If you haven’t had the opportunity to partake in dim sum yet, stop what you’re doing. I mean it – stop surfing the internet, stop reading this post, just get up and go now.
I’ve wanted to try dim sum for quite some time – I had ample opportunity in London when I was studying abroad, and I simply never had time to go when my flatmates were heading to their favorite dim sum restaurant. Then Boyfriend’s roommates ordered it during my accidentally-extended stay in Boston during a snowstorm, and it’s been haunting my thoughts ever since. Since I’ve also been pining away for a trip to NYC for the day, I decided that while Boyfriend was home for the week, I’d better take advantage and drag his butt to Chinatown.
Did I mention he’s never been to Canal Street? You can imagine the hilarity when I neglected to warn him about what he was walking into until moments before we stepped off the subway. He was, to put it mildly, overwhelmed. And also, entertained – especially when the police sirens started and the, um, vendors frantically tucked their wares into suitcases and shuffled quickly down the street.
But anyway – back to the dim sum. For those of you that are unfamiliar, dim sum is like Chinese tapas, except that it generally happens in the morning. The idea is that rather than ordering off of a menu, the dishes are circulated around the restaurant on carts pushed by waitresses who stamp your “check” to indicate what you’ve eaten. The dishes are all small plates – generally 3-4 of each offering, depending upon what the dish is.
We opted for the enormous Jing Fong dim sum hall in Chinatown for our first experience, mostly because it got the best recommendations on the websites I read. Also, it’s huge, elaborate, and reportedly delicious.
Still, I wasn’t prepared for its size. The line outside was daunting, and while it encouraged us that so many people were willing to wait, I was hungry and I wasn’t about to wait an hour to eat my vegetable dumplings. I was skeptical when the hostess told me it would be only 15 minutes, but I took our scrap of paper with the number 72 (as she called number 40 to be seated) and stood quietly in the corner. And honestly? If we waited 10 minutes, I’d be surprised. They whipped right through the 32 groups in front of us, and before we knew it, we were premitted to go up the escalator with the other lucky diners. That’s right. I said escalator. It’s that enormous. We were seated with a group of 5 charming Long Islanders, whose 10 years of dim sum experience were greatly appreciated by both myself and Boyfriend.
As for the food – well, let’s just say, I’ll be going back soon. Not only was everything delicious, unique, and so cheap, but the experience itself was invaluable. So festive, so original – by far one of the coolest restaurants I’ve ever been to. I may not have tried the tripe or chicken feet this trip, but hey – baby steps. It’s not like it’s the last time I’ll be enjoying dim sum.