Dim Sum for breakfast

Sunday morning (June 3rd) in NYC found us going to Queens for breakfast.

(Gum Fung. Queens, NY. Photo by Robin. June 2007)

We discussed dim sum sometime over the course of Saturday evening and R said if we wanted dim sum he knew just the place where we could go for breakfast.

Gum Fung Restaurant is located in Flushing’s Chinatown. Flushing is in the north-central portion of the borough of Queens and is described as the largest urban center in the borough, having the wealthiest and largest Chinatown in New York City.

Restaurant details:

Gum Fung Restaurant
136-28 39th Ave.
Flushing, Queens, NY 11354

Most of the reviews I’ve found about the restaurant describe it as the one of the best dim sum restaurants in the whole city.

I can’t really write about dim sum as I’m not up on it enough to be able to name everything. It’s an interesting experience, that’s for sure. And one of my favorite ways to spend a Sunday breakfast with friends when we’re traveling. It’s becoming almost a tradition with us.

For those of you who haven’t had the dim sum experience, a little explanation: Dim sum is a selection of small dishes such as fried and steamed dumplings, spring rolls, spareribs, seafood, and various other sweet and savory dishes. Dim sum involves a lot of different tastes and textures. The term dim sum literally translates from the Chinese/Cantonese to “Heart’s Delight” or “touch the heart” (order to your heart’s content). Food is brought to the table on carts, the customer(s) selects the food they want from the carts, and are then charged by the dish (they used to do this by counting the number of empty dishes, but it’s now done on a tab with each of the dim sum cart ladies marking off the number of dishes). Dim sum is usually a light meal or brunch served with tea.

That’s a very fast and dirty explanation of dim sum. I’m sure I’m missing some of the traditions, history, and manners surrounding the dim sum experience.

We shared the table with three Chinese gentlemen who did little more than acknowledge us. I’m sure they must have had a good laugh after we left over the way M and I struggled with our chopsticks and had to request forks. We were just about the only caucasian people in the place. Neither of us has had much practice with chopsticks. Oddly enough, we both do better using chopsticks for sushi than we do with using them for dim sum.

Gum Fung is a massive place with the usual Chinese restaurant kind of decorations, done in the usual reds and golds. I have no idea how many people they can seat, but I know it’s in the hundreds. The din of all those people gathered under one roof gabbing, laughing, eating, sipping tea, and trying to get the attention of the cart ladies is beyond my ability to describe. The word cacophony comes to mind. Lively will also describe it pretty well. There’s a whole lot of shouting and pointing going on in Gum Fung during dim sum servings.

We had a good time eating, sipping tea, and talking. In other words, adding to the liveliness of the restaurant. The food was very good and very plentiful. The tea was nicely brewed (we had green tea which can be bitter if not brewed correctly). Our host frequently eats at Gum Fung so he was well versed in the ways of dim sum (what’s best to order, what’s best to stay away from) and this particular restaurant.

The only sour note to the entire trip happened at Gum Fung. I was pushing back my chair, lifted it up, sat back down and one of the feet of the chair (with my weight on it) landed smack on R’s big toe. His poor toe was bleeding and it looked painful, with some nail involvement. I felt horrible about it and still wince when I think about it. R was quite nice about the incident and I hope it looked worse than it actually was and that it’s healed up quickly.

We took one last driving trip around New York City after breakfast, going through some of the neighborhoods we missed the day before, from the ritzy to the poor and everything in between. We went around Central Park, but didn’t have time to get out and walk around. Parking wouldn’t have been easy even if we’d had the time. Central Park is impressive in terms of size and scope. It’s one of the areas I’d like to explore when we go back.

(Somewhere in the city just after coming back from Queens. Photo by Robin. June 2007)

Of course we went to Harlem to see the Apollo Theater. M and I frequently watch the amateur night performances that are shown on television after Saturday Night Live. Being the old folks we are, we video tape it. It always looks like it would be great fun to go to the theater. The audience participation is rowdy and well-known.

(Apollo Theater. New York. Photo by Robin. June 2007)

(Harlem store. Photo by Robin. June 2007)

We drove by the Met which was obviously hopping on Sunday morning:

(Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York. Photo by Robin. June 2007)

And found ourselves rerouted more than once or twice by street fairs:

(Street fair in Manhattan. Photo by Robin. June 2007)

We went to Grand Central Station. M, S and I got out while R drove around the block a few times so that M and I could have a quick look inside. My photos didn’t turn out well. Grand Central Station is much too big and grand for the likes of my camera and my photography skills. I’ll post a few anyway, but you might want to visit the website to see grander photos of the place I’ve often referred to (“this place is like Grand Central Station!”) but never visited until this trip.

(Grand Central Station. New York. Photo by Robin. June 2007)

(Grand Central Station. New York. Photo by Robin. June 2007)

The beautiful art deco style Chrysler Building is near Grand Central. You can find some decent photos at this website. Here’s the best I could come up with:

(Chrysler Building. New York. Photo by Robin. June 2007)

It looks pretty cool on the scroll.

After our gander at the Chrysler Building it was time to head home. R drove us back to Penn Station where we said our thanks and good byes. We had one last glimpse of the Empire State Building on the drive to Penn Station.

(Empire State Building. New York. Photo by Robin. June 2007)

It was a wonderful, albeit all too quick, trip in which we were given a great overview of New York City and spent time with some fab people.

Coming soon: A trip to Lancaster, a concert at Longwood Gardens, and fun in New Jersey.

Lights, camera…

The next and last New York post is coming soon. Later today, maybe.

In the meantime, we have nuns in town:

(High St. wardrobe. Photo by M. June 2007)

Don’t worry. I’m not going to start picking on nuns. They’re not real nuns. They’re actresses.

A movie is being filmed in Sabbaticalville. They shut off a few streets here and there over the past few months, but the big shooting must be going on now. The building across the street from us (pictured above) is empty and now being used to house the wardrobe for the movie.

(Nuns in Sabbaticalville. Photo by M. June 2007)

M noticed the film people last night when he went out for an evening stroll. He saw some of the crew pushing the wardrobe carts down the street. We watched them from up here for a little while before going to bed last night.

The film is called “Our Lady of Victory.” If you’re interested in being in the movie, get yourself to West Chester University this weekend. Wear 70’s attire if you have it.

There was also some road work going on last night.

(High St. roadwork. Photo by Robin. June 2007)

It was pretty amazing how quickly they stripped the old part of the road and cleaned up the mess. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever really watched workers repair a road.

(Night work. Photo by Robin. June 2007)

The guy directing traffic was kept pretty busy as there was a lot of traffic for so late in the evening. I don’t know if that was due to the filming or not.

(Directing traffic. Photo by Robin. June 2007)

I’ll be back later with the last New York post.