Dim Sum for Dinner via Yum Yum Cha
The oppositional streak in me most definitely plays out in the dining world. I like eating traditional breakfast items at night and have been known to eat my entrée before my appetizer. And, unsurprisingly, I have always preferred dim sum for dinner rather than as a brunch or midday meal.
Most of the best dim sum houses adhere to tradition and serve only in the morning and early afternoon, but a few pander to the eccentricities of certain people and offer har gau, shumai and chicken feet all day long. Almost all of these "all dim sum, all the time" establishments are a decent drive from my house, the notable exception being Yum Yum Cha Cafe.
Photo by Joanna O'Leary Taro Dumplings, or wu gok
I am so grateful for the presence of this "plain jane" restaurant in the increasingly hoity-toity Rice Village because it allows me on any given night (well, except Tuesday, when it's closed) to indulge in some of my dim sum favorites or even get them as takeout (how's that for bucking tradition?).
Not everything Yum Yum offers is top-notch, and I'm the first to admit that there is better dim sum to be had in this city. However, some of their items are absolutely top-notch -- for example, the incredibly juicy, just a tad oily wu gok, taro stuffed with pork and shrimp bits deep-fried to a lacy crisp.
Also worth ordering is the nor mai guy, or as I sometimes call it, "Heaven Wrapped in a Lotus Leaf." The sweet-salty glutinous rice laced with broth and assorted cuts of protein reminds me that rice need not always be relegated to a carbohydrate base for sauce and meat in Asian cooking and can take center stage.
I also recommend the slightly confusing albeit delicious teow chow fun gau, described as "Pork & Nut Dumplings (Shrimp)." These steamed pockets, a nice lighter reprieve from heavier fried items, contain more pork than nuts, and every other dumpling does seem to have a bit of shrimp in it. I actually quite enjoy the randomness.
I don't always eat dim sum, and when I do I don't always go to Yum Yum Cha, and neither should you if you want to experience the rich diversity of premier dim sum in Houston. But on days when I'm feeling rebellious and lazy, it definitely satisfies my desire for a dim sum dinner.