Dim sum, meaning those small treats that touch the heart, are available at a number of Twin City Chinese restaurants, but probably none as popular as those served every weekend and holiday at St. Louis Park’s Yangtze. Every Saturday, Sunday, New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day Yangtze is packed with enthusiastic diners looking for those special treasures that are pushed through the restaurant on rolling carts. And, the choices seem endless.
Barbecued Pork Noodle, Steamed Shrimp Chives Dumpling, Chicken Feet, Stuffed Tofu, Shrimp in Sticky Rice Ball, Taro Ball, Spring Roll, Steamed BBQ Pork Bun, Chicken Curry Puff, Squid in Shrimp Sauce, Stuffed Green Pepper, Chinese Broccoli in Oyster Sauce, and Congee are just the beginning. Yangtze has a list of nearly 60 different dim sum dishes.
Today’s upscale restaurants have begun serving what they call “small plates to share” encouraging diners to try a variety of dishes. Dim sum has been doing the same thing for centuries. Originally created in Canton, China, dim sum was offered in teahouses to keep their customers drinking tea longer thereby increasing revenue. Small containers of two or three dumplings, buns, meat or fish were served to stave off hunger while drinking tea. Soon the snacks became as important as the tea and today are served in Chinese restaurants throughout the world, with or without tea.
Any Chinese restaurant can make dim sum, but the best ones come from kitchens staffed and equipped to turn out a large variety of these small treats served fresh from the kitchen and not from holding trays. There is nothing more satisfying than a flavorful, tender steamed dumpling still hot and moist from the steamer. The wrapper is still shiny and delicate while the filling is bright with freshly cooked ingredients…..not dull, limp, chewy and tasteless like so many buffets offer.
Traditionally, dim sum was served from late morning to noon along with late morning tea. Today, in U.S. cities with Chinatowns, dim sum restaurants offer these freshly made treats all day long in addition to their menu. But, in this area with a more limited demand for dim sum, the best choices are in restaurants offering these tidbits on weekends and holidays.
At Yangtze, the wait staff is friendly and helpful so don’t be shy about asking what each of the items on the cart contains and even how it is made. You can also pick up a dim sum list at the desk so if something on the list strikes your fancy and you don’t see it on the carts, ask for it. And, don’t forget the sweet dim sum. Coconut Bun, Pineapple Bun, Steamed Red Bean Bun, Sponge Cake, Mango Pudding, and Sweet Tofu are a few choices. Prices are reasonable, but remember you are charged for each of the selections and the bill is tallied at the desk. It is sometimes easy to run up a higher tab than you expected. Credit cards are accepted.
Yangtze dim sum is served 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday, Sunday, and major holiday. Reservations are honored so if you are in a hurry or are bringing a large group, call ahead so you won’t have to wait in line. While Yangtze is just off highway 394 and Park Place at 5625 Wayzata Boulevard in St. Louis Park, it is tucked behind the Doubletree Hotel and not easy to see from the highway. For directions call 952-5419469 or visit their website at www.yangtze.us.
Phyllis Louise Harris is a cookbook author, food writer and cooking teacher specializing in Asian foods. She is founder of the Asian Culinary Arts Institutes Ltd. dedicated to the preservation, understanding and enjoyment of the culinary arts of the Asia Pacific Rim. For information about ACAI’s programs call 612-813-1757 or visit the website at www.asian culinaryarts.com.