At Grand Palace's dim sum event, the choice is yours

Eats

Dining For $25 Or Less

December 08, 2005|By KAREN NITKIN | KAREN NITKIN,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The cart comes around. The lid is lifted off a dish, and inside are sticklike rows of ... something ... under a shiny brown sauce. Phoenix feet, we are told. Um, no thanks. But the fried shrimp cake looks good. We point. A portion is placed on our table, a mark is scribbled on a sheet of paper, and the cart is gone.

A few minutes later, another cart is rolled toward our table. This one is loaded with sweets - round steamed buns with mango inside, little custard tarts, and balls of dough rolled in sesame seeds. We take a serving of steamed buns.

And so it went during a very enjoyable Sunday afternoon eating dim sum and other food at Grand Palace, a longtime fixture in Brooklyn Park that since spring has been under the new ownership of Jim Zheng.

Dim sum, with such exotic offerings as shark fin dumplings ($2.50) and beef tripe with ginger ($2.50), can seem intimidating to the uninitiated. But at Grand Palace, a clean and spacious restaurant, the exotic is mixed with the more familiar, and the whole dim sum experience was delightful.

Grand Palace has two dining areas, a large dining room with round tables, and a smaller area with booths, where the sun streams in. On a recent visit, both sections were populated by a mix of families and people eating alone. In one corner, four young children were tapping their chopsticks together to create a quiet symphony. Nearly everyone was Asian - a good sign in a dim sum establishment.

Service can be a little scattered. A soda that we ordered was forgotten, and sometimes there were long periods between visits from the carts. But everyone was friendly and helpful. As the carts come around, the servers lifted the lids off the various dishes and answered questions as well as they could.

Try to visit when the carts are rolling, so you can see the food before choosing it. The carts roll on weekends, generally from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., but the same items can be ordered off the menu on other days.

In addition to the dim sum, Grand Palace serves excellent Cantonese food, including a delicious house version of chow fun ($9.95). The steaming platter of long, flat noodles mixed with chicken, shrimp, pork, carrots, sprouts, onions and mushrooms was infused with a rich and smoky flavor.

For diners who want only the tried and true, they're all here - general Tzo's chicken ($8.95), wonton soup ($1.50) and other items you'd find at your neighborhood carry-out. But the dim sum is so inexpensive - generally $2.50 a serving - that it's definitely worth trying.

Particularly good were the fried shrimp cakes ($2.50), rounds of intensely flavored pink shrimp rolled in crunchy sesame seeds. Also tasty were round white pockets of dough filled with a garlicky mix of chives and other greens ($2.50).

Fried dumplings filled with ground pork ($2.50) was too greasy for my taste, but I loved the sweet rice in lotus leaves ($2.50). The rice mixture was wrapped in large, fragrant leaves that opened to release a steaming treat - sticky rice on top of a savory mix of mushrooms and ground sausage.

For dessert, the steamed buns ($2.50) with their surprise filling of sweetened mango, provided just the right touch. We left Grand Palace feeling as though we'd had a grand adventure, and an enjoyable too.

Grand Palace

Where: 5721 Gov. Ritchie Highway

Call: 410-636-1688

Open: Lunch and dinner daily

Credit Cards: MasterCard, Visa

Prices: Appetizers $1.50-$4.95, entrees $6.95-$13.95

Food: * * * (3 STARS)

Service: * * 1/2 ( 2 1/2 STARS)

Atmosphere: * * 1/2 ( 2 1/2 STARS)

[Outstanding: * * * * (4 STARS) Good: * * * (3 STARS) Fair or uneven: * * (2 STARS) Poor: * (1 STAR)]

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