One of my favorite memories as a kid is when Papa would wake us up on a Saturday morning and say “Bihis kayo, mag dimsum tayo.”
I know Binondo like the back of my hand. Until now, you can drop me anywhere in Chinatown and I’ll know my way around. This is because I’ve spent many childhood weekends here. We’d always go to the now defunct Royal Garden Tea House. We’d settle in one of the table that accommodate 4 but when the folded wings propped up, makes room for 6. We always hope for a table in the ground floor because the dimsum cart is downstairs. Tables on the second floor only get served dimsum on trays, and there are a few joys in the world comparable to a full dimsum cart heading your way. Papa would holler at the staff pushing the cart and begin serving us himself as soon as it wheels near our table. He’d then pick up the hot little tin trays from each stack until the table is full. Siomai, sharksfin siomai, beef balls, chicken feet, beancurd roll and hakaw, about 2-3 servings each — those are the staples, all of which we will annihilate in under 5 minutes.
We always get the same waiter all those years. Every time he never ceases to be amazed on how fast we finish our food, considering papa had 3 little chinoy daughters.
So yes, dimsum for me will always be comfort food. Dimsum will always remind me of home.