|Asian Pearl Dim Sum Cart|
Dim sum is the Chinese equivalent of small plates, similar to tapas for Spaniards. They had their origin in the roadside teahouses of old China as travellers would stop for repast on their long journeys. Dim sum is eaten while sipping tea and soon became a normal part of every day life. Farmers would go to the teahouses to relax after a hard day in the fields.
Here in the States dim sum is served usually at Chinese restaurants that specialize in it since it takes a lot of time and effort to create the dozens of small dishes that are needed. There are chefs that are speciliazed in creating these morsels, with nimble fingers for shaping many of the dumplings that are standard favorites.
For non-Chinese, dim sum is usually a weekend brunch affair. This was the case when I went with my dining companions one Sunday. In Sacramento the best known and oldest dim sum restaurant is New Canton on Broadway. But it is so popular that there can be a wait and the tables are crowded together. I had heard about Asian Pearl and asked that we go give this other popular location a try.
|Asian Pearl interior|
Asian Pearl is located at 6821 Stockton Blvd #165. It's a bit difficult to find because the street sign is not large and it is tucked back deep in the shopping complex. Once you walk in you will find a giant dining room with loads of tables. There is no crushed feeling here. We arrived around 11 and the place was about half full. By the time we left it was nearing capacity. Still, there is plenty of room with spacious aisles for the carts.
Some restaurants just have a dim sum menu, but the best use the carts. Servers wheel by with one or a few dishes on their carts and ask if you would like something. Often this can be awkward if they only speak Chinese and you are left playing dining Chinese roulette. Luckily the servers at AP spoke enough English to at least say pork, scallop, shrimp, etc. Your table has a kind of tally sheet (shown below) where they tick off what you take. The dishes range from $1.95 to $4.85 and usually have enough for 3-4 people per serving if you are sharing family style. Kitchen specials are $6 but probably most Caucasians will shy away from those - duck chins, seaweed, and organ meats.
The restaurant does serve a regular, full Chinese menu and has a take-out BBQ booth for picking up Chinese style BBQ duck, pork, etc. During our brunch there was also this long table with ladies ready to prepare you a soup to order. Next time I'll have to check this out more.
The three of us were stuffed in a short amount of time. Sadly we had to watch carts wheel by with more things we wish we could try. There's always next time! Our bill came out to a mere $10 each. Pretty darn good for full tummies.
All in all, Asian Pearl is a definite winner for dim sum. New Canton might be walking distance from my house, but I'll gladly make the 10 minute drive to Asian Pearl again - soon.