Unfolding a crumpled, yellow menu from Lexington (N.C.) Barbecue No. 1 made me yearn for the perfect balance of pulled pork, sauce, coleslaw and squishy bun that I happened upon last year as I Volvo’d south with Sherri Panza and Weegee the barbecue hound. It also reminded me that I haven’t written this column in too long.
Alas, I’ve had to try to avoid such feasts after a stint early this year at UPMC Shadyside (which has great chicken-salad sandwiches, by the way). Doctor-ordered dietary changes left me wondering if Dine Quixote ever again would take to the road for more than egg-white omelets, leafy green salads and tofu.
I got a delicious opportunity this summer when, for a Father’s Day present, my son offered me a dim-sum brunch in the Flushing, Queens, Chinatown at the end of the No. 7 subway line. All I and my wife would need to do would be to drive to New York.
This would be real dim sum -- not the little checklist menus we have in Pittsburgh, but endless piles of plates and bowls on carts wheeled through a dining room and continuously replenished from a kitchen. Years and years ago I took my family to such brunches in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. My musician-turned-corporate-security-honcho son became an aficionado, especially after he moved to New York, where he’s known to queasy-stomached friends for finishing bowls of chicken feet and then picking up a few roast pork buns on his way home.
We received the real deal that Saturday morning, eating with hundreds of Chinese families in the Asian Jewels Seafood Restaurant. I guess you could point a finger in Queens and hit a good Asian restaurant because this was our son's first time at this one, having decided to eschew his former favorite when it received a health-inspection "C." Asian Jewels has an "A."
We started with a creamy congee streaked with strands of tender pork. We moved on to pork buns, of which there turned out to be three varieties -- roast, steamed and a crispy sweet one topped with sesame.
And we kept going: Rice crepes with shrimp, fried taro with pork, stir-fried Chinese broccoli slick with oil and savory with garlic, buns stuffed with red beans, lotus root, shumai (also dumplings), lo mein, har gow (more dumplings), egg-custard tarts and coconut-and-bean paste gelatin squares.
Of course we had red-cooked chicken feet.
Add it all up and we had 27 dishes.
It cost us about $86 dollars.
We left looking at the fish in tanks, plotting a future visit for evening dinner, and hoping that someone brings a place like this to Pittsburgh.
When he's not looking for road food, Larry Roberts works as a staff photographer: firstname.lastname@example.org.