The Third Category: I have three: good photograph/image; good (illustrative) story; fun. The lines blur. Sometimes we have all three. Art is not limited to the museums, (right after being Van Gogh immersed). Fun is the one you’re with, or, the food we eat. We found a dim sum place in Philly! Duh! They would have a “Chinatown” there – complete with grocery, bakery, and restaurants. Oh boy! Double duh! Well, we had fun – eating. Then, we went to a bakery for roast pork buns – closed, permanently, as in, out of business. The internet is not always up to date. So, we got our char siu bow elsewhere, a Vietnamese bakery?! Ha ha. The story, the art, and fun – it’s better than “sliced bread” today!
I don’t know when I was introduced but the concept of dim sum is very appealing. Carts piled with small plates of food circulate the room. You choose and pick and eat. Each plate has the same price and a stamp is placed on your running tab as you eat. The total number of stamps are totaled and multiplied, that’s your bill. Simple. Popular? Very. It’s loud! Lots of families show up to gather and eat around big tables. It’s talk and noise and eating. See something you fancy? Try it. It’s not so expensive that mistakes are painful. Find something you like – eat, eat. It was a perfect gathering spot for our family. As much noise as we made, it was unnoticed by the houseful of diners. Go ahead play with your food too. There was a plate of buns decorated like little pigs.
This was the punchline. “I’m all that and dim sum.” I craved dim sum since we arrived in LA. We made it. And Noa had the perfect outfit to attend. We all wonder if she will enjoy it once she has her teeth. Meanwhile I whispered that it was good for her. I suppose that will take care of that. No doubt Noa will have to live down that fact that her parents held her up for humor before she knew. But that’s what parents do to their kids. Embarrass them. Mine own (children) bear the pictures of many an outing like this.
I bet you might wonder what dim sum is? Done well, it is a giant place serving hundreds. You have to move the inventory (food). That’s the only way you have fresh hot food and lots of choices. It’s all in the turnover. This would be hard to do just about anywhere else that doesn’t have a critical mass of hungry noisy voracious people. Look, I was there to eat.
I was too hungry and too excited to even take a picture… till my initial cravings were partially addressed. Carts are the key. Women come by with carts laden with hot finger sized appetizers. You pay according to the size of the plate. Pick what you want and as many plates as you like. Avoid the slimy weird stuff. Mostly avoid dessert. Did I tell you the Chinese can’t bake? But spring rolls? Everyone has had one and likes them. There are variations and they all taste just fine. It’s a bit of a stretch for a vegetarian, but no one starved. Yes, this is one occasion where a large (hungry) crowd is appreciated.
There was a big crowd in front of this “hole in the wall.” I know the place. I’ve been there. It’s a dim sum shop. What I did not know is that very day it was featured/mentioned in the New York Times as the first dim sum shop in Chinatown. And it had not changed (décor) since they opened it. That might not be a good thing? Rest assured the food is fresh. I understand that most dim sum places get their items brought in from a central location where they make thousands of dumplings in a batch. Crowd notwithstanding, I’ve been in the “joint.” The last time was when the kids were small. That would be a couple decades ago. The furniture was old then! We dropped in with Susan and Kevin (from MA). What it did not realize (but should have known!) is that they are pretty ‘meat and potatoes’ eaters. My bad! I chowed down on the tasty dumplings while they politely picked among the (too strange for them) offerings. Afterward I was admonished for being so oblivious. Sorry. I like the stuff. It is made from good stuff. Doesn’t everyone like it? Yeah! Clueless. Me.
How old are you? …and never been to a dim sum place. Well at least my daughter has gone but I did not know she liked it. She’s been in LA for a couple years and this is her second visit. I know because we did the first the day before. I never thought of it. Duh? Slap in the head! And for Jeff, it’s his first visit. We made a side trip to the bakery. Shhhhh… the Chinese can’t bake. Nice spontaneous image. Happy.
And then dim sum. Here’s how it works. You stake out a table close to an aisle. And then you snag anyone who comes by with a cart/trolley. They are loaded with items and you choose dishes by sight and description. In this case it was sight because we don’t speak Chinese. Sorry. And then you load up and feast. Yes it is what is called ‘grazing’ and it’s grand. All sorts of good stuff. Oh! The price for this is a steal! Really. You really get a bang for your buck!