China Pearl sign

A pearl of a place to eat


There's a reference-standard place in Boston's Chinatown to go for dim sum on a Sunday morning, the delicious Asian alternative for brunch.  It's China Pearl, all of a block and a half in from the famous "Arch" gateway into the neighborhood.  In case you don't know, Dim Sum is a wide selection of small snack-like items, similar to tapas, some like pastries and some like dumplings and some like spring-rolls ... and some that are just plain weird.  Many items are steamed, and served right in the little metal steamers they were just cooked in.
The food is brought around to tableside on roving carts, and much of the ordering mechanism consists of pointing to things and saying "yes" whereupon the server puts it on the table.  As items are ordered, a tally card is marked up to determine the final bill.  It's an efficient system that works pretty well across language barriers.  Here's what a typical spread looks like:

Dim sum spread

  The "sesame covered lightbulbs" near center are sweet bean-paste buns, and one of my favorites.

Over the last few times I've been to the Pearl I slipped a pair of "flats" into my back pocket but never took them out -- the management appears to not care either way, rarely even looks down.  This speaks volumes to the authenticity of the establishment's culture and values -- in contrast to a more "americanized" Chinese restaurant I frequent in the 'burbs, and whose management insists on shoes in the typical ignorant fashion.  Chinatown restaurants have far more genuineness about them.  The people who may not have grown up here or did so under alternative types of culture have not been subjected as deeply to the uniquely American nonsense about bare feet being bad somehow, possibly grew up frequently barefoot themselves, and don't see any point in griping about it.

On a recent visit a large group of us got seated at one of the big tables up on a small raised platform, with a couple of steps leading up.  The maitre-d' ushered us into the area and briefly pointed down toward the steps as I was coming up, saying something like "watch yourself", and that was the only possible reference to the state of my feet.  No problem at all, apparently, and we had a lovely time stuffing ourselves with yummies -- without our feet stuffed into confinement.

_H*   160917

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