Dim Sum at Da Hong Pao

I love good dim sum: the social ritual of it wedded to delicious, savory bites.

As a graduate student at Columbia in New York City, I would go with a group of friends to Chinatown from time to time for classic dim sum, sitting down in a cavernous space with white tablecloths on large round tables, choosing trays from carts of delightful items being wheeled by and placing them on the glass Lazy Susan in the middle of the table while sipping tea in between bites.

Now that we live in D.C., we went on a search for good dim sum in the city and landed upon Da Hong Pao in Logan Circle. The first time we went there, it was a Sunday, and the place was packed. It was winter, and the line snaked out the door. The diners were a combination of locals and tourists, a few of them standing by with their luggage, waiting for a table.

We waited about half an hour, and our patience was rewarded. The menu is full of traditional dishes, and the food comes out quickly. My favorites were the roast pork belly, duck, and shrimp dumplings. The skin on the pork belly was crispy-crackly, and the fat practically melted into the meat.

When I was craving the food again, we decided to try going on a weekday to see if there would be less of a crowd. We went in the middle of the work week, and the restaurant was much more breathable. Only half the dining room was full, so we were seated right away, and, once again, the food came out quickly. We ordered a couple dishes we didn’t order the last time: fried tapioca pancakes and eggplant stuffed with shrimp. Both of them were wonderfully savory umami bombs. The eggplant dish was ingenious: two strips of Chinese eggplant encased in batter with a ball of shrimp and pork in between them. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it …

For more food posts, click here.