Category Archives: Chinese

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.


All Pork Belly All the Time

You can make char siu with pork neck (which the Chinese butcher pointed out to me when I asked him for “char siu”), pork shoulder/butt, or pork belly. Ryan has surpassed me in fat kid impulses so I went with the pork belly, from Paisano’s in Boerum Hill. And also, because it’s the most delicious.

I cobbled together a few marinade recipes, as I didn’t have a couple of ingredients from each of them – maltose, brandy, hoisin sauce. So my marinade consisted of 1/4 c ketchup, 1 c sugar, 1/4 c honey, 2-3 cubes of spicy fermented bean curd, 1 Tbsp sesame oil, 1 Tbsp Chinese five spice powder, soy sauce, and kecap manis (sweet soy sauce). I whisked everything together and poured it over my pork belly. The butcher gave it to me in a long strip but one of the recipes said to cut it into 1-inch wide pieces, so I did. More surface area for marinating. Also the skin came on it and was stubbled with short black hairs. The IB-S Bio student in me kicked in, and I tried to pluck them all out before calling Ryan at work to confirm that I was creating more work for myself.

So take the skin off before marinating. Hold it up at one end and make a small cut just under the skin, where it meets the fat. Then you basically shave it off with a sharp knife. The skin is tough, but be careful you don’t slice your hand open. And try to only take off the skin, not any of that good fat.

Marinate it overnight, then when you’re ready to cook it place it in a roasting pan on a rack and roast for 45 minutes at 350 degrees, then 20 minutes at 300 degrees.

You can then eat this as is with rice and sauteed garlic-bokchoy (my favorite), in char siu bao (also fairly easy to make, and you can freeze them to steam later), or in this dry wonton mee that I made, which is a Malaysian dish.

It’s basically cooked wonton noodles, a little broth, some soy sauce, bok choy, and the char siu. Which turned out awesome, by the way – sticky, salty, fatty, and sweet.

For the broth, I boiled some leftover ribs with shallots, garlic, anise, fish sauce, and white peppercorns. To serve – wonton noodles in a bowl, topped with a tiny bit of broth and soy sauce to keep it wet. Add bok choy and sliced char siu. I added some Thai chiles that I’d pickled the previous night, which were still spicy as hell but it was super deliciouuuusss.

Dry wonton mee with homemade #charsiu blogged at #homecooking #StomachMonster

P.S. I didn’t really use a recipe for this. I just saw a photo that looked delicious, Googled a few recipes, then said “F it” and used the photo as inspiration.

Flushing Foodventure

There is too much food to be had in Flushing. We headed out last Sunday with the best intentions to eat ourselves silly, but didn’t make it too far off the main drag.

We started with $1 duck buns at Corner 28 – they’ve been $1 since I first came out here about three years ago (shameful, I know). But it’s nice to know that while lobster roll/artisanal popsicle/gourmet grilled cheese prices have steadily climbed, these have remained cheap as hell and are still delicious.

I live for these

Then we headed to that dirty ass basement foodcourt where Xi’an Famous Foods started. It’s still there, but the menu is easier to read (more pictures!) and they have actual styrofoam plates to serve food on rather than takeout container lids. I ordered the Liang Pi which are cold noodles in a spicy sauce with cucumbers, bean sprouts, and cubes of gluten. I really wished they were bean curd, because the texture of gluten freaks me out a little when it’s served like this. Ryan got the Spicy & Tingly Beef Noodles, which are similar to nou riou man and served hot. We ate like pigs while listening to the quick, loud thumps of noodle making.

Noodle monsters

I had plans of also visiting Biang! which is Xi’an’s newest restaurant, but we opted for something sweet and got milk tea from Coco Tea & Bubble. It had pudding and coffee jelly in it. And then, more $1 duck buns for the road.

Next time we’ll eat pig’s blood cubes & fluffy shaved ice with stuff on it!