DIM SUM DREAMING
BLOG: DIM SUM DREAMING
AUTHOR: Chef A.
DATE: November 15, 2016
LOCATION: Boston, MA - China Town
ESTABLISHMENT: Hei La Moon
RESEARCH: Dim Sum
PIG SCORE: 3.8
I said, WE MUST DO dim sum, so like 3 foodies in the 3rd largest China town in the US, we did dim sum. After much research, Hei La Moon was the highest ranked in this area. But in hind sight we went about it all wrong. Like 3 American girls looking for a new food experience, we walked into the 100 table plus dining hall-ish restaurant to find ourselves the only English speakers in the house. We sat at a table by the window but were almost in shock of what to do next. The room was filled with anywhere from couples to large groups of people of Asian descent, enjoying their tea and tea snacks during the mid-morning. The table was sat with tea for 3, that’s it, no other drinks were offered. The only other thing on the table were a set of chops sticks and a linen napkin; where is the silver wear?
Yes, I researched the area, and yes I researched the restaurant, but I struggled with the huge lists of food on any of the sites I visited. I was simply overwhelmed and the concept of Dim Sum still felt vague to me as we set out to Hei La Moon. Once we were in our seats, slowly like a drip from a leaky faucet the carts started to show up, each cart with 2 or 3 different items on them, starting with savory items, some that looked familiar and others that were very foreign. The servers spoke in either very broken English or none at all and just pointed, I pointed or nodded back. The food kept coming; each plate was small, like tapas, but enough to get a few bites to taste. Each dish was artfully prepared and able to either be eaten by hand or with chopsticks. We tasted, we shared and moved on to the next dish, nodding, pointing, and taking pictures, writing notes then repeat. At first we had no idea what we were eating but got smart and pulled up a website on our phones with pictures and vivid descriptions for us to follow, thank God for smart phones. As we started slowing down, we looked around the room to see the rest of the diners conversing with each other, not wasting a morsel of food on their plates or time with each other; none of them on their phones! It was a dining experience, not just eat and run like we Americans do so often. We felt very wasteful, especially looking at the other tables, guilty for just tasting not eating the entire dish.
Trying to respect the Chinese culture, I stood with my touristy camera and asked the server pushing a variety cart if I could take a picture…. The language barrier has now fully set in, she walked away from me quickly grabbing her manager who in turn asked for me to turn on my camera. In my mind all I could think is he is going to ask me to delete all my pictures. CRAP, all that tasting and work would be gone. I quickly repeated myself to him, can I take a picture of the cart. OH… the server thought we wanted a picture of our group. Crisis diverted; we did get approached later for a group shot that turned out perfect, just like this great exploration into a different culture.
The experience of Dim Sum is not just the food, it’s the social experience, time with others enjoying tea and a mid-morning snack. Do your research before you go, not just of the food but the culture too.
Hei la Moon- Voted best dim sum (tea snacks) in Chinatown Large hall like place with over 100 tables, ¾ of the tables were full (10am) Servers walk around with carts of artful foods on small plates (inexpensive) No forks were given, huge langue barrier. Only hot tea beverage served, strong!
Siu Mai- unleavened wheat dough with dried shrimp squeezed into a flower shape – nice texture, slightly chewy but springy
Sticky Rice wrapped in lotus leaves served in a steamer basket- sausage and chicken thighs incased in sticky rice then wrapped in lotus leaves (not edible) great flavor and texture
Fried Rice- (least favorite of the day) very fishy
Crispy Shrimp Roll (spring roll wrapped filled rolled then fried) filling pork and celery, great flavor with soy sauce on the side
Spring Roll- lots of mushroom, pork, flavors work just ok, nothing that was amazing
Fried Shrimp- looked like rice noodles laying in a nest shape then deep fried- would not pick out the shrimp if were not told
Steamed spareribs with fermented black beans- very tender and salty from black beans
Chicken feet with fermented black bean sauce- the flavor on this dish was amazing, salty and umami but the eat was interesting to say the least, full of small bones (reminded me of finger nails)- very hard to eat (we watched the others eat this, discreetly spitting the bones in to a cloth or a bone bowl…. I am going to revisit this dish for sure)
Har Gow- wheat and corn starch wrapper (chewy)(looks like sea shells)filled with whole shrimp and steamed served with chili paste.
Rice noodle rolls- steamed rice noodle roll around a full shrimp center, bland and chewy in texture
Sweet buns- Chinese sweet bread filled with a bright yellowish orange custard (mango or papaya) then steamed over all gritty mouth feel but nice sweet ending
Cha siu bao- baked pork buns – yeast bread filled with bbq pork then baked with a sweet sticky glaze on top, Very dinner roll-ish pork was sweet but super not flavor ful
Coconut soup- w/ watermelon, cantaloupe balls in a sweet coconut milk, served cold
Chef A. is a research chef for a Major food company in America. In her role she is responsible for bringing culinary direction and trend guidance. Chef A. is a Pig's pick reviewer and contributor. Keep checking back for more great articles and recipes.