Nonphenomenal Lineage

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Dim Sum in China Town

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China Pearl, Dim Sum Restaurant

It’s 11:32 am on a cold and rainy Sunday morning, and we’re walking to Chinatown. Hundreds of people are miling about here in Boston’s old Combat Zone. We’re walking fast but that’s how everyone walks here—all of us walking with purpose and our collective mind focused upon our destination on this chilly October day.

The activity heightens once we enter Chinatown. Everyone is either leaving from or on their way to lunch. All the windows have rows of golden fried fowl hanging on racks and posters of hot pot taped to the glass. The roads are narrow and people are everywhere you look. There’s not much in English here, except for words like “buffet” and “authentic” and “live chickens slaughtered”. The buildings are old and brick here, just like the rest of Boston, but signs of another land invade the architecture: Pagoda-style balconies with mint green tiled roofs jut out of the brick facades. The restaurant signs are all variations of yellow and red, and everything is guilded, pledging allegiance to a culture that has nothing in common with brownstones or Plymouth Rock. It’s noisy, crowded, and smells incredible.

We sidestep the woman holding the hand of her pig-tailed toddler, the young couple exiting the noodle place with white styrofoam containters in their hands. We pass the elderly gentleman in an exquisite suit, who watches, poker faced, as we walk by.

As we enter China Pearl, just beyond the door there is a steep staircase leading up to the entrance of the dining hall. People are packed in from the bottom to the top, and their is a stream of people going up and down the narrow steps. It takes patience to make it to the top, but I finally get a number from the maitre’d and we find a place in the small crowded lobby away from the familes that are coming and going. And for the next half hour, as we wait for our number to be called over the loudspeakers, there is nothing to do but watch the ceaseless arrival and departure. It’s something like a cattle yard.

This restaurant is huge. It’s 3 stories…but it’s got the best dim sum in town and everyone comes here on Sunday. People are willing to wait for a long time and put up with the claustrophobia to get a little bit of dumpling heaven, Ariana and I included. Finally, after what seems like forever, our number is called. As soon as we sit down, someone comes down our aisle with a little metal cart on wheels. She stops, opens one of the lidded bamboo bowls on her cart, revealing a dish containing four small white lumps. Ariana says “yes, we’ll have one of those.” She places it on our table, stamps our little card with something i can’t decipher, and then moves on to the next table.

i pick up my chopsticks, and select a dumpling. After dipping it in soy sauce, I cautiously take a bite—mmmm. Definitely worth the wait.

Ariana smiles and says, “Look”. I turn around, to see a long line of the silver carts headed our way.


Written by pocheco

October 9, 2005 at 7:08 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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