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Cheap Eats

Dim sum and then some: a new Winsor comes to Quincy

Shanghai chow mein with cabbage at Winsor Dim Sum Cafe in Quincy.Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

Sam Lai was eager for a change. The chef had spent the last dozen years making dim sum at the former Super 88 food court in Allston. He was ready to do something big, even if that required a move.

So when Lai learned that the owner of Crystal Jade in Quincy was selling the 96-seat restaurant on Hancock Street, the timing felt fortuitous. Teaming up with business partners from Winsor Dim Sum Cafe in Boston’s Chinatown, he opened Winsor Dim Sum House & Bar last summer. Lai is in charge of the dim sum — made to order and on offer all day — while Tim Dang, who stayed on from Crystal Jade, cooks the balance of the menu. Norman Lee manages the front of house.

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On a Saturday afternoon, Lai’s new venture is doing brisk business. Every seat in the dining room and bar is filled. The eatery reverberates with conversation as families pluck Hong Kong-style delicacies from steamer baskets and nibble on chicken feet slathered in black bean sauce. Wade through the crowd, get a number, and be prepared to wait. If you’re lucky enough to snag a chair located near the entrance, be prepared for a squeeze as patrons come and go.

This spot is worth the wait. Classic siu mai dumplings ($3.30) are expertly prepared, arriving to the table as squat little meatballs peeking out from delicately pleated wrappers, topped with orange-hued crab roe. Har gow dumplings ($3.99) feature snappy whole shrimp tucked inside stretchy, translucent skins. Simple and pristine, these delicious bundles need no adornment.

Diners with a predilection for sweetness should opt for barbecue pork buns ($3.30), fluffy and snow white, filled with meat that tastes almost like dessert. If you’re craving vegetal, oniony flavors, shrimp and chive dumplings ($3.99) fit the bill. Pungent chives are steamed and chopped fine, combined with minced crustaceans, and stuffed into more of those see-through wrappers.

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You’ll encounter another green herbal flavor where you might least expect it. A minced beef rice roll ($3.30), a slippery, steamed rice-flour sheet folded around ground meat, blends cilantro into the filling. If you’re not a fan of the aromatic herb, select the version made with shrimp. Both arrive doused liberally with dark, sweet soy.

As at any good dim sum place, there are fried items, including stuffed eggplant ($3.30). Lengths of the slender aubergine are slashed on the bias, stuffed with minced shrimp, then fried in plenty of hot oil, resulting in an indulgently rich bite.

Shanghai chow mein with cabbage ($7.50), showcasing thick, chewy wheat noodles, is stir-fried with soy at high heat to produce deliciously charred flavors. On the day we visit, this platter is more successful than salt and pepper shrimp in the shell ($7.50). Battered and wok-fried, the shells — rather than being shatteringly crisp — have a rustic chew.

Here, you don’t wait for dim sum carts to circle around to you. During peak hours, a few items are offered this way, but almost everything comes directly from the kitchen. Don’t expect any coddling. As soon as you’re seated, waitstaff plunk down an order sheet and a golf pencil and expect you to know what you’re doing. Pick up a menu at the entrance before taking a seat. While designed for takeout, the glossy brochure features color photos and descriptions of the dim sum to get you started.

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One of the best dishes is the simplest. Congee with shiitake mushrooms and sliced chicken ($5.50) is rice porridge done right. Dining companions trying the dish for the first time delight in its silky texture. Like the families and friends around us, they are glad that Sam Lai made his move.

WINSOR DIM SUM HOUSE & BAR

706 Hancock St., Quincy, 617-481-5383, www.winsordimsum.com

Cash only. No credit cards accepted. Wheelchair accessible.

Dim sum $3.30-$8. Appetizers and soup $4.95-$6.95. Noodles and rice $7.95-$12.95. Meat and seafood $10.95-$21.95 (most dishes under $18).

Hours Sun-Thu 9 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri-Sat 9 a.m.-11 p.m.

Liquor Full bar

What to order Shrimp and chive dumplings, pan-fried stuffed eggplant, Shanghai chow mein, congee with mushrooms and chicken


Ellen Bhang can be reached at bytheglass@globe.com.