New Plaza Bo Lings: Glamour and glutinous rice

The new Bo Lings on the Plaza expands Dim Sum into a weeklong affair.

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Chicken feet in black bean sauce, pork ribs, and pork buns can be eaten in luxury at the new Bo Lings on the Plaza.
  • Chicken feet in black bean sauce, pork ribs, and pork buns can be eaten in luxury at the new Bo Lings on the Plaza.

This week marks the official one-month anniversary of the new Bo Lings Chinese Restaurant on the Country Club Plaza. Owners Richard and Teresa Ng spent a fortune opening their dream location - they had wanted to be on the north side of Brush Creek, the right side in terms of tourist traffic, for years. After more than two decades in the Board of Trade Building at 4800 Main, the Ngs packed up their woks and moved to the Skelly Building at 605 West 47th Street, leaving behind a venue that had gotten a little shopworn over the years. But when you see the new venue, you'll understand why the Ngs lost interest in fixing up the awkwardly designed Board of Trade space: They were saving their dough for the most elaborate dining room in their six-restaurant mini empire.

The sleek, shiny space on the street level of the Skelly Building is a combination of the Qing Dynasty and the Las Vegas Strip: ceramic tile floors that gleam like marble; thick granite tabletops that could pass as broken stela from the Valley of Kings; a room divider constructed of thick glass panels illuminated by rotating color lights; gilded temple columns at the front entrance. But, lest you get too overwhelmed by the Oriental opulence, the napkins are paper, and the chopsticks are plastic.

The showy grandeur of the new Bo Lings is just part of the dining experience here. The menu features several new additions, including tea-smoked duck - and a limited dim sum menu offered during the week. The more elaborate dim sum dishes - the ones stacked in metal tiffin boxes on rolling carts wheeled through the dining room - are offered only on Saturdays and Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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I was there last Sunday, with chef-author Lou Jane Temple, dining sumptuously (and expensively - the prices of those delicate little dishes, ranging from $3.50 to $4.35 a plate, are like the containers: They really stack up) on steamed roast pork buns, chicken feet in black bean sauce (which require a lot of teeth work for relatively little pleasure), mounds of sticky glutinuous rice tucked into lotus leaves, stir-fried rice noodles, and translucent dumplings with various fillings. "These are scallop dumplings," announced one of the vendors, plucking up a steaming metal container with a pair of tongs. We each took a bite: They were filled with shrimp.

Those sneaky shrimp can get into the darndest places. The golden fried ovals known as roasted pork puffs were delicious, but Lou Jane's had a bit of chopped shrimp in hers, too. "You know how aggressive shrimp are," she told me, spooning ribbons of marinated cucumber slices onto her plate. "They can weasel their way into anything."

I'm not exactly a crustacean connoisseur these days, but it's hard not to love the crispy, flash-fried whole shrimp or the pan-fried shrimp and chive dumplings. In fact, there are clever crustacean creations at every price point, but not, mercifully, on the dessert menu. I've never developed a passion for those dim sum delicacies like sweet tofu or bean-stuffed sesame balls, but the mango pudding tasted like a slice of freshly cut fruit, and you can't go wrong with a light, eggy caramel custard in any culinary culture.

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