Kiat-Sing Teo presents a bite-size piece of Dim Sum Dining at Grand Restaurant, Flushing. One has to possess a certain amount of self- assurance, to mount the escalator leading to the top floor of New World Mall. Because it lands you in the highest heaven of taste, a.k.a. Grand Restaurant, where you are in danger of being blinded by the gold and glitter of a million dangling chandeliers and subsequently tempted into over-eating. And that is not to say it is a bad thing. Especially when kingly dining can come at peasant prices.
When you arrive at Grand Restaurant, and set foot onto its soft luxurious carpet, allow yourself a moment to marinate in its opulent atmosphere. Take a deep breath, and allow the host to guide you to your table. Notice and embrace the presence of other diners, whether they are in large, informal family gathering or small, serious business luncheon; they are your fellow foodies, in search of the same gastro- nomical experience as yourself.
Although dim sum dining has a long history stemming from the teahouses of ancient China, it has evolved into a modern day affair that is social in nature. Dim sum is best enjoyed in the company of friends. One finds that even the dim sum cart ladies take it personally that your experience is rich and varied, going beyond the lingual franca of Mandarin and Cantonese to explain each dainty dish in good enough English.
‘Taro puff!” said a particularly gregari- ous one, dancing three flaky yam balls fried to perfection, arranged on a small plate that somehow makes you want to sink your teeth in to their soft, yummy flesh. The trick to dim sum is to select something steamed, something fried, something stewed and something baked, and among these, something sweet and something savory. Add two to the total number of people dining (add three if you are feeling particularly famished) and you get the number of dishes you should order unless you intend to doggie bag these convenient treats for breakfast the next morning. Alternately, the preferred method is to flag down carts as they get pushed along and stop when your appetite is satisfied. At Grand Restaurant, you can even factor in large or small size dishes.
The chosen fare this time was Steamed Cheong Fan (thin rice noodle roll filled with shrimps), Turnip Cake (pan-fried with bits of Chinese sausage till its crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside), Fu Bi Juan (stewed meat fillings wrapped in fried tofu skins) and Dan Tat (egg custard in a pastry cup) and on top of these, the dim sum standards of Siew Mai (steamed meat dumpling), Har Gao (prawn filled dumplings in a translucent skin), Char Siew Bao (sweet barbequed pork bun). If you are searching for something different, we recommend Char Siew Sau (a variation of Char Siew Bao, but in a crusty pastry shell instead of bun), and the Fung Jeow (also known as Phoenix Feet, chicken feet stewed and simmered in fermented bean sauce) for the adventurous.
When the delicacies are consumed and your stomach gratified, or you hear one of your companion’s belt buckle burst – whichever comes first – it is time to beckon one of the waiters to present the check. The waiter will discreetly place a slip on your table, on which records have been made about your orders.
After you have stopped giggling because the bill was a fraction of what you had expected, brace yourself to return to the mundane life outside this food heaven. To soften this dread, make a pact with your friends that this and every Saturday hence- forth, you will faithfully return until you have savored every dim sum dish that Grand Restaurant has to offer. Now that’s a pact between friends that’s worth keeping!