A few weeks ago, I wanted to celebrate the Chinese New Year with some friends, one of whom just got back from studying abroad in Beijing – really, it was just an excuse to pig out on some great dim sum. I’ve missed the dim sum I ate every few months in Los Angeles’ Chinatown. Atlanta does not have quite the Chinatown L.A. does, but nevertheless has a few great restaurants.
Drive about 15 minutes down Buford Highway and you’ll find Canton House. Packed with locals and steaming, whizzing carts, Canton House has everything you would want in an authentic dim sum restaurant.
Try and go with at least three people and sample a bit of everything. With so many options and smaller portions, the beauty of dim sum is that each person can get what he or she likes while also trying new dishes. A good rule of thumb with dim sum is: if you haven’t seen it before, try it. Dim sum is incredibly cheap, so there’s no pressure to take a chance. Who knows? You may end up loving it and discovering a new favorite food.
For me, one of the highlights was undoubtedly the classic pork bun – puffy on the outside with succulent pork on the inside. It’s the perfect taste of Chinese-American cuisine. Of course, you must get a few shrimp shumai, pork dumplings and some vegetables.
I am partial to the bok choy or Chinese broccoli.
There is nothing novel about Canton House, but that’s a good thing. Dim sum has been relatively the same for years and years; there’s a reason for that. Having dim sum is such a different dining experience than what we are accustomed to.
There is no waiter or cashier to order from, and hardly any English is spoken at all. The universal language of pointing and nodding has a welcomed simplicity and calmness to it among the hectic atmosphere of zipping carts and furious eating.
Keep a watchful eye out for a cart you find intriguing, say “mhm” while pointing with your chopstick to a steaming metal pot that holds something delicious and repeat until uncomfortably full. If you feel like you have to be rolled out of the restaurant, then you know you’ve done dim sum right.
– By Ethan Samuels
Photo courtesy of Flickr