For a long time I have loved food from the West (China, Japan, Thailand, etc.). The rich broths, mixes of asian vegetables, and salty sweet flavorings have always been my favorite. More recently, in the past 5 years or so, my tastes have started to focus solely on dumplings and other finger foods – I find most of the main meals to be too heavy for my taste. The main problem with this is that we don’t have a lot of good options that I have found here in the Charleston area.
My best experience so far with dumplings on the east coast was when I lived in Boston. The “chinatown” area has a ton of super tasty authentic chinese; while the service may be lacking the food will blow you away. My favorite restaurant there is Dumpling Cafe – they make the best Soup Dumplings (where the soup cooks inside a dumpling) that I have ever had. Their pork and duck buns are also really amazing, and this is the place I had my first one. The concept – putting succulent and bbq’ed meat inside a bun – is so simple and yet so pleasing to the palette.
There are many other good restaurants around that part of Boston, but the experience that really opened my eyes to the world of dumplings was my first time at Cholada. If you were to drive by it you might miss it or dismiss it offhand as just being a restaurant in a run down shack in the Palisades of California. Never have I ever seen such a well disguised jewel of food! This place gave me my first Siu Mai experience, but they also have many other amazing eats like Golden Bags (a dumpling that is fried and made to look like a small bag) and Kanom Jeep (or Siu Mai) – which is their house steamed dumpling made of Chestnuts, Minced Garlic, and Pork.
The family I was staying with in the Palisades area during my internship this past summer ordered from there one night shortly after we had moved to their new rental house. I came up from my room to grab a water from the fridge and was offered a sampling of what they had ordered. I ate one piece of each appetizer and then immediately asked them for the number so I could place a take-out order. In the month that I was living with them in that house I must have ordered dinner from their at least four nights a week – but all I would order for dinner were the Golden Bags and Kanom Jeep. They were so good and light and filling that I never needed any rice or noodles to balance out my meals.
Because of this experience I also started venturing out to other hidden gems like Ma’Kai Lounge and The Palace Seafood and Dim Sum. Out of these two Ma’Kai was my favorite – the Spicy Tuna with Crispy Rice and the Ahi Poke on Wonton were my favorite dishes. Since I have gotten back from California I have yet to order any main dish items from any Asian based restaurants – some appetizers are so good that I find myself filling up on them and even getting an extra order to go!
Next Up: My vision and plan!
I’m a SC native having been born in Sumter and lived in Hartsville, Columbia, and now Mount Pleasant. I graduated from The Citadel in 2005 with a major in Criminal Justice and a Minor in French. The one thing I have learned since being out of my undergraduate program is that any Majors and Minors you get don’t mean anything and don’t limit you as to what you can do.
Right out of college I got my Real Estate License and worked for Century 21 for 1 1/2 years (this was what my parents wanted me to do at the time). Then a great opportunity opened up for me to go work for the Greenville County Sheriff’s office: work as a deputy (part-time) and go back to school for a degree in cyber crime, all to help Greenville build up its Computer Crime division. Politics and in-office fighting prevented me from fully realizing this opportunity so I quit after 6 months.
The very day that I quit a fellow Citadel graduate that I was good friends with called me just to chat and when I told him that I had just quit the Sheriff’s office he told me about this company he was working for and how soon could I come up for an interview. Over the next two days my parents helped me move all of my stuff back to my house in Mount Pleasant and I immediately flew up to Boston and within one week was working for Brown Brothers Harriman, Inc. (one of the largest private banks in the US).
I consider this to be my first office job and I loved everybody that I worked with. I started attending Suffolk University’s Graduate College to get my MBA. There was another Citadel grad there named Ed Patterson that I became good friends with and we spent a lot of time on the weekends playing paintball. The group I was working with at the bank had been started up to try out a new personalized banking business model with some of their international clients, but when the economic collapse happened in 07-08 it became clear that this little project was not going to work.
I decided that while I loved Boston (and I still do) maybe it was time for me to move back to the Charleston area. I got a job working with Blackbaud providing technical customer assistance. I love what Blackbaud does (software for nonprofits) and everybody I worked with, but after a year I realized that I was neither healthy or happy working there. I was still working on my Masters at this point (2011) and this is also when my health became a big issue for me, but that will have to wait for the next post.
My parents came into town today, all the way from Pawley’s Island, just for this rodeo! They were not disappointed as a lot of the major Charleston mobile food vendors were there to fill our minds and stomachs. I had the Steamed Buns from Fat Ninja, my mom had the Huevos Rancheros from Outta My Huevos, and my dad had a Baja burrito from Baja Burrito’s.
This is going to be my official blog for my upcoming venture: Dim Sum Good Dumplings – Mobile Dim Sum in Charleston, SC! I’m going to be detailing the steps I am taking to get my idea off the ground and also about what inspired this idea. Stay tuned!