Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dim Sum, Anyone?

My twin YK, who is Chinese, says on occasion, we must go out for lunch. Despite the fact she has been married to a Caucasian for almost forty years she prefers Chinese food. Lunch to her means Dim Sum. But Dim Sum is hopeless with two people since you can try so few items before you are stuffed, so we usually go to some other style of restaurant and she mutters a bit.

But yesterday was the last day in Vancouver for Kazuko, our Japanese friend and she loves Dim Sum so we gathered together 6, the perfect number, to go for Dim Sum.

Steamed shrimp ball with pea sprouts or har gau. The thin wheat starch noodle is almost translucent. The items are either served in small steamers
or on plates with three portions on each.

Now one in three in Vancouver are Chinese so there are many fine Chinese restaurants here. Luckily there is a Chinese restaurant, the Golden Ocean, quite famous for its Dim Sum close by and since Monday is a relatively quiet day we could make a reservation, for 11.30am: "Before it gets too busy," said my friend. Definitely a bit early for lunch to my mind, but she's the expert.

The har gau cut in half

Now I know you did not follow the link, so let me tell you that Dim Sum is a wide variety of Chinese light food, served in small portions, with tea, lots of it, usually Jasmine. It is served from morning until lunchtime and is also called Yum cha which means tea drinking.

Salad roll, well that's what YK calls them. A deep fried wrapping
with a rather sweet filling of shrimp and fruit

Service for dim sum is as follows: the different types of food circulate on warming carts pushed around the restaurant by the servers and they stop at the tables and you choose whether you will take this dish or that or none at all from that cart. Each table has an account and the server stamps your bill with the Chinese symbol for what you have chosen and you call for the addition when you have finished ordering.

Haam sui gok, or deep fried dumplings made from rice flour and filled with pork and mushroom and quite salty

Rice noodle roll which can have many different fillings,
in this case barbecued pork

Siu mai, steamed dumplings made of wheat flour noodles filled with mushroom, pork, shrimp and the yellow is fish eggs on top, usually crab roe

Pan fried tofu flour noodles filled with shrimp and vegetables, or fu pei gyun,
rather similar to a spring roll

The tofu roll cut in half and the item on the right is a deep fried
shrimp ball coated with almonds

Despite the fact that there are many types of Chinese desserts YK does not have a sweet tooth but she always orders these egg tarts or dan tat, a flaky pastry with a baked custard filling, for her Caucasian friends and we are grateful for any kind of dessert at all. Actually they are delicious and a fine light finale to Dim Sum. They are also very popular and go fast so they are the first thing she orders. In fact when I arrived at the restaurant with Kazuko they were already in the centre of the table along with the Jasmine tea.

Jasmine tea served in the typical handleless cups

Now I want you to appreciate that these photos and the information were obtained with great difficulty. As soon as the dishes arrive on the table my friends want to dive right in before the food gets cold. Understandable I know, so I get maybe one quick shot before a hand crosses the field of view and the plate is quickly emptied. Consequently the focus is not always the sharpest.

"You are not going to put this on your blog, are you?" I am asked suspiciously. "Maybe," I answer. "It depends on the photos." "But the food is so blah," they say. "So beige." True enough.

So there you have it, as a blog post it's a mess but as a lunch it was delicious. And cheap. For the six of us, the total with a tip was $55.

I hope you have a Chinese friend who can guide you through the intricacies of Dim Sum or maybe you can order for yourself. Just make sure you don't get the chicken feet, deep fried, boiled, marinated in a black bean sauce and then steamed. Ugh!


Sarabeth said...

It's interesting that your friends worried that the food is so beige, not exactly great presentation. That's what I thought as I looked at the photos, but if you've ever had dim sum, then you know that the tastes are what drives the meal, not the beauty.

I enjoyed this. Thank you for taking us to lunch with you.

Vic Grace said...

Looks wonderful, I wish I had been able to join you. Last time I had anything like that was in New Orleans in the French district looking down from one of those little metal balconies from a delightful Chinese restaurant, but so long ago, I think about 35 years ago. Where does the time go.

Moggs Tigerpaw said...

My experience of dimsum is it's all wrapped up and quite similar. Sarabeth is right the taste is what counts.

sally in norfolk said...

A great post especially as i have never had Dim Sum. Geoff is more into indian but maybe i will get him to try this although i dont like deep fried food and wonder if its greasy in any way.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

My wife loves chicken feet. Me? I can't believe I kiss lips that touch chicken feet.

Dragonstar said...

Hey, I did follow the link, as I'd not heard of Dim Sum. It sounds like something I'd like to try, but I have no idea where I could find it round here. Most places go for the all-day full Irish breakfast.

Ellee Seymour said...

I would love to have a Chinese friend who could cook some tasty dumplings for me.

Mu Tai Dong said...


In England you can come ny my plaice then? Tex Mex Char grilled and China Style is OK for you rightly up?

leslie said...

I've never "done" Dim Sum before but I'd love to try it.

Carver said...

I think you did a great job as food photographer.

Janice Thomson said...

I love the sticky rice - I scrape off the meat on top and eat the rice :) And I like their tofu desserts.
Great photos JMB!

jmb said...

It is all beige Sarabeth but so delicious, well some of it.

Vic Grace, next time you come to Vancouver we'll do dim sum just for you.

Do you see it lots where you live Moggs?

Sally it is not all deep fried, lots of steamed stuff too.

LGS, I'm sure they are delicious but the thought grosses me out.

You need a large Chinese population before dim sum becomes mainstream Dragonstar.

Ellee, my friend does not cook it herself, the lazy thing, we always go out for dim sum.

Mu tai dong, you bet, I would be there with bells on.

Leslie, I am surprised you haven't tried it. I think most people can find something they like.

Thanks Carver, I did not get much chance and had to do a lot of fixing in the software to make them even this good or bad.

Thanks Janice, good Dim Sum on the Island then too?

Thanks to everyone for visiting and commenting.

Moggs Tigerpaw said...

JMB, There are Chinese restaurants of varying standards all over. We have several particularly good ones in our general area, along with Indian Restaurants, Thai and Italian.

Not so well off for Greek in our immediate area.

In London there is China Town, with more restaurants than you can shake a stick at.

Liz said...

Our local wholesale store sends out catalogues and the last one had an Asian food insert. They're selling frozen duck's feet. Now most of your dim sum looks lovely but feet? I don't think so.

CherryPie said...

I love the look of those deserts!!!

Nunyaa said...

This looks divine JMB, thank you for explaining what each dish was as I haven't heard of them all and least now I have a better idea. :)

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

What lovely photographs, jmb. i love Dim sum - except for amy fish bits! - and miss them here.

Colin Campbell said...

Going out for Dim Sum was one of my favourites when I lived in Singapore. It is one of Elizabeth's favourites too, so that is good. We used to go regularly on a Sunday morning. Many of the food courts also had an abbreviated selection.

I loved the tea trollies full of Dim Sum which would wheel around between the tables tempting you.