195 El Camino Real
Millbrae, CA 94030
Price Range for dim sum
When Fook Yuen opened in Millbrae nearly 20 years ago, it was one of the first Cantonese-style seafood houses in the Bay Area. While a few dishes has lost its luster, a few core dishes still make the visit to the teahouse worthwhile.
As a brand of a prestigious Hong Kong establishment, the two hundred seat restaurant offers patrons a spacious dining experience. The u-shaped pink drapes, side booths, and high ceiling add charm. Order the bolay tea, with its cooling effect pairs well with the food and have been noted to aid digestion. Service was noticeably inattentive as waiters with faceless expression decreased my dining experience.
“Dim sum ladies” holding vibrant dishes stirred my appetite. Before making a selection, each dish provides a wide range of texture and taste. In general, steam dishes are considered “light” while fried dishes are more “heavy.”
Chattering upon one bite, the fried seafood dumplings with plump shrimp is a great starter. The sweet mayonnaise compliments the dish. With a sweet and savory soy sauce, the shrimp rice roll is all about texture.
Arriving in a piping hot bamboo steamer, the “siu mai” (pork dumpling) displays aromatic pork filling wrapped in soft wonton skin. For those who enjoy a gelatinous texture, the chicken feet does the trick.
Crispy from pan frying, the turnip cake is a great comfort food dishes especially with a dash of chilli and hoisen sauce. With chives displaying a sweet earthy note, the pan fried chive dumpling steals the show. An obvious disappointment is the “har gow” (shrimp dumpling). Once my chopstick lifted the dumpling, the skin fell apart. For five people, the total was $12 including tax and tip.
Although a dim sum can be eaten in a flash, delicate hands and culinary techniques are behind each piece. Creating dim sum is a food skill that is so specialize that very few Western chefs have been able to master.
Made from potato flour, shrimp dumpling requires perfect folding and mixing of ingredients. Just like ravioli, the wrapper and filling plays a major role as it holds the flavor and moisture during steaming. With just the right amount of filling, nibble hands create creases and perfect folds.
Being a stable in Asia, dim sum can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. At convenient stores such as 7-Eleven, racks of steaming buns and frozen dim sum are popular snacks. Dim sum means “touch the heart” and it is easy to see why. Not only does it refers to the dishes, but describes a social experience. Yum cha “tea drinking” is the term used to describe the dining experience.
Aside from dim sum, the drinking of tea plays a significant role. It is polite to pour tea for others during the meal making sure that each up is filled to the brim. As a gesture of appreciation, a custom is to thank the person pouring the tea by tapping the bent index and middle finger together on the table symbolizing a gentle “bow.”
The origin of this gesture has been past down from generation to generation. An Emperor ate dim sum with the common people outside his guarded palace. Disguised as the everyday common people, he poured tea for his guards. Not wanting to reveal the Emperor’s identity with a physical bow, the guard tapped their fingers.
Moreover, tea pouring occurs frequently during the meal so the tapping of fingers allows patrons to continue their conversation with out needing to verbally say “thank you.” During the Sung Dynasty, dim sum was only served for imperial members and included dishes made from delicacies such as pheasants.
Business Look:To my knowledge, there are currently no restaurant franchise that serve dim sum. While dim sum food cost is relatively low, the labor cost makes it high since each piece is hand made. Experience chefs can wrap around four hundred shrimp dumplings which are about one in ten seconds.