It’s Sunday morning and while others are frantically shaking off the previous night’s hangovers with mimosas and eggs benedict, I’m off to Morrisville’s Dim Sum House with a couple of friends. Well-rested from the reposing benefit of daylight savings time, I’m gearing up to engage in what could be considered the 5k Cantonese version of brunch: dim sum. Evidenced by the bustling crowds of families, famished couples and mix of languished college students sardined into the expansive dining room at Dim Sum House at 11 a.m., the Eastern tradition of eating small plates off carts is still being upheld stateside in the Triangle despite the dismal amount of dim sum options in the near vicinity.
Metal pushcarts don’t carry nitrate-laden hot dogs around these parts. Here, the carts canvass around the dining room, shot out from the kitchen’s madhouse, and circulate the tables of hungry guests in a frenetic stop-and-go pace, stacked high with bamboo baskets of steamed bao and plates of fried turnip cake (lo baak gou) that have been layered supply against each other for support. Quelling the narcotizing urge to order everything is mandatory during dim sum or you’ll prematurely tap out due to lack of proper pacing. A seasoned dim-sum veteran orders a pot of hot tea and scopes the room for the carts that have been expedited mere seconds from the kitchen, ripe with hot dishes of steamed tripe and chicken feet the color of red North Carolinian clay, disclosed to only the fewest pairs of eyes before they meet yours. When you see something like a plate of gai lan (Chinese broccoli) with its emerald green long stems glistening from a mopping of soy sauce and oil, you nod without hesitation and snatch it up as the server ticks your dim sum ticket to acknowledge your order. If patience escapes you, conventional cart fare like har ga, shrimp wrapped in a translucent wheat starch sheath, and a ruffled trio of pork shumai might be the antidote to ameliorate the growls of your stomach.
The humdrum nature of the previous conventional fare may be quickly forgotten by the more robust flavor of the lotus leaf filled with chicken bits and sticky rice (lo mai gai)—unraveling the lotus leaf is akin to uncovering a coquettish triangular ampoule of glutinous wonderment, only visible after the steam dissipates. And while the savory side becomes more satiated, the sweet tooth may start to beg mercilessly for a little attention, previously spellbound by the unwavering parade of trolleys trucking egg custard tarts and fried sesame balls around the dining area. As you bite into the crispy sesame ball, it’s not strange to feel vampiric as you hit the gooey, warm bean paste innards lurking inside.
Seeking robust flavor refuge in the pork steamed buns might leave you a tick disappointed when the amount of filling seems stingy, but your sadness might be tempered by the classic dish of long feng, shrimp cocooned in long, pliant strands of rice noodle. A drizzle of soy sauce over top may be the salty cure to wash away the sorrows of the past. Work your charm on a server and you may be able to coerce them into ambushing a specific cart (so that you won’t have to do the dirty work) for a special request before the bowl of congee lands on the table of another yearning guest.
Eight or nine dishes in, with eyes still vigorously scanning the carts and lustfully writing dim sum checks that the mouth can’t quite cash, you may start to feel the wrath of the dim sum coma setting in, proven discreetly by a fortified belly protruding beyond a constrictive belt buckle. Fed to maximum capacity, our table of three was fed to the gills for under $12 a person.
But, you must brush the Armageddon-like worries aside at the Dim Sum House because you don’t have to wait to until the weekend to relive this epicurean choose-your -own –adventure. You can pick your pleasure any day of the week because dim sum is served all day throughout the week (carts only on weekends). Once you shake yourself out of the sedated state and pay for your dim sum damages, the quickened pace of new replacements to your table will likely ensure that much time won’t elapse until your next visit anyhow.
DIM SUM HOUSE | 100 Jerusalem Drive #104 | Morrisville, NC 27560 | 919.380.3087
| www. dimsumhouse18.com | Hours Mon-Fri 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
and Mon-Fri 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Sat-Sun 10:30 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.