Dim sum has it all over every other kind of fast food. You might wait for a table, but once seated you’ll hardly have time to unfold your napkin before you’re assaulted by a slew of heavenly aromas steaming forth from a given Chinese restaurant’s armada of swift silver carts. If you’re a stoner with no day job, lunch could go on forever. Conversely, in spite of its ancient origins, dim sum is the perfect meal for the CrackBerry Age. While a longer sitting might prove more rewarding, dim sum requires zero patience to reap its benefits.
You can’t lose here, right? Not quite. Those silver carts are typically piloted by a crew of fast-talking women who are very skilled at convincing you that your life will not go on without one more pot sticker or a final fried prawn. If there were an Ivy League institution devoted to the art of pressure sales, these gals would beat out used-car salesmen for valedictory honors. By the time the check arrives, you won’t know what just hit you—you’ll only know it’s your wallet that’s been hit the hardest.
Wall Street’s recent collapse would seem to render dim sum a sketchy proposition at best. Enter the Dynasty Room’s $7.50 dim sum plate. It’s actually Four Seas’ $7.50 dim sum plate, the Dynasty Room being the 73-year-old restaurant’s ultra-dark, windowless, high-ceilinged lounge. It feels exactly like you’d expect the room where Batman hatches strategy with Gotham City’s bureaucratic powers-that-be to feel, and is presided over midday by a petite firecracker of a woman who could give the cart-pushers a run for their money in the persuasion department.
The dim sum plate, which can be found only on the lunch menu, is not traditional dim sum, but rather a plate filled with what one might purchase during a traditional dim sum sitting. It includes hombow, shrimp balls, pork balls, barbecued pork, a cup of soup, and a mountain of fried rice piled so high that even the most rabid lard-asses (a category that includes this 225-lb. columnist) will be sure to box up a meal to go. That’s two meals for $7.50, in the spirit of dim sum. In tight times, this is the canniest of culinary frontiers.