Thursday, October 20, 2005

"Able To Successfully Lead Dim Sum Virgin Coworkers Through First Dim Sum Experience."- Empress Pavillion


What's behind door No. 1?

Having to rewrite my resume after 5 years at my current company was a difficult task. I haven't really taken a good look at myself in a long time, and the longer I think about it, the more I realize that I can't do much, and I don't really do much. In fact, I get paid alot for acting like I know what I'm doing. You remember
Chandler Bing on Friends, and how his job was to manage the "WENIS" but no one really knew what the hell he did? Well that's me.

OK, so my resume might as well just say that I "can do stuff." Uh, I can give orders to people and make them push numbers around that aren't important but sound important. Yeah, and I can take orders and answer questions from senior executives and make them feel OK about their business by making up silly reports and spreadsheets while meanwhile I don't know or care of what the hell they're talking about anyways. I can lead and facilitate meetings. I can calculate all kinds of random financial stuff. I can hang out in my friends' offices and chat about nothing for an hour while the assholes upstairs are passing by my office wondering where the hell I am. I can talk on the phone, send emails to my friends and surf the internet. I can look for jobs, update my blog, read blogs and buy stuff on
eBay. Yes, when it comes down to it my friends, I can get my job done both well and on time AND waste tons of time while doing it. When it comes down to it I guess what I do best, what I should really be putting as the main area of strength on the "Summary of Qualifications" part of my resume is "Can multi-task like a mother fucker."

Maybe it's because I'm already used to it, but multi-tasking at work is a piece of cake. I've got this juggling a million personalities and tasks thing down to a tee. So when I was asked to take 12 coworkers, all of different ethnic backgrounds, corporate status, epicurean tastes, religious backgrounds (you'll see) to eat dim sum at one of my regular dim sum joints, Chinatown's Empress Pavillion, my multi-tasking skills were really put to the test. First, I had to organize the car caravan--who's driving, how many cars do we need, who knew how to get there (which turned out to be just me), give everyone directions. Once that was done, a game of follow the leader ensued--three cars began their trek from North Hollywood to downtown. I knew that myself and the four girls I was with would certainly arrive at our destination safely and soundly, but I had to keep an eye out for the other two cars full of managers and coworkers and what-not.

Me and my car-mates, of course, were the first to arrive at this grandiose dining establishment which at 11:45 was already pretty full. Individual conversations and laughter had combined itself into one giant cloud of noise that blanketed the restaurant. The five of us had settled into a large round table and things were pretty quiet at this point. We were immediately brought pots of tea, and because we were starving and didn't know how far behind the others were trailing, we took it upon ourselves to order. I broke out the Cantonese, asking each of the cart ladies what kind of goods she had, pointing to various plates and steamer tins. This was the easy part: there were only five of us there, and all of us were already familiar with dim sum in one way or another, so no explanations necessary.

As I mentioned, the five of us were already familiar with dim sum and were a little more adventurous in our tastes in food, so we ordered some of the more "authentic" dishes like braised chicken feet, braised tripe, and spareribs in black bean sauce. The braised chicken feet were divine...both sweet and salty with dark soy, its gelatinous and fatty skin easily tugged off with the teeth. I got to enjoy it in peace, meticulously sucking each one of the tarsal and metatarsal (is that what they call them on birds?) bones dry. Our tripe, though a bit on the oily side, still had that tickly and crunchy texture that I love, its goose-bumpy flaps soaking up the gingery-garlicky sauce nicely. I've never really been a huge fan of the spareribs in black bean sauce--I've always thought the sparerib meat was too chewy--but the salty-bitter black bean sauce sure was tasty. I took advantage of this calm before the storm while I could, while at the same time keeping an eye out for the seven dim sum virgins who were about to get caught entering the Empress Pavillion dining room like deer in headlights.



Do the chickens have large talons?


Don't trip, it's just tripe


Can you spare me a sparerib?

They arrived shortly thereafter, the five of us waving them down and the seven of them having to swim across the expansive dining floor, weaving in and out of tables and dodging steam carts. Immediately, I had to turn the multi-tasking switch to "ON."

How does this work, Pam?

What's in that, Pam?

Does it have meat in it?

Can I get a fork?

Do they have regular menus here?

Can you ask them for one?

I think my head actually did a 360, as it was pulled in every possible direction by people that had never had dim sum before, people that were afraid to talk to the Chinese ladies pushing the carts, people that didn't eat meat, people that did eat meat but that didn't eat pork for religious reasons, people that were just plain curious about finding out about one of the greatest culinary pastimes of my culture. I was talking a mile a minute, first listening to questions from everyone, then switching back and forth from Cantonese for talking to the steam cart ladies and waiters to English for the anxious group around me. I had to constantly keep an eye out for items I that knew were vegetarian. I also had to do word problems in my head like this one for everything that was ordered:

"If there is shrimp in this dish, but no pork, and there are 2 people in the group who don't eat any kind of meat whatsoever, and there are 4 pieces per tin, how many tins should I order?"

I think that finally I got a groove going. I had to re-prioritize my to-do list, and thus the camera had to be put away after awhile. Food got on the table and slowly but surely, everyone was happy. The fried shrimp rolls, wrapped in paper thin, blistery dough, were a huge hit as were the more popular dim sum plates like har gow, steamed shrimp dumplings, and shu mai, steamed pork and shrimp dumplings. Both the vegetarians and the non-vegetarians loved the plate of crunchy and slightly bitter Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce I ordered for the table. And, there were some things that were a little strange to them. I had ordered some enoki mushrooms wrapped in soybean paper for the vegetarians, but because they'd never had enoki mushrooms before, the mushrooms' stringy texture made them ask me, "Are you sure there's no meat in this???" Some of them were also weirded out by the concept of lotus paste since they'd never before heard of it. And sure, they made me order stuff that I would never even think of ordering here, like potstickers for instance, but it made them happy, and I was happy that they were happy.


Hey Mikey, he likes it!


Mainstream, but reliable shu mai


Take a look at the damage...

So once again, my fabulous multi-tasking skills helped me through yet another situation, and with the help of Empress Pavillion and its trusty dim sum and energetic atmosphere, I managed to turn a handful of my coworkers into dim sum fans--an example that I think is worthy of mentioning in any resume or job interview.

Empress Pavillion
988 N. Hill St. , ste 201
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 617-9898

9 comments:

Kirk said...

Ah, you are truly talented Project Manager! You're hired!

Doran said...

I think you've found your true calling!

elmomonster said...

Loved this review! Made me kinda dizzy and woozy.

MEalCentric said...

I dont know what I enjoyed more, hearing about you multi-taking skills or the food. GREAT POST

Just Cid said...

arghhh.

Now you've got me hungry for Dim Sum...

Does anyone know of any good evening
Dim Sum places??

I know, I know, its more of a morning/brunch kind of a thing.....

But now you've got me Jonesing...

-cid.

Daily Gluttony said...

Kirk,

Thanks! I guess taking all those people to dim sum IS training for Project Manager-hood, isn't it?

Doran,

So you think I should become a Professional Dim Sum Tour Guide?

Elmo,

Thanks! Just think how I felt being there!

Mealcentric,

Oh dim sum's far more interesting that my multi-tasking skills! Thanks!

Just Cid,

If you do find an evening dim sum place, I doubt it'll be very good. And for sure they won't have the cute little ladies pushing the carts around. Be patient, wait til morning! =)

eatdrinknbmerry said...

pam, i know exactly how you feel. as the captain of the ship of oblivious diners, i'm sitting at the head of the ship harpooning the dim sum ladies, busting out only-useful-for-food cantonese. (arm resting on the backrest of the chair at all times.)

good luck with your next job. wait, you aren't thinking about working as a dim sum lady at empress are you? haha. you'd be a good one haha.

Daily Gluttony said...

Dylan,

Hey you're back!

You are so dead on with the "arm resting on the backrest of the chair at all times" thing. And how'd you know? I've been aspiring to be a dim sum lady! I've been practicing yelling "Har Gow, Shui Mai" in my spare time! ha ha

eatdrinknbmerry said...

haha, i always tell my mom that when she becomes an old lady that she'll be working as a dim sum lady, wearing the ubiquitous jade bracelet from the qing dynasty and screaming off the top of her lungs: "Ai-ya, ha gow, pai gwut, foong zao!" She replies, "Suay zai." hope you understand that haha.