Sunday, July 7, 2013

Dim Sum... Yum

Dim sum is a staple here, and it reminds me of my youth when I gathered with my relatives in Flushing nearly every weekend to eat some variation of turnip cake, steamed shrimp dumplings, kale with oyster sauce, tripe, chicken feet, and roast duck vermicelli.

Aside from the faded pink and sea foam green napkins with the occasional burnt out cigarette hole, the glitzy chandeliers and the metal carts that were laden with various greasy delicacies, what I remember most about my childhood dim sum experiences was the lengthy wait time.  The lines of patrons, usually big families with grandparents, aunts and uncles, nephews and babies in tow, were always so long.  I would clutch the lastly scrawled light pink slip, nearly faint with hunger, waiting for the over-worked waiter to holler out in Cantonese our winning number.

Over the years I've gotten better at avoiding the long wait through a variety of strategies: only pick restaurants that take reservations, only go at odd or unpopular hours, only go right when the restaurant opens, and, as a last resort, only go when everyone else has already been waiting forever (but that last resort has never been used when I went with you).

It's a pleasure to take out of town guests to dim sum in Hong Kong, just because the possibilities seem endless.  Lei Garden, Cuisine Cuisine, Yuk Lu Teahouse, Lin Heung Teahouse, Yun Kee Teahouse, Island Tang, Fu Sing, Dim Sum Dim Sum, Maxim's... and that's barely even scratching the surface!

When my dear friend Emily came to visit, we hit up not only Che's Cantonese Restaurant for lunch on one day, we also hit up the very elusive Tim Ho Wan (it is the world's cheapest Michelin starred restaurant) for breakfast on the other!
Tim Ho Wan opens at 9 am - this is the restaurant at 9:20 am
The wait list and the menu at Tim Ho Wan at 9:30
Pictures of our eats below.  My favorite is probably the "Quicksand Bun", or "流砂包", a bun with a molten, sweet and savory liquid filled center.  It's a staple of Hong Kong dim sum.  We only got this at Che's, because Tim Ho Wan didn't have it on their menu.
We ate it so fast I barely had time to take a picture

Both Che's and Tim Ho Wan have a different twist on the BBQ pork bun.  They do a crispy cake exterior on the bun, so that it's called "Flaky Crust Char-Siu Bao". Having conducted a very unprofessional taste test, I have to say I like Tim Ho Wan's better.  

The golden buns at Che's Cantonese Restaurant
The uber famous buns at Tim Ho Wan

Tim Ho Wan's bun has a more substantial crust, which is toasted just enough to get a crumbly exterior.  They use bigger pieces of barbecued pork and a lighter touch on the sauce, so that the sweetness is not overwhelming.  Che's bun is toasted too much and the crust is a little too thin.  Their pork pieces are a little too small for my liking, and the sauce to meat proportion is a little bit high.  But all of this is all truly nitpicking,  because I gobbled the buns down in both places without complaint. 

Our other eats at Che's:

lotus leaf wrapped sticky rice with assorted vegetables and meat

Rice flour wrapped shrimp rolls
E-fu noodles with crab bits
 Our other eats at Tim Ho Wan:

Rice flour wrapped barbecue and cilantro rolls

Egg flour cake

Shrimp dumplings

Steamed black bean pork ribs
Glutinous fried dumplings with meat interior
You may have concluded this already, but dim sum is not for the health-conscious or the calorie counter.  I find that drinking a lot of hot tea while eating helps with the excess grease, but ultimately... it's probably best not to indulge in dim sum every week.

1 comment:

  1. Now that I'm back in NY, you must give me the names of the dim sum places you recommend in Flushing!