Dim Sum holds a magical place in my heart since the first time, my friend, AmasianV, introduced me to it in college. From that point on, AmasianV and I always considered it our own private hangover cure. Granted, all of that extra sodium probably didn’t help us out any, but… what can I say? It just felt right. So right, that I learned how to make shumai dumplings at home. Check out my recipe here.
For those of you that don’t know, Chinese Dim Sum, is like a brunch consisting of many small plates. Those plates are often steamed dumplings, but they can also come in the form of rice, vegetables, and fried goodies. Some places serve dim sum differently, but the most common method has servers pushing around carts of delicious items to each of the tables. You then pick and choose what you want from the cart and the server stamps your bill as you go, which indicates what you had.
My favorite place to go for dim sum is Chau Chow City in Boston, MA’s Chinatown. Unfortunately, the parking situation there is horrendous. If I’m not taking the train into Boston, then my go to dim sum location is:
Atmosphere and Service:
They don’t have a website and as far as I can tell they aren’t related to the Chau Chow in Chinatown even though they have basically the same name. Nonetheless, the food here is really good and the big plus is that there is plenty of parking! The interior is bright because of the large windows and recessed lighting, so it definitely feels like a day time eating sort of place. The restaurant is one giant open room with many tables that the servers walk around pushing their carts during dim sum service (ends at 3pm).
As soon as you sit down, the servers smell the new meat in the restaurant and they swarm around you with their carts like hungry sharks. That’s great because you can immediately start ordering your favorites. The problem is that once they have swarmed around you and you’ve made your choices, they sometimes never come back. In some cases, one of the servers didn’t quite get the hint that you are a new customer and never comes by at all. This is especially frustrating when that one server has your favorite selections! Nonetheless, 75% of the time, you can get everything you want without a hitch… or without chasing around after a cart like from a Benny Hill skit.
My favorite dim sum items are the steamed dumplings. I rarely ever get anything fried because the steamed stuff always tastes fresher. When eating dim sum, the only fried thing that I get is the turnip cake, but unfortunately Chau Chow in Dorchester doesn’t make this fresh. The best is when it’s fried right in front of you and served piping hot. Instead, they make it ahead of time and it gets cold on the carts as they walk by. If you ever go to Chau Chow City in Boston though, I would definitely recommend the turnip cake there.
On this occasion, I went with my friend, Flex, and we ordered mostly steamed seafood and pork (or both) dumplings. From left to right in front we had: shrimp wrapped in rice flour dough, lobster shumai (actual lobster pieces), and shrimp shumai. From left to right in back we had: sticky rice with pork wrapped in lotus leaves, pork and shrimp shumai topped with flying fish roe, and steamed bbq pork buns. Truth be told, I almost never order the steamed buns because most places just have a ton of bland dough and very little filling. Flex wanted them and luckily the bun had plenty of bbq pork filling and it wasn’t too sweet, so it was a pleasant surprise. Not pictured, were some bean curd wrapped bbq pork dumplings.
I almost always get something like tripe marinated with soy and ginger, but Flex wasn’t on board. Nonetheless, I would recommend trying something out of your comfort zone when you get dim sum because you never know what you’ll find delicious! Lastly, make sure to dip everything in a little mixture of soy sauce and Tabasco! Seriously! Life changing.
I always enjoy myself at Chau Chow in Dorchester for dim sum and the fact that it’s right off of the highway with plenty of parking definitely gives it a bump in ranking. The food is always good as long as you eat it right away and don’t let it get cold. If the servers aren’t coming to you, be patient, and if patience doesn’t work, chase them down because it’s worth it! Highly recommended, especially if you live in Providence, RI where I have yet to find any good dim sum.
A Benny Hill Chase Scene