Oct 2, 201202:27 PMFood & Dining
Tasty Tidbits and Food For Thought
Dim Sum of All Parts
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I miss New York. We go there each December and it's been almost 10 months since I've visited the city.
One of my favorite things to do there on a Sunday morning is to head down to Chinatown and get Dim Sum at Jing Fong on Canal and Elizabeth Street. Inside the street level entrance we board the two story escalator which ends at an enormous red banquet hall that can seat thousands. A hostess at the top of the escalator seats the never ending stream of customers at family style tables for 16.
Once seated, tea is served, and we immediately reach out to the women bustling by with carts full of tasty little dishes, and we snag anything from pork dumplings to sauteed bok choy, braised beef ribs, steamed shrimp, or fermented tofu.
Dim Sum in Chinatown is a moving buffet of little appetizers. The serving sizes are similar to Tapas, as served in Spain. The hot dishes come out constantly on little carts, with the tiny portions ranging in price from $2.25 to $5.00. Dim Sum is meant to be shared, and the more people along, the more dishes you can try.
As the carts are pushed by the waitress will pause; you take your pick of dishes and get your check stamped with the price. Three of us can feast for about $50 total.
In Chinese, Dim Sum means “point of the heart.” Jing Fong’s web site says it is a joyous occasion where conversation and laughter are encouraged to truly appreciate the experience. I find its alot like having a cordial Sunday dinner with a lot of people that you don’t know.
In the past we’ve sat with all types of people, from tourists, Asian Americans, first generation Chinese families, to a Chinese speaking octogenarian who offered us a sip from a hidden whiskey flask and showed us via hand gestures the proper way to eat snails. The mood is always hospitable, and it doesn’t seem odd to be laughing, smiling and talking with someone you have never met, and probably will never see again. When we were last there, we enjoyed the moment and the company, and especially the food.
Unfortunately, in Pennsylvania, there is not enough demand to warrant a full-service moving buffet Dim Sum restaurant. Most places that do serve it provide a menu, and make it to order, which actually leads to fresher food in locations where the volume of customers is not there.
I miss going to the Dim Sum banquet hall dearly, but I think I found a place in Central Pennsylvania which will at least hold me over until we get back to New York this December. I discovered it on one Easter Sunday.
We were on our way from the Flea Market to my Mother-in-law's house for Easter Dinner. My husband was driving and I noticed he made a curious turn into a suburban neighborhood which didn’t seem exactly on the direct route. This was extremely odd for my Engineer husband, who is always interested in getting from one place to the other in the most efficient manner, at the cost of bathroom stops and the risk of mutiny from all the females in the vehicle.
He first said something about wanting to see the neighborhood he grew up in. But when I further questioned him, he mumbled something about “dumplings” and eventually pulled into China Tea House in Mechanicsburg.
Dumplings? We were scheduled to eat a multi-course Easter dinner in about an hour and a half.
Dumplings... now? But he seemed resolute and we sat down and ordered the pork Shu Mei and stuffed eggplant with black bean sauce.
The coveted dumplings came out hot in a bamboo steamer. They were a good hearty size and well seasoned. My stern mood softened. The naughty deed of eating the little gems right before Easter dinner made us giggle, and I snapped a picture, and posted it on Facebook, along with sly shameless comment taunting our relatives about what they were missing.
During the summer, we went on another dumpling mission to China Tea House with my brother in law.
It was after an afternoon of grilling. We were all stuffed, but shortly after describing the little pork balls to my brother-in-law, we were loaded in the Chevy Suburban, headed to pick up our six (yes, six!) orders of pork Shu Mei. An order is $3.25 for four meaty dumplings. For the modest price of about $20, everyone was happy, and there were even a few dumplings left after we greedily scarfed some down on the way home in the car.