This whole Extreme Dim Sum thing took a life of its own. It got out of my control. LOL!
It is in this post that I first mentioned organizing an event which I want to call “Adventures in Exotic Chinese Dim Sum for Uninitiated Brave-Hearted Souls”. That discussion took a life of its own and as one thing led to another, the “Adventures in Exotic Chinese Dim Sum for Uninitiated Brave-Hearted Souls” became “Extreme Dim Sum”. It even have an acronym coined — XDS! People were beginning to talk about eating cow testicles, pig brains, and what nots.
Really … I want to do a 2-phase Dim Sum event for chowtimes readers. I want to do a simple dim sum brunch before graduating to the extreme stuff. If I read chowtimes readers well enough, there are readers who would just love to go to a very Chinese-y place with push cart dim sums … a place where the most exotic dish is just chicken feet. It will be Dim Sum 101. Just like what I am describing here in this post.
Alejandra works in my company. She had been telling me she wanted to learn about dim sum first hand. So I told her to round up a few people and that it will be an honour for me to be their guide.
Ben and Suanne became a dim sum guide to Alejandra, Estanislao, Guillermo and Alma. Can you tell by their names what nationalities they are from? Although all of them had dim sums before, they were just there as passive participants … if you know what I mean. I wanted to bring them to a place where all the customers are Chinese for authenticity.
I also wanted to bring them to a restaurant that still uses push carts to bring dim sum to the table. These sort of restaurants are getting rarer these days but it would be the kind of place that my friends would be able to order the dim sum on their own. For people who do not know dim sums, order chit/menu is virtually useless. I wanted my friends to be able look at the dim sum and have them select it themselves. Hehehe … I wanted to also observe what they order.
I posed a question on the chowtimes Facebook fan page asking for recommendations for a restaurant that meets the following criteria:
- It has to be a push cart dim sum restaurant
- It has to be cheap
- It has to be a place where non-Asians will stick out like a sore thumb
And the recommendation I received was the South Ocean Seafood Restaurant in Richmond.
We met at 9AM in the restaurant. That is the time they open. I thought it would be good to start early before it gets real busy by 11AM and we get harassed to leave. That’s me right? I like taking my own sweet time enjoying my meals … I hate being rushed. Moreover, I am there with a mission … to teach.
It was so early there was hardly anyone there in the restaurant. It was just perfect for us.
So I was telling my friends about the customs of dim sum which they never had the chance to learn previously. You know, stuff like the tapping of fingers, newspapers, tea drinking, and cooking techniques. It was interesting as we contrasted how different it is between our cultures.
We talk about things that a lot of us Chinese take for granted. For instance, how the type of bill above works. This is perhaps … unique to dim sum restaurants and knowing things like this goes a long way in making people feel comfortable in dim sum restaurants.
Not many restaurants uses push carts anymore. This is the best way for the uninitiated to see exactly what they are ordering. After all, the words dim sum means “pick of the heart” in Cantonese … i.e. you select what your heart desires.
Most newer restaurants these days resort to using order forms with accompanying printed menus. Some restaurants have menus with pictures but they are just not the same as having it right by you.
Can you help me by identifying some of the remaining push cart dim sum restaurants in Metro Vancouver that you know of?
Anyway, when the push carts came around, I refused to even look at the push carts. I told Estanislao and Guillermo to look and decide what they want … and that they have to eat it even if they don’t like it. It is Chinese custom to never waste food, I told them. LOL!
You know what? I think they felt empowered.
So after the dim sum I polled their opinions on the dim sum we had. This is unscientific but it is also fun understanding what they like or don’t like of the food we had. BTW, have you figured out what nationalities are Alejandra, Estanislao, Guillermo and Alma? They are Mexicans.
|THESE ARE “LIKE A LOT”
|THESE ARE “OK-NICE”
|THESE ARE “DO NOT LIKE”
I am none the wiser based on their feedback. I think the likes-dislikes are based on partly on cultural preferences and partly on personal tastes.
The entire meal came up to be about $7-$8 per person (before tips). So, it was really cheap considering the amount of food we ordered.
One thing I accomplished. The week after back at the office, Guillermo was telling me that they are going back again … ON THEIR OWN … the next time. I think they know how to navigate through the dim sum maze on their own now.
I have Chinese-fied my Mexican friends. LOL!