On a rainy sunday afternoon in Paris, you can get really sentimental about a good old Los Angeles Dim Sum!
The Cantonese phrase dim sum (點心) means literally “touch the heart” or “order to your heart’s content”. Originally it was not a main meal, only a snack, and therefore only meant to touch the heart and even though it is now a staple of chinese cuisine everywhere, it reigns supreme in Hong Kong.
Let’s go back to L.A.’s Empress Pavilion. Golden rule: if the place is completely packed with Chinese people, odds are that the food is pretty good!
I have been to this restaurant where the “feeling” is more authentic (with huge round tables and frequent cart circulation). I love picking out my food from carts being wheeled around. It’s such a novel experience for a Persian (who always has to be coerced into taking some more food enrobed in taarof!)
Imagine waitresses with huge steaming carts full of exotic Dim Sum that they push around, and the excitement of choosing what you want from the cart. I love Cheung Fun or rice noodle roll that you see on the top shelf of the cart above and in your dish bellow:
“Travellers on the ancient Silk Road needed a place to take a nap, so teahouses were established along the roadside. Rural farmers, exhausted after working hard in the fields, would also go to teahouses for a relaxing afternoon of tea. People later discovered that tea can aid in digestion, so teahouse owners began adding various snacks and the tradition of dim sum evolved.”
Kai-lan (Gai-lan) or Chinese broccoli (or Chinese kale) is prepared in front of your hungry eyes,
The sharing act of dim sum is very important to the ceremony of eating it and drinking tea “Yum Cha” together as a unit. As I mentioned above, “Dim Sum” means point of the heart, so the act is supposed to warm your heart while you dine. Dim Sum is a breakfast and lunch time food. You will not be able to find it after 2pm!
I don’t particularly care for fried turnip cakes or potstickers but I always order them when I am taking people for Dim Sum for the first time:
I have been to the nitty gritty San Francisco chinatown Dim Sum places too; they are more authentic but can overwhelm you if you don’t drink a zillion cups of tea with your food:
My favorite remains the Los Angeles Dim Sum so think about me and drop me a line next time you are having some!
to see my other food posts: