Monday, June 1, 2009


56. Pacificana
813 55th Street, Brooklyn

After managing to convince my roommate to wake up in time for dim sum, we braved the 45 minute train ride, thinking of nothing else but trays and trays of carefully crafted shumai, pork and shrimp dumplings and whatever else looked remotely interesting that we could grab as it passed by our table. For the uninitiated, dim sum is not a spectator dining experience. Rather than simply placing an order from a menu, dishes are offered from carts that are pushed inbetween tables, in a seemingly chaotic yet well refined and deliberate dance. Turn your head, and you'll have to wait for that next plate of bean curd to come around. It takes a careful balance to dine successfully with dim sum. Act too aggressively and you'll be stuck with items you didn't want and that seemingly innocuous $3 plate adds up when you start moving into the double digits. Act too passively and you'll never even see what's coming.

We knew Pacificana would be crowded. Since its New York Times review in 2007, and certainly before that, Pacificana has been catering to those looking for one of the top dim sum restaurants. While dim sum is usually meant for larger parties and allows you to share more dishes, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I thought a party of two was perfect for us. First, we waited only about 15 minutes, and given the amount of people waiting with us, I imagine that some of those parties waited an eternity. Second, most of the plates have 2-4 pieces in them. Works for me.

The first server to catch our attention was clearly out to get us. She knew we didn't know what we were up against and we accepted her barrage of food like an unsuspecting tourist buys a cd off the street. Sure, I first felt like a sucker, but what a feast we had for only $2-5 per plate.

Bacon wrapped shrimp (more like shrimp toast than grilled shrimp) was crunchy, salty and fatty. Pork shumai melted in your mouth. Shrimp dumplings made with fresh seafood. Bean curd in a sweet brown sauce. Crisp jumbo shrimp topped with vegetables. Chicken feet. Yes, chicken feet. Gelatinous chicken feet. Not something I'd be quick to order again but definitely worth the novelty and it seemed to be a pretty popular dish. The only real miss was the seafood dumpling whose taste was a bit off.

Top (bacon wrapped shrimp); Left (shumai); Center (seafood dumplings); Right (shrimp dumplings):

Left (shrimp with vegetables); Right (Bean curd)

Chicken feet:

Chicken Feet close-up:

It's certainly not around the corner, but it's still easily accessible from the subway. Great food, awesome experience, just be prepared to wait. Interested in going?

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