Sunday, December 2, 2007

Ocean Harbor Dim Sum

When I moved to Lancaster, I quickly went to work in creating my own social outlet. "Social," in my vocabulary, is always associated with food. Good food. So I asked a select few coworkers, who looked like they would appreciate good food and wouldn't complain about a potentially jaw-dropping bill occasionally, whether they wanted to start a monthly Dinner Club. We would each take turns choosing the culinary experience--anything goes, unless someone is deathly allergic to something.

This month, we all journeyed our way to Philly's Chinatown for some Dim Sum on a beautiful, brisk Saturday for lunch. We met at the Ocean Harbor restaurant on Race St., and it did not disappoint. It isn't in the same league as the Dim Sum in LA or in NYC, but to go from farmland to a cosmopolitan city's Chinatown in less than two hours continues to amaze me.

Dim Sum literally means "a little heart" in Chinese, and it's associated with Hong Kong and the Cantonese, to be specific. It is to the Chinese what Tapas are to the Spanish. Carts wind their way throughout the restaurant filled with little appetizer sized dishes of unparalleled variety -- delicately wrapped dumplings to fluffy filled buns to rice steamed in bamboo leaves to sweet little egg custards. You choose what you want and share everything at the table.

We overdid it a little this time around mainly because when you're with people who are experiencing Dim Sum for the first time, you want them to try all it has to offer. And there's a lot to experience. But something else occurred to me that day, and it didn't really have to do with food.

The Dinner Club has been going strong for almost a year now. These things typically peter out after a few months from sheer apathy. The difference here is that, yes, we are all passionate about food, but more importantly, we genuinely enjoy each other's company. We're an extremely diverse group of people, from ethnicity to sexual orientation. We may not see eye to eye on every issue that pops up, but we care about each other. We all understand that what happens at Dinner Club stays at Dinner Club. Great food and great friendship. I'm so glad I can have my Dim Sum and eat it, too.

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