So I've already told you that I found some of the best sushi I've ever had in Oslo. We have also found a place for really good dim sum. Best dim sum I've ever had? No. Best dim sum in Oslo? Hands down, yes.
The people running the kitchen and the restaurant are Cantonese, so there's a point won for them. Hong Kong and southern China is where dim sum was born and it is all the rage. Traditionally, dim sum is a brunch time meal where little, old Chinese ladies push steaming hot carts filled with food around the room. As the ladies walk by, they are shouting out the contents of their carts and diners are usually peeking inside to see if what is in the cart is what they want on their table. If so, the diners stop the lady and order off the cart. The dim sum lady stamps the diners' ticket and those stamps are tabulated at the end of the meal to calculate the final tab. With the dim sum, the diners get pots and pots of hot tea. The tea can be chrysanthemum or per erh black tea, or a mix of both. My favorite is the per erh and I drink cup upon cup of it to help wash down the grease. In Caontonese, we don't say "dim sum." We actually call it "yum cha" which translates to "drink tea."
So I've described the dim sum atmosphere, where it comes from, and what we drink with it - but what is dim sum? Dim sum are small little dumplings and dishes mean to "please the heart." Traditionally, there are har-gao, a steamed shrimp dumpling wrapped in a rice flour wrapper, shiu mai, a steamed pork and shrimp dumpling wrapped with a very thin flour wrapper, chuun-keen, egg rolls, and ngo-mai gai, a steamed rice and chicken packet wrapped in banana leaves. Additionally, we have a daikon (radish) and rice flour cake called loh-bak guo, stewed chicken feet, filled, rolled and stewed tofu sheets, and other steamed little dumplings filled with varieties of chicken, pork, and seafood. My favorite is a deep fried, puffed out ball made from sweetened rice flour and filled with a scant amount of ground pork, mushrooms, and green onions. Dim sum is quite heavy but each little treat is very tasty. For dessert, there is usually a Portugese egg tart, steamed buns filled with an egg custard, or a silken tofu in a sweet, ginger syrup. What I've described are the basics. Dim sum chefs have broken far and beyond these little steamed dumplings and have created a wide variety of deep fried and stewed small plates that they proudly serve.
More than anything, dim sum is a cultural affair. It's most successful when there is a group of 4 to 6 people so that everyone gets just one or two tastes of each little treat that comes by your table. Dim sum is also the way that most families and friends get together to chat, very loudly, over brunch. I don't love dim sum, mostly because I get put into a deep fried coma after the meal, but I do love that it's a chance to meet up with people I haven't seen in a while and just catch up or see friends I meet often and hang out. This time, Boyfriend and I got to introduce our new Finnish friends to the treats and delights of dim sum. I think they may have been a bit overwhelmed at first and they definitely experienced the dim sum coma but I hope they enjoyed it enough to come with us again.