Rice Plate Journal is a yearlong project to canvass Chinatown, block by block, discovering the good, the bad, and the hopelessly mediocre. Maximum entrée price: $10.
For the past few decades, dim sum in Chinatown has been an iffy proposition — all the restaurants making the most refined tea snacks and small plates are located in other neighborhoods or down on the Peninsula. But if you're willing to concede you don't need dumplings with the thinnest, most satiny skins or braised chicken feet with the most delicate succulence, it's always been possible to eat decently at places like Y. Ben, Gold Mountain, City View, and Dol Ho.
Well, Y. Ben and Gold Mountain closed this fall, and my last trip to Dol Ho was such a rout that I couldn't bring myself to chronicle it on Rice Plate Journal. Even Dol Ho's famous black-bean spareribs were gristly and badly seasoned. That left only one out of four of my most reliable dim sum spots.
Time to reconsider Great Eastern, I guess, as well as its new next-door neighbor, Peninsula Seafood (or P&R, if you're going by the awning), a subsidiary branch of a San Bruno restaurant by the same name. Both boast chandeliers, enough rooms to host simultaneous wedding parties, and middling fare.