I went to Empress Harbor (111 N. Atlantic Boulevard, Monterey Park) on Saturday for dim sum with Winnie, Wan, and Lilcee. I've loved dim sum since I was a kid. A little dim sum primer for you....
Many people mistakenly believe the term "dim sum" refers to the little dumplings served during dim sum. It bugs me to no end when dim sum is mentioned, and someone says, "Oooh! I love dim sum! Those dumplings are great!"
Dim sum is an experience. Dim sum is a specific cuisine. The term refers to the entire brunch or lunch. Dim sum is a Cantonese term. The Mandarin term, dian xin, means "snack" or, literally translated, means "touch heart." The Taiwanese term, yum cha, means "drink tea." (I don't know the Cantonese meaning. This polyglot can only do so much.) Thus, when you have dim sum, you are dining on lots and lots of snacks and drinking tea whilst enjoying your snacks.
Most offerings at dim sum are steamed, fried, or stewed and come in bite-sized portions. A lot of it involves pork, shrimp, and/or tofu. Like tapas, you order a bunch of dishes and share, family-style. Women (it's always women, for some reason) push carts brimming with these delicacies. "Ordering" your food consists of pointing to what you want and having the cart lady stamp your card, which resides on your table. At the end of the meal, your "server" (who didn't do a damn thing except give you tea and maybe water once) tallies up the stamps and gives you the bill.
After that long-winded Dickensian intro, I present to you our vittles.
Chang fen is rice noodle rolls stuffed with your choice of meat. I asked for cha sao (or char siu, if you're Cantonese), which is barbecued pork, but they were out, so we got shrimp. Hmm. Maybe you don't get your choice of meat after all. We were so hungry that I forgot to take a pic before it was almost gone. To the right is luo buo gao, which is fried daikon radish cake, which is sometimes referred to as "turnip cake." It is one of my favorite things to get at dim sum.
Xia jiao (or har gau in Cantonese) and shau mai are two dim sum staples. The former are steamed shrimp dumplings in a semi-translucent skin. The latter are steamed pork dumplings in a wheat-based wrapper.
nuo mi ji (lotus leaf rice) were great.
Jie lan (Chinese broccoli) always pleases the veggie eaters. Spicy fried tofu equals yum.
Puff pastry almond tea (dubbed The Smurf House by yours truly) -- always delicious and a real crowd pleaser. Green tea ma tuan (bizarre bastardized version of the real thing, which is usually deep fried chewy dough with either red bean paste or lotus paste inside).
dim sum, I headed to Alfred Angelo nearby on Las Tunas to try on a dress.
Using my iPhone, I looked up the number to the Beverly Hills store and called myself. The nice lady there informed me they had a size 6, 8, and 12 available to try. I glared at the Las Tunas bitch, told her this information, and left the building while shouting over my shoulder, "Thanks for nothing!"
I drove to Beverly Hills and put on the 12. Ugh. 12. You are lucky I cut off my face.
Samy's Camera to take my sad dead Canon point-and-shoot for repairs. In light of my dressing room experience, I chose to walk up the three flights of stairs instead of taking the elevator. Then I waited in line at the repairs counter.
An pudgy middle-aged man approached me.
Man: Hello. Where are you from?
Me: Huh? You mean geographically? Here. L.A.
Man: No, I mean your ethnicity.
Me: My parents are from Taiwan.
Man: Where did you go to school?
Me: [pointing to college obnoxiously emblazoned on my t-shirt]
Man: Wow. My brother went there.
Me: Uh huh.
Man: You know what? I followed you up three flights of stairs. You are all [pause] that!
(WTF? I'm in a crappy t-shirt, jeans, and Adidas.)
Me: [flashing rings] I'm married.
Man: Damn. That's too bad.
You'd think this would've boosted my spirits, but it just disgusted me. I was so happy when it was finally my turn to talk to the repairs guy. I was less happy when he informed me that it would cost $160 to fix my camera. Alas. I said ok. This would still be less expensive than buying a new camera and another underwater case for it.
Samy's taking my money didn't stop there. I ended up getting a 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED AF-S VR DX Lens for my real camera, a couple of polarizers, and a slingshot bag for our upcoming trip to Chile and Argentina.
When I got home, I barely had time to put my stuff away before Mr. Monkey and I drove to meet his family for dinner at Tokyo Wako. Teppan is not my fave for at least two reasons: (1) you stink like it afterward, and (2) you usually have to sit with annoying know-nothings who are actually impressed by your teppan chef's stupid antics.
Tokyo Wako is rather run-of-the-mill, and the "show" is cheeserific. I wouldn't choose to spend my own money on it.
Fruit Island (411 E. Huntington Drive, Arcadia), yet another pinkberry knock-off. Fruit Island charges by the ounce and offers several different flavors.