New Kam Fong

Dim Sum
$$$$ ($14 and under)
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Editorial Review

Tom Sietsema wrote about New Kam Fong for a December 2009 First Bite column.

Anyplace that serves dim sum every lunch of the week has this grazer's name written all over it. Word that a fresh source for dumplings and other Cantonese snacks had opened earlier this year in Wheaton sent me to New Kam Fong on a recent Sunday.

As it happens, the restaurant's list of "heart's delights" is Twitterlike, less than two dozen dishes long, and the food comes from the kitchen as it's ready rather than off a roving cart that allows diners to preview the possibilities.

What I sample, however, encourages me to keep ordering. New Kam Fong's pork-and-mushroom dumplings are very satisfying, as are its fluffy shrimp balls. Eggplant slices padded with ground shrimp deliver another deal: $2.50 for three pieces. The sight of a roomful of Asian customers is also reassuring.

Closed for more than two years now, the original Kam Fong stood in Chinatown. Its reincarnation takes place in a former bicycle shop, but you wouldn't know that judging from the tidy mirrored dining room brought to life in September by owners Wu Zhan and Karen Lee (she's called Ping by her Chinese regulars) and their son Kenny.

Like a lot of the competition, this Chinese restaurant features an epic printed menu supplemented with a list of more than a dozen specials on a sign board. Chopped lamb stoked with fresh ginger sputters on its way to the table: fajitas by way of China. A mound of tender clams rises from a delicate broth that picks up some color from watercress. Chinese broccoli is cooked just as it should be: gently.

Our server seems taken aback when two Caucasians order a rice casserole made with eel. Even she hasn't tried the dish, she tells us, adding that the entree takes 30 minutes to prepare. We persist. Eventually, my comrade and I are treated to a steaming dish of rice flavored with soft cloves of garlic and fine slices of eel and Chinese celery. Over this concoction, the server pours a rich house-made soy sauce, then deftly blends the rice with its enhancers.

Patience rewarded.

Entrees, $5.50-$17.95.

(Dec. 23, 2009)