New Asia Restaurant Is Loud, Bright, and Very Gold
|New Asia Restaurant's taro puffs.|
"Ng saap sei! Fifty-four!" the cashier called into the microphone, the numbers resounding out onto Pacific Ave. "Ng saap sei!"
I waved my numbered ticket and she pointed me toward a waiter who'd emerged from the sea of tables. He made a few semaphore gestures, turned around, and walked briskly back into the crowd, and my friend and I jogged to catch up with him. All around us: Old men and young children. As I walked to our table, I watched a woman bite into a steamed bun and smile, the expression amplified in the wrinkles covering her face into a state of yogic bliss, and it was hard not to smile back.
|New Asia's interior.|
If there was a dish I'd return for, it would be the lobster noodles. (Conformity always has its rewards.) Second choice: the "bees' nest" taro puffs, ovals of purple-gray puréed taro wrapped around seasoned pork. The outer layer is mixed with tapioca flour so that, in the fryer, it becomes a lacy golden cloud. There aren't many dim sum places that can produce taro puffs with the same succession of distinctive textures -- feathery crunch segueing into creamy taro and the granular chewiness of ground meat. Between shouting out numbers, the cashier totalled up my check, and I headed back to work, hoping I'd drunk enough tea to prevent that dim sum drowsiness from wiping out the afternoon.