Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dim Sum - the Chinese Tea Party (點心)

I remember the first time I went to China Town in Philadelphia. My friend's mom took me to a traditional Dim Sum restaurant and I instantly fell in love with it.

Dim Sum (called dian xin - 點心 - here in Taiwan) is a Cantonese tradition of drinking afternoon tea while eating all kinds of delicious treats. It's a bit like brunch mixed with a tea party.

When you go to dim sum, you basically order a bunch of very small dishes - like dumplings and spring rolls - that arrive at your table usually in bamboo steamers or on small plates, and you all eat family style.

Unfortunately, Dim Sum isn't that popular here in Taiwan, and I'm not exactly the best food detective there is, so I haven't had it too many times since I moved here. Recently, though, Angel took Nick and me out for lunch and I was plesantly surprised when we ended up at a dim sum resturant (which happens to be blocks from where I live).

Our meal included an array of traditional dim sum dishes, like radish cake (蘿蔔糕 luo puo gao) which is a mild flavored, soft cake of mashed radishes (or white carrots)- yummy when dipped in sauce.

and Char Siu Bao (叉燒包), steamed bread filled with sweet ground pork - I love this snack!

Lotus leaf rice (糯米雞 lou mai gai) which is a lotus leave full of glutinous rice (or sticky rice) and some other stuff. For some reason I actually didn't eat it on this particular day, but I have had it once before and it was sweet and absolutely delicious!

lots of different dumplings, these here are small shrimp dumplings (小賣 shao mai)

and Green dumplings - which as far as I can tell are just regular dumplings with some green food coloring

some delicious - and a bit sweet - brown fluffy bread

Rice noodle rolls - basically large rice noodles wrapped around meat. We had shrimp and beef ones and in my opinion the beef were far superior. This was one of my favorite dishes of the day

Little red-bean dough balls (Jin deui or Matuan (煎堆 or 麻糰) These things are covered with little sesame seeds and have a red-bean filling inside. They're sweet and doughy on the inside with a bit of a crunch on the outside - yum!

And last but not least: Chicken Feet!

There are some foods hat you can eat and you can say something like 'well I don't like the idea of eating frog, but when I eat it, it just looks like chicken, so I can get over the idea of it'

well... Chicken feet is definitely not one of those foods!

These definitely look like what they are. BUT They're actually really good! There isn't much meat, just some tasty skin and cartilage so they're a bit gelatinous and chewy.

There are a lot of bones, but they're not difficult to eat. YOU just stick the chicken foot in your mouth, bite off one section of the toe, suck all the goodness off of it, spit the bone out, and get started on the next knuckle. Easy as pie! (or easy as chicken feet!)

I have eaten chicken feet once, and I really liked them, but I'm having a difficult time convincing myself to eat them again because - well, they're chicken feet!

I would have to say that dim sum is one of my favorite ways to enjoy Chinese food. I absolutely love all of the treats that are served at this kind of restaurant. It's a really fun way to eat lunch with a group of friends; everything is shared, so it's a very social experience. And of course, everything is delicious!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Rachel,
    Just discovered your blog. Very interesting! Keep writing :)