Dim sum. It’s so hard to find good dim sum (well at least for me) in this city. People say you have to go out to Flushing or Sunset Park but even there I’ve had just ok dim sum. I usually don’t really care about finding great places, as long as it’s tasty I’m cool with it. But for some reason, I’m quite critical about my dim sum. For example the skin on the rice rolls has to be smooth and silky yet at the same time firm enough to be picked up by chopsticks without falling apart. Turnip cakes has to have a good ratio of shredded turnips and rice flour (most dim sum places make theirs mostly with rice flour and a little bit of turnips).
Of course I was surprised to actually find good….great dim sum from a dim sum parlor in Chinatown that opened in the 1920s.
Nom Wah is the oldest dim sum parlor in Chinatown. Even before the renovations took place, I wanted to check it out. It is the only dim sum place I know that serves dim sum at night (thanks to Robyn’s post) and who doesn’t want dim sum for dinner? Then I heard they did renovations (thanks to Brownie’s post) and made the place more accessible for diners ie; there’s an actual menu, a website(!), and updated the restaurant look from like 1920s to hm….1950s.
Reading what Robyn wrote back in Jan 2010 and comparing to what I ate last week, it seems like they had also changed the way they make/cook the dim sum because what I ate was fantastic.
At every dim sum meal, you have to order the fried dough wrapped rice rolls aka ja leung. 100% of the ja leungs I have eaten have always looked like this. It would be one fried dough wrapped in rice rolls but when you order the fried dough by itself, one order gets you two like this. So then I was surprised and happy when I saw that ja leung at Nom Wah used one full order of fried dough. It was like buy one get one free order of ja leung.
The shrimp rice rolls aka ha cheung was exactly how I wanted them to be. Silky and delicated but didn’t crumble when I picked a piece up.
Another of my dim sum must have is turnip cakes. Like I said before, most places (to keep the cost down) will make theirs with not enough turnips. Sometimes when you bite into it, it feels rough on the tongue because of too much rice flour. But not at Nom Wah. When I used a fork to cut into the cake, I saw chunks of turnips. I’m guessing they hand chopped all their turnips instead of using a food processor like my friend. With big chunks you can actually taste the turnips. Oh and it was nicely fried. Delicious.
The other three things I ate were all pretty good, shrimp dumlings, chicken feet and roast pork buns. The roast pork bun was quite big but when I ripped it into two pieces there wasn’t much porky filling.
I think finally when someone ask me where to get dim sum, I can finally tell them to go to Nom Wah. Though for people that are looking for the ladies pushing dim sum carts, you’ll be disappointed with Nom Wah. They use the pencil and paper method like so many newer dim sum places. The plus side to this is that, the dim sum is made to order so your rice rolls wouldn’t be sitting in a cart for an unknown amount of time.