The Dim Sum Experience
In Cantonese, dim sum literally means “to touch the heart,” and that was precisely the sentiment behind Amex Gold Card x Resy Presents: The Dim Sum Experience, a multi-city celebration of dim sum as told through beloved dishes. For one weekend each in November 2022, restaurants in New York, Boston, DC, Los Angeles, and San Francisco offered unique takes on this festive Chinese culinary tradition, with chefs weaving their own family heritage and professional experience into classic dim sum preparations. Challenging notions of “authenticity” that have long plagued public discourse surrounding “ethnic” restaurants (admittedly an outdated category in and of itself), these limited edition menus celebrated the diversity of the Chinese diaspora, inviting diners to broaden their palates and their perspectives.
Resy worked closely with Nom Wah, one of the oldest dim sum parlors in New York City and a longtime champion of Chinese cuisine in the United States, to select restaurant partners demonstrating the breadth of Chinese American cooking today. For Nom Wah owner Wilson Tang, dim sum represents a lifelong tradition: “It was often the meal I had before going to Chinese School. When I became a dad, I followed those same traditions, you know? And I think for the Chinese American experience, that’s what it really is: It’s this marriage between food and memory and going to these Chinese communities.”
Málà Project kicked off the series in New York, with chef-owner Amelie Kang showcasing the northern Chinese favorites she enjoyed growing up in Tangshan. Rich zhajiang mian with five-spiced tofu and soybean paste, as well as traditional fried rice cakes with brown sugar dipping sauce were perhaps less spicy and numbing than the restaurant’s eponymous neo-Sichuan dishes, but nonetheless guided by nostalgia shared by the chef and fellow expats for a taste of home.
“The way dim sum is presented, it is perfectly inclusive, so that everyone can enjoy something,” explained Rica Leon, co-owner of Chifa, where the jewel-like offerings were served in elegant lacquer boxes. At Chifa - named for the Chinese Peruvian cooking style blending Cantonese elements with Peruvian ingredients and traditions - chef John Liu collaborated with his mother, “popo” Wendy Leon on an artful menu of Hong Kong-style bites like beet Chinese sausage and dried scallop goh and black sesame and mixed nut jin dui.
At Mister Jiu’s, chef Brandon Jew nodded to local Bay Area flavors and California produce, with dishes like moreish Dutch Crunch glazed char siu buns and earthy, jicama-studded mushroom mu shu. A globetrotting menu from chef Tracy Chang at Pagu in Boston included duck confit taro wu gok with sherry vinegar aioli and kombucha mochi seared a la plantxa, skilfully marrying the restaurant’s signature Japanese inflected tapas with her family’s own Taiwanese recipes. And at Tiger Fork in DC, Chef Jong Son served modern takes on Hong Kong street food, like beef tomato egg cheung fun and savory phoenix buns with runny egg yolk and shrimp, plus cocktails highlighting ingredients used in traditional Chinese medicine.
The convivial sounds of passed platters and clinking glasses were complemented by live sets from local Asian American DJs, many of whom dabbled in F&B themselves - at Tiger Fork, local DC chef Erik Bruner-Yang of Maketto took a spin at front of house service on the ones and twos, while in Boston, DJ Towfu of All You Can Eat collective kept the vibes at Pagu on point. And to keep any late afternoon hunger at bay, all guests went home with a selection of dim sum-inspired sweets prepared by local Asian-American bakers, as if anticipating the all too familiar Chinese greeting: “Have you eaten yet?”
Presented by Amex Gold Card and Resy in Collaboration with Nom Wah
Executive Producer: Care of Chan
Lead Producer: Jane Gelb
Participating Restaurants: Málà Project, Chifa, Mister Jius, Tiger Fork, Pagu
DJs: Justine D, Towfu, Joyce Sarah Tang, Red Beans, Erik Bruner-Yang
Takeaways: Te Company, Baker’s Bench, Grand Opening, Rose Ave Bakery, Flour Bakery
Florals: Fleurotica, Fleur Boy, Red Fern Floral, She Loves Me Designs, Mister Lee Designs
Photography by Aaron Richter, Jennelle Fong, Maurisa Mackey, Clarissa Villondo