New Providence, NJ 07974
- Cost: $$
- Credit Cards: All Major
- Alcohol: BYO
- Parking: Public Lot
- Take Out: Yes
June 14, 2015
Dim Sum Villa, which opened in New Providence in 2014, is now my favorite Cantonese spot within striking distance of EthnicNJ headquarters.
One of the hazards of running a website devoted to finding the best food in New Jersey, aside from weight gain, is steadily higher expectations. Many restaurants are worth visiting, until you realize there’s another place a few towns over with better food. I have struggled to recommend Chinese restaurants close to home in Maplewood. We patronized a local takeout joint when we moved in. It was convenient, but the food was not especially good. Next, we found a decent Cantonese restaurant one town over, but it doesn’t merit listing on the EthnicNJ map. Our search for better Chinese food has led us further and further away. We found excellent Sichuan dishes at Chengdu 1 in Cedar Grove and enjoy many of the Shanghai/Huaiyang dishes at Chef Jon’s in Whippany, both places about 20 minutes away, but have not found Chinese food at that level of quality and authenticity close enough for delivery.
Dim Sum Villa has a good pedigree. The owner’s father formerly ran Dynasty on Route 22 in Greenbrook, in the location that is now Chengdu 1 Palace. When EthnicNJ visited Dynasty in 2010, we noted the wide ranging menu and their dim sum service. The father has retired and his daughter launched Dim Sum Villa, a free-standing 120 seat restaurant in the A&P shopping plaza.
At Dim Sum Villa, dim sum cart service is offered on weekends. Other days, you can order dim sum items off the menu, though some are not available after 3pm. Prices per plate are slightly higher than other NJ dim sum halls, like East Brunswick’s Sunny Palace. The plates we sampled at dinnertime – steamed BBQ pork buns, soup dumplings and shrimp shui mai – are freshly made and very good. The menu includes standard dim sum dumplings, rice noodles and spring rolls as well special dishes like salt & pepper calamari, sticky rice with sausage, and homemade congee.
Beyond dim sum, however, the broader menu of Cantonese dishes at Dim Sum Villa is worth a visit on its own merits. The Pan Fried Noodles remind us of excellent versions we’ve had in Brooklyn’s Chinatown. The dish that sealed the deal for me is their Crispy Chicken with Garlic: a whole or half chicken, chopped into pieces, with crispy caramel-colored skin studded with sliced garlic. It’s a delicious bird. (Dim Sum Villa isn’t the place to go for Sichuan food. The Ma Po Tofu we sampled does not measure up to the NJ gold standard at Chengdu 1.) Portions are large. As usual, we ordered too much for my wife, daughter and me. We happily headed home with the leftovers.
Dim Sum Villa is 11 miles from home. Not close enough for delivery, but good Chinese is getting closer and closer.