The day after my [cref holiday-dinner-at-payard Payard dinner], I was crazy enough to schedule to have dim sum with my friends, Seungmi and Giulia, whom I haven’t seen for months. I love these girls to death but hell, my stomach’s filled with French food and desserts and after that evening, I thought I couldn’t eat anymore. Obviously, I underestimated my hunger…
Since I’ve anticipated this brunch, if you will, I skipped breakfast (unless you consider a cup of coffee and a banana, breakfast) and wandered around SoHo in the search of pretty wrapping paper and ribbons. (It’s Kate’s Paperie, if you really want to know). Yes, I have a weird obsession for good quality paper that’s obscenely expensive (it’s priced by sheet and it’s no bigger than a normal-sized poster) and pleat them to my little heart’s content. If you ever talked to my friends about receiving gifts from me, they’ll tell you how insane I am.
Eventually, I got hungry from roaming around and since I don’t want to fill my stomach with food, I thought getting a steamy cup of hot chocolate should suffice. The closest place to get such a thing was Vosges Haut Chocolat.
Aztec Hot Chocolate & Chocolate Bar
I ended up getting a tall glass of Aztec hot chocolate and an organic “Enchanted Mushrooms” chocolate bar. The hot chocolate was still very good in terms of texture, not too thick but creamy enough; heated well enough that the glass can potentially scald my cold fingers, and it had a good hit of chocolate. What disappointed me was the fact that they made the spiciness milder. I was hoping for a slightly bolder, smoky, peppery kick that I remember tasting last year or so.
As for the mushroom chocolate bar, it wasn’t as good as I hoped. The bitter dark chocolate and finely chopped walnuts dominated the mushroom flavor, making it gritty and not mushroom-y.
I realized that I was running late to brunch as Giulia called my cell phone and I have to haul my ass down to Chinatown to Chatham Square Restaurant.
Giulia and I met at the waiting area of the restaurant for the not-so-good-sense-of-direction-but-oh-so-adorable Seungmi arrived. We’ve gotten seated immediately since the bitter cold and icy pavement probably scared potential diners but the dining room was about 95% filled. Not too bad.
As we all finally got seated, I’ve started to order. Here’s the highlights:
Fried taro balls (Wu gok) were awesome. Ethereally crisp with layers of wispy, thin fried batter with mashed taro stuffed with diced shiitake mushrooms, pork. Mmm…
Steamed meatballs with tofu skin were nice and beefy. It helps that they added some Worcestershire sauce to give it some extra tang.
Char siu sou are always welcome to my belly. These flaky pastries are one of my absolute favorite dishes. They’re filled with diced roast pork.
The shu mai was pretty good. The unfortunate fact was that Giulia and Seungmi has issues with shrimp. But strangely enough, Seungmi took her chances with her digestive system and eaten two and slathered some sriracha sauce on them. Giulia and I thought she lost it and she’ll be asking for one painful heartburn.
Stuffed rice noodle rolls: shrimp and beef
Then we eaten cheong fun. Rice noodle rolls that’s filled with beef or shrimp. Obviously I’ve eaten the entire plate of shrimp noodle rolls (as I’ve mentioned why a moment ago). They’re soft, chewy pillows of noodles that has some tasty protein.
When the dessert cart rolled by us, I’ve spotted an unusual dish where I saw something small, spiky and baked. I’ve stopped the lady and asked her, “What is it?” She told me in Cantonese (when literally translated) it’s called “pig-pig” buns. Since I never encountered such a thing in my entire life eating dim sum food, I’ve ordered one.
But I didn’t expect these adorable porcupine-shaped buns. Awww… They’re too cute. All of us were staring at these babies for a while, contemplating whether or not we should eat it or not. Of course, we each taken one and started to nosh.
These little buns were filled with crisp layers of peanut butter, encased with a baked, soft bun.
Egg custard tarts were extremely flaky and the not-too-sweet, eggy custard filling were quite good.
Haam sui gaau means literally, salty water dumplings. They’re basically dumplings that were fried, filled with savory items like finely ground pork, shrimp, and mushrooms encased with a sticky rice flour dough.
Jien duy or fried sesame balls are another of my favorite dim sum dishes. Basically, it’s rice flour dough filled with lotus seed or red adzuki bean paste, rolled in sesame seeds and deep fried.
What made it awesome was the fact they’re filled with lotus seed paste. I’m having a harder time finding this particular filling in this dessert as well as getting cans of these in Chinese markets.
After finishing dim sum, I asked for the check, paid it and walked around Chinatown for the purpose of food shopping for my mom. She wanted me to pick some stuff up on the way since I’m there.
If you want my opinion about their food, they’re good but not excellent. Next time, I shall venture to Flushing instead.
Eventually, we’re getting our butts frozen from wandering around Chinatown that Giulia and Seungmi were craving hot bubble tea. Honestly, I never tried it before and am never interested in those tea concoctions.
Ten-Ren Tea’s (Stark) Interior
Despite my indifference to bubble tea, I won’t be a party pooper and we walked into Ten Ren Tea. Stark decor and they’re playing music relatively loud.
Hot Assam black tea with tapioca pearls
Seungmi gotten herself a cup of hot Assam black tea with tapioca pearls. When I tried a spoon of it, it affirmed my beliefs with bubble tea: I don’t hate it. I don’t love it. I’m simply indifferent. The black tea was slightly sweetened, not cloyingly so. The bubble part of the tea, tapioca pearls, was chewy and I think it turned me off from liking it. I know a lot of you people reading this now are screaming at me, “ARE YOU NUTS?! WHAT KIND OF ASIAN ARE YOU?!”
Moving onto Giulia’s hot rose tea, it’s slightly sweetened and I didn’t taste much of roses. It smells lightly floral but I don’t taste it. Not bad but I was expecting something different.
Vosges Haut Chocolat
132 Spring Street (between Greene & Wooster Streets)
New York, NY 100 (map)
Chatham Square Restaurant
6 Chatham Square (between Mott & Doyers Streets)
New York, NY 10038 (map)
Ten Ren Tea
79 Mott Street (between Canal & Bayard Streets)
New York, NY 10013 (map)
I really enjoy you blog. Cannot wait to go to Dim-Sum… never have been before!
Happy New Year!!
My friends ask me the same thing when I tell them that I have yet to try bubble tea. “What kind of Asian are you?!”. Well, I’m the one who is slightly freaked out about black balls floating in her tea! One day, I will suck it up though… Those little peanut butter balls look so interesting. I want to make my own! We don’t have that great of dim sum places where I live but I crave it 24/7.
Have a good new year! I’m looking forward to a tasty 2009!
Melissa: Thanks for reading! You should go and try dim sum!
VeggieGirl: Happy new year to you, too!
Amanda: I guess we’re one of the rare percentage of the Asian population who doesn’t like bubble tea. I’m not alone! :)
As for the peanut butter buns, they’re cute and I don’t think I would want to bake ’em. My parents don’t LOVE peanut butter; just like them.
Happy new year to you, too!
That hot chocolate looks so decadently wonderful :)
I’m not a fan of hot bubble tea either. Or tapioca balls in general.
Happy New Year!
your pic are making hungry…
i mean making me hungry…
ps. why cant i delete my own comment?
OMG, those porcupine pastries look so cute, and you know what, i love peanut butter!!! i’ll have to get them next time.
although, if they were filled with some sort of offal, it would probably make more sense to have them animal shaped. but, then again, that would probably take away the cuteness factor.
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