Monday, June 9, 2008

Hei La Moon: Dim Sum in Boston

Today I had a little adventure into Chinatown (Boston). Chinatown is probably my favorite part of Boston (although, I love almost everything about Boston). Generally, I frequent the various Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants. I'm addicted to bun (Vietnamese noodles), and Bubble tea is quite refreshing on days like today.. hot and sticky. Today for Sunday brunch my (self-proclaimed) foodie friend brought me to a restaurant just on the other side of the Chinatown arch, a Dim Sum and traditional Chinese food restaurant called Hei La Moon. I'd never tried dim sum before, but I think this place is probably as close as you can get to China without actually getting on a 24 hour long flight to Asia, not only because of the authentic food, but because a great portion of the waitstaff doesn't speak a word of English. It doesn't seem to bother the owners much, since 75% of the clientèle there seemed to be Chinese.

The way dim sum works here is that you are seated, and they give you some delicious tea to start out with. Then you watch the carts roll around you, and you can look, and point to what you want to eat. Sorry to the fans of General Tso's Chicken and pork fried rice, you won't find that here. Unfortunately, I can't tell you what you will find, since no one was able to translate for me, but I can tell you what I ate/ think I ate.

The first thing we grabbed was something that seemed to be some sort of fried dough.. although it could have been fried tofu, jury is still out on that, wrapped in some sort of rice noodle. Not bad, good, safe start.

Next my friend saw something she recognized and grabbed right away. Chicken Feet. Yes. Chicken Feet. See that picture up at the top? That's just what they looked like. Now, I was quite skeptical, I must admit. I love to try things... up to a certain point, but generally speaking, chicken's feet cross that certain point. But I told myself that I had to get used to trying new things. So I went for it. Some tips for eating chicken's feet: yes, there are bones (we are spoiled). Put one portion of the leg completely in your mouth. With your tongue, work the meat off the bones. Spit out (yes, spit out) the bones, and place them on your plate. I did it. So can you. Its actually.. not that bad. I don't think I would eat them on a regular basis, but I can now say that I have conquered this achievement.

Plate number three. My friend suggested a new dish. From my side of the table, it looked like noodles. That sounded good to me.. something a little more familiar.. after the chicken's legs. When it was placed in front of me, I recognized it from some Pho (Vietnamese soup) I got once. This was tripe. My last experience with tripe was not a particularly pleasant one. But, once again I mustered all my adventurous spirit once again, and dove in. Turns out, my second experience with tripe wasn't so bad! However they marinated this tripe made it almost good! Again, not something I'd order on a regular basis, but hey, not half bad either.

Oh, sorry. What is tripe did you say? Well, as for looks, they have a sort of noodle-y appearance. Flat and white. The big way to distinguish them is the visible texture. They have small bumps on the surface.. not sure how well this picture shows it though. Still don't know what it is though? Oh, you know, it's cow stomach. Specifically the first three parts of the cow's stomach (remember middle school bio class. Cows have four stomachs). Evidently the fourth stomach is not edible by humans, but dogs go wild for it. So they say. Sounds appetizing, right? Well, if you happen to be at Hei La Moon, I'd go for it.

We then ordered two different kinds of dumplings. Not the best dumplings I've ever had (I've had some good dumplings), but definitely worth trying.

All said and done, with five plates of food ordered, not to mention our pot of tea, the total came to $16.60 USD. Not bad at all.

From there, we headed out to one of the many restaurants in Chinatown that sell bubble tea, to try to beat the heat. Actually, I'm not sure if what I was drinking is technically considered bubble tea, but I had a nice cold drink with tapioca pearls. Highly suggested. You can find these drinks in almost any restaurant in Chinatown/ any Asian restaurant.

Let's hope this heat wave doesn't last too much longer.

Here is the address for anyone interested:

Hei La Moon
88 Beach St.
Boston, MA

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