May 23, 2010

Dim Sum!

I had never eaten dim sum until moving to New York, but it is easily one of my favorite, affordable ways to eat out with a group of friends. Don't you haaaate those big group dinners where they split the check 'evenly,' and yet all you had was a salad and maybe an app, but somehow you're footing the bill for your tablemate's 4 martinis? Yeah, me too. You never have to worry about that with dim sum. If you've never had it before, it's basically a bunch of small plates. Women push the carts around the dining room, and you point at whatever you want. They mark your order card with each order, and you dig in! It's great for a group--you get to try lots and lots of different things all at once.

My friend Yoga Jen's BF, Tom, wrangled up a quick group of us to hit Dyker Heights' East Harbor Seafood Palace on a cloudy, muggy Sunday. A group of 8 or 9 of us met there, amid the lines and lines of people, and only had to wait about 20 minutes for a table. One of Tom's friends, Sandy, speaks Cantonese, so we had an ace at our table--an ace that could actually explain to us what we were eating!

Before you GET to your seat, however, you must get the call from this man (photo above, left)-- the MC of East Harbor. We were one of two tables there with non-Asian occupants, and a big "E" was written by our table number, so the host knew to call out our numbers in English.

Our first dish was something I would never have ordered on my own--it was a vegetarian dish with basically a fried dough in the middle surrounded by soft noodles. A tangy brown sauce was drizzled all over the top. It was crunchy and smooth and surprisingly delicious. I had two bites of this!

My second sampling was of the pork shumai--I ate at least 2 of these, quite possibly 3 (things moved very quickly, people, and I did not ask a lot of questions!), and they were deeeeelicious. Big chunks of perfectly-cooked pork, veggies, and goodness. A slathering of hot Chinese mustard and my belly was sooo happy!

These beauties were another winner: packed with shrimp, crispy scallions, and spot-on flavor. These were a wonderful bite of contrasting textures, and a must-have at East Harbor.

I definitely had two of these. Yum. More mustard and hot sauce.

These spring rolls were about the only thing we recognized right off the bat. These were perfectly fried, not greasy, still crispy, and super flavorful, with a filling of mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and tiny shrimp.

See? Yumminess!

This tall shot to the left was of short ribs, I believe. They don't waste a single cut of meat, I will tell you that. I had a small sampling of this, but didn't take much of it. I'd already had similar noodles in the first dish, and I was ready for the next snack!

The dish above was hands-down one of the best there. It was fried squid, salt-and-peppery goodness, and holy cow. I'd go back just for this dish. Saaacrilicious! The squid was chewy but not rubbery, seasoned and salty, and I just couldn't eat enough of this. Well, I could. And I probably did. But I still wanted more!

And what, pray tell, might this photo be? Oh, just your everyday beef tendon. Which I ate. As Tom put it, 'tastes like meat jell-o!' I can't say I'm a huge fan, but I did manage to eat it without making a scene. You're welcome. ;)

And how do you like that little carrot butterfly? THAT is attention to detail, folks. Bravo!

The fried rice was good, too. It had some meat in it, but there wasn't any in my bites. Just good, sticky goodness with a sprinkling of peanuts (which I didn't eat).

I didn't not sample these savory treats to the left, but ABF did--you'll have to ask him his thoughts, but I am pretty sure he enjoyed them.

I normally avoid dessert when it comes to Chinese food--they're usually not tasty enough to me, but I gave these egg custard tarts a try. The shells were super flaky, and the custard was good, but it was barely sweet at all. Anyone expecting a chess-pie sort of experience would be disappointed, but I enjoyed these. They are about the size of a silver dollar (does anyone know what those ARE anymore!?) and just the right size for a mouthful or two of something almost-sweet.

But I was much more looking forward to these babies (the server is cutting them in two with her scissors in this big phtoo). One of my favorite things at dim sum is always the sesame treats. Go figure, considering I don't really like sesame seeds on bagels, or anything else. Sesame paste, aka tahini? Love it. But the seeds, toasted, no. It tastes too burnt and smoky to me. Put them on a gummy, pasty, ball and I'm in love. I don't know exactly what's in them, I only know that I really, really like them. These are not 'sweet' by American tastebud standards, but I think they're the perfect way to end a meal.

Guess how much this feast cost us? 15 bucks each. TOTAL. INCLUDING a generous 20 percent tip. Holy cow. I had read some reviews saying this place wasn't cheap, but moderate. I consider 15 a person, with more food than we could finish, to be super affordable, thus earning this spot a Cheap Eats label!


This is the first time I've ever been STUFFED after dim sum. Usually I get enough to eat and I'm fine but not stuffed--this time I think I went a little nuts with the sesame bites. Oh well. : ) It was delicious, I'd go back in a heartbeat (very easy to find, right off the N train), and maybe you'll come with me!


kim said...

I live from this dim sum restaurant (I'm from Queens), but all the dim sum looked scrumptcious! For the sesame balls, the filling is lotus seeds paste. Yes, more 'seeds' for you. :)

LKPheartsfood said...

Kim, thanks for the update! Apparently I LOVE lotus seeds paste!!!

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