Sunday, October 22, 2006

Touch the Heart

No I'm not writing a love story here, I'm talking about Dim Sum. Dim Sum in Cantonese literally means "touch the heart". However it is often understood to mean morsel or snack. What dim sum really is, though, is a traditional Chinese meal including small plates of dumplings, steamed buns, pastries and tea. My favorite tea is chrysanthemum tea, made from dried chrysanthemum flowers.

Ha gau, siu maai, cha siu bau, lo bak go and cheong fun are a few of my favorites. For those of you who don't speak Cantonese, myself included, I'm talking about steamed shrimp dumplings, small steamed pork dumplings, sweet buns with bbq pork and onions, daikon radish cakes, and rice noodle rolls filled with beef or shrimp.

Earlier this year while I was working at a client in downtown Boston, I'm an IT consultant, I would eat dim sum for lunch at least once a week, and always at Chau Chow City on Essex Street. Now that I'm working at a client in the suburbs, my dim sum dining is more like once every few months, and usually at China Pearl on Tyler Street. Today was one of those days.

The Chinatown in Boston is tiny by comparison to the Chinatowns in New York City and San Francisco. It's only a few blocks wide but teems with activity every day of the year. The two largest dim sum restaurants are the two that I eat at, China Pearl and Chau Chow City.

In addition to my favorite morsels, more adventurous diners can enjoy chicken feet, also called Phoenix Talons, and beef tripe. The chicken feet are deep fried, boiled, marinated and then steamed and tripe is the lining of a cow's stomach. You won't find either of these items on my plate. I've tried tripe, and it's not bad if just a little chewy. Chicken feet, however, I'll need to feel really adventurous that day. My friend E who got me into dim sum doesn't like chicken feet, yet he always tries to get me to order them. Maybe next time.


  1. darn! tripe and chicken's feet are some of my favorite. i hope they do make it onto your plate sometime. it's different but worth it.

  2. Jess,

    I've tried the tripe, and when its not overcooked (chewy) it's not bad, just not my favorite. And since I do a fine job stuffing myself with the stuff I really like, tripe will usually fall by the way side. As for the chicken feet, some day. Some day I will try the chicken feet. I think I'll refer to them as Phoenix Talons, though, I'd be more likely to eat Phoenix Talons than [insert any animal] feet!