On Saturday morning I headed down to Sunset Park, Brookyn for dim sum at Pacificana, which despite the friendly staff and short wait time — less than 10 minutes and the place was absolutely packed — I encountered a pretty middling dim sum experience. A couple of sub-par rice rolls and weak ass “soup dumplings” (they forgot the soup part) and a $33/head bill will not have me rushing back. I’m a supporter of Jin Fong and Oriental Garden on Elizabeth St. in Manhattan anyways.
But this is not about reviewing sub-par dumplings. It’s about a conversation I had with my tablemate about what the hell is going on with the bacon and shrimp roll, long a trolley cart staple and sort of enigma to me. We both took a moment to think about what was actually going on here. I first encountered the roll (can we call it a bite?) years ago at Nom Wah Tea Parlor in Manhattan and have been ordering it ever since — at places like 88 Palace and Golden Unicorn. I even spotted it in Tasmania, where I found the dim sum (they call it yum cha) pretty terrific.
The bite is made of minced shrimp meat (though sometimes the shrimp remains whole) that is battered and deep-fried, wrapped in bacon and then quickly fried again. It’s the ultimate dim sum pleasure point — fully accessibly to all crowds (unlike, say, boiled chicken feet or fruit suspended in jelly), salty, greasy and if you are lucky, brought to the table with a side of mayonnaise. Vegans and followers of kashrut are probably horrified at this thought. But it’s basically the Doritos taco shell of dim sum. It's novel. You want to try it no matter what. There is no shame involved.