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Enjoying dim sum


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41 minutes ago, lips said:

Not even a single mention of 凤爪 !?


You got me, Lips. They are one of the few things I don't really enjoy. I have secretly said that the day you see me tearing into a big plate of chicken feet with a smile on my face is the day that I will have finally become Chinese! But the restaurants I visited did have several varieties on offer.


40 minutes ago, roddy said:

If you ever want to take some menu photos and send them to me, I'd be keen to post them up on Signese


Will do, Roddy. Good idea.

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Eating great dim sum was one of the joys of living in Guangzhou. I've found some okay places in Shanghai, but nothing as good as back down south. 

I was asking a couple I know from my time in Guangzhou, who returned to New York a couple years back, how the dim sum was in NYC. The woman is Chinese American (father from GZ) and the guy is a white American fellow with solid Cantonese language skills. They said it's not bad, but they felt like people were just recreating what they remember from living in Guangdong. They felt like the dim sum in Guangzhou was more adventurous and lively than NYC. It surprised me a bit.




PS - The use of traditional characters, flowery language, and non-standard script on dim sum menus in Guangzhou made it a challenge for me to order for the first two years of living in GZ. Eventually, I got to the point where I could order as effectively as my Chinese friends.

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Fabulous write up! Thank you so much for sharing this!!!


I just have to say I am insanely jealous, it all looks great. I've never had real dim sum in Guangzhou. I've only really had it in Taipei, Tokyo, Bangkok and New York at various restaurants. How much better are these small shops in Guangzhou than something like 鼎泰豐? I love the 小籠包 at 鼎泰豐 so I guess that is my baseline. Is there something especially to look out for on the menu that tips one off? Or should I instead look at the length of the queue of the patrons?

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@DrWatson -- Thanks for your kind comments.


11 hours ago, DrWatson said:

Is there something especially to look out for on the menu that tips one off? Or should I instead look at the length of the queue of the patrons?


Assessing whether the establishment is busy or not is probably the best test. The menus tend to be pretty similar, with the main "old standards" available everywhere, with small variations by an imaginative chef.


I think it's extremely hard to compare restaurants. When I sit down and dig in, I always think "Wow, this is the best ever." Seldom have I hit a dud dish at these popular places, something I just didn't like at all . Truth is, I'm probably not really knowledgeable enough to be able to spot the small differences.


The places I visited in Macau and Hong Kong were all "locals" places. None had any other foreign guests that I saw. Open Rice is a good program for your mobile phone for searching out reviews of these kinds of places. Some are in English, but most are in Chinese.


Here's a link: https://www.openrice.com/en/hongkong


After Macau on this trip, I returned via Hong Kong and had another dim sum meal there. That place was up two flights of stairs and really busy, partly because I was there on a weekend. I was solo, and the waitress just put me at a round table with several other people. Just found me somewhere with an empty spot. I actually liked that, because it meant I could ask the other people questions and chat.


They spoke very little Mandarin, being older Hong Kong natives and Cantonese speakers, but they were friendly enough. I had ordered too much just out of a desire to try lots of things. Offered them some of my surplus, and that broke the ice. One of the ladies waved me off from using the wrong dipping sauce for my dumplings. A gentleman called me back when I almost forgot my jacket.


This particular restaurant had a menu divided logically into categories. That made ordering easier. I'll come back in a minute and post about that.








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The menu for the restaurant mentioned above, Fulum in Wan Chai 富臨酒家, is divided into logical sections, which makes it easy to use. Wish all restaurants did that, but unfortunately they don't. Here's how this one was set up:


烝点 = steamed food -- Examples: dumplings and buns. Shrimp dumplings 虾饺, meat and vegetable buns 上海菜肉包。

炸点 = fried food (deep fried) -- Example: garlic shrimp spring roll 蒜茸虾仁春卷。

煎点 = sauteed food -- Example: pan fried turnip cake 香煎萝卜糕 (this isn't really cake at all.)

白灼时蔬 = seasonal vegetables -- Example: green cabbage in oyster sauce 蚝油菜心。

肠粉 = rice noodle stuffed roll -- Example: Steamed rice roll with honey BBQ pork 蜜汁叉烧肠。

鲜鱼靓粥 = "dressed up" rice porridge -- Examples: fish slice porridge 鱼片粥 and lean pork and century egg rice porridge 皮蛋瘦肉粥。

甜点 = sweet bites -- Example: wolfberry and ozamanthus cake 枸杞桂花糕。

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Nice post, abc! You hit most of my favorites and gave me a real hankering for some 肠粉. 


I'm a big fan of dim sum, and partook several times in my recent visit to Shenzhen/Hong Kong. It really defines everything I love about China (well, OK, could add some spice!). The building which housed our hostel had a basement place full of old timers reading the newspaper which served up some delicious bites. In Shenzhen, I regularly went to a neighborhood spot - good, but definitely didn't compare to even the cheap local spot in HK. We had devoted an entire day to going to "the best" dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong (I forget the name - mainlanders apparently hold it in very high esteem, so my girlfriend had read about it for years on blogs), but the typhoon struck that night and every restaurant in town was closed in the morning. A reason to go back.  I also wanted to go buy a knife that day, but that didn't work out either.


My first close Chinese friends were two guys in my freshmen year of college (back in NYC) and our weekly ritual was Friday morning dim sum. The plates tended to be cheaper during weekdays. We'd gather at 9 am and spend several hours eating and drinking, arguing politics or what have you. Good memories.


I'm surprised you don't like the chicken feet! I've been a vegetarian for something like 9 years out of the last 24 (with a 2 year break in the middle), and I actually don't miss any meat except two things: liverwurst from the German butcher near my home, and chicken feet from dim sum (also chicken feet given to you with a plastic glove from those meat take out windows scattered across China). Sitting in Hong Kong watching the aunties push their carts, I almost gave in and had a nibble. 


萝卜糕 is still my favorite. I've had it with the sausage (lap cheong?) cut in and without it, and my favorite version so far has been from a Taiwanese Buddhist restaurant whose owner had lived in Hong Kong and tried making vegetarian versions of Hong Kong specialties. Doesn't sound like it should work, but something about those slices brought me to a state of ecstasy every time: the fluffy insides with the crispy exterior and a smidge of the the luxuriously thick black sauce (supposed to be oyster sauce, I guess. No idea what they used). When asked to bring our favorite dishes to a "Chinese Christmas Pot Luck," I spent hours (actually two days) trying to make the 萝卜糕 of my memory. I failed miserably. I will try again one of these days.

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The restaurant I visited in Hong Kong on the way back from Macau had phenomenal 萝卜糕, made with little crumbs of sweet Cantonese sausage. I've never tried making it at home. Some things are just better in a restaurant.




They also had a featured egg roll 春卷, thin, light, crispy and stuffed with shrimp and garlic. Deep frying is another thing I don't do at home, so I enjoy having it as restaurant fare.



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  • 2 weeks later...

This is the sort of simple, unpretentious restaurant I love and have grown up with. Yes, making this sort of thing at home never seems quite the same to me. The traditional characters can be somewhat daunting to those not used to them. This is why they must be reintroduced to the mainland and the silly simplified done away with forever!

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  • 1 month later...


11 hours ago, collinsk said:

Literally drooling. Dim-sum has always been my family's favorite. I tried to make my own version but always fail.


Lots of things can be made just as well at home, but I agree that dim-sum is one of those special eat-out treats that would be difficult to duplicate in one's own kitchen. I don't mind paying for a fine dim-sum feast!

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