For the past couple of years, dim sum in the city has become increasingly disappointing. The food isn't as fresh and the restaurants are looking dingier. So Sunshine and I were very happy to find Pacificana in Brooklyn (813 55th St (off of 8th Ave), 2nd Fl, Brooklyn, NY). The food is always fresh and the restaurant is CLEAN:
This is not a brand new restaurant but they're maintaining it pretty well. When's the last time you saw a gleaming/clean/uncluttered granite countertop at a dim sum restaurant in the city? The high ceilings, wrap around windows and warm lighting create a light and airy atmosphere. In the city, it's usually a catering hall filled with lots of gloomy fluorescent (and neon) lights. More importantly, they all have a good attitude (rather than the usual grumpy one).
But I must be honest, there will be a wait for your table; it just won't be as long of a wait as the one in the city. And you do have to troop it to Brooklyn. Pacificana is on the 2nd floor - right above a Chase, so you can't miss it. Take the N train (and ONLY the N train) to the 8th Ave station. It's a couple of blocks away from the station. If you want really excellent dim sum, it's worth it! Pacificana serves dim sum from 8:00 am - 3:00 pm on weekends.
For all you dim sum newbies, dim sum is basically Chinese tapas: lots of little dishes that you share. Since I always want to try everything on a menu, this is perfect for me! Women push steamer carts filled with little steamer baskets that contain hot dishes. See what I mean about the good attitude? She's smiling!
There are also women pushing regular (non-steamer) carts; those are filled sweets and cold dishes. You will also find men walking around with trays loaded with additional dishes - this is a relatively new thing.
To order, you hail/flag down the women/men with food and choose the dishes that you want. Don't worry about the language barrier. They will open up each steamer basket to show you which dish is inside. Just point and nod. Sometimes they can be pushy so if you don't want something, just keep shaking your head and saying, "No." Otherwise your table will be quickly filled with food that you don't really want.
Tip: The women with the steaming carts are usually bombarded by orders from the tables on their left and right. If you see something you want, don't hesitate to go up to a woman to order because she may run out of food (especially the more popular dishes) before she reaches your table. Lately, however, they've been pretty good about replenishing the carts on the spot to avoid a trip to the kitchen. As for the men with trays, since they don't have cumbersome carts, you gotta catch them before they whiz past your table.
This is what we we ordered last time:
- From picture below, starting from the left and going clockwise:
- Dumpling filled with shrimp, pork and veggies: This was a new dish for us; good but not great.
- Fung Zao (chicken's feet): I know this dish looks not-so-appetizing, but don't knock it till you try it. It's pretty darn good.
- Pai Gu (spare ribs): This dish is a crowd pleaser...especially for the guys. It's spare ribs in black bean sauce.
- Roasted Pork: If you like crispy pork skin, this is a great dish. You dip the skin into the little dark brown sauce (hoisin) you see at the bottom. The hoisin sauce is sweet and salty. Underneath the pork skin toward the top of the picture is jelly fish (again, don't knock it till you try it) and toward the bottom of the picture is roasted pork meat (which is surprisingly moist).
- Siu Mai: This is my all-time favorite dish! It's an open dumpling filled with pork/shrimp. Dim sum is not dim sum without it.
- Sticky Rice: This is Sunshine's favorite!
- Pan Fried Dumplings: This is pan fried dumplings made from glutinous rice flour and filled with leeks and other veggies. Sunshine likes it but I'm not a fan.
- Dan Ta (Egg Custard Tart): You won't find dessert-dessert at dim sum. This is as close to it that you're going to get. The flakey pastry tart is filled with sweet egg custard. This is another favorite of mine.
- Har Gao: Translucent dumplings filled with shrimp.
- Sesame Seed Balls: Deep fried glutinous rice flour balls covered with sesame seeds and filled with sweet red bean paste. This is another good option for "dessert".
- Fried Green Pepper Stuffed With Shrimp Paste: This is a great shrimp dish and it's topped with a slightly sweet soy-based sauce.
- Fu Zhu (Bean Curd Skin In Brown Sauce): I like the steamed version of this dish a lot. It's basically bean curd skin rolls filled with veggies steamed with brown sauce. The fried version is still good, just not as good as the steamed version.
- Chee Cheung Fun: This is Big Buddha's favorite dish. It's steamed riced noodle rolls filled with either pork or shrimp and topped with slightly sweet soy-based sauce.
- Cold Lobster With Kewpie Mayo: This is not a traditional dish but I can't say no to Kewpie Mayo!