this is a post for my fellow dim sum fans. so i have no complaints about my cantonese sunday brunch routine at ccc in chinatown, but for the sake of variety, i tried something different this week. chung shin yuan in newton for taiwanese-style brunch (dim sum to order, without the rolling carts). i went with a seasoned taiwanese brunch friend, so we ordered off of his recommendations. this is what we ate:
1. taiwanese-style lo mein
2. steamed spareribs
3. fried dough
4. seaweed salad
5. turnip cakes
6. sweetened soy milk
7. spicy taiwanese beef noodle soup
the turnip cakes were totally different from the ones i'm used to - they were denser, firmer, and uniformly turnip paste (no minced pork). a much thicker crust (almost chewy), and cut into triangles with a salty brown dipping sauce on the side. they were fine, but i found them a bit plain in comparison to the the jiggly, almost custardy cantonese turnip cakes i usually swoon over. i also found myself longing for the sweetness of hoisin.
the seaweed salad was also new, though my points of reference are a bit questionable. i've grown up eating seaweed salad as either korean banchan or as japanese starter. here, the seaweed itself was of a different variety, and the strands were tougher, thicker, and more substantial. the sauce was also much more austere - dry and without much sweetness or vinegar. you could really taste the seaweed, which i liked.
the steamed spareribs were very good. mildly seasoned but gently spiced (cinnamon i think, and lots of minced garlic), over a bed of soft potato chunks. the beef in the noodle soup was also very tender - hunks that looked deceptively sturdy, but that fell to pieces when i began to pierce it with my chopsticks. the soup base was spicy and faintly reminded me of a japanese ramen soup base.
okay, now the best part, and the whole reason why i had to post this. the sweet soy milk. it was so powerfully good that i'm frustrated that i can't find better words to describe it. it was served in a big bowl with smaller serving bowls and spoons, like soup. and it must have been the delicate balance of flavors both nutty and sweet, but the milk had the most soothing, balanced, and developed flavor. warm, nutty, mild, and it smelled amazing. maybe it's only because i'm used to supermarket vitasoy, and maybe this is standard stuff for most. but i was really blown away, esp. after i dunked the fried dough (basically a huge cruller) into it - a discovery that came too late, with my last cruller piece. they also have a salty version.
this was a totally novel experience for me, which was cool. it felt funny doing dim sum without the requisite dumplings, and the menu featured mostly meats (including tripe and chitlins) rather than seafood. lots of noodles (esp. in soup) and breads (shao-bing, fried dough, steamed buns, scallion pancakes). i kept on eyeing other tables and was esp. interested in this sandwich-type thing which (as far as i could tell) was a flat pancake folded in half with slices of beef inside. and i would have liked to try some of their buns. anyway, i'm heading back to chinatown this sunday, but i had a fine time here. i believe there have been (brief) prior posts on the place before mine, with equally positive reviews. the place is cute, too - unassuming, friendly, and quiet. the whole time i was there i got this strong sense that everyone knew what they were doing (almost entirely chinese as far as i could tell) and that they were really into what they were eating. lots of slurping. anyway, it's worth a go for anyone who loves dim sum. cheers.