- Category: Happy Jellyfish
- Created: Wednesday, 05 October 2016 08:00
- Written by Cecilie
There’s a place formerly ‘just outside’ now in Shenzhen called 西麗湖, Sai Lai Wu,West Beautiful Lake. It’s a kind of resort in that there are rooms and some trees around it, as well as a large outdoor pool where you can Tarzan with a rope. You can also fish.
I used to go there a lot when my fight for Cantonese world supremacy was in its infancy, bringing students there for ‘language seminars’ which meant drinking and playing cards. Then the place closed down in 2002 for repairs. Last Friday I thought the repairs must be finished by now, and was very excited when I googled the reformed West Beautiful Lake and found this:
Blogworthy or what!!!! I was longing to wake up in that room with a hangover.
Alas, the information was totally false. Someone had just taken a picture of … a nouveau riche mainlander’s living room? and posted it there. The rooms in West Beautiful Lake were completely ordinary, and absolutely no refurbishment had taken place since I was last there, with the possible exception of a carp pool in the reception. In fact, what had happened during the last five years was the place had been allowed to decay in peace, completely uninterrupted. It was wonderful.
I asked the receptionist, who immediately answered me in Cantonese!!!! what had happened during the last five years of refurbishment and she said they now had fishing.
“But you had that before?”
“Now we have a big outdoor pool.”
“Er … horseback riding?”
“Just like before.”
“We have a restaurant.”
“Also like before … but possibly moved?”
“He he he.”
“Ha ha ha.”
The “new” restaurant unfortunately didn’t have yam cha, only Canto-slop, so we trudged on down to nearby 南蓉大酒店 Lam Yong Daai Jau Dim, for refreshments. Waaaah, fantastic dim sum! Especially a thing I’ve never tasted before: Pea Cake:
Brilliant! And this all a stone throw from 深圳灣 Sam Jan Waan (Shenzhen Bay) where there’s a completely unused crossing into Hong Kong. What’s not to love?
and leave. Excellent! Recommended!
I’ve just travelled 25 minutes there and 25 back just to eat. What, didn’t I have perfectly good ingredients for Sichuan food in my fridge? you ask. Yes, of course. But no matter how good and life-giving those chillies are, every so often I’m overcome with an intense longing for drinking tea – 飲茶 (yam cha). Or rather, eating dim sum. (點心)
Because, although it’s called Drink Tea, it’s all about the food. Those alluring little packets of goodness arriving three or four together in a basket or on a plate – they call, nay, scream out, to me! I feel the need for a session about every five days or so. What is it that creates the addiction? I’ve always avoided finding out exactly what’s in dim sum but I suspect there’s rather a lot of lard…
Testicles? No, they are 煎韭菜餃(chin gau choy gau – pan-fried chive dumplings. With pork, hello!). For some reason these are much more common in the mainland. Perhaps HK people are more squeamish when it comes to biting into a distinctly testicle-like object? When they do appear on the menu in Hong Kong they tend to be called Japanese dumplings and be considerably smaller than in the mainland.
Ah, 飲茶(yam cha)! It’s so civilised! If there’s something you don’t like, you can just order another basket, and another, and another. You’re not stuck with one big dish all to yourself that you have to sit and chew and chew and discreetly spit into your handbag if you mis-order.
I’d experiment with various forms of tea though, if I were you. If you’re Caucasian, the staff will plonk down jasmine tea on your table no matter whet, instead of asking 你飲咩茶呀？(Lei yam meh cha ah – you drink what kind of tea ah) like they do with Asians. Not fair! And jasmine tastes like perfume!
If you want to find out more about Yam Cha, teas and dim sum, take a crash course in Dim Summing with Happy Jellyfish People’s Democratic Language Bureau. It’s clean, convenient and almost without violence.
香片 (heung pin – fragrant flakes [jasmine tea])