Wednesday, April 16

Surprisingly Good Dim Sum at Sino - San Jose

For those of you too impatient to skip to the end, everything you need to know about this post is in the title.

While walking around Santana Row with my friend after Fogo de Chao to digest our massive feast and get away from this stray cat following us, we walked past Sino. In the pre-blog days, I had eaten dinner at Sino before. The food was good, slightly generic but still tasty, and of course marked up per the usual Santana Row price structure. So when my friend told me that dim sum at Sino was good, I seriously doubted the legitimacy of her claim. And by doubted, I mean, "Girl you crazay!"

By the way, I always thought it was pronounced SEE-NO, but it's actually SIGN-O.

We went one Sunday morning to test out the claim that Sino at Santana Row has pretty good dim sum. She is not crazay. It's actually pretty good. And in an even more shocking turn of events, it is actually affordable! Here are photos of most of our dishes. I only forgot to capture maybe 2 dishes, and these were all shared between three people.

In traditional dim sum restaurants, Asian women in aprons wheel around carts with piping hot food through tight spaces between large circular banquet tables covered in questionably laundered tablecloths, calling out their food names in what can only be perceived as angry voices, then they stamp or mark your card with symbols that portray nothing about the cost of the gai lan dish you just ordered. Sino provides a refreshingly American take on ordering dim sum. You are given a checklist of categorized items like "steamed" and "fried" and after checking what you want, food is served as it is ready. The menu has labeled prices so you will not be surprised by things that cost more because the Chinese symbol marked on your sheet has more lines than others.

($4.75) Baked BBQ pork buns
Good. This is one of my favorite dim sum items and it tastes pretty legit.

($5) Shrimp noodle rolls
Large portion. Well executed. Served with way more sauce than at other dim sum places which is a good thing. It's good but not the best I've ever had. 

($4.75) Fried egg plant stuffed with shrimp
I'm not familiar with this as a traditional item. It seems a little fusion-ish to me. Nice sized portion, good taste. It's a bit heavy for lunch and goes better with some white rice for dinner.

($4.25) Chicken feet
Oh my goodies. Tastes almost legit except for the peppers. Shouldn't they be julienned and steamed with some black beans at the bottom of the dish? Can someone more Chinese than me confirm this?

($4.75) Steamed pork buns
See description for baked pork buns. Legit!

($4.75) Fried shrimp and chive dumplings
These are actually larger in real life than they appear in the photo if you could believe that. While I liked the taste overall and have no qualms about the dumpling. There is something hard about the stuffing and the wrapper. It's still a good dumpling, it's just not as supple.

($7.50) Kung Pao Chicken lollipops
Sino's highly marketed chicken lollipops appetizer. I am not a fan. Very nice Kung Pao sauce and that's about it. I've never really been a fan of tough and dry fried foods.

If I recall correctly, the items not featured are shiu mai or har gow. I estimate the total bill to be about $50 for the food before tax and tip. Not too bad because it served 3 people with some leftovers for a doggie bag. Aside from the Kung Pao chicken lollipops which cost the most and I was the least enthusiastic about them, everything was good and close enough to authentic. For pricing, I think it's on average $1 more expensive than traditional dim sum at Asian restaurants. Some items may be fairly priced but some dumplings may cost a bit more than they would at an Asian restaurant. I'm no expert because usually when I eat dim sum, other people pay but this is my rough assessment on pricing. Service was good, nothing unpleasant happened. We were left in peace to eat. So in the end, Sino in Santana Row has surprisingly good dim sum. Try it out some time.

Sino Restaurant and Lounge on Urbanspoon

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