You never really know how hard it is to order a dumping until you’ve been craving it for days & it’s not on the menu. This particular dumpling was the cause of much confusion yesterday when I finally got out of my sick bed and went for the dim sum I’d been craving for almost a week.
It’s a pretty standard dim sum dumpling, so standard that I’ve never really had to learn what it’s called in Cantonese. When it’s busy I can usually point at it either as it’s wheeled around on a cart, or from a plate full ready to be fried up at the pan-fry station. When it’s quiet, it’s usually on the paper menu under “pan-fried pork dumpling” or “pan-fried meat dumpling” (which translate pretty much identically.)
They are made with pork and often either cabbage or leek, and served with red vinegar. Many people know them simply as Potstickers. Which was the word I forgot late yesterday when I was at Dim Sum King on Dundas trying to fill my dim sum craving.
I couldn’t find them on the paper-based menu which was plopped on my table with a hot pot of tea, my plate, napkin and chopsticks. There weren’t enough people in place to warrant carts. Actually, there were barely enough people there to warrant being open. But it was so nice that they were after venturing out specifically to fill my craving.
I reviewed the menu again, there were Steamed Dim Sum, Deep Fried Dim Sum, Rice & Noodles, and Sweet Dim Sum, but no specific Pan-Fried Dim Sum category. There was a pan-fried shrimp and chives dumpling under the Deep Fried category, but no pan-fried pork dumpling.
So I asked: “do you have pan-fried pork dumplings”.
“You want sui mai?”
“no. Pan-fried pork dumplings… you know the ones served with red vinegar?”
“No. Pork” I kept trying. I don’t know why, but I did. I pointed at “pork”, “pan-fried”and “dumpling” on the menu because all the words where there, in English and Cantonese.
At this point there were 3 people standing around looking at me like I was a nut bar. Seriously! I am not a dim sum virgin. Not even close! I’ve been eating and ordering dim sum for 25 years. I’ve had it all over the world. I can order all my favourites in Cantonese, albeit with a seriously bad accent that often triggers that “nut bar” look… but it even has worked in in countries that aren’t English. I get my Char Sui Bau. I get my Har Gow. I even get my Gali Ma Yu (which I’m sure is wrong but gets me those baby octopus in curry sauce anyway) But I’ve never had this situation ever before!
I went so far as to hand draw a picture of the dumplings in a frying pan on my napkin… yes I was craving them THAT much!
I finally got them, along with my other dim sum-y treats, and even a bonus order of pan-fried shrimp dumplings (which I like a lot too so that was great). I do hope they had a good giggle at our exchange.
Now, I just need to find the Cantonese name for these dumplings so this never, ever, happens again!
Jiaozi? Jim gau? Wo tip / gwo tip? Guotie?