As our first night at the beach wore on, and one bottle of wine was followed by another (and another, and, ok, another after that) I knew just where the conversation was going to go: straight to dim sum. For years, I've been hearing about my friend Karen's favorite dim sum spot, located in Middletown, New Jersey, not far from where our families both vacation. The solution for a mild hangover and a rained out beach day was definitely going to include a table full of dumplings (and soothing congee) at Crown Palace.
It's a large banquet hall, complete with disco ball, fish tanks, and golden dragons (with glowing red eyes)—the carts carry all the classics. You mustn't miss the delicate Pan Fried Tender Leek Dumplings ($2.50 for two) which are crisp on the outside and juicy with bright, fresh-tasting green leeks within.
If your hangover has you hankering for more fried stuff, there's octopus and Peppercorn Squid ($4.25) coated with a super-light batter. There are crab claws (shell-on) wrapped in a thick shrimp-studded dough, and many other crispy things hidden on the carts which make their way around the room, but you should save room for the steamed options, too.
The Ha Guo ($2.50) are superlative; the translucent skins pop in your mouth to reveal perfectly sweet, fresh shrimp.
But if you're really hurting, and even if you're not, the Congee with Pork and Preserved Egg ($2) is a must-order. Made with broken rice, it has an even, creamy texture enhanced by a deliciously rich stock base. This is no bland cream-of-wheat. The little savory bits of pork and egg are plentiful and tasty—our group ordered a few extra servings to take home and reheat for breakfast the next day.