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!