Steamed Bun Brawl: Phoenix Palace vs C-Fu Gourmet

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Steamed buns. A tasty addition to any table tasting of dim sum.

We say table tasting because these bite-sized portions of Chinese-styled dumplings are best ordered family style--which allows for much more variety.

With choices ranging from steamed buns and dumplings to rice noodle rolls and egg tarts, you might find the ordering process to be a bit confusing. We certainly did, especially when the dim sum was being hawked by ladies pushing carts yelling out names of items we couldn't repeat if our lives depended on it.

Thank goodness, steamed buns were two words everyone understood. Enter our battle of the dishes, residing in opposite corners of Dobson and Warner in Chandler we have Phoenix Palace versus C-Fu Gourmet.

In One Corner: Phoenix Palace 2075 N. Dobson, Chandler 480-855-4047

The Set-Up: Off in a nook to the right, there are whole roasted chickens and whole roasted ducks displayed, not just for show but for eating as well. Ornamental grapes hang from the ceiling along with what could pass as a fixed gear ghost bike light fixture--we're not sure of that's eery or cool? Our steamed buns were served three per order, which is pretty standard.

Pros: The counter attendant was not happy that we didn't have cash--who could blame her when the steamed buns cost less than $2.50. The lady paying in front of us literally counted out dollars in change. Kinda cool to see people more excited about physical currency than the swipe of a plastic card. But we've digressed from the steamed buns! Best part: lots of pork flavor. The center was moist and saucy, but we had one major qualm.

Cons: The bun portion wrapped around the porky goodness did not hold up so well. It didn't quite have the hint of sweetness we've come to expect, but the worst part was the texture. The bun practically disintegrated in our mouths, not the best feeling.

In the Other Corner: C-Fu Gourmet
2051 W. Warner Chandler

The Set-Up: The south wall of this large spot is dedicated to a koi fish mural symbolizing good fortune. l Live sea creatures swim in tanks (fish, lobster, crab) awaiting the moment they too would be dim sum. Our dim sum was delivered from a metal cart in a steamed basket--amongst all the other dim sum items on display like an Apple Bee's dessert tray. However, this food was real, not plastic.

Pros: Three steamed buns per order may be the norm, but these steamed buns stepped it up a notch. They were super fluffy and slightly sweet--more like a savory dessert. We would definitely order these in place of dessert, although the mango pudding is a bit alluring.

Cons: The overall experience was overwhelming. With carts full of things we cannot pronounce and service ladies hustling dim sum like nobodies business, we can see how that could be exciting or scary--we leaned on the latter. If you go with a larger group, we're sure C-Fu Gourmet could be quite fun. Just know that although the bun of the steamed buns was perfect, they were a bit skimpy on the pork.

The Verdict: C-Fu Gourmet wins this battle based on taste and the number of steamed buns we wish to enjoy in one sitting. The marshmallow like texture and sweet savory taste is enough to keep us coming back for more, even if we feel hustled into ordering dou fu fa before paying our bill.

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