Yumcha 4 Life

All my life I’ve been eating dim sum, or yumcha in my family’s dialect. I grew up eating it almost every Sunday at Mao’s Palace in California (in Milbrae??) or at Hong Kong Flower Lounge in Burlingame (where upon a recent visit in 2008, the maitre’d recognized me after not having been there for 15 years). Ryan and I continue that today, heading to East Harbor Seafood Palace in Dyker Heights/Bay Ridge, which is the Chinatown of Brooklyn.

We go so often that the clams/tofu fah lady knows us and beelines for us after we sit down to serve us clams in black bean sauce, then knows to come back later to serve us the fresh soft tofu with ginger syrup. We know to get there on the earlier side, before she runs out.

We recognize other regulars such as the hapa (half caucasian/half asian) man with his Chinese wife and in-laws, who do not talk to him beause of the language barrier. It’s been a while and I’m assuming it’s because the last time we saw them, wife was pretty pregnant, and they must be busy with the new baby. So this definitely isn’t something I read about in L magazine or on the Serious Eats blog – this is family time.

And it’s great because after we eat we head to Fei Long market, where we buy meat, seafood, snacks, and other groceries for the next couple of days.

Below, our yumcha adventures:

Dim sum at East Harbor Seafood Palace
Our first time about a year and a half ago, with David & Laurea. Before this the spot was Jing Fong in Manhattan, which by comparison is greasy and not as fresh.

Dim sum
The aforementioned clams. Tofu fah and tan tat at the ready – I think we were scared of these running out. The tan tat at East Harbor is the best I’ve had, especially when they’re fresh and still warm. The custard is soft and pastry shell is buttery and flaky.

Dim sum
Obligatory crowd shot. The trick is to get here by noon at the latest to get all the good stuff.

Dim sum
Pork on pork. The other dishes belong to the people across from us.

Yumcha Sundae
I think this is one time we ate with Mimi.

Yumcha Sunday
That one time I tried to eat a serving of chicken feet all by myself.

Yumcha Sunday
The usual, with some rolled rice noodles – these are not that good, I think there is chicken and vegetables inside. The thing to get is the one with pork spare ribs on top.

Char Siu So
One of my favorite things, Char Siu So. It’s flaky pastry stuffed with char siu. Sometimes it counts as dessert.

Ryan's bday dim sum
Yumcha on Ryan’s birthday. We got salt & pepper squid and beef tendon, among other things.

Dim sum desserts
That time we cheated on East Harbor on my birthday to eat dim sum at the racetrack. The food is fresh and decent. But the tan tat is nowhere near as good. Also those are durian puffs on the top right which look delicious but taste like farts. Or what I imagine farts to taste like – sweet onion cream.

The other time I tried to eat an entire serving of chicken feet. The caucasian couple across from us wanted to know WTF the jar leong was (after he edumacated her to the fact that hargow and shumai were “the things to get”), so we encouraged them to order it. I invited them to try some chicken feet, to which they politely declined, the female saying, “That’s great that you’re eating it though.” Um, that’s great that you’re a condescending a-hole.

The time we sat down across from a family of six who mean mugged us the whole time because we got this spread within two minutes of sitting down. My other favorite thing at the bottom, fried taro dumplings stuffed with pork and mushrooms (wu gok).

The time I insisted we start getting vegetables because all that fried food was making me sick. AKA the time I saved my stomach from dim sum.

I swear we only do this because we get groceries down here. #dimsum #yumcha
Today’s dim sum. We kinda went all in.

The thing that’s fun about dim sum is even though we go almost every week, it’s always a different experience based on what we eat, where we sit, and who we sit with. I never get char siu bao because that takes up too much space in my stomach.

Today we got oxtail at Fei Long to make ragu for some chestnut ravioli I picked up at Paisano’s. So I guess you’ll be hearing about that next.

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