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Yum yum, Dim Sum!

Uncle John's No. 1 Chinese Restaurant
267 Grover Cleveland Hwy., Amherst NY 14226
Phone:[masked]


in Western New York, the true dim sum experience is all but dead, according to local foodies- except for a dive called " Uncle John's No. 1", a super small shop in Amherst.


Below is a review from Buffalo Chow:

The Story: There's a typical size for the seating area at a takeout Chinese restaurant; picture that space and then cut it down by about half, and that's what Uncle John's No. 1 looks like. Almost all of the floor space is dedicated to a cooking area, and the few dine-in patrons are cramped into several small tables near a counter at the front. The sense one gets is that despite the offering of weekend dim sum, Uncle John really doesn't get excited about the idea of people hanging out in his restaurant; the floor and tables are anything but pristine, and you'd probably have to retrieve everything from the counter yourself, but for the fact that the kitchen is physically right next to the patrons.

Yet there are signs that this small place is not your ordinary Western New York Chinese restaurant. Take the two menus, for example: one is explicitly, unapologetically labelled "the menu for authentic Chinese food," typeset in a serifed font and laden with dishes that you'd only find in the next closest city - Hong Kong style roasted pork or shrimp, Taiwanese chicken, spicy cold beef tripe, yellow croaker, and so on.

Highs: On that back page, you'll find a list of 21 different small ($2.25) plates of dim sum - most of the best classics - along with 2 medium ones ($2.50), and 1 large ($4). All of our favorites are on the $2.25 menu. Shrimp dumplings called Har Gow are a set of four pieces of steamed shrimp inside translucent rice dumpling wrappers. While they mightn't be the freshest we've ever had, and don't taste as if they were made on the spot, they're better at Uncle John's than at any of the other Buffalo places currently serving dim sum.

"Beef tripe is the sort of item that scares off most people - it shouldn't. Fans of calamari will understand the texture, but the flavor of the meat is unusually mild, heavily absorbing the flavors of ginger and scallions that it has been soaked in. Despite how unusual it may look, the taste is unforgettably good, and keeps drawing us back - Uncle John's rendition is very good."

Next up is the Siu Mai, also known as shu mai or pork dumplings, ground pork and vegetables wrapped in wanton skins - it is impossible to do wrong, in our experience. Sesame Balls, which as the name suggests are balls covered in sesame seeds, reveal soft dough and red bean paste beneath their deep fried exteriors; John's take is exactly as they should be - hints of the sweetness inside can be smelled and just barely tasted before you bite in and get to them.

There are many other items, such as the white half moon Fun Gar (actually, Fun Gor) dumplings, filled with shrimp or a Chiu Chow mix of pork, peanuts, shrimp and vegetables, chicken feet, and little cakes made with odd roots such as turnips or taro, but they're not as tasty as the basics above, and some would likely scare people away. Stick with the prior ones, as well as items such as the roasted pork bun, stuffed mushrooms, or egg custard buns, and you'll be safe - and highly satisfied.

We also tried a couple of the non-dim sum items, including our standard "everyone likes them" test items: General Tso's Chicken and Hot and Sour Soup. Both were good and inoffensive,

Lows: Some items, such as the Chinese Sausage Bun - think a sweet mini hot dog in a steamed roll - weren't available when we visited. And though the dim sum menu covers the basics and favorites, it misses many of the items we either love or find fun now and again, such as scallop and shrimp dumplings, egg custard tarts, stuffed eggplant, and curried cuttlefish.

That last sentence is a profound understatement. Some people would find the setting, which might as well be a purely takeout restaurant, so inappropriate for a Saturday or Sunday brunch that they wouldn't go once, or after going, might not return again. It's obvious from both the dim sum and the "authentic" menu that Uncle John's ambitions are much larger than the square footage of this place, and that the staff here should really have a bigger, better venue to operate in. The risk of writing about a place such as this is that it will prove impossible to revisit without a line once known about, but the upside is obvious: perhaps greater traffic will motivate Uncle John to explore better locations.

The Verdict: If you can get past the shabby looks and lack of cart service at this dim sum parlor wannabe - a dining experience that you mightn't remember fondly in terms of comfort - you'll find that the menu offerings are tasty enough to return for more. We consider Uncle John's No. 1 to be a diamond in the rough, capable of being polished to a level that would merit a re-review and literally weekly visits. Should that happen, and we hope that it does, expect to see us there with great frequency.

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  • Margaret

    So sorry that I will not be available for this tasty treat...see all of you next time...

    September 18, 2013

  • Eva-lyn S.

    Maybe we need to change the date and time
    for Dim Sum.

    September 12, 2013

  • Tom L

    Excuse me, Saturdays AND Sundays from 12-3.

    September 12, 2013

  • Tom L

    Hi, all! I was reading reviews of this place online and it looks like they only serve Dim Sum on Saturdays. Has anyone verified that this is not the case?

    http://www.menupix.com/menudirectory/menu.php?id=410056

    September 12, 2013

  • A former member

    A former member changed the date and time to Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    September 5, 2013

  • LW

    P.S. I am nibbling on Siu Mai (that I purchased at the grocery store) as I type! :)

    August 22, 2013

  • LW

    Oh wow, I miss Dim Sum!! Went many times in Toronto and Hamilton in my university days and I would love to go again. :)

    August 22, 2013

  • Eva-lyn S.

    It depends when the group is going but I would like to try this restaurant . I

    July 16, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    As long as I'm off that night I'm in!

    June 21, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Ok, if the date is right and I am not working, would love to go!! Love Dim sum and have not been able to have it because you need more than one person :)

    June 14, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I live down the street from Uncle John's and have only gone there once. The food was basic and good. I had not idea that they offered Dim Sum. I'd love to explore it since I can easily take it home to eat. P.S. It's been there for ages so I doubt Uncle John has any greater aspirations except perhaps to serve local UB students.

    October 29, 2012

3 went

  • Kelly B.
    Organizer,
    Event Host
  • A former member
  • A former member

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