Saturday, March 20, 2010

Something New

Yesterday, six of us rendezvoused at Szechuan, 2107 PCH, Lomita 310-534-2280 for lunch. Which is all that is served there -- 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. This is a dim sum restaurant and we'd never eaten that. Our friends - Bob and Pat, Morris and his daughter Janet and our friend Tony -- all had. We were the newbies.

Richie asked what it was driving over and I explained that it's a series of "small plates" much like Danish smorgasbord or Spain's tapas or, well, China's dim sum.

The restaurant is good sized, with a big main dining room, several spacious private rooms (two of which were in use) and a seafood tank-lined long hall out to the parking lot behind the building. White napery and substantial chairs give a formal tone.

The carts began rolling up to the table. Food is served from them in metal pails. Each cart has a big sign on the front, listing the delicacies* in that particular cart. Unfortunately, our servers had a habit of turning the cart so the sign wasn't visible to the table. If we asked, they replied politely enough but all had thick Asian accents. "Shrimp" came out as "shlimp." Vigilance!

We ate our way through: beef meatballs, pork ribs, black mushroom buns, sticky buns, steamed bbq pork bun, steamed shrimp balls, stuffed egg plant and spring rolls. The spring rolls were the normal serving size until the waitress reached over with a pair of long-bladed scissors and snipped them in quarters! There were no knives at our place settings, only a fork apiece. Chop sticks are brought on request.

The servings are priced by size/portion amount. Small is $2.50 each item; Medium is $3.65 and Large is $4.85. Example: Small - 4 beef meatballs (portion) @ $2.50 each = $10.

I enjoyed the food (the sticky buns were particularly tasty) and it was a novel way to eat. Very much family style - "Would you pass me the ..." "Could we have some of that sauce over here?" At the end of lunch, the table was covered with empty metal pails and piles of dishes. The bill was totaled and we each were assessed $10. Of note - tea is 95 cents per person. I'd always thought it was free.

* My palate is not sophisticated enough to relish: chicken feet, steamed bean curd skin, turnip cake, lotus seed paste bun or mixed beef tripe to name a few.

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