Golden Joy does Chinese Barbecue Right, but with its Dim Sum, There is Right and Wrong

A question I'm often asked is, "Where is the best dim sum in Dallas?" When it comes to this city, however, the question seems rather rhetorical, does it not? The common answer is always either Kirin Court or Maxim's, and not necessarily because of the quality of the restaurants. Both Kirin and Maxim are consistently decent, but neither is spectacular. What makes these so popular is that, in the past, there were never better places. There were only far worse. Location is also a factor. Both restaurants are in the heart of Richardson's Chinatown, so by association, they are the most convenient and logical restaurants at which to go get dim sum.

Also, because of the labor-intensive nature of a dim sum restaurant, there haven't always been many restaurants from which to choose...until recently. From grocery stores such as 99 Ranch Market offering up the Cantonese tapas in their food court to JS Chen and its menu-style selection, dim sum is seemingly popping up everywhere. Some (99 Ranch Market) fare better than others (JS Chen), but it's nice that there are now options outside of the big two. With the Asian population rising and spreading across the burbs, Chinese restaurants are paying attention to the demand. So much so, that many places offer up dim sum seven days a week. Gone are the days of waiting until Sundays for long lines and numbers to be called out for some xiu mai.

One such restaurant about which I've been hearing murmurings is Golden Joy BBQ. The restaurant is situated in Richardson, but outside of Chinatown. Golden Joy is definitely smaller than the average dim sum restaurant, but it's gaining an impressive following. It doesn't hurt that they combine two Cantonese favorites - - Chinese barbecue and dim sum - - into one destination. This eliminates the pesky question of, "What am I craving more? We can either go to First Chinese and get this or head to Kirin Court to get that."

Because, thankfully, Golden Joy does both Chinese barbecue and dim sum rather well...for the most part. After all, dim sum is a tricky thing. Three small dishes might be quite good, but one bad dish can ruin everything.

Fortunately for me, (and unfortunately for our accounting department) I was able to try many of the options offered. And Golden Joy offers many options. At 70 dishes, their every day dim sum selection far exceeds that of JS Chen, almost doubling the latter. I visited the restaurant on a Saturday afternoon for the cart service, which is only available on the weekend afternoons.

The very good:

Several of the dim sum dishes I sampled that afternoon were surprisingly good. Steamed barbecue pork buns were perfectly fluffy and generously filled with meat. Chicken feet were glazed with a nice sweet sauce, and enhanced with a spicy bite courtesy of jalapenos. Fried sesame balls with red bean, steamed pork ribs, steamed shrimp rice rolls, and barbecue pork stuffed puff pastry were all very tasty, as well. Although I lucked out and got the fried sesame balls fresh out of the fryer, even after they cooled they were still ridiculously chewy.

The meh:

Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce could have looked less depressing. The greens, which should be served bright and crunchy, were limp from being overcooked. Xiu mai, the pork dumpling granddaddy of dim sum was tasty, but a bit fatty and greasy. Not the best xiu mai I've ever had, but definitely not the worst.

The downright bad:

This is unfortunate. If xiu mai is the granddaddy, har gow is the arguable grandmamma of dim sum. The small shrimp dumplings in thin rice skin wrappings were a huge letdown. The skins were shriveled, and the shrimp filling, which was equally dry, was beyond bland. The other worst dish of the day was the Shanghai buns. What are these even doing on the dim sum menu?! They are a completely different type of cuisine and are a very specialized food to make (just ask Jeng Chi Dumpling House). Golden Joy butchered these magnificently. What are supposed to be soupy buns were dry and sad.

Outside of those two train wrecks, and strictly Cantonese-cuisine speaking, one can debate that if a dim sum restaurant screws up either the har gow or xiu mai, that place has no business being a dim sum restaurant. I get it. I'm normally the person saying that. However, I just can't bring myself to not recommend this place.

First of all, like any good dim sum restaurant should, Golden Joy offers Chrysanthemum tea. Secondly, aside from the har gow, nothing was terrible, per se. If the people of Dallas are going to eat at Maxim or Kirin Court anyway, there's no reason to not give Golden Joy a try. If anything because, aside from the har gow and Shanghai buns, nothing at Golden Joy was less than comparable than at those other three restaurants, and some things were even better.

The restaurant's barbecue pork and roasted duck are two other reasons to visit Golden Joy. Unlike the other restaurants mentioned above, Golden Joy, a la First Chinese Barbecue, serves up entrée orders of both dishes. That day's roast pork and duck rendered very juicy and tender pieces of meat, with the slightest amount of fat. The pork was nicely marbled, while the duck had a thick layer of fat separating the flavorful meat from the crispy bird skin. Compared to First Chinese Richardson, there's no comparison. The skin of the bird at Golden Joy could have been browned more, and the barbecue pork needed a bit more of the distinctive red sauce. Although, compared to some other First Chinese locations, Golden Joy actually is much more competent.

Along with the dim sum and the barbecue meats, Golden Joy BBQ offers up an extensive menu of other Cantonese standards. There was no way I could have ordered any more food that afternoon, but knowing that there will be a dim sum menu waiting for me whenever I return gives me incentive to come back and try the rest. Dim sum in Dallas still has a long way to go, but it's nice to see there are more options these days.

Golden Joy BBQ 1475 Belt Line Rd #260, Richardson, TX 75081 972-234-2889

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Kristy Yang
Contact: Kristy Yang