking.

So let's sort it out.

1. Are you all telling me that the spicy shrimp wontons are:

a) only for people who have sophisticated Chinese palates and I should have stayed with egg rolls? - OR -

:) only for stupid Americans who can't be bothered to learn about Chinese food?

c) And in either case, the wontons are supposed to come in a greasy glop, and I'm just too uneducated in proper Chinese cooking to know that and to appreciate a thick film of orange grease all over my plate?

d) Why is Chinese grease good and American grease bad (many of you have commented on grease with regard to American good, and clearly think it is a bad thing).

2. Are you all telling me that chicken with scallions and ginger that has no ginger in it is:

a) only for people who have sophisted Chinese palates and I should have stayed with General Tso's chicken? - OR -

:angry: only for stupid Americans who can't be bothered to learn about Chinese food and know that Chinese ginger has no flavor?

3. Are you all telling me that because it is authentic, you LIKE having bits of bone in every bite of food? Just because something is authentic doesn't mean it is better. Foot binding is authentic, too, but I don't see you running around with mangled feet.

4. If you are all so enamored of authentic Chinese food, why aren't you all at Joe's Noodle House, eating duck tongue?

Authenticity is one thing, and if you like it, regardless of the drawbacks, more power to you. But authentic food can be prepared poorly, and I think that's the case at HEOTB. I would fully expect the Westernized food at HEOTB to be poorly prepared, too.

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:angry: only for stupid Americans who can't be bothered to learn about Chinese food?

Do you find it infuriating that the Invision Software converts your "b )" to a smiley face with sunglasses on it, thus lessening the dramatic impact of your post? :)

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Do you find it infuriating that the Invision Software converts your "b )" to a smiley face with sunglasses on it, thus lessening the dramatic impact of your post?  :)

You mean it isn't some subversive DR programming to make those who disagree with the mavens look like idiots? Man, it is a good thing I love [can't mention other restaurant in this thread, but you all know what I mean - the holy of holies - over in Arlington, soon to be in Silver Spring...]. Actually, I am having a rare streak of good days (two weeks, minus one day - an ALL-DAY faculty meeting this past Saturday canyabelieveit?) and counting, and it is a gorgeous day and I have had TWO good nights of sleep in a row, so Invision wasa probably just sensing my mood!

Ellen

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You asked for specific replies to your points...

1c) And in either case, the wontons are supposed to come in a greasy glop, and I'm just too uneducated in proper Chinese cooking to know that and to appreciate a thick film of orange grease all over my plate?

3. Are you all telling me that because it is authentic, you LIKE having bits of bone in every bite of food? Just because something is authentic doesn't mean it is better. Foot binding is authentic, too, but I don't see you running around with mangled feet.

4. If you are all so enamored of authentic Chinese food, why aren't you all at Joe's Noodle House, eating duck tongue?

Authenticity is one thing, and if you like it, regardless of the drawbacks, more power to you. But authentic food can be prepared poorly, and I think that's the case at HEOTB. I would fully expect the Westernized food at HEOTB to be poorly prepared, too.

It is possible you were at HEOB on a bad night. Maybe you just don't get "authentic Chinese food. Maybe you ordered the "wrong things." But your posts, except for the first, on two threads, seem to me not to just be a recap of your experience but a hostile attack on HEOB for serving the style cuisine they serve. If you don't like it, fine. But when your criticism seems to show a lack of understanding of what they are trying to do at HEOB, then you might get some flack, as you obviously did. In my case, I feel you are attacking them for their authenticity. Nothing you wrote seems to imply they are doing authentic badly. Just that you think dishes which sound mighty authentic in your descriptions are "authentic done badly". To answer your specific points:

Point 1 c)... yep thats exactly how it comes. Schezuan dishes often have a layer of "orange grease" due to their use of hot oil: peanut oil is heated till almost smoking and crushed chilis are tossed in. The chilis are turned almost black and all the heat winds up in the oil. The oil winds up bright orange. Some cooks add sesame oil to this which makes it thicker. More rustic cooking used the oil with the flakes, more refined tends to use just the oil. In a dish like spicy won tons, the usual recipe would call for a tablespoon of hot oil added to the dish. In fact in Schezuan cooking, the typical dish is cooked so the sauce separates into a pool of oil and a thick, intensely flavored sauce. This is a sign of good cooking in that culture.

Point 2... never had this dish so I will keep my mouth shut.

As to your point 3.... authenticty is authenticty. Chinese birds and meats are often served chopped up in small pieces bones and all. So are the ribs. That's the honest, proper, traditional way to do it. If you don't like getting bits of bones in your chicken, you should not order anything but boneless chicken dishes. So in this case, with your repeated insistence that something clearly authentic is bad, yes you are showing off your lack of experience with authentic Chinese food.

Point 4... Duck tongue, to me, has a greasy character that I don't particularly care for. I much prefer the beef tendon. Or the rabbit in spicy sauce. But be careful, because it is served chopped into little pieces with bits of bone. And their spicy wontons come with about a 3/8 inch layer of orange hot pepper oil on top.

Chinese restaurants, especially those in areas that are not predominantly Chinese, have to serve Westernized foods. While I have dined at HE & HEOTB perhaps 50 or more times, I have encountered a few off dishes. Most of the food is equal to what I used to get in Monterey Park in Southern California, an area with more authenticity in Chinese food than any other I have encountered. I put in a lot of time at the table, asking about the food to learn Chinese food. When I go to a restaurant that actually has authentic food, I do not expect the westernized food to be good and do all I can to avoid it.

HEOB to me has some of the best dim sum around: here, Monterey Park, LA, San Francisco, Chicago or New York. Their fresh seafood is spectacular (the razor clams are amazing in black bean and garlic sauce). Their cold meats are superb. They make one of the best pressed 5 spice beancurds around!. They do a fantastic job with greens and Chinese vegetables. I do think you have to be careful when ordering a stir fry... what I do is ask my waiter to recommend a pork or scallop or whatever dish and then I usually get something pretty darned good.

Don't like it... fine. But please don't imply that we are wrong for liking HEOTB.

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