When we lived in San Francisco, one of our favorite lunch routines was dim sum. Dim sum is sort of like Chinese tapas, or little plates. Our usual spot for dim sum is Shanghai Lil’s, which is quite good (see my previous review), but I had heard there were other places to go, so I wanted to see what else was out there. It appears these days, there is just one other place (please let me know if I am mistaken) to go, which is on the west side, called On Time seafood. So off we went.
It is another one of those restaurants in a somewhat neglected strip mall. I was surprised though by how nice the interior was relative to the outside. Very, very clean, and not your standard Chinese restaurant interior. Decent upholstered chairs and a row of booths along the walls. Also, one of the first things I noticed were the fish tanks in the back, with live fish, lobsters, and get this, Dungeness crab. Wow, it was hard not to say, “screw the dim sum, let’s get a crab!” But I didn’t. But I am going back for a crab very, very soon. This is the first place I have seen live Dungeness crab in Indy and I can’t wait to eat one. These are by far my favorite.
Anyway, the dim sum, overall, was very good as well. You are given a written menu to check off what you want, as well as a nice card with pictures of all the items. Nice touch, particularly since it appeared there was only one person working in the entire place that spoke English and the place was pretty crowded. Although many of the customers were also speaking Chinese, so maybe it isn’t that necessary.
We ordered the shrimp dumplings (I am just going to use the English names here for ease of typing), the spring rolls, pan fried chive cakes, the pan fried shrimp roll, and the fried sticky rice with mixed meat. The shrimp dumplings were very good. Just your basic dumpling wrapper with whole pieces of shrimp inside. Hubby and I were discussing why it is that some are good and some are not, because they seem pretty simple. But we have had some bad ones. However, these were really good.
The next thing I tried was the pan fried chive cakes. I think these may have been my favorite. The filling was just mainly chives, but the dumpling wrapper was pan fried and had nice crisp sides to it that had a wonderful flavor. There were some other things mixed in with the chive mixture which made it quite tasty. Sometimes I have had them and they taste just too much like grass. These were superb.
The spring rolls were fine. They gave us the crunch factor we needed to balance the soft dumplings. The fillings were just standard though and a couple of the pieces of pork inside were a little gristly for me. I certainly think the spring rolls at Shanghai Lil’s are better, but these do the job.
We also had the pan fried shrimp rolls which were really good. This was more of a chewy wrapper that had a bit of filling with a bit of shrimp in it. They were then lightly pan fried. So they had a bit of chewiness to them which was nice, as well as a bit of the crunch. We both really liked these as well and put them on the “would definitely order again” list. They weren’t super shrimpy, but had a nice and more unusual flavor.
We never actually got the shrimp and cilantro dumplings. We were twice brought out a set of dumplings, sent them back the first time, because they were clearly not shrimp and cilantro (some sort of meat in there). The second time they brought out the same thing, and we just decided to eat them anyway. They were pretty good, but I didn’t think they were as good as the other things. Hubby said he would order them again if he could figure out what they were. I think, based on a process of elimination, that they may have been the Chiu Chow dumplings which are stuffed with pork and various other ingredients. They were fairly apologetic about not being able to get the other dumplings for us, and declared they must be out of them.
The final thing we had was the fried sticky rice with mixed meat. Ok, this was not good. Or I should say, we did not like it at all. As soon as it was placed on the table, I wanted it removed just for the smell. But I bucked up and took a bite, and realized the taste was right in line with the smell. Now I am very sensitive to smell, but when hubby started physically moving away from it in the booth, I knew it wasn’t just me. I can’t tell you what was in it (mixed meat apparently) and I can’t tell you what the offensive ingredient was. But after a little research, I have seen a recipe discussing the Chinese sausage giving it its characteristic “aroma” so maybe that was it. But I really don’t know. It was sort of a fermented seafood-y scent to me I think. Anyway, the owner came by and asked us if we didn’t like it (because we had barely touched it and moved it to the edge of the table) and we said no. She promptly offered to cook us something else and to take it off our bill which I thought was very professional. So many places don’t do this unless you ask. And I wasn’t going to ask, because I thought, maybe it was just something that wasn’t my taste, but that other people might like. She also, without prompting, removed the shrimp and cilantro dumplings we never got from our bill, even though we did eat the ones we did get. She was extremely apologetic right up until the moment I walked out of the door which I thought was sort of refreshing.
Now, there’s no booze at this place (not even Chinese beer) so hubby has taken it off the evening meal potential list, but they have a nice dinner menu as well with those aforementioned crabs. We’re just going to have to go split one of those for lunch one of these days. And we will do dim sum there again as well for a change of pace. We will just stay far far away from that fried sticky rice.
On Time Seafood Restaurant
3623 Commerical Drive