Servers pushing dim sum carts through the new Grand Palace in South Philadelphia are making strides in their daily lives, in a big way.
The restaurant, which opened last month at the former Saigon Maxim site at New World Plaza at Sixth Street and Washington Avenue, seats 700 people in its ballrooms. Dim sum is served from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. daily, outside of banquet hours.
The kitchen is half a block from the front dining room, decorated in a banquet style, with Lazy Susans and pink linens on the tables and bright red chair covers.
Grand Palace shares ownership with Chinatown’s Ocean City, also a dim sum destination, as well as Pho Ha, a Vietnamese restaurant two doors down from New World Plaza. Day-to-day management is handled by Thao Tran, who was a pharmacist for 17 years until the death in December 2019 of her husband, restaurateur Dan La.
Tran took on her part of the business and she learned the ropes.
Carts never stop. Best to flag down whoever is carrying congee to start the experience and order jasmine, green, or chrysanthemum tea (or something stronger, since there’s a serving bar).
Cart assortments vary but include steamer baskets filled with shumai, rice rolls, har gow, sticky rice, all kinds of meatballs, meatballs, shrimp cheong fun, eggs and dessert rolls. Most baskets cost between $4.95 and $7.95, although specialties like fried quail ($16.95) are more expensive.