Thursday, February 17, 2011

How to Use Chopsticks

Dim Sum at Buddha Bodai

Join the NYC Food Crawl on their January Shumai Crawl.

Every month the NYC Food Crawl selects a delicacy and appropriate neighborhood for food exploration and New York City foodie research.  On Monday, January 24 (the coldest day of the year so far, I swear) I bundled up and joined the Shumai Crawl through Chinatown.  Though this was a much smaller crawl than usual due to the weather, these were the 30 bravest, most unaffected foodies in the Big Apple. 

We met at Columbus Park, where we formed groups of five to eight people.  As a group, we were given maps with five specific locations and directions to each Dim Sum restaurant selected for us.  Each team had different maps, so we didn’t overcrowd each restaurant.  We listened to some recommendations by Amanda, the Food Crawl organizer, including advice to pace yourself.  Then we were off. 

Our first stop was Sunshine 27.  We walked through Chinatown, and turned onto this little, hidden alley I never knew existed to find the restaurant.  Snuggled in between rows of Chinese food spots was Sunshine 27, sadly closed for a wedding. 

Right across the street was Jing Fong Restaurant, our second location.  At the top of a steep escalator is a huge dining room decorated with bright red walls and gold Chinese symbols.  Dozens of huge, round tables fill this gigantic space.  They have an extensive Dim Sum menu with over 70 items!  My team of six foodies split five plates, including my favorite dish of the evening, shark fin shumai.  We sat and began to get to know each other, undoubtedly the best part of the food crawl (the best part after the food).  We gathered our things, and we headed to our third restaurant.

Dim Sum Go Go is more contemporary with sleek white tables and printed wallpaper.  We sat at our table and made our selections on a paper menu with check boxes.  We selected five more plates and were pleasantly surprised by the shumai when it came.  The wrappers were like a delicious rainbow served to us in a bamboo steamer.  The shumai was fuchsia, lime green and yellow and filled with yummy crab, pork and vegetables.  We also ordered sesame balls and a pumpkin dessert. 

Though we were getting adequately stuffed because we had not paced ourselves, we continued to Buddha Bodai.  Being a vegetarian herself, Amanda likes to include meat-free options to accommodate all types of food crawlers; however, this was my first experience at a vegetarian restaurant that served all forms of meat.  I ordered beef.  It looked like beef.  It smelled like beef.  Trust me, it was not beef, but it was tasty.  I had a great time discovering the world beyond Nasoya packed tofu.  We ordered the Dim Sum platter, and I tasted duck, pork and chicken. 

Granted there were five locations chosen for the best shumai, my team called it quits after four.  I had eaten four fortune cookies with a lot of specific and confusing directions on what to do in bed. We had calluses on our thumb and forefinger from the chopsticks, and I needed to research meatless meat (hoping I didn’t turn into a hippie).

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