I went for dim sum this morning. Something I LOVE to do – with or without dim sum buddies. Newspaper, a local tradition, or book in hand I mix it up; local, touristy, high-end, cheapest one Michelin star.
Tim Ho Wan in IFC is one of my favorites. A limited menu of twenty-seven tender flavorful dim sum. The best of which is the Baked Bun with BBQ Pork with a type of sweet streusel-like topping. This crumbly cover is also found on the delicious pineapple bun popular in Hong Kong and Macau. Similar to the Mexican Concha – they were likely all brought by and borrowed from the Portuguese or Spanish.
What’s the point of all this, and what does it have to do with danger or layovers?
I met a lovely young woman today. We were a few seats apart on a tightly shared table of twelve strangers. Japanese, Koreans, ABC – American born Chinese, Mainland Chinese, and me and her. She was speaking to another American, he was polite, offered her more tea, they exchanged views of the food, and discussed travel plans. This location of Tim Ho Wan is one floor above the airport express train station.
What did she think? ” Well, if this is what Hong Kong has to offer, I prefer the dim sum in New York.” She is here on a layover and will depart Hong Kong tomorrow.
Which leads me to: the danger in the layover.
We don’t know what we don’t know. Exposure to a place, its culture, and cuisine for a day or even a week doesn’t give us the depth of knowledge we need to assess, or even access it.
Hong Kong has restaurants you can’t see, you can’t know. They are hidden high in skyscrapers, down alleys and basements, in central, in every district, and on all the islands. They represent every region of China, and Asia, many times over. There are clubs, societies, private kitchens, pop-ups, and salons. And if it must be said – so much is lost to non-Cantonese speakers and non-locals.
Angela Chin, graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Chef at the American Club Hong Kong, a NYC native, and Cantonese speaker, has lived in Hong Kong for eight years. She says Hong Kong dim sum is more creative than her native New York, and is always changing.
I’m still learning, living, and loving the dim sum, and all the local cuisine – don’t get me started on the BBQ. New York can’t compete – sorry.
Let’s see what I can grab on my next layover in New York…