Saturday, September 18, 2010

Chinatown Part II: Touching the Heart of Harmony

The décor of restaurants serving dim sum (literally meaning “touch heart”) always have the same formula.  Large banquet-sized dining rooms, large round tables draped with white tablecloths, red, gold, or red and gold backed chairs, matching red back wall emblazoned with a golden dragon or a phoenix, or both.  Usually there are red lanterns hanging alongside outrageous chandeliers.   Chinese ladies wheel silver carts piled high with dumplings, rice noodle dishes and other dim sum delights.  While Grand Harmony on Mott St. had all these elements, what set it apart from other dim sum restaurants was their interactive mini kitchen.  A long table with two electric stoves set just at the entrance, one chef maintains two frying pans at once.  Various typical dim sum items sizzled continuously on the pans, including lo bok go (turnip cake), dumplings, rice noodle dishes and sticky water chestnut cake.  These could be cooked to order for me while I stood by and watched. 
Since I was also ordering for my parents, I got everything they had. As soon as one dish was served, I grabbed it and ran back to my table to serve it to my parents.  Then I ran back for more.  The fun part was that I got a little experience of what it was like to be a dim sum lady-minus the cart. Surprisingly, there were more vegetarian items available here than in any other dim sum restaurant I’ve been to, including a meat free version of a rice noodle dish called cherng fun (literally, long  [wide rice] noodles) that usually contains either meat or shrimp.  Dipped in hoisin sauce, it’s a light , yet filling dish.   Of course, I did have about three plates full.   Another vegetarian option was rice noodle covered cruller.  It’s a savory cruller wrapped with rice noodles, then cut into bit sized pieces.  It goes well with hoisin sauce or oyster sauce.  I also had the tastiest fish balls in all my experience of dim sum.  Ground white fish peppered with bits of scallion formed into balls and steamed.  Simple, fresh and delicious.  Grand Harmony has definitely touched my heart and become my favorite for their vegetarian friendly attitude and quality rice noodle dishes.

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