Editors' pick

Hollywood East Cafe

$$$$ ($15-$24)
Dim sum favorite Hollywood East Cafe has settled into its new location in the Westfield Wheaton Shopping Center.
Sun no 10 am-1 am
Mon-Thu 11 am-1 am
Fri-Sat 11 am-1 am. Dim sum hours: Sat-Sun 10 am-3 pm
Mon-Fri 11 am-3 pm
Wheaton (Red Line)
72 decibels (Must speak with raised voice)

Editorial Review

2010 Spring Dining Guide

By Tom Sietsema
Sunday, May 23, 2010

On weekends, the dim sum carts stop (and go) by the tables so fast and frequently that it would be entirely possible to dispatch with a meal in 15 minutes. But the Chinese snacks they carry are so enticing that they merit a diner's unhurried consumption. "Barbecue pork buns?" one of the servers asks, and we bite. The yeasty rolls hide a satisfying core of sweet diced meat. "Fried shrimp?" another waiter identifies her wares. A plate of crackling, head-on seafood lands on a table that gets more crowded by the second. "Razor clams?" I look up to see Janet Yu, the watchful matriarch of the family-owned enterprise, holding out lightly battered clams in a blizzard of fried garlic, jalapeno slices, onions and cilantro. Yes! I want to follow her suggestion with seconds, but there's too much more coming at me: bright green Chinese broccoli draped in oyster sauce; fat, finger-long rice noodles filled with what tastes like Chinese meatloaf; some of the pinkest and softest shrimp balls I've ever encountered; translucent and slightly sticky dumplings containing chopped duck and mushrooms . . . seriously, if you can't find something to eat among the dozens of possibilities, you're impossible to please. (Aficionados, take note: Although dim sum is served daily, diners order it off less-extensive menus on weekdays.) This is a reincarnation of not one, but two similarly named restaurants in Wheaton. The original Hollywood East Cafe was closed in December 2008 to help fund this spot, in the Westfield Wheaton Shopping Center; a spinoff, Hollywood East on the Boulevard, was shuttered six months later, after the landlord sold the building. To the chagrin of fans, construction and other complications delayed until April the debut of this, Yu's latest project, a vast red-and-green dining room whose sliding windows open to a hall of the mall. Dim sum isn't the only thing this restaurant does (it's also open for lunch and dinner), but the plates that translate to "heart's delight" in Chinese are what the kitchen does best. The price is right, too. When a foursome near me gets the bill, one of the diners cries, "Are you serious? I thought we'd crack $100, at least." If some of the servers look familiar, it might be because Yu and her husband, Alan, employ their four sons. I could wish for less grease here and there, but more often than not, what I really want at Hollywood East Cafe is another stomach.