I have been a Dim Sum fan for years. Dim Sum is Chinese for "little dumpling" and is a event originating in Southern China. Restaurants prepare a host of small, appetizer-size bites and have waiters and waitresses that push them around the room on carts. The carts stop at your table, you look at what is on the cart and choose what you want to try. Everyone drinks tea and shares, a little of this, a little of that, chatting all the while and having a fun, social experience. You will see large family tables with lazy Susan's in the middle, generations of family sharing the feast.
Dim Sum service was more popular here in the 1980's and 1990's and you could find a variety of Asian restaurants that provided the fare on Saturday and Sundays, when you could bring a large group and enjoy hours of visiting and nibbling. Then the sushi craze hit and Dim Sum was harder to find. Our favorite place in Austin, Tien Hong, closed a couple of years ago and we have mourned its loss. Then my husband read a review about Dorothy Huang's Dim Sum tour in Austin. We were so excited! When we lived in Houston, it was Dorothy who had introduced us to most of the restaurants serving Dim Sum. I also took several of her cooking classes and learned to make hot and sour soup and pan fried dumplings (potstickers) among other dishes. So now, several times a year, Dorothy comes to Austin and conducts a similar day to introduce you to Dim Sum and then takes you to a large Asian market to educate you about products available there. After reading the review, we eagerly signed up for her next tour, which was yesterday.
Scott and I, along with our friends, Bill and Susan, made the trek from Wimberley to north Austin and joined the group at Fortune Chinese Restaurant, located on North Lamar at Braker Lane. This is a giant place which has Dim Sum cart service on Saturdays and Sundays, 10am - 3pm, and limited Dim Sum available off the menu seven days a week.
Left, waiter with Dim Sum cart, and right, groups enjoying the service.
There were about eighteen people in our group, sitting at two large tables. Dorothy flitted back and forth, ordering items for us and explaining the origins and cooking methods of each. All in all, we had about fifteen items from the over sixty items available. Just a bite or two of each item, but, by the time we were done, we were stuffed. Things like Pork and Shrimp Siu Mai, Crystal Shrimp Har Gow, Steamed Spare Ribs in Bean Sauce, BBQ Pork Steamed Bun, Shanghai Steamed Dumplings, Macau Egg Custard, Stuffed Shrimp in Eggplant, Peking Style Pan Fried Dumplings, Beef Rice Noodles, Fried Salt & Pepper Calamari and Broccoli in Oyster Sauce.
Left, Crispy Almond Tea -- a sweet soup, flavored with tea and almond, covered with puff pastry. You break the pastry into the liquid and enjoy. It was very good if you like the flavor of almond, which I do.
Sesame balls, crunchy on the outside and filled with sweet, chewy sesame paste on the inside. This is a Dim Sum staple; they have been on the carts every time I have eaten Dim Sum.
Among those at our table were two ladies and their daughters. They were members of Austin Families with Chinese Children (FCC) who work together to make sure their adopted children learn about their Chinese heritage.
What beautiful faces!
More beauties -- Bill, Susan and Scott.
In the same shopping center as Fortune Chinese, you will find MT Market, a large Asian grocery store. That was our next stop. Dorothy took us around the market, explaining the vegetables and fruits and how they are prepared.
Dorothy Huang, guide and chef extraordinaire.
Here are a couple of exotic fruits we saw. I have never eaten these, but would be willing to try! The first one is Dragon Fruit and the second one is Jackfruit, about the size of a watermelon.
Here's a shot of the rice "aisle" at the market:
It was a great day. We'll be heading back to Fortune Chinese soon to try more of the items. Want to come along? The bigger the group, the more things you can try before getting too full!