29 Dec Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Jewmas Dim Sum at China Red
Another year, another Christmas tradition. For the past four years, I have been gathering with a group of my foodie friends on Christmas Day for our annual Jewmas Chinese food outing. “Jewmas” is a unique way to wish someone a happy holiday during the period of Christmas and Hanukkah without excluding a Christian or Jewish person. Our Jewmas Dim Sum lunch at China Red in Arcadia is the Please the Palate pick of the week.
Eating at Chinese restaurants at Christmas has been a tradition for Jews for decades. But, now going out for Chinese food on Christmas has become an American tradition. The New York Times just wrote an opinion piece entitled “Nothing Is More American Than Chinese Food on Christmas” with the sub-heading, “Jewish families and others used to flock to Chinese restaurants because that was all that was open, but now it’s almost as traditional as milk and cookies for Santa.” The Daily News wrote a piece about how it is the busiest day of the year for many Chinese restaurants who find it a challenge to staff for the day.
But tradition is tradition. We started in 2015. My friend Shauna, aka The Minty, is responsible for picking the restaurants. In 2015 we went to Shanghai No. 1, in 2016 we went to Lunasia in Alhambra and in 2017 we went to Lunasia in Pasadena. For 2018, we went to China Red in Arcadia.
Driving to the San Gabriel Valley is definitely the destination for great Chinese food and the Christmas holiday is one of the best times to go. From West LA, it took me less than 30 minutes to get there. What a joy to drive on the open roads of the Los Angeles freeways.
Despite the lack of traffic, there was no shortage of people waiting at China Red. We were a group of 15 and waited until the big table opened up. And boy, was it a big table!
China Red opened on Baldwin Avenue in Arcadia in 2014. The name was inspired by a well-loved restaurant in China with the same name. China Red offers a menu that mixes Cantonese, Beijing and Shanghainese influences. And of course, there is straightforward dim sum.
Shauna is always tasked with ordering the food. We then pass the menu around to make sure nothing was left off. We ordered a lot….possibly too much! Food was coming at us nonstop!
We had BBQ Pork Bao Steamed Tao Cake, Steamed Pork Ribs, Steamed Shrimp Dumplings, Leak Dumplings, Sticky Rice Wrap with Chicken, Deep Fried Lotus Sesame Balls, Pan Fried Turnip Cake, Baked Chicken Buns, Baked BBQ Pork Bao, Steamed Juicy Pork Buns, Steamed Shrimp Rice Noodle Rolls, House Special Rice Noodle Rolls, Chicken Feet, Tripe and more!
We finished with Egg Tarts – both the slightly sweeter Macau Style Egg Tart (inspired by the Portuguese Nata) and the Baked Egg Tart.
The annual Jewmas Dim Sum lunch is something I look forward to every year. Whatever your holiday traditions are, I hope you had a great one!