Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Dim Sum Go Go and go go and go go

So it's been a little while. I've been to and from New Orleans and to and from the Bay Area since I last posted. I have much to say on both (especially CA). But before I can proceed I have to properly tackle the experience that my mother and I had at Dim Sum Go Go a week ago Sunday.

In some ways, it's probably better that recent business has kept me from posting on our time at this establishment because any earlier and the emotions would have been to raw. With distance on my side, I can begin to laugh about it, but at the time, I literally cried from embarrassment and a sheer sense of being absolutely, utterly overwhelmed by dumplings.

The day started out innocently enough. My mother had never had dim sum and I sought to remedy that. Thinking that the traditional cart set-up might be too much for a first timer, I suggested Dim Sum Go Go, which has pretty good dim sum, and allows you to mark your order down on a menu, much like one does sometimes with sushi.

Of course being Sunday, there was a wait by the time we reached the restaurant, and somehow I hadn't realized that it would be worse on this particular day because of the Chinese New Year parade scheduled for later that afternoon. But no bother, I bought us a red bean bun from down the street and we sat and waited (somewhat) patiently for our names to be called.

When we were finally called in, we were given the worst seat in the house. Right by the door. This was not only a problem because it was a particularly frozen day, but also because the masses of people waiting for their names to be called crowded around our table, sometimes knocking right into my poor mother, often with no acknowledgment or apology.

But again, no bother, we were going to eat dumplings. Now the key to the rest of this story is understanding that the menu is a piece of paper divided into subcategories - baked, steamed, vegetable dim sum, etc. In each category are things like rice roll with pork or shark fin dumpling, you choose which items you want and then mark down the quantity you desire of each option. I was very worried that we wouldn't have enough to eat, but I reassured my mother that if we didn't get enough to eat we would stop somewhere else on our way to our next stop at the Eldridge Street Synagogue.

So here's what we ordered:
Turnip Cakes (1)
Baked Roast Pork Bun (1)
Rice Roll with Shrimp (1)
Steamed Roast Pork Bun (1)
Chicken and sticky rice in lotus leaf (1)
Steamed shrimp dumplings (1)
Bamboo heart dumplings (2)
Three star dumplings (2)
Snow Pea Leaf dumplings (2)
Soy Bean dumplings (2)
Spinach dumplings (2)
Mushroom dumplings (2)
plus a complimentary order of sauteed Chinese broccoli

Now in my thinking this amounted to about 15 dumpling items total, so about 7 or so dumplings each, plus the turnip cakes and broccoli. So you can see why I was concerned that we might still be a little hungry after the meal, having the healthy appetites that we do. However, and this is a big however, it had been a while since I'd been to Dim Sum Go Go, and somehow I'd forgotten that one order of dumplings does not mean one individual dumpling. (this is clearly not just a case of faulty memory, but also a blatant display of a lack of common sense). In the larger items (which are pretty large) like the chicken and sticky rice, it means two pieces. In the smaller items like the dumplings and buns, it means three pieces.

In other words my mother and I ended up with about 51 dumpling like items, plus Chinese broccoli, plus turnip cakes. The situation was made worse by the fact that each order of dumplings is served in an individual steam basket, so from veggie dumplings alone, we ended up with twelve steam baskets on our very small table. It was like a game of Tetris trying to get them all on the table.
When we realized my mistake we tried to cancel part of our order. Our waiter helpfully informed us that each order came with three pieces and then politely reassured us that we could take what we couldn't finish home with us (it would have been even more helpful and polite if he had warned us of our massive over-ordering a little sooner). The people hovering over our table waiting for their turn to eat stared at us amazed by what was either our gluttony or stupidity. I saw the waitstaff snicker to each other at the dumb gaijin (Japanese for foreigner, don't know the Chinese). I lost my appetite entirely at the embarrassment of the situation and at the shame of being so wasteful and honestly at the sensation of drowning in dumplings. My mother emerged a trouper, hellbent on sampling every type of dumpling.

Rice Roll with Shrimp

Chicken and Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf

In the end, I called my friend Nina who agreed to take some of the dumplings off our hands. Getting them to her was another story. We had to force away through blocks swarms of people attending the New Year's parade (many of whom were nibbling on dumplings). We then had to fight the afternoon's bitter cold and the gusting winds that literally almost knocked us over. By the time we got back to my apartment I was in a terrible, horrible, no good very bad mood. The worst part though was the fear that I might never be able to eat another dumpling. It was that bad.

Of course that fear was allayed five days later when in New Orleans I had a spicy crab shumai. This time I only requested one order, even though they were good, I still couldn't quite finish them all...

No comments: