I grew up going out with my family and extended family to "yum cha" which is a Cantonese word that means "drink tea". It refers to a lunch hour dining experience of eating small plates of different dishes - dim sum is considered part of 'yum cha'. On this occasion, my dad (Papa Vong), my stepmom and I decided to stop in Chinatown to 'yum cha'.
The first thing that I crave when i'm not having dim sum but having chinese snacks at the noon hour is congee. It's my comfort as it's a combination of rice and soup - i simply tell people it's rice porridge that has been customized with chicken, seafood, or in my case, my favourite is thousand year old egg and pork congee. I order this without looking at the menu- every chinese restaurant that serves congee has this! Thousand year old egg (or preserved duck egg) is a duck egg that has settled in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, lime and rice straws for months. The yolk becomes a blackish green hue with a salty flavour and a strong sulphuric odour. It sounds disgusting I'm sure and may be an acquired taste but let me tell this congee is one of a kind and so yummy because it's salty and flavourful - I want it now just thinking of it!! To accompany this - my dad orders savoury dough sticks *yao jia guay* which you dip in your congee. You can also order the sweet dough sticks *ao ley so* but we don't need too many of these doughy goodies.
We also order rice noodles with beef wrapped around it *chung fun* - which are a common dish in dim sum and also a favourite of mine. There are 3 of them that come drenched in soy sauce and they are light and very flavourful. My dad orders crispy skin pork on rice which is served with the house soup- which i think is a mini perk- if I order this rice- i would get duck, soya chicken and BBQ pork on top but it was papa Vong's pick. We also order greens with hoisin sauce to round out the greeness factor. I grew up eating relatively healthy so when my dad orders a lot of grease and fat, he always ensures that we order greens to balance it out. I really enjoy smaller greens with less stalk on them but he likes the ones that look like mini trees.
Anyway the service is always so fast in Chinatown - we were served our dishes in less than half an hour, very cheap and of course we had limitless chinese oolong tea. It was a nice way to spend an afternoon!
A tip for you - whenever someone is pouring tea for you, tap your fingers twice or three times which is a polite way of showing respect and appreciation to the tea pourer. It's commonly known as the finger 'kow tow'
Chinatown -Dundas and Spadina