The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Kåre Week, Day 4: Dim Sum, Random Art, and Arepas

Note: This post originally took place on October 19.

I've never really understood why people in New York City have a tendency to go apeshit over weekend brunch. Not to say that pancakes, waffles, and ten variations of eggs aren't delicious, but it never struck me as anything worth fawning over.

Dim sum, on the other hand, is worth the pain that comes with dragging my sleepy weekend butt out of bed. The Chinese version of weekend brunch, it is one of the greatest meals ever invented. Great because people just keep bringing you little plates of food—many in the form of the almighty DUMPLING—and you can stuff yourself for $10 or less, downing pots of complimentary tea the whole time. The more people you have, the more stuff you can eat, so find your dim sum entourage for optimal gluttony. The only downside may that you may not know what the hell you're eating if you're not familiar with dim sum or speak Chinese, but that's part of the fun. IT'S AN ADVENTURE!!!, goddammit.

Yeah, this place is happening...

The entourage for this meal at 88 Palace, located in the dingy East Broadway Mall, was Serious Eats-derived. We decided to gather once a month (October being the inaugural meal) to review a dim sum restaurant for Seriuos Eats: New York. Unbeknownst to me, I was the reviewer, but I got help from Gordon and the others as far as identifying what the hell we ate. Aside from me, the full group consisted of Kåre, Diana, Kathy, Zach and his wife Sarah, Alaina and her husband Anil, Gordon, and Ezra (I'm sorry if Sarah also has a website and I can't find it). The vegetarians and vegans had to find other activities as dim sum is quite non-vegetarian friendly. :'(

I've already written about the meal on SE:NY (Kathy has more photos), so I'll just show you my favorites.

rice noodle rolls with shrimp
Rice noodles!

Soft, slightly chewy rice noodle rolls are so simple, but so so so good. I like rice noodles in all its forms, but this is one of my favorites. In rolled-up sheet form.

Balls of meat

Super-soft beef meatballs lined with tofu skin! You are tasty.

sticky rice
Sticky rice!

Fried sticky rice with meat bits and other bits of deliciousness! I like chewy rice bits.

steamed sticky rice
More sticky rice!

Steamed sticky rice is also good, but more soft and less chewy.

pig stomach soup?
Pig! Kinda.

Surprisingly, I was a big fan of the pig stomach herbal soup. Pig stomach reminded me of tofu skin if it were chewier, meatier, and played a role in the pig's digestive process.

sesame rice balls
Fried sesame rice balls

I can't eat dim sum without getting favorite dessert #1, fried sesame rice balls. A crisp sesame seed-crusted shell gives way to chewy, glutinous rice innards and a dense mung bean paste center.

egg custard tarts
Egg custard tarts

Favorite dessert #2 is egg custard tarts. These were some of the flakiest ones I've had in a long time. Creamy custard filling + delicate, flaky crust = WIN.

fried mantou and condensed milk
Fried mantou

The most interesting dessert of the meal (and a first for all of us) was the fried mantou with condensed milk. How could you not like a crispy, golden nugget of steamed bread dipped in the thick, sweet condensed milk? THAT'S UNPOSSIBLE.

Introducing up and coming hand model, Gordon!

After ordering 23 dishes, the final damage was $9 per person with tip. It's meals like that that make me feel totally awesome. Zach said if we were really hardcore though, we would spend at least $15 per person and have no leftovers. We'd probably all need to puke afterwards as well. While 88 Palace may not be the best dim sum in Chinatown, it's worth the price, and for some reason I like going to the East Broadway Mall. Kåre said it was like being in another world; I say it feels very Chinese, in that kind of "run down, yet still thriving" way.

some place on division street
Random pile of eggs

While walking on Division Street towards nothing in particular, we passed a restaurant with a giant pile of fried eggs in the window. My first thought was, "I really want one," and then I remembered, "No wait, I just ate a huge meal, thus putting more food in my body is unnecessary and will probably result in physical discomfort, such as the eruption of an important organ." The master of reason, I am.

Oh, Grover
Grover has a problem

On the way to the West Village, we went to the temporary Outsiders show held by the Ladarides Gallery at the corner of Bowery and Houston. Here's one example of art from the show: Alcoholic Bum Grover.

The Village Pet Store
Not a pet store

We headed to the West Village to check out Banksy's temporary non-pet shop, The Village Pet Store. A real pet shop has live, breathing animals; a non-pet shop has animatronic animals and animal-derived things like hot dogs, fish sticks, and chicken nuggets. You should check it out in real life if you get the chance since photos don't give the whole effect of the Fish Stick that Undulates or the Little Hot Dogs that Wiggle Somewhat Freakishly.

old tweety
Old Tweety
fish stick
It's a fish stick in a fish bowl, GET IT?!
lil hot dogs
Watching these lil' hot dogs squirm is totally creepy.
chicken nuggets
Chicken nuggets made to look like chicks, teehee!
do not feed the pigeons

And for no reason, a "DO NOT FEED THE PIGEONS" sign because I had never noticed one before and I thought it was pretty freakin' cute. Of course, if it were in Japan it'd be 500% cuter, and the pigeon would probably say something like, "LET'S BE FRIENDS," but you have to lower your standards when you're anywhere else in the world.

So much magamazine.

Ian took us to Roger's Time Machine, a completely awesome comic book and retro magazine store I would have never noticed on my own. I'm sure I've passed it many times as it's right by the Donut Pub, but it's a second floor store that you have to ring a buzzer to get into. That's two deterrents right there, which is two more than I usually feel like engaging in.

more comics

But you should ring the bell and climb a flight of stairs so you can gaze upon Roger's bounty of comic books, magazines, sci-fi novels, and...old Playboys.

guacamole and chips

For dinner, Kåre and I ate at Shachi's, primarily because it was only a 10 minute walk from my apartment and my desire to walk far or take a subway was nonexistent. The last time I went to Shachi's I felt unsatisfied with just one arepa—a kind of Venezuelan sandwich made with cornmeal patties—so I thought we should order more than one each.

"I think we're going to share some arepas," I told the waiter.

" many?" he ask with a friendly, yet concerned look. "Each one is kind of big, about the size of a burger," he said while making a round shape with his hands. "I'm not sure you can eat that many of them."

While my initial thought was, "Pfft, I can totally eat two of those," I decided to ignore my gluttonous pride and heed his warning. We ordered three arepas and an order of guacamole and chips, which in the end was probably more food than just getting four arepas and, of course, resulted in me feeling bloated and stuffed. Moral of the story: Listen to your waiter. If he works at Shachi's.

plantain, bean, cheese, pork
There be meats

My favorite is the pabellon filled with juicy, shredded beef, black beans, sweet plantains, and grated cheese. That it didn't fill me up the first time I ate it is frightening because...did you see what it's stuffed with? A combination of four very filling things. Every bite is a delicious mix of fat, protein, and starch.

chicken salad, avocado
Chicken salad

We also got a reina pepiada filled with chicken potato salad and avocado.

ham and cheese arepa
Ham and cheese

And another filled with ham and cheese.

And then I went into a food coma and never wanted to eat an arepa again. Not until I had deflated, that is.

Although I have no sense of what good Venezuelan food is, I'd say the arepas from Shachi's are worth eating. Most of the deliciousness comes from the hearty crisp and soft cornmeal "buns," but unless you have something against beef, beans, plantains, or cheese (NOOO, SAY IT AIN'T SO), you should stick with the pabellon. (I apologize if it sounds like I'm not putting my all into this review; it's mostly because I already reviewed Shachi's on Serious Eats, and partially because it's 1 a.m. and my brain is half asleep.)

Our waiter didn't look like he was going to give us our check anytime soon even though we were one of two parties in the restaurant, so I got up and walked the few yards to the counter to get it. "I'm sorry, you guys looked like you were having a good conversation and I didn't want to intrude," he explained. I didn't think he was being neglectful or anything; we could just have easily asked for the check but it seemed easier to get it myself.

On the walk home, Kåre said that the waiter probably thought we were on a date. The idea completely surprised me; it's not something I would've ever thought of, but I guess it makes sense for dates do occur in restaurants. As far as I know, I've never been on a date, and if anyone ever took me on one he'd have to be explicit about it beforehand. On that note, you shouldn't tell me if we're going on a date because then I'd probably refuse to go out, meaning that anyone who wants to date me would have to trick me into it, which is probably why I'm single. The bigger reason for that though is that I'm mentally unstable. (Am I joking? Nobody knows.)

I bet I just intimidated a bunch of people. Ahhh fuck.

Something funny about the earlier part of the day was that the group I was in kept shifting. After leaving 88 Palace, it was whittled down to Diana, Kathy, Ezra, Kåre, and me. At some point Ian joined the group and brought us to the Outsiders show, after which Kathy went home. When we got to the West Village we met up with Alex and Sophie. One of Ezra's friends popped in after a while, and after getting our fill of undulating fish sticks, the seven of us walked up to Roger's Time Machine. We left when Alex had to catch the bus back to Philly (sniffles!). Feeling tired and full, Kåre and I went back to Brooklyn and the rest of the group went their separate ways. Stuff like that doesn't usually happen. Really.


88 Palace
88 East Broadway, 2nd Floor,
New York, NY 10002
(the East Broadway Mall under the Manhattan Bridge)

The Village Pet Store
89 7th Ave S
New York, NY 10014

Roger's Time Machine
207 W 14th St # 2
New York, NY 10011

197 Havemeyer Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211


Mikey / November 2, 2008 9:46 AM

First I laughed at Wino Grover, then I was totally creeped out by Geriatric Tweety. This may be the first time your blog actually made me NOT want food...

Honey / November 2, 2008 10:06 AM

Robyn, you know why people (like me) go apeshit over a new york brunch? Because other places don't seem to embrace the brunch as wholeheartedly. Not to mention the fact that breakfast food is my favorite. I live five minutes outside of DC and I have only found two brunch places that give the same feeling of delight that 20 NYC places give me. It's a damn shame I tell you. Thank god good dim sum places are abundant though. My favorite dim sum dish at 11am on a Sunday morning? Baked Pork Buns baby!

roboppy / November 2, 2008 11:53 AM

Vincci: 1 am dim sum would be pretty awesome.

Mikey: THEY JUST NEED SOME LOOOOOVE!!...actually I don't think love would even save them.

Honey: Ah, I didn't know it was so loved...outside of nyc! I must be numbed to brunch's effect, hehe. :) Well I'd totally go to brunch with you if you're ever in the city!

Mahar / November 2, 2008 12:35 PM

I LOVE fried sesame balls. Only here we call them buchi.

and the filling is mung bean rather than red bean. Though I've had black bean versions.

Now I'm hungry for it.

Su-Lin / November 2, 2008 4:11 PM

Ooooh, the arepas look amazing. Definitely going to make them soon since I just bought a bagful of masa harina today!

Jason / November 2, 2008 7:00 PM

Hmmm... I wants ze arepas! On a side note for fillings, fried sesame balls tend to be filled with lotus seed paste. I think I'm going to have to make you a sampler pack some day. I think my continual hunt through restaurant websites will surely pay off some day. I recently had some awesome fig-almond pizza from SoNo bakery. If only the crust weren't the flaky kind... that just makes it some sort of tart in disguise!

Molly / November 3, 2008 12:11 AM

ooooh i want arepas right now! have you ever been to caracas on east 7th st? that was my first intro to arepas and i'm still hooked. it's always worth waiting in line.

Aliiiiiiiiiiiiice / November 3, 2008 12:52 AM

yay! you went to shachi's again, yayyy!

i know yer just "meh" about shachis but ah ruvs it. i ruvs it so much ah don't nose...!

Aliiiiiiiiiiiiice / November 3, 2008 12:55 AM

p.s. there was a lady -- like our moms' age with her husband and another couple friend who came to Sonia Rose on Saturday. And guess what? She was like, "Oh, YOU'RE Alice!" Turns out, when she was reading up on Sonia Rose, she saw the posting on yer blog. Which would be this blog. buh...

I thought it was so cooLs!

Carl / November 3, 2008 9:45 AM

Those balls of meat look meat-tastic!

And those little sandwiches look so tasty. I'd eat all of them! ALL OF THEM!

Julie / November 3, 2008 10:20 AM

What? No fried taro balls? Oy vey! I haven't been to dim sum since I visited my Hun's family in OKC for the winter holidays. I think we went every day, and his mom knew the management, so she kept demanding excellent service. Moms crack me up.

The world needs more comic book shops. Though the part about the Playboys combined with the buzzer kinda skeezes me out.

Lainey / November 3, 2008 11:01 AM

ha. totally with you on the dating business. i must be tricked or i will have an existential crisis and then drink way too much pre-date, not a good combo. i have gotten more savvy... maybe.

roboppy / November 3, 2008 3:48 PM

Su-Lin: I've never bought a bagful of masa harina before. ;_; Maybe I should...cook more often.

Jason: I am not opposed to this "sampler pack" idea. :)

Fig almond sounds gooood.

Molly: I've only been to Caracas once, like three years ago. :O I should probably go back!

Alice: I might not be crazy about arepas; maybe that's the problem. I mean, I like em, but not as much as..say..PUPUSAS! OMG I want em.

And yay to that lady! You be famous!


And then you 'splode.

Julie: Oh, they had the balls but I was too full to try them. :( I fail!

One of my friends said he thinks the comic book store is mob-run. Heh.

Lainey: I'm glad I'm not the only one! But I don't drink so I have no way to buffer the effects of a potential date. ..I guess that's a good thing? I DUNNO.

TJ / November 4, 2008 9:55 AM

Roboppy, you should really come to Amsterdam someday. You'll love it here! I know this doesn't have to do with this entry.
But had to tell you anyway.
See you in Holland!

roboppy / November 5, 2008 12:20 AM

TJ: I actually told Kathy last weekend that we should go to Amsterdam! And get brownies! Normal ones, not pot brownies. If that's possible. :) So maybe I will need to give me food recs though. :)

We Are Never Full: I'm glad I'm helping you discover new places; that's what I love doing! :)

Kate / November 5, 2008 10:22 AM much yummyness in one posting...

Dim sum = yummy

Arepas = yummy


Art with chicken nuggets = AMAZING

I thinks I want a chicken shaped chicken nugget now.

SuperChomp / November 6, 2008 6:58 AM

See, I attended a Chinese school (once a week) for 7 years, and yet I still can't read a dim dum menu. Why couldn't they have taught something useful!?
Anyway, the food looks pretty good. I'm glad you discovered fried mantou, I miss having that since I became a lactard :):(

Jesi / November 23, 2008 12:54 AM

"we passed a restaurant with a giant pile of fried eggs in the window. My first thought was, "I really want one," and then I remembered, "No wait, I just ate a huge meal, thus putting more food in my body is unnecessary..."
this is EXACTLY what i would have done. its like my body instantly resets itself every time i see something delicious, and i eat it, and then realize that thats physically impossible and now i feel like i want to die.
now i want plantains!

roboppy / November 24, 2008 1:18 AM

Jesi: Oh nooes plantains are so stomach deadening! But delicious. Well, the fried ones. My preferred form of plantains. :)

Ananda / September 24, 2011 10:46 PM

It does not look like our traditional reina pepiada arepa... I wish you could try one. it doesn´t look nothing like the picture. And a Chicha (made of rice) for drinking. I would recommend cachapas, made of corn almost like pancakes... but fill with cheese or pernil. Venezuela has some good dishes to offer :D
greeting from Caracas.

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