Wei Hong does dim sum on Saturday and Sunday, but they also are often serving it on holidays, a welcome option for those with no plans until mid-afternoon. And it's a crowd that tends to drift in relatively late, more toward noon, with plenty of children in all age groups. Even the child-free curmudgeons can only smile at the sight of a pre-schooler tackling a sesame ball the size of a baseball, the young one's cheeks about as round as the ball. Fewer carts held more items each, we noticed, and by the time we left, most tables were ordering items off the menu to supplement
Dim sum turned out to be a mixed bag on our visit. Char siu bao, the fluffy steamed buns filled with barbecued pork, looked mangled, although they had a good proportion of meat to dough. The taste was rather standard. . But a version of shu mai, the open-faced pork dumplings, was assertively spiced with ginger and showed the coarsely ground pork at its best. (Most of the pork in the meal was that same coarse grind.) Shrimp dumplings were ordinary, especially compared to a fabulous scallop-and-crab triangle-shaped delight, full of seafood-y pleasure with just a faint hit of the ginger.
Instead of shrimp-stuffed eggplant or green peppers, the filling at Wei Hong was placed on some tofu, which made things a little less complex in the mouth but shrimpier. A vegetable-filled dumpling with a green-colored translucent rice-flour wrapper worked well with its melange of flavors, led by what seemed to be shiitake mushrooms.
And then we tried something we'd never had before. Now, taro balls have been around for a while. We've always passed them by. We'd tried taro in Hawaii and been underwhelmed by its blandness. The fuzzy balls, which look as though they've been rolled in shredded wheat, just looked, in the words of Mrs. Old China Hand, as though they were an excuse for grease.
Well, we were all wrong about the Wei Hong version. Beneath the crunch is a creamy pinkish interior that looks like a lumpy batch of refried pinto beans. The filling is studded with bits of pork and other, less identifiable things, hints of green onion and soy and other flavors. The contrast between the creamy and the crispy makes it a dazzling dish. Yes, they're a little greasy but they're worth it for an occasional splurge.
Our severs smiled a lot, but were not very facile with their English. We were among the few non-Asian patrons on this visit, which we always take as a good sign. And the price is right.
Wei Hong Seafood Restaurants
7740 Olive Blvd, University City
Lunch and dinner daily
Credit cards: Yes
Entrees (non-dim sum): $9-$35