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Rain Modern Chinese

Dim Sum seems the perfect way to do brunch on a Saturday, so we headed to the new Rain Modern Chinese at 259 Lark Street in Albany last weekend. The restaurant lives up to its name with sleek modern décor, and the most striking feature was the entire front wall of windows with the panorama of Lark Street bustling by. We were seated immediately and served complimentary tea. The friendly waiter provided paper order sheets for us to choose our dim sum selections. I shall preface the rest of this review by saying that I am not typically enamored with the steamed dishes on a dim sum menu. The benefit to dim sum restaurants that serve from wheeled carts is that you can choose the dishes that look the most appetizing, and in my case, choose a variety of textures.

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From the dim sum menu we chose to share Sesame Seed Balls, Rice Noodle Roll with Beef, Fried Shrimp and Pork Dumpling, Pork Siu Mai, Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf, Spring Rolls, and Beef Short Rib with Black Pepper Sauce. From the regular menu, we chose the Hoisin Glazed Pork Belly Bao because my friend can’t turn down a good pork belly. We probably chose too many dishes because we brought almost half of our food home in a doggy bag.

The first dish brought out was the Sesame Seed Balls. These were perfect in consistency and the bean paste in the center had a nice texture and was not cloyingly sweet – a pleasant surprise! The Rice Noodle Roll with the Beef was cooked well and the beef filling had a terrific flavor. It was also reasonably firm for a steamed dish. Just as we were starting to realize that we had a lot of dishes still on their way out, the waiter brought us the Fried Shrimp and Pork Dumplings. They were more like a bun than a dumpling and the filling was soupy rather than firm, but once I got over my surprise, I liked them well enough. The fried bun was delicious, although the filling was a bit mealy for my tastes. My favorite dish by far was the Pork Siu Mai. Despite being a steamed dish, I found it to have an awesome texture and the hints of garlic and ginger in the meat really took it to another level. I could have eaten nothing but the Pork Siu Mai and been quite content. My friend’s favorite dish was the Hoisin Glazed Pork Belly Bao, and I have to agree that it was a star. The meat was tender, the slaw was tangy and well dressed, and it was served on soft buns.

At this point, my dining companion and I agreed that it must surely be 5 o’clock somewhere and the Fuji Volcano for 2 was calling us. The drinks menu wasn’t descriptive enough for our liking as it was vague on the specific juices in each drink, but we decided to roll the dice because there could be nothing unlikable about a drink that promises to be brought to the table in flames. I am happy to say that it met our expectations. The Fuji Volcano is actually a mixture of several drinks, and there is a small island in the middle of the gigantic moat of tropical elixir where the bartender pours a shot of Bacardi 151 – the part they light on fire!

There were some dishes that we didn’t particularly care for, such as the Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf, the Spring Rolls and the Beef Short Rib with Black Pepper Sauce. The sticky rice in the lotus leaf was delicious on its own, however in the center of the rice was a very odd and unappetizing gooey meat mixture. And I was completely appalled to find almost exactly the same concoction in the Spring Rolls! Spring rolls are a favorite of mine and I never expected to bite into one and find meat goo, so I was really disappointed. The Beef short ribs were merely unremarkable. We agreed that beef ribs taste better any way other than steamed, which gave the outside of the meat an unappealing gray color and gluey coating.

In general, we were a fan of Rain Modern Chinese and I’ll give it 3 forks for the dim sum and 4 forks otherwise. The food we ordered from the regular menu was outstanding, so I look forward to returning for dinner sometime soon. And the dim sum was reasonably priced. Including our $13.50 drink, the total bill came to $55 for two people. For 8 different dishes, that’s not bad.

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         Beef Short Ribs with Black Pepper Sauce                          Fried Shrimp and Pork Dumpling

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                     Rice Noodle Roll with Beef                                               Spring Rolls

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                   Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf                                        Hoisin Glazed Pork Belly Bao


                          Pork Siu Mai