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Takeout dim sum is the ultimate risk with the ultimate payoff.
After several months of gruelling practice, I think I’ve pretty much perfected the takeout game.
Don’t go for anything likely to get soggy. Remember to decline those tiny soy sauce packets. Check the bag before leaving the restaurant (I’d name which beloved taco shop forgot to include tortillas in our order, but I’m over it—almost).
I don’t usually use food delivering services because 1) I like all the money I’m spending to go directly to the restaurant 2) I am cheap and 3) it helps me remember how to operate a motor vehicle. That means that whether or not the meal is enjoyable is ultimately up to my timing—I must arrive the moment my food is ready. Any later, and it’s cold. Any earlier, and I’m either waiting outside or directly in some poor server’s way.
Since the success or failure of a takeout experience is all about timing, you’d think that ordering dim sum would be out of the question. When dining in, dumplings are generally brought to your table as they’re ready—not even the restaurant tempts the cold hand of Father Time. But this week, one chilly weekday evening simply demanded dumplings.
My partner and I ordered from Heritage Asian Eatery’s new dim sum menu—the gorgeous photos got me, I’ll admit it. After mangling the pronunciation of xiao long bao (a personal tradition) I was told that the order would be ready in 15 minutes. The race was on.
After driving extremely carefully, adhering to all speed limits and stop signs and totally paying for parking, we arrived just as our paper bag full of hot little treasures emerged from the kitchen. A huge win. As was the meal itself—we tried the pork belly and peking duck baos, classic pork and chicken dumplings, and the poorly aforementioned XLB.
The Crayola-green chicken dumplings were a standout. Not only were they beautiful, soft and chewy, and an awesome flavour explosion, but they also maintained their heat and structural integrity while I desperately tried to arrange them on a plate for an insta-worthy photo. They’re a lovely combination of chicken and mushrooms in a simple spicy vinegar chilli dressing. In hindsight, we definitely should have ordered more. The XLB were also delicious, though I missed the regular dine-in experience of burning my mouth on the first (and second and third) one.
I’m not saying I mixed, folded, and steamed the dumplings to perfection myself, but my impeccable timing did have something to do with this weekday night win. I’m such a talented cook.