Monday, December 13, 2010
Part of being a chef is eating (or at least trying) everything you can. Going to all kinds of restaurants, ordering things you can't pronounce. This broadens your food knowledge. It also broadens your waist, but that's just an occupational hazard. So, when a friend needed a ride to the airport in San Francisco, we knew exactly what to do. Go to Tai Wu in Daly City!
So, you thought you knew dim sum, did you? Well, not here. All the basics: siu mai, har gow, char siu bao, etc. were there. But they had friends. Lots of them. Zooming by on trays (they only use carts for the heavy stuff here) were noodles, plates, dumplings, baked things, steamed things... Carts went by with soups, custards...
We started with (I think) xiu long bao - they look like any other round dumpling, but they've got soup broth as well as meat inside. Excellent.
Food began piling up on the plate: siu mai, shrimp in rice noodle, shrimp dumpling with chives, one of those sticky balls of something where you don't know what's inside when you order (fish with black bean?), more dumplings, crispy shrimp things...
These guys were very friendly to the only white people in the whole restaurant. They asked what kind of tea we wanted (Chrysanthemum!). They gave us forks (eating dim sum with a fork is like eating steak with chopsticks as far as I'm concerned). They gave us extra napkins in case we slipped. A dim sum menu so we could order (since I learned the names of the plates in Chinese, I usually have no idea what the English names are so it wasn't much use since I can't read Chinese).
I think they were worried that we might have stumbled into something where we would stare in shock at the food and freeze, never ordering anything. Then another round of food came by, this time things we recognized or at least thought we did. Seeing the dishes pile up, the head waiter looked relieved. The lost white people were doing ok after all. They wouldn't starve. They were smiling.