Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Holiday Gift Idea - Crazy and Fun USB Drives

The Dim Sum USB drive from Solid Alliance with the capacity ranging from 1GB to 4GB for a price of 7,980 yen (about 90.84432 US dollars as per Google's currency conversion as of the date of this post.)

SolidAlliance offers some other bizarre gadgets like the USB sushi and the USB foodhub. The site is in Japanese so you might need to use Google Translate to read it. For reviews in English, visit:

Gigantic Holiday Wish List

My wish list and holiday picks for the foodie:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Foods of New York Tours

I just stumbled upon Foods of New York Tours. Offering some coverage on dim sum, it includes stops at:
  • Dim Sum Go Go
  • Peking Duck House
  • Fried Dumplings
  • New Beef King (Chinese beef jerky)
  • Ten Ren Tea House
  • Egg Custard King
I have not gone on their tour and have not been to a couple of these places ... but I'm curious.

The cost is $65 per ticket and it includes the food, bottled water, and a Foods of New York neighborhood guide. "Two tastings are served seated at restaurants and the others from specialty shops on the go."

The tour is probably a good idea if you've never been to NYC's Chinatown and don't know where to go. The con is that with a little Googling and a little point and smile, you'll be able to discover great places on your own. The rule of thumb for me is to go to places that are crowded. Order dishes that look good - Look around and point it out to your waiter/waitress.
It's rude but it gets the job done. Order tea or beer. You don't need to speak Chinese but if you try and fail, the locals will think it's cute.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Fish Ball Guy

Vegetable spring rolls and stir-fried noodles
Originally uploaded by goyumcha

Dumplings with chili sauce
Originally uploaded by goyumcha

Everything is a must-try and it is cheap!

The stall is unnamed but we call it the Fish Ball Guy at the corner of 45th Avenue and Broadway in Elmhurst in Queens. And yes, they sell great fish balls and fish ball noodles, but they don't photograph well.

Frozen Grub

Originally uploaded by zeroion
With finals, graduation, studying for standardized exams, and the day job, I had no time to prepare and cook my own meals. Food had to come out of a box and/or must be zapped in a microwave. With that, I wonder how many actually feed from frozen dim sum.

Frozen dim sum was definitely my primary source of Asian food when I used to dorm in college (before I discovered Tops & Wegman's). Having dim sum, albeit coming from an ice box, was a taste of home for me while I was at school 8 hours away. Nowadays, I'm a five minute walk to the nearest takeout dim sum place. But with work being crazy busy and at most times, having no minutes to spare, I'm forced to limit my indulgence only on weekends. So, here comes the return of the frozen grub.

Pork Bun from Mei Li Wah

Originally uploaded by goyumcha
How is the new Mei Li Wah doing? Well, the last time we went there (a year ago perhaps), we could not get serviced because the staff was flooded by customers at the counter. Recently, my husband and I, although apprehensive, decided to give it another try. He got the pork bun and shumei and I tried the shrimp noodles and hargow (not pictured.) If you can get over the shrimps not getting deveined, the shrimp stuff is generally good...comes out hot and melts in your mouth. The shumei and pork bun are decent, according to my husband; they are good, but does not achieve the must-try status. Will be back to sample other dishes.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Short Story on "Dim Sum and the Racetrack"

As part of the 27th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF), "Family Portraits," a compilation of short stories revolving around the theme of family and kinship, includes a 6 minute short story on "Dim Sum and the Racetrack". Directed by Sulima Rodriguez, the story is described as follows:

"Attempting to understand and remember their late father, Suilma and her sisters sift through their father's worldly possessions in hopes of giving meaning to memories of dim sum and Sundays."

I'm several time zones away but I am intrigued by this piece as well as others in the short stories collection. I wonder if a screening of Family Portraits would be possible for those in the East Coast or if a DVD release is in the works.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Chicken Feet a.k.a Phoenix Claws – A matter of Skin and Bones

Image by niznoz
Phoenix Claws is prepared by first frying and marinating chicken feet in a variety of seasoning and spices like the star anise, chili, garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce and black bean. Then, it is steamed and ready to serve. Devour it however you like, but just spit out the bones in the end.

I enjoy cooking for the meatatarians but I never understood why it’s such a savored dish. While in some circumstances, the unconventional use for skin and bones can turn the ordinary food into awesome appetizers, like potato skins, even on my pescatarian terms, chewing on say salmon skin just doesn’t make sense. I guess our Chinese ancestors desired a better use for chicken feet other than for making stock. Nevertheless, I’m open to cool and unusual food experiences (or cruel and unusual, depending on your preference) and I dedicate this post to my husband and the brothers (my own brother and my brother-in-laws) who go gaga for chicken feet.

Here’s a recipe I use from Betty Shimabukuro.

1 pound chicken feet
2 quarts oil
2 quarts water
1 ounce fresh ginger
3 pieces star anise
2 ounces Chinese parsley roots
2 ounces maltose sugar – a syrup used for cooking and brewing beer.

2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sake
1 ounce chopped chili pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon black bean sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame seed oil

Wash feet and remove nails and any traces of scaly yellow skin. Cut into quarters.

Heat oil to 350 degrees. Mix the chicken feet with maltose and fry until it turns golden brown (about 7 minutes.) Remove and drain.

In a separate pot, boil water and add ginger, star anise and parsley roots. Add feet. Bring to boil again, then reduce heat and simmer 90 minutes. Drain.

Combine the marinade ingredients. Marinate the feet for about 24 hours. Before serving, steam the feet and marinade for about 15 minutes.

Serves 3. Approximate nutritional analysis, per 2 ounce serving: 300 calories, 18 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 55 mg cholesterol,greater than 1,100 mg sodium.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Don't Touch Our Food!

Recent posts on Grub Street and NY Times warns of the rapid gentrification of Chinatown (See "Chinatown is threatened by ‘Trendy’ restaurants" and "Special-District Zoning Is Urged for Chinatown")

A report released by 2 community organizations (the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center and the Chinatown Justice Project of the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence) shows that in 2008, longtime tenants were pushed out and replaced by new condos and hotels and high-end boutiques and cafés. "The survey includes a map of 'trendy' restaurants, meaning those with English menus, non-bilingual staff, and above-average prices that target wealthy clients."

My thoughts? There's enough room for everyone in lower Manhattan. For one, move to on over to Wall Street. There's no need for the fancy schmancies to encroach upon the hole-in-the-walls.


Dim sum at Chinatown Brasserie

Dim sum at Chinatown Brasserie
Originally uploaded by goyumcha

Fried- shrimp swans a swimming. Pretty and yummy!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hot Chili Oil

Hot Sauce
Originally uploaded by box of lettuce
I love dumplings and noodles with a side of hot chili oil. They're incredibly simple to make. I used this recipe from

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Yields about 1/2 cup

  1. 10 - 12 small dried chilies (1 - 2 inches long) to make 2 tablespoons of coarsely chopped chili flakes
  2. 1/2 cup peanut, canola, or olive oil
  3. 1 tablespoon sesame oil, optional
  1. Cut off the stems of the dried chilies and remove the seeds.
  2. Chop the chilies into coarse flakes (it's easiest to do this by processing them in a blender for about 20 seconds).
  3. Place the chili flakes in a heat resistant jar with a seal.
  4. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high to high heat until it is starting to smoke. Continue heating the oil for 20 - 30 seconds. Remove the skillet from the heat. Wait 3 minutes, or until the oil has cooled to 225 - 240 degrees Fahrenheit (107 to 122.5 degrees Celsius.
  5. Pour the oil over the flakes. Add 1 tablespoon sesame oil if using.Cool and strain the oil. (If you like, save the chili flakes to use in other recipes).
  6. Leave the chili oil for at least 1 hour to give the flavors a chance to blend (longer if adding sesame oil). Stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator, chili oil will last for at least one month.
Handle chili peppers with care - the oil in capsicum can be very dangerous for your skin and eyes. You may want to wear plastic gloves when handling the chili peppers. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water afterward.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sunday Brunch - Takeout Dim Sum from Rice and Tea

Dim sum
Originally uploaded by goyumcha
After a good run at the gym on Sunday mornings, we always like to treat ourselves to takeout dim sum from the Rice 'n Tea at Great Wall (in Elmhurst, Queens). It's crowded and at most times, dealing with the lines is super-stressful, but it's definitely worth it. It's also cheaper than going to a sit-down restaurant.

The must-buys are the har gow (shrimp dumplings), har cheong (rice noodles w/shrimp filling), lo bak gao (radish cake), char siu bao (BBQ pork buns), and the wu ti (fried pork dumplings). Other great buys are the stir-fried beehoon (thin rice noodles), not pictured and fresh-made buns in the pastry section. Don't forget your coffee or tea to go.

The second choice for takeout dim sum in Elmhurst is the Century Cafe located inside NY Supermarket on 45th Avenue and Broadway. They also serve the same great dishes but for some reason, R 'n T at Great Wall is just that much better - worth the drive and worth the stress.

Note that there's another R 'n T located on that same corner as NY Supermarket (in fact, right next door). I usually don't go there for dim sum, but rather, for "pick 3" takeout lunches/dinners - i.e., you pick 3 main dishes + rice. It's a good deal, but that's for another time, another post.

(Update: From a quick Google search, I found that R 'n T at the 45th Ave location has been cited for 4 violations, resulting in 31 violation points. See here. Tisk tisk. R 'n T at GW is also on the brink. A little mess in the kitchen usually doesn't deter me from my need to satisfy my dim sum cravings but I do hope conditions improve. For more info on NYC DOH restaurant inspections, click here.)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

What about tea?

Pouring tea
Originally uploaded by KaiChanVong
When you visit a more formal dim sum or Chinese restaurant, you'll be asked for which tea you'd like to be served.

Some of the more traditional places may serve:

Pu-erh (or Bo-Lay) - red tea made from a "large leaf" variety of the tea plant and named after Pu'er county in China. It has mellow or "earthy" taste.

Tie Guan Yin or "iron Buddha" - is a premium variety of Chinese oolong tea (see also below) associated with Anxi, which is in the Fujian province in China. It has an orchid fragrance and heavy yet pure aroma. If it's served in a small and exquisite tea set, by smelling it first and then tasting it, you will have endless aftertaste in your mouth.

If you get a funny look, just ask for one of these:

Oolong - a traditional Chinese tea which is commonly brewed to be strong with a slight bitterness and at the same time having a sweet aftertaste.

Jasmine - tea made from Green or Pouchong tea leaves that are scented with jasmine flowers

Chrysanthemum - tea made from Chrysanthemum flowers having a soft to bright yellow in color and a floral aroma.

Chrysanthemum tea

Originally uploaded by **Shutterbug Gal**

My favorite is probably the Oolong. Its rich flavor nicely offers a nice cleansing balance when enjoying heavier dim sum dishes.

One important thing, when you run out of tea, be sure to open up the tea kettle cap and leave it tilted so the waiter/waitress knows you need a refill.

Sources: Wikipedia and

Friday, February 27, 2009

Onion Pancake

Onion Pancake
Originally uploaded by goyumcha
I hardly buy scallions because they dry up fast and they're usually the first to go in my fridge. So, with a giant bulb of onion left over from making curry puffs earlier this week, I used that instead to make a modified version of the pancake --- the onion pancake with snow pea garnish.

The recipe I used is adapted from Food Network with slight modifications. Mine is fluffier than the ones I buy from the takeouts probably because (1) I did not roll it out and (2) it's loaded with onions (my husband loves onions.)



2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup sliced scallions (or onions in my case)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 cup canola oil
Salt and black pepper to taste


In a bowl, sift flour. Slowly add water in a steady stream while mixing with a wooden spoon. Keep adding water until a ball is formed. [A food processor can be used to mix the dough.] Let the ball of dough relax for about 30 minutes and cover with damp cloth.

On a floured surface, roll out dough into a thin rectangle. Brush on oil mixture, cover with scallion and season with salt and pepper. Carefully roll dough like a sponge cake. Cut into 4 pieces. Take one piece and twist 3 times. Make a spiral out of this and roll again and flatten to achieve a 5 to 6 inch pancake. In a hot non-stick pan, coat with canola oil and pan sear both sides until golden brown. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.


Prep + cooking time took about 30 minutes. I was about to make 6 fluffy pancakes from this mix.

For the garnish, I sliced snow peas and quickly stir-fried it in the same pan for less than 1 minute.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sweet Mandarin Cookery School to Teach Dim Sum & Chinese Cooking this Sat Feb 28

Sweet Mandarin Cookery School, an award winning Chinese restaurant and cookery school in Manchester, UK, will be presenting its first cookery school live via Twitter this Saturday at 10 AM UK time.

There's a recipe sheet available for download and to follow along during class. Included are recipes for Sweet and Sour Pork/Chicken and Prawn Toast and other basic Chinese dishes and how tos. This will be interesting. I've never been big on Twitter and definitely look forward to seeing how this class will turn out.

And for those not in the Western European Time Zone, here's a website that can help convert 10AM UK to your time

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Egg White Custard

Chinatown/ NYC
Originally uploaded by nicknamemiket
I love to indulge every now and then and ignore the doctor's advice of staying away from heart-clogging and super-nausea-causing sweets. Many times, I just don't know what really goes into my favorite foods until I start to make it myself. Sometimes the ingredients are just over the top, e.g., lard, re-used oil, etc.

Years ago, as a college experiment, I made egg custards from scratch. They looked, smelled, and tasted awesome. But knowing that they were comprised of well, eggs...many many eggs... it never appealed to me after that. Here's one rendition of the traditional egg custard recipe.

Luckily, Egg Custard King came up with a healthier alternative - the egg white custard. It was nice - light and fluffy - and it still has the same custardy taste as its richer counterpart.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Homemade Curry Puffs

I just spent the last 2 hours slaving away making 3 dozen curry puffs. My husband devoured a dozen in 15 minutes.

In search of ...

Vegetarian dim sum recipes

I've adopted a pescatarian diet for mostly health reasons. So, yes, I'm missing out on great meaty dishes! So, I'm trying to recreate some favorites using vegetarian ingredients. I'll be crawling around the web and experimenting in my kitchen to come up with some good recipes.

Here are some recipes that I've found to experiment with:

Veggie-Vegan Char Siu Bao (roast pork buns)
Other bao alternatives:
And for baked buns, here's one to try from Visual Recipes (substituting pork with one of the above veggie-vegan fillings)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Deliciously Deceptive Dim Sum

Dim sum isn't just for meatatarians!

Image by Mr Wabu
Curry Puff (left) & Sesame Ball (right)

Image by jazmyn
Teochew Dumplings

Image by invisiblecompany
Vegetable dumpling

Image by Mr Wabu
Lo bak gao (radish cake) (left)
Sweet potato deep fried dumpling (top)
Vegetarian spring roll (right)

Image by tell me what you saw
Custard buns

Monday, February 16, 2009

In search of ...

"Hole in the walls"

Hole in the walls are grungy places that barely pass DOH inspections but provide the most delicious and most wallet-friendly meals.

The old Mei Lai Wah was inarguably the best hole in the wall. It had the best char siu baos (pork buns) and cheong funs (beef/shrimp noodles). The word got around somehow. Non-chinese/cantonese speaking die-hards and adventurers (myself included, sort of) would frequent. On many occasions, customers would buy char siu baos by the dozens to go. However, it didn't take a genius to realize that the tattered condition of this treasure trove would lend itself to DOH shut-down, amongst other reasons according to foodie blogs.

Soon afterwards, a new Mei Li Wah emerged. To my disappointment, I've step foot once only to leave without a nai cha (milk tea) because it was overcrowded and to realize that the old 1950s coffee house ambiance had been replaced by a more [still looking for the right adjective] atmosphere surrounded by brilliant colors.

The next best place is perhaps the nearby Chatham Square Restaurant‎ at 9 Chatham Square (which is the old-school place with a red awning, not to be confused with the restaurant next door at 6 Chatham Square which has the same name). Agreed or disagreed?

Best Places in Brooklyn & Queens

Compiling a list of good places in the outer boroughs was a bit tougher than I anticipated because there isn't a "top 10" type list for Brooklyn or Queens at my favorite food sites. I've only been to some of these places (noted below). This list will be in the works and here's a start:


World Tong Seafood (Best Dim Sum in Brooklyn according to Best of Asian America)
6202 18th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11204

Pacificana (4 stars based on 18 reviews at Yelp)
813 55th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11230


New Broadway Seafood Restaurant (my favorite dim sum restaurant in Queens)
8317 Broadway, Elmhurst, NY 11373

Ping’s (one of my favorites)
8302 Queens Blvd, Elmhurst, NY 11373

East Ocean Palace (formerly Golden Pond Seafood) (one of my favorites)
113-15 Queens Blvd, Forest Hills

Gala Manor (best dim sum in Flushing as per
37-02 Main St, Flushing, NY 11354

Ocean Jewels Seafood Restaurant (3rd best dim sum in Flushing as per
133-30 39th Ave, Flushing

East Lake Dim Sum (Best Economical Dim Sum in Flushing according to Best of Asian America)
42-33 Main St, Flushing

Top Dim Sum Restaurants in NYC

Although reasonable prudent foodies will differ, here are some worthy places to spoil yourself silly in Manhattan.

Best of Citysearch: Dim Sum

Hop Shing
9 Chatham Sq , New York , NY , 10038-1027

New Green Bo
66 Bayard St , New York , NY , 10013-4940

Jing Fong Restaurant
20 Elizabeth St 2nd Fl , New York , NY , 10013-4802

Ruby Foo's Times Square
1626 Broadway , New York , NY , 10019-7408

Our Place Shanghai Tea Garden
141 E 55th St , New York , NY , 10022-4030

MetroCafe & Wine Bar
32 East 21st Street , New York , NY , 10010-7201

Dim Sum Go Go
5 E Broadway , New York , NY , 10038

Ollie's Sichuan Restaurant
411 West 42nd St , New York , NY , 10036

Forbidden City
212 Avenue A , New York , NY , 10009

Here's's list of top places:
(some of which are also recommended by the Citysearch audience)

Ping's Seafood
22 Mott St.

Jing Fong Restaurant (also a Citysearch favorite)
20 Elizabeth Street

Dim Sum Go Go (also a Citysearch favorite)
5 E. Broadway

Golden Unicorn
18 East Broadway

Oriental Pearl
103-105 Mott Street

Oriental Garden
14 Elizabeth St

Vegetarian Dim Sum House
24 Pell Street

Brooklyn and Queens Dim Sum restaurants to come.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Defined: Nai Cha

image by wing1990hk

奶茶: "Nai Cha"
"Milk tea" or tea with milk

Defined: Cheong Fun

Steamed rice noodles filled with shrimp or beef

Defined: Char Siu Bao

image by jslander

Barbecued/roast pork bun, steamed or baked
When I moved to NY years ago, the first Cantonese phrases learned were "yum cha" and "dim sum". Sunday mornings were spent in Chinatown's dim sum restaurants where my family and I would sample an assortment of treats served fresh from the carts.

image by mojoaxel

When we go "yum cha", which literally means "drink tea," we refer to the custom of the Cantonese brunch where folks enjoy dim sum while sipping Chinese tea. "Dim sum" means "to touch your heart" and it comprises of a variety of steamed, baked, and fried dishes. Some dim sum staples include the "har gao", a steamed shrimp and bamboo shoots dumpling, "shao mai," a steamed pork and mushroom dumpling garnished with roe or carrots, "cheong fun," steamed rice noodles filled with shrimp or beef, "char siu bao," a steamed or baked roast pork bun, and "lo bak gao," daikon radish cakes with dried shrimp and pork sausage that are steamed and then sliced for pan-frying.

Har Gow by jslander

Ton Kiang: Shrimp and Pork Dumplings by biskuit

Shrimp and Snap Peas in Rice Noodles by jslander

bbq pork bao by jslander

A little nostalgia and a passion for food and baking has inspired me to recreate and share the dim sum experience on this blog. Enjoy!