Phil and I are different animals, for sure. But aside from the fact that we move through life at very different paces, we share a common sense of religion (to what degree we want it to be a part of our daily lives), a common religion, same city of birth, and we were raised with the same emphasis on education… and Dim Sum Sundays.
It might be a Northeast thing: Jews and Chinese food Sundays. Every Sunday night, without fail, my sister, father, mother and I would head to the same Chinese restaurant and share lobster Cantonese, mapo tofu, moo shoo pork, Peking duck, and orange flavored beef. Phil remembers shrimp in lobster (Cantonese) sauce, roast pork fried rice, and spare ribs.
The other day, we decided it was a tradition worth repeating with the radishes. There’s just something to be said for impatient walks to the fish tank, for paper fans with gold and red designs, for folded chopstick sleeves and rubber bands. For Shirley Temple drinks, ridiculous amounts of food, and spinning lazy suzans.
But what beats a Sunday night Chinese food dinner? Dim Sum with our plums. It’s our new tradition. Though instead of weekly, we’ll be partaking in dim sum fun once a month–because it’s all mama’s health can take. Surprisingly, I’m still dreaming of the tiny pockets of soup, outfitted in a symmetric bush of a dumpling. Twice a month?
Never mind the when. The big question, in Austin, Texas, became how and good heavens where?
Phil said we’d be going to Chinatown. I assumed he meant an actual town, you know, even if that town meant a strip mall of Asian restaurants and markets–Austin’s own version (which does exist, by the by). But that’s not where we’d be going. Instead, we’d drive through the suburbs, actually near the JCC (Jewish Community Center), and head to a an actual restaurant named CHINATOWN. Oy.
Chinatown (upstairs from musashino), I was sure, would be far too Americanized for our tastes. I want to be where the Asian people are, where no one speaks English, where it’s nothing but chicken feet. I don’t actually eat chicken feet, mind you, but I like the idea of authenticity. I’m fine with guessing, with accidentally eating a testicle. Maybe not FINE, but I’ll live. So when we drive up to a place I’m sure must have valet parking on Saturday nights, I’m skeptical.
I was so wrong. It was actually, to our surprise, fantastic! Excellent variety, sticky rice in lotus leaf, soup steamed dumplings, the variety, quality, and turnover was exceptional… And Phil and I would know. We just came from dim sum in Flushing, Queens… where no one spoke English. And yes, Chinatown (the Austin restaurant) serves chicken feet… and, no joke, they have a Peking Duck cart! It’s our new go-to move.