323 Park Ave., (410) 223-1881, zhongshanrestaurantbaltimore.com
Zhongshan, located in the heart of what was once Baltimore's Chinatown, has a lot going for it. There are the lunch specials ($6.95 for a huge plate), the bowls of cold-killing soup, the superior ingredients, and the fact that it's a family-owned restaurant in which, outside of lunch hours, you are unlikely to see another gringo. We could write about any one of those and Zhongshan would still be the winner. But it is the dim sum that makes us wake up drooling in the middle of the night. Chinese small plates are a rarity in this town, but there is nothing better than the steamed fun gor (a pork-and-shrimp dumpling), or the lotus- or bean-paste buns, or the vegetarian rice crepes. If you're a little more adventurous, the chicken feet with black-bean sauce and the beef tripe with ginger and scallion just might change your life. Best of all, each dish item is somewhere between $2.95 and $3.75, so you really don't have to choose. And we swear, this is the year we're going to get the $350 Chinese New Year special.