Tuesday, November 24, 2009

And Dim Sum

After spending too much on my large linen Chococat backpack, we walked across the hall in to Li Wah at 1:30 p.m. As we opened the door from the quiet hallway, we entered a large, bustling room with several carts being pushed down rows of the nearly full restaurant...I remembered my last trip to this restaurant nearly 15 years ago, I ordered take out and vowed never to return because of the lousy service I received. A conversation with a co-worker piqued my curiosity.

From 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. each day, Li Wah serves dim sum. This was the first time I've ever had dim sum in Cleveland. The last time I had dim sum was in Kaimuki with my father 8 or so years ago.

The dishes are priced by size - small ($2.25), medium ($2.75), and large ($3.25), if I recall correctly.

We picked out har gau (shrimp pocket dumplings), pork and shrimp shumai (cylindrical dumplings), char siu baau (barbecue pork in a sweet brown bread), steamed meatball with fried tofu, spring roll, and another dumpling with shrimp and water chestnuts. I am not fond at all of water chestnuts, but this dumpling was good; especially with the chili paste and shoyu. It gave the dumpling a woodsy (yes, I know that's an overused description along the lines of earthy) flavor, similar to bamboo shoots. Maybe they really were bamboo shoots...

Condiments are placed at each table: shoyu, chili pepper paste in oil, salt, and pepper.

Bug wanted to check out their regular fare so he ordered a platter of Hunan beef. He was disappointed with the soft texture of the beef and the slight tang. I enjoyed the BURN of the chili peppers! WOW!

We finished our meal with custard tarts and soft tofu in sweetened water. The custard tarts were meh, but the texture of the soft tofu was so silky, it was at the brink of cohesion. Amazing! The flavor of the sugar water reminded me of potato starch simmered in water and a little sugar, a dish my mother would make for me when I wasn't able to chew.

We passed on the congee, various chow fun, phoenix (chicken) feet, sesame balls, pig stomach, choy sum, and mussels. The mussels came 15-20 in a large glass soup bowl, all for $3.25. What a temptation, but we had already picked out 5 items at that point and I was waiting for the hot case with the buns to roll by.

My favorites were har gau, shu mai, and the mega-silken tofu. While this may not be the same quality as one would get in Honolulu, San Francisco, etc., I really enjoyed this meal. Bug hated the meal. He didn't like the chewy texture of the dumplings and the mega-tender, gummy beef.

How unfortunate, at least for me, as I enjoyed listening and watching the animated voices and expressions of the crowd. One could feel the warmth of the gathering for yum cha.

- Cassaendra

Li Wah
2999 Payne Ave 102
Cleveland, OH 44114-4436
Tel: (216) 696-6556

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