The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

88 Palace, gelatolicious, and har har, Japanese stuff!

splayed out
dim sum!

Dim sum is a lovely thing. Sit on your bum and wait for ladies to push their food-laden carts to your table so you can load up on mini-steamers and plates full of aaaanything your heart desires, as long as your heart desires mainly meaty and greasy Chinese appetizer-esque dishes. ...Actually, your heart probably doesn't want that. But whatever, it doesn't have taste buds. Just atherosclerosis! (Actually, I guess those are in the arteries, but let's not get technical.)

I went to 88 Palace in the East Broadway Mall (guess where that is) with Allen and Wei for a late lunch yesterday. The place was somewhat empty at 2:30 PM ( was 2:30 PM) but that meant most of the dishes were consolidated into one cart from which we seemingly took 20 dishes, but was probably more like eight. (...Yeah, that sentence wasn't worded correctly.)

funky dumplings
funky dumplings

I don't know what these are exactly, but I ate them and they were tasty! Don't ask how often I eat things without knowing what they are. I mean, they're obviously dumplings. And they have green stuff. And they're shiny. Obviously these "Shiny Green Dumplings" are safe to eat. Right? Right.

ginormous meat balls
ginormous meat balls

Here are some "Ginormous Meat Balls". That's not the official name, but I think it works in this case. Actually, they're more like "Ginormous Meat Balls That Taste Kind Of Like Beef But Have A Fish Ball-esque Texture". Pretty good.

Chinese sausage wrapped in...dough
Chinese sausage wrapped in steamed bread

As someone with a huge distaste for pork in the form of American sausage or bacon, I strangely like a lot of Asian-style pork, such as deathly Chinese sausages bursting with fat and sweetness. With each bite, you feel your heart die a little. And keep eating. I guess it's alright; one day your heart will die anyway. Keep that in mind the next time you scarf down a glistening sausage. :)

turnip cakes
turnip cakes

Behold, the super awesome turnip cake. It may not look like much, but there is tastiness to be found! Turnip cakes are thankfully not just made of turnip, but also have rice and...stuff! Magic! Rice and magic. (Don't quote me on that.) And turnip. And little meat bits. And "brown sauce". Words and pictures can't do justice to turnip cakes; you must ingest them yourself. If you have never ingested them, you must go forth and ingest. Go! (points outside) And get me some chocolate while you're out.

...Methinks I'm really bad at describing Chinese food. So. How about a moment of "Oh boy, I'm really Chinese" zen? While Allen and I were waiting for Wei, we heard a guy at a nearby table hack some phlegm.

"It's kind of nice that people can comfortably do that in this environment," said Allen. (Those definitely weren't his exact words, but I know he didn't say, "Squirrel bandit stole my teapot.")

"Ah, yes, the sounds of my childhood," I reflected. Not so enthusiastically. But hey, these are the things memories are made of: the build up of mucosal substances in old Chinese men's respiratory systems.

Our final bill came out to about $10 per person for nine dishes. It's definitely one of the best deals you'll find, figuring you can bring at least two other people with you since most dishes come in threes, although some come in fours and others, in piles. The only dish I didn't like was the pork bun, which just tasted odd in my opinion. Dumplings, rice noodles, glutinous rice, vegetables, and pork are all good to go.

IMPORTANT EDIT: Allen reminded me of a rather important thing: it costs $1 to dry your hands in their bathroom. ...Well, if you want to use a paper towel and not your own clothing/hair/something else. I had washed my hands and an old woman started speaking to me in Chinese. As usual, I explained my stupidity/inability to speak Chinese and she asked if I wanted a towel. Well, hot damn, I sure love a good dry towel to un-moisten my hands with. So she hands me a towel...and conspicuously asks for a tip (by pointing to a metal container and saying, "Tips go in there"). I didn't have change so I gave her a five and she gave me four singles. Aaaawwwkward.

So! If you want to pay an old woman a dollar, be sure to get a paper towel. It's the thrill of a lifetime. I suppose the meal was cheap enough to incur a $1 fee for drying one's hands, but even this was a part of Chinese culture something-or-other I was highly unaware of. Every bathroom I've been in up until now (in America) where you could give a tip was set up like so because the bathroom was nice. Clean, sleek, softly lit sinks, scented, etc. This was just a regular bathroom you'd expect to find in Chinatown (not awful but rather small, not exactly up-to-date with the upkeep, uncomfortably bathed in fluorescent lights, worse than the ones in my school, probably not scented in an optimal way). So. So....soooo...that's just a warning. When you gotta pee, you gotta pee.

pistachio ice cream

We waddled down to Il Laboratorio del Gelato and peered into the dark storefront. Could it be closed? No, they just wanted to utilize the natural sunlight!...maybe. Stepping inside, we noticed that the freezer was empty. [cue Twilight Zone theme] Wha...what was going on? Empty? EMPTY! They had ice cream churning (or whatever it does) in the back, so not all was lost, but some magical-ness is lost when you can't see the person scooping your ice cream into a container.

All was forgotten when we tasted the pistachio ice cream. Mmm. Creamy. Creamier than everrrr befoooore. Out of my three Il Laboratorio visits, this definitely won the creamiest award. As usual, the flavor was better than any other ice cream I've had and there were plenty of pistachio chunks throughout. Mmmmmm.

We went off again for a Japanese food-stuffs tour at Sunrise Mart and JAS Mart. You think you've seen it all, but then you come across things like...

slow life
slow life

Slow Life Stew. (Meatless!)


Diet Weider, fiberized. Also comes in collagen!

bitter melon drink
bitter melon drink

...This guy!


"Real" spaghetti sauce taste! (Click to zoom in.) We think maybe the quotes can prevent legal action from people who don't think they're getting the real spaghetti sauce taste. "We used quotes! The realness was just a suggestion. You lose."

Pocari Sweat
Pocari Sweat

Pocari Sweat brings back memories from those days in Taiwan where I'd need to replace my bodily fluids every 5 minutes because it would take about that long to get dehydrated under the brutal steamy sun. Actually, I only remember drinking it twice out of a mix of desperation and fascination over something with the world "sweat" in its name. It actually tastes kind of like sweat because it's salty,'s kind of good. Kind of. Then again, maybe I was dehydrated at the time and couldn't think straight.


Alas, another cloudy and mystery-flavored Japanese drink. While I don't usually spring for tasting different liquids (I did enough of that in my beverages class; guess what, I got an A-!), the cute bottle and name was enough to make me buy this. I drank the whole thing and I'm still not sure what it tastes like. It's sweet enough to not taste over-watered but not so much that it tastes like a sweet drink. Besides that, I don't know how to describe it. It tastes Japanese; that's seriously the best I can come up with.

pumpkin cheese pie tart thing

And then I ate a slice of pumpkin cheese pie tart thing (yes, I really should keep track of names from now on) and forced Allen and Wei to help me with the burden of eating my 45 piece box of chocolates. Pie? Great! Chocolate? Awesome! Waistline? Bad.


mini / January 9, 2006 12:31 PM

I think those large meatball things are called shi zhi tou ... or lion's head haha. I had them once at a chinese restaurant.

eastsidegirl / January 9, 2006 1:08 PM

Hey. I did a LES food tour yesterday, based on what I read from your blog. You have become my own personal food guide!

I got a crepe from fusion--the seaweed, tofu, and bonito crepe. It was quite tasty, though it could have been a little more well done--crepe was a little soggy.

Cupcakes from Sugar Sweet Sunshine are yummy yummy. Didn't try anything else yesterday, but I'll go back soon. I like that they have seating in there.

I walked past Tuck Shop and, alas, was too full to eat anything more. I'll go back soon, though.

Love the tarragon and pink peppercorn gelato from the gelateria!

mona / January 9, 2006 1:25 PM

wow, those pictures look amazing. ha ! love that you use the word ginormous too. i want some of those "funky" dumplings. yumm!

Kathy / January 9, 2006 6:31 PM

We have awesome dim sum in Hawaii but we're missing out on those funky dumplings! How was that pumpkin cheese tart (my three favorite words combined :)- it looks so good!
Your posts makes me miss the food in NYC so much I just bought my spring break ticket right after reading your post. Il Laboratorio, Sugar Sweet Sunshine and CHINATOWN! yay!

Allen Wong / January 9, 2006 6:35 PM

Yup, lion's head ... balls.

I still can't get over the fact that it cost a dollar for a towel in the bathroom. What the hell.

This post made me laugh hard. :D

Rose / January 9, 2006 7:50 PM

I love dim sum in all of its greasy forms. I'm a big turnip cake fan too. My favorite is the shrimp rolled in that slippery white rice wrapper...wish I knew the chinese names for these dishes.

Wei / January 9, 2006 8:17 PM

Ahh.. good times..good times. And yes, Robyn is legendary in her gastronomic awesomeness. I witnessed it first hand.

EP / January 10, 2006 2:59 PM

your blog rocks. i just read for the first time. now i need dim sum. and crazy un-named Japanese drinks. i will be back - keep it up.

Nosher / January 11, 2006 12:50 AM

SO glad you finally made it to 88 Palace! Our article about our visit gets more hits than all but 2 of our posts. I think New Yorkers all want to be in on the secret!


MessyJessy / January 11, 2006 11:48 AM

Wow...I've been lurking on your site for a week now. This is the most awesome food blog yet! The pics brought back memories of when I was a little girl and we would visit my great uncle in Chinatown and eat dim sum. Man, I want dim's kind of hard to find it in NC. Keep posting!

Shawn / January 11, 2006 12:25 PM

The Life Partner drink might be flavored with yogurt powder. Several cloudy Japanese drinks (like Calpis) are, and it tastes just sort of sweet.

Something random from the archives