For the last year (or 24 years, though the first 23 were unknowingly) I have been searching for something that I know exists, yet had never seen myself, a holy grail of my own sort. A dim sum that could both blow me away with traditional tidbits and show me the unknown path to new and better dim sum. Growing up in Seattle I always loved a variety of places–the Top Gun in Seattle sticks in my mind as a favorite, but always new there was something better out there. Last year on our trip to New York we never made it out to Flushing and were consistently dissapointed in the offerings in Manhattan. Without a trip to San Fran in my future, I set my sights on Vancouver. Close enough for repeated efforts, with much opportunity.
This weekend I made it one step closer. I don’t want to say I achieved it, because, of course, there could be better, but I was satisfied. Fisherman’s Terrace in the Crystal Mall gets top scores on value, traditional stuff done well and on introducing me to new stuff. Minus points for telling me it was a 20 minute wait and then leaving us hanging for a full hour. Bonus points for being in a mall that had amazing soup dumplings (Shanghai Shanghai) that I could eat while I waited. I will definetly be torn in the future between trying this again and going out in search of better dim sum.
We started with shu mai. These were worlds ahead of any shu mai I’ve ever tried–whole shrimpies (no heads though), chunks of mushroom, held together with flavorful pork. There was enough skin to perfectly hold the thing together and even loan a little flavor. The top was amply sprinkled with tobiko. I was floored. Floored by a shu mai, who knew that could happen? Dishes arrived, none quite as shocking as the the shu mai. The mini pork buns were sub par, didn’t hold up to the ones at nearby Gingeri, but most everything else was the best I’d had of its kind. The chicken feet (which were originally missed in our order…I’m not claiming white person discrimination…but it is fishy!) were accompanied by the longest “ankle” (as my co-worker calls it) I’ve ever seen. We munched through taro root cakes (unbelievable, crisp taro flavor, texture), dried scallop and shrimp rice rolls, and a whole lot more. My favorite new item is what I have dubbed Jew food meets dim sum: a crisp chip topped with fruit salad (that part isn’t jewish) topped with smoked salmon and a creamy mayonaisse. It was truly like a chinese version of bagels and lox! All in all, a fun, interesting and eye opening experience.