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Archive for September, 2012

10 Reasons I Love Dim Sum

Do I have reasons loving dim sum?  Sure I do.  Good reasons?  Yes.  How many reasons do I need?  None.  Good food is always a blessing, and the fact that we have the health and luxury to indulge ourselves, at least occasionally, in mouth-watering cuisines, needs absolutely no rationalization.  Yet then and again, sometimes I do need a reminder or two to reaffirm my faith for these little drops of heaven.

  1. It’s the ultimate culinary art.  Even if you are a fabulous cook you will seldom find yourself making dim sum at home.  Seldom has there been so much preparation work involved with such tiny bite-sized treats.  It involves the freshest ingredients and as time evolves also the most expensive ones.  The chopping, dicing, steaming, baking, frying and the precise timing makes attempting dim sum at home a nightmare.  There is so much depth to a good piece of dim sum.  If you are not a fan yet, chances are they weren’t prepared by the master chefs with heart.  Don’t allow yourself to be stripped of your eternal right of culinary orgasm.
  2. It’s the ultimate time-waster.  Aside from those run-of-the-mill business lunches when you find yourself fighting for the last piece of siu mai with your colleagues, or when you are so exhausted entertaining your clients by putting the emphasis in difficulties to make a booking over actual qualities of food, it’s life’s biggest blessing when you find yourself sitting in a place for 2 hours enjoying little portions of dim sum in the middle of the day.  Dim sum is not meant for rush eating.  Chinese tea is not to be consumed like coke and you don’t dunk 3 pieces of dim sum into your mouth like you chow on a burger that is 8 inches tall.  If you get a window table on a weekday, you get to feel sorry over the pedestrians scrambling for work on the streets.  On the weekend, you get to be thankful that you haven’t slept through most of the day as you still get to enjoy a sumptuous brunch while enjoying the sun and breeze.
  3. It means you still have friends.  Dim sum is not meant to be consumed alone, though there are lots of seniors who enjoy having a light breakfast after their early morning stroll or Tai-Chi, alone.  Taking that aside, dim sum is better shared with the people you love.  If you have a steady group of close friends whom you feel comfortable to invite to your dim sum gatherings while gossiping, you have done something right in your life.
  4. It’s for the undecided.  I sometimes have a phobia making menu decisions.  I always find the entrees picked by my companions far better than the ones I’ve picked for myself.  With dim sum, all my troubles are gone.  Although there can still easily be 50 or 60 choices on the menu, I can still have about 6-9 chances to make something right.  Yes I do love varieties in sample sizes, and dim sum makes it legitimate for greedy people like myself.  Even if I’ve over ordered, I can still easily pack it up to go.
  5. It’s perfect for people watching.  No it’s not just like any other restaurant.  Chinese restaurants have brighter lighting and closer table proximity in general, and you’ll be amazed by the abundance of personalities from all walks of life.  If you want to feel the pulse of the city, head to a Chinese restaurant during dim sum hours.  You will be bombarded by gossips, opinions and never-ending drama.  Enjoy.
  6. It’s available in every street corner.  If you are in Hong Kong, you will find yourself surrounded by dim sum restaurants virtually anywhere.  When hunger strikes, and sometimes in the middle of the night after a few rounds of drinks, the ultimate comfort food here may not only be greasy pizzas, hot dogs or kebab, but glorious bamboo steamers of your favorite shrimp dumplings, beef balls and spring rolls.  Its popularity has since made its way into around the clock convenience stores.  Of course, the authenticity and quality of such remains questionable.  Nevertheless, it’s the city’s ultimate comfort food, in every definition.
  7. It’s the no-brainer hotspot to entertain foreigners.  If you want to scare your dear friends from abroad, order chicken feet, stinky tofu or roasted pigeon and video tape their reaction.  If you want to scare yourself, be amazed to see your dear friends drown everything from shrimp dumplings and siu mai into soy sauce before the very first bite.  A dim sum lunch is in no shortage of entertainment for either sides.
  8. It’s the ultimate taste test.  If the restaurant serves fantastic dim sum in the day, you should be assured of its quality and consistency all around.  If you ain’t sure whether that’s a place good enough for your clients or your mother-in-law, try their dim sum and you can tell.  This golden rule has never failed me so far.
  9. It’s piping hot.  For Chinese, temperature is almost everything.  It warms our body.  It’s soothing, and it increases our metabolism.  Aside from selected desserts, most dim sum comes out steaming hot.  Parents always use the excuse to remind kids to eat quickly because “it’s getting cold”.  I am guilty of such even with my own friends.  Frankly it does taste a lot better when you consume it right out of the steamer/oven.  Problem is, you may find yourself finish swallowing everything in less than half an hour.  In that case, you might not get to experience reason #2 above.
  10. It’s affordable.  I know.  There are plenty of places where you can break the bank by ordering siu mai with abalone, or shark fin dumplings (only if you are not an environmentalist).  The truth is, there are tons of places where you can find affordable dim sum at decent quality.  What you sacrifice for, most likely, is the ambience of the place and service from the wait staff.  Rental is exorbitant here in Hong Kong, and I don’t blame them for extremely tight spaces or expected high turnaround of patrons.  As long as your expectations are set in determining what you are in the mood for the day, you shouldn’t get a heart attack seeing the bill.  The latter can still happen in plenty of western and japanese places in town, unfortunately.

So, who cares to join me for some mouth-watering dim sum?

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