Monday, January 21, 2008


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.

Got it?

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.

Shrimp paste goodies -- deep fried in a ball on a sugar cane stick and stir-fried on bell pepper halves. Neither of these is my fave, to tell you the truth.

The tofu skin rolls and nuo mi ji (lotus leaf rice) were great.

Jie lan (Chinese broccoli) always pleases the veggie eaters. Spicy fried tofu equals yum.

And then there were the sweets, which we didn't necessarily eat at the end. That's the beauty of eating food from carts. You can eat whatever you want whenever you want.

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).

And the best dish of the day -- hot fresh mochi smothered in peanut sugar. Nothing even came close to being as scrumptious!

After dim sum, I headed to Alfred Angelo nearby on Las Tunas to try on a dress.

I asked the woman there if they carried the style I needed. She said, "No." I asked if she could call the Beverly Hills store to see if they carried it. She said, "I'll just check on the system." She glanced at her computer screen and said, "No."


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.

After my depressing dressing room visit, I treated myself to a manicure next door. Nothing fancy, but I think it was $10 well spent. I felt slightly cuter again with my fingernails in OPI's My Daddy's the King!

Armed with my fresh manicure, I went to 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.
(Yeah, right.)
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.

The food at Tokyo Wako is rather run-of-the-mill, and the "show" is cheeserific. I wouldn't choose to spend my own money on it.

We ended the night with Fruit Island (411 E. Huntington Drive, Arcadia), yet another pinkberry knock-off. Fruit Island charges by the ounce and offers several different flavors.

Not bad. But, of course, not as good as that place that rhymes with "Drink, Mary."


  1. I had a depressing bridesmaid dress day as well.

  2. guys got all my favorites (except deep fried lollipop and bell pepper halves, which i don't love, either).

    i also hate alfred angelo for a similar experience.

  3. 1. The dim sum looks delicious!

    2. Alfred Angelo is notorious for running small. Most bridal runs small but they're even worse. My wedding dress will be a fourteen (sobs onto keyboard).

  4. I am sad for your readers who did not get to hear the creepy camera store man story in person.

  5. dude... thanks for schooling a sista on what the heck 'dim sum' really is. I guess I would have pissed you off by saying "this is some good dim sum"... because I truly thought it was the 'dumpling things' that was actually it.

    Now can we just go and have some already? sheesh!

  6. at least the top half of the dress is flattering?

  7. I never realized that dim sum translates directly to "touch heart."

    - Sad, sad Cantonese girl.

  8. Thanks for the Dim Sum primer and translations! I'm now going to act like I've known that all along when I repeat those facts to friends.

    ... and those bridesmaid dresses? They all run ridiculously small and it looks rad on you, so no worries. Even sans head .;)

  9. The shrimp rice noodle is my favorite, yum! Thanks for putting a name on the daikon radish cake, I've always wondered what those were.

  10. bridal sizing runs small. don't fret too much.

    the dim sum goodies all look yummy. don't hate, but i really like teppan -- for the food though, not so much the show or the smell afterwards. :/

  11. vittles = A+

    "las tunas bitch" warmed my heart.

    U in that dress no matter the size=the hotness. Shush!

    the samy's story was PERFECTION. The moves guys will bust when they are out of their league and don't even know it crack me up.

    and i really want to eat with you soon! u makes me hungry every post.

  12. omg, i want dim sum all over again.

    the dress doesn't look THAT bad on you. but i want to smack that las tunas bitch all the way to beverly hills for you.

    and, i LIKE tokyo wako. :P

  13. - The dim sum looks delicious again. I want to go again.

    - You know, the dress actually doesn't look too bad on you. Seriously. You just need to chop off two feet of materials on the bottom. Maybe it won't be too bad after all :)

    - Not a tappan fan at all. I hate smelling like stale food afterwards.

  14. OK, I'm lame then because I like Tokyo Wako, too.

    The bridesmaid dress actually looks good on you! I can see where it's going to get weird when you chop off the bottom though...but hopefully people will be focused on your boobs instead :)

    The guy from the camera shop is OOFC. Totally giggled at the thought of him busting out that lame ass line!

  15. PLEASE do not feel bad about a size 12 at Alfred Angelo.

    I had to put on a 16!!! Before I fit in one of their lame bridesmaid dresses 2 weeks ago.. and I aint no damn size 16.

  16. Those dumb bridesmaid dresses are ALWAYS made too small. Pretty color though...

  17. BM dresses always run super small. It adds insult to injury, IMHO.

  18. How did I miss this post the first time?? I was sad about the Alfred Angelo sizing too. :(


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