I’m ashamed to admit to it, but Sunday I had my FIRST experience with Dim Sum ("and you call yourself a foodie"). While I’ve lusted over the thought of inhaling these small dumplings and, as Ann would say, Chinese tapas, it was only a dream, yet to be realized. Today, the dream was finally realized, and the reality was much better than any Buzzfeed article could manage to describe; however, it was that article that gave me the confidence to stroll into China Yuan Seafood Restaurant in Tampa and request the Dim Sum menu.
You know you are in the right place for authentic Chinese Dim Sum when you must pass by tanks of Dungeness crabs and roasted ducks and chickens hanging on hooks with their heads still in tact. Perhaps stopping to gawk and point out their heads isn’t the best way to blend in… oh, supermarket, you have held the veil over my eyes for too long. Regaining your composure is facilitated by the wave from a cute girl, especially if you're a man, or it’s your friend, Ann. Hey, Ann!
Green tea is a must, because, well, it felt right. Do it; you get a huge pot of loose leaf green tea for $1.00 (take that, Starbucks). Then, start slashing through the menu. An order of Sui Mai, Chive & Shrimp Dumplings, Steamed Pork Buns, Sticky Rice, Stuffed Dry Bean Curd, and Sesame Balls. And since we are here already, how about ¼ Crispy Roasted Duck? No problem!
We’ll start with the luscious, fatty duck that came out with a cup of its drippings (generous and AMAZING). The texture alone can bring you to your knees and stun an overzealous eater into silence, only to be followed by a burst of chatter about how overwhelming delicious, and gratifying, the experience of dipping the duck into its fatty sauce and devouring it is... mmmm.
As for the Dim Sum, Ann played favorites with the Stuffed Dry Bean Curd, while I chose the more carnivorous Steamed Pork Bun (oh, what have I become). Both were exceptional. I enjoyed the sweetness of the steamed bun against the savory notes of the pork stuffing. We were both impressed with how flavorful and tender the Stuffed Dry Bean Curd turned out!
The sticky rice, steamed in a lotus leaf, hiding bits of beef within its belly was pure yummy goodness.
Steamed chive dumplings filled with little shrimp surprises offer a delicate, fresh break from the fatty meats, and of course, we have to have shrimp at China Yuan Seafood Restaurant.
The Sui Mai, a favorite of Dim Sum advocates, proved the most difficult for us, with its foreign texture and consistency, and our inability to decipher its ingredients. Nonetheless, beautiful, and worth a try!
Finally, round out your meal with the sweet Sesame Balls. A punch of sweetness from deep fried rice dough filled with sweet red bean paste and covered in white sesame seeds.
And did I mention that all of this wonderful dim sum, duck, and tea was only $25? Don't walk, run.