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Apr 28, 2005 02:52 AM

Dim Sum & A True Chowhound (Or Chowhounds Are Everywhere)

  • c

Check out the NYTimes article today about health authorities in Hong Kong claiming Dim Sum is bad for peoples' health. The article ends with retired mechanic/truck driver Wong Yuen, an obvious Chowhound with magnificent chops blowing off the government health authorities about their heresy:

"He brushed aside the government warnings as he relished his food. 'I'll just keep eating pork,' he said, 'the greasy kinds of pork even.'"


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  1. i guess the trial lawyers will be going after the dim sum industry once they get through with mcdonald's etc...

    1. Goes to show. The well-meaning, pigheaded war against fat is still raging. This war, fought with carbs and sugar, is very much responsible for the fattening of Americans. What for a silly food pyramid from the early 80s! We've exported all our bad foods. So let's export all our bad food science.

      1. if the government in Hong Kong was really concerned about people's health, they'd encourage their population to ditch the little motorcycles and go back to bicycles. I imagine you can eat an awful lot of greasy fiber free dim sum if you bike yourself too and from the meal.

        I was first in China in 2001. We were in Beijing---hordes and hordes of bicycles. Then we went to Guangzhou---substantially fewer bicycles and tons of moped things. Went back in 2004---fewer bicycles in Beijing and even fewer in Guangzhou.

        Want to make China healthier----don't let them pick up bad unhealthy western habits like failure to exercise!

        three cheers for the truck driver!

        1. Catching up on my reading, great article.

          However, every time I read an article about dim sum it seems it is translated different. They Times article says

          Dim sum, which means "touch of the heart,"

          I can't believe this. I mean are Chinese people really saying "Let's go out for some touch of the heart"


          I was ordering the Chowhound NY Guide for a friend and saw your review, Chine Wayne. Made me laugh that you mentioned Chow News too.


          10 Replies
          1. re: Krys

            I can buy "touch of the heart". My understanding is that many Chinese dishes have lyric names like that.

            Quite a few years ago a colleague and I were having lunch in L.A.'s Chinatown, and we could not resist trying a dish called "Ants on a tree". We loved the name, the dish was actully very bland, based on ground pork (the "ants" I guess) and we never ordered it again.

            And on another note, maybe if I buy enough of the S.F. and N.Y. chow books, they actually will publlish an L.A. edition. I just have to make sure the wife doesn't find out how many books I am ordering.

            1. re: Chino Wayne

              "Ants climbing a tree" (ma2 yi3 shang4 xu4) is a sichuan dish -- the key ingredients being minced ground pork, water chestnuts, mung bean vermicelli in a spicy sauce that's flavoured with bean paste. It is named for the crunchy and soft bits of water chestnut and meat on a strand of vermicelli.

              1. re: Limster

                Thanks, Limster. My recollection is that the dish we had was not spicy at all, so maybe it was the "gringo-ized" version in a not-so-authentic restaurant in L.A.'s Chinatown.

                1. re: Limster

         enjoyed by one & all at Limsterfest Event #7 at Great China in Berkeley. And several times since.

              2. re: Krys

                I've seen it translated similarly.

                My understanding, though, is that Chinese people don't "go out for dim sum" -- they "yum cha" which means "drink tea" (very much as the British use "tea" to mean anything from a light snack to a full meal). Calling the meal "dim sum" is an American-Chinese usage.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  Exactly. The Chinese say "yum cha", literally meaning "drink tea." Though a good, modern English translation for "yum cha" would be "do brunch". The food served collectively at a Chinese "brunch" would be "dim sum".

                  And, of course, "seck fan" (Cantonese) means "eat rice" and refers to eating full meals.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                    Melanie Wong

                    Yes, Grasshopper, how well you have learned. (g)

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      I've had wise and excellent teachers!

                    2. re: Ruth Lafler

                      " My understanding, though, is that Chinese people don't "go out for dim sum" -- they "yum cha" "

                      Hmmm, I think it depends which 'Chinese people' you mean. I'm from Singapore and most of us call it dim sum. My Aussie and Hong Kong friends, on the other hand, would "yum cha". Since yum cha is a Cantonese dialectical term, I would think it would be used by Cantonese-speaking peoples (like folk from Hong Kong). I don't know what mainland Chinese call it... perhaps those from Canton province would yum cha, but as for the others ....?

                    3. re: Krys

                      On a day to day basis, dian3 xin1/dim sum is used to mean a small snack in general in Chinese. It refers to a more specific kind of meal in the Cantonese context, but can apply to anything from an empanada to a croissant in general.