New Canton Restaurant
Sacramento, CA 95818-2658
Dim Sum on Sunday's is delightful, something natural. I remember going for dim-sum when I was 8 years old or so in Atlanta: there were cart-ladies, shrimp toasts with sesame seeds stuck to them, big squashy pork-buns, spareribs, on and on. The dining hall functioned at a volume normally restricted to air-force bases, and it was huge, at least to my underexperienced eyes. I have enjoyed dim-sum ever since. I've had it in one of the soul-centers for the stuff - Hong Kong - and was delighted to find the Sunday dim sum tradition is not particularly dissimilar from place to place. (There was nearly a riot over chicken buns at the joint in Hong Kong, of course... "They're from the country, they don't know better," our table mate informed us with a derisive wave - but riots are not a neccessity for dim sum enjoyment, not at all.)
New Canton is one of Sacramento's few dim sum outlets, and it does a pretty good job. There are the requesite carts, the crowds of loud shouting people, the fresh-fish tank, the jellyfish salad and steamed chicken feet and thousand-year-egg congee. Roast pork and duck are of course available for the masses.
Chicken feet, always about the goddamned chicken feet (fung zau).. They're pretty good here: large, flavorful, dipped in sauce. They are a total bitch to pick up with chopsticks, but one learns the technique eventually. You may recall the recent news story regarding the Chinese indignation that we might curtail their chicken-foot supply: American chickens have such "big, fat" feet.
Minced scallops in a fried dumpling. Pretty good, and thankfully served warm enough. Chilled fried stuff that's been circumnavigating around on carts for the past hour is never good.
Shrimp dumplings or har gau, a perennial favorite. Quite good here. They're one of those things that no one dreams about but are unavoidable in practice.
Seaweed salad and some sort of glutinous thing flavored with sesame I cannot identify. I happen to deeply enjoy glutinous things flavored with sesame, so this was a hit for me. Nice to have something chilled to go with the other dishes.
Fried salt and pepper shrimp (椒鹽蝦) head-on, the way God made em'. Very nice, and hot enough - don't bother if they are not piping hot. If you don't eat the heads, you're missing out on a delicious, fatty treat. Same principle as suckin' crawdad heads.
Fried dumplings with crab inside and an extremely crispy interior. Pretty good, though skip the sweet n' sour sauce, there ain't no excuse for that.
Spareribs with black bean sauce (pai gwhut). Bony, fatty, oh-so-comforting. Can't have dim sum without em'.
Char siu, or BBQ pork. New Canton does very good BBQ pork and duck - it's one of their specialities -and this was no exception, with a nice smoky flavor and a carefully balanced ratio of fat to meat.
Serve all this with copious amounts of tea, and all is right with the world. We found that going at noon beats the AM rush - a good idea if you're not interested in fighting to be heard over a sea of excited Cantonese conversation. On the other hand, sometime you are.