Sunday, September 9, 2012

dim sum: the Choy family way

a lot of people ask me to take them to dim sum because they don't know what to order. but quite honestly, when i eat dim sum or Chinese food in general, it's usually with my parents because they know the good stuff. true, i know food, but when it comes to Chinese they are the experts. you know chow mein or hot and sour soup? yeah, those types of items are never ordered at our family dinners. not because they're not good,  but there are better things to order. and truth be told, i wouldn't even really know how to order these things because written in English the dishes seem obscure. but spoken in Chinese, they make a lot of sense and only my parents (really only my dad, as my mom is pretty Americanized.), aunts and uncles know how to order these things. plus, i don't mean to brag (just kidding, yeah i do) but my family gets preferential treatment when we eat Chinese so i leave it all up to them.

see, my grandpa opened up King Tin restaurant in Chinatown decades ago and before that he was matre'd at various restaurants. the Chinese restaurant community within the Bay Area is small. everybody within the community of immigrant restaurant workers (wait staff, matre'd, chefs or busboys) are probably acquainted by no more than two degrees of separation. people change restaurants or roles but they remain in the restaurant business until they're elderly. because my grandpa as well as others shuffled around a lot, he's well known in that community. but mostly it's because he was a very likable and personable guy. but i think i've told you this already. our family would walk into a crowded restaurant and the moment they saw my grandpa, they'd clear a table and have us seated. my grandpa or my dad would go to the kitchen to say "hello" to the chefs, or waitresses would come to the table to ask how we they were. often times we'd get special dishes or what i'd call "bonus dessert" because desserts would come to the table that we'd never ordered. now that my grandpa has passed, my dad has taken over that role. people recognize him as my grandpa's eldest son and treat him the same way they would have treated my Yeh-Yeh. i don't know how to describe it, but somehow it brings out a pride in me. 

today i went to dim sum with my family because the chef had called my dad a few days prior and said he had a moon cake to give him.  i asked my mom "why would this guy call dad to give him moon cake? i'm sure lots of chinese people have ties to chefs/restaurants so are they giving out moon cakes left and right to people?" then my mom said that it's a special thing that he would only give to a select few. she said that our family has been following him from restaurant to restaurant (wherever he cooked at) and that he's also probably grateful to my grandpa for giving him a start early in his career. my dad went to the kitchen to say "hi" to the chef, collect the moon cake, and to ask him to make us his specialty, and one of my late grandma's favorite dishes. it's a dry fried pork dish tossed in a sweet sauce with pineapple. after we were done eating an assortment of desserts magically appeared at our table and i felt that awesome feeling about my family again. 

wow, i just went off on a crazy tangent. the whole purpose to this post was supposed to highlight some dishes that non-Chinese wouldn't be aware of. so let's get back on track...

i generally let my parents do the food picking for the most part and i just know what to eat and what to stay away from based on personal taste. for instance i am not a fan of the steamed meatballs (texturally they disgust me), siu mai (pork dumplings that are not tasty to me), chicken feet and/or duck feet and any cold dishes. but here are a few that i love!

please excuse the blurry pictures as these were taken with my phone.
oh, and i would've taken photos of everything but that shit gets eaten up quick fast and also, i was hungry.

chinese doughnut wrapped in flat rice noodles, served with sweet soy sauce and peanut sauce.
the doughnuts are crispity crunchity with a chewy center. the soft noodles surrounding it give it an extra textural element and the peanut sauce rounds it out. i loooove this dish and any time it's on a menu i'm all for it!

salted egg yolk "lava" inside a sesame pastry
i'm sure most of you haven't had salted eggs but just FYI, they're pretty bomb! so what they've done here is taken the salted egg yolk, added some sugar and liquified it. the exterior is a thin crispy layer of dough that's been covered in sesame seeds and deep fried. it's crisp, chewy, salty, sweet, runny, and just perfect! i've actually never had this before, but i've had similar things. seriously, soo good! 

sliced pumpkin battered and deep fried, then tossed with salted egg yolk.
f*cking YUM! i love this stuff. any time i see it it's a MUST. sounds weird, i know, but most Chinese food sounds weird. just give it a shot! 

mochi rolled in coconut flakes with a fresh mango filling.
dude. soft fluffy mochi and coconut? AND mango? hells yeah. 

not photographed was geoduck, tripe, those gross steamed meatballs, har gaw (shrimp dumplings), siu mai, pumpkin in a puff pastry, beef wrapped in flat rice noodles, lo bak go (turnip cake) and my grandma's favorite dish. we also got mango pudding, herbal pudding (gah-ross!), tofu pudding and that mochi you see above as our "bonus desserts!" oh, and dim-YUM was had at Champagne Seafood Restaurant in San Mateo.

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