Tuesday, October 21, 2008

If You Call Them Phoenix Claws, I'd Eat Them Faster


A few Sundays ago, Danny from Food in Mouth, Yvo from Feisty Foodie, and Brownie got to witness my first real true Sunday dim sum brunch in Flushing. Brownie was so proud of me, she kept trying to take pictures like a mom watching her first babe go off to kindergarten, too bad I kept getting embarrassed and saying "Don't take pictures. Stop looking at me!"

Though various members of my family had been to proper Flushing dim sum before, my fear of the unknown and chicken feet had kept me away. Yet a good part of this whole blog thing is me overcoming these fears, so I took a deep breath and went for it.

Yvo thought that Ocean Jewels, a Flushing institution of sorts, would be good for dim sum. We all met up at prime time, the front foyer was packed and noisy, but we were able to get a table in about 15-20 minutes. The first carts came by and we all left it to Yvo to pick out dishes.

Pepper Short Ribs - not the best

Shumai - alright, average shrimp shumai

Chicken Feet!
Chicken Feet - here we go

Stuffed Green Pepper (Yeung Chang Jiu)- shrimpy

Char Siu Baau
Buns! I know buns! (Char Siu Baau)- good, not enough to travel across boroughs, but better than some I've had

I observed everyone eat the chicken feet, and I was ready to do it. I take my first bite, "Aim for the joint!", I hit bone. My brain immediately started short circuiting, "What are you eating?! Don't you remember how scary they looked in the grocery store when you were a kid?! What are you thinking?" I placed the foot back down, waiting for my brain to calm down while focusing on the food coming off of other carts.

Fried Rice
Sticky Rice (Lau Mai Fahn) - I've only had sticky rice a few times, but I thought this was good

Tripe (Ngau Jhap) - This is an issue too! I could get tired from all this excitement. I didn't have as big a problem with this; it tasted a lot like cinnamon, but gummy, but not a cinnamon gummy. I liked.

Vegetable Dumplings
Garlic Chive Dumplings - Mmm, fried dumplings with thin skins.

Chive Dumplings (Gow Choi Gau) - More fried dumplings. These were good too, but I'm partial to dumplings

Jha Leung - Or as Yvo puts it "Fried Cruellers Wrapped in Rice Noodle." A good balance between the chewy texture of the rice noodles with the crunchy, airy of the fried dough. I would love to try these in different flavors.

Shrimp Wrapped in Rice Noodle (Ha Cheung) - Chewy and shrimpy.

Beef Wrapped in Rice Noodle (Ngau Cheung) - Chewy and beefy

Mustard Greens (Gai Lan) - Like a good mom, Brownie makes me eat vegetables.

Deep Fried Mochi filled with a pork and shrimp mixture (Ham Sui Gok) - The winner of the entire meal. I already have soft spots for mochi, pork, and shrimp. Sweet, crunchy, chewy, and savory. I need more and soon.

Almost done with trying everything, and the chicken foot was still sitting on my plate, waiting to be eaten. I held it twice, maybe three times before I finally was ready. Encouragement reigned, everyone stared, I aimed, I found joint. There was a chicken claw in my mouth. "Don't look at me!" I tasted like fried chicken, the coating is most likely the same, the spices seemed the same. Was there toenail in there? Did I just eat toenail? Soon after, I heard someone refer to them as phoenix claws; if we had gone with phoenix claws from the very beginning, I'm firmly convinced that my synapses wouldn't make bad associations since I like phoenixes and I'll happily eat anything other than chicken feet. From now on, phoenix claws.

Thank you to Yvo for all her help, and Danny; you both dealt with my squeamishness like true pros!

Ocean Jewels
133-30 39th Avenue
Flushing, NY
(718) 359-8600


Yvo Sin said...

I'm glad I could be there for this, I didn't realize until much later how much you meant you were new to dim sum :) It's all good, I love introducing food things to people! BTW, a happy point to note - though it might not be as good as at dim sum, per se, the ham sui gok (or deep fried footballs, as my brother called them growing up) are sometimes available at Chinese bakeries. I would guess mostly at the ones that have some dim sum items as well (the savory buns in their own carousel heated thing - I'm trying to remember which one it is in Chinatown that does this, hmm... they also have good flaky "Curry beef puffs" (so the English says)... yummy... now I wish I hadn't skipped the bakeries just now!!!

Anonymous said...

haha, toe nails?! I didn't see any toenails :P It was cool that you were willing to brave it and try new things. Maybe chicken feet is just not your thing, there are Chinese people who don't like 'em either!

Brownie said...

Awww. My little girl tried her first dim sum. Yay!

Yvo and Danny: we had a great time with you guys! Where's our next adventure? :)

Anonymous said...

You know if it helps Chinese women believe eating chicken feet is good for the skin because of the collagen. But congratulations for taking your first big step! Next time you guys are in Flushing when it gets really cold, you guys need to go shabu shabu or hotpot as it's called sometimes, it's only 2 blocks down from ocean jewel.

Yvo Sin said...

Hot pot sounds like a good option. I'd prefer going shabu shabu though. (Hot pot, the Chinese option, involves a huge communal pot; shabu shabu, the Japanese or Taiwanese [the words are Japanese, but many Taiwanese places operate this way as well] version involves individual pots for each person.) :) It's cold and it's perfect for keeping sickness at bay...
OR... we can go to BLT Burger for fried pickles, root beer floats, and cheese fries... drool