Once I was selected as a Westfield Food Tastemaker, I was anxious to hear which restaurant I would be matched up with. I had suggested two but was not sure who I would ultimately collaborate with. When I found out it was M.Y. China, I was so psyched. If you have been reading Misadventures with Andi for any length of time (or follow me on FourSquare to see my weekly check-ins or my Instagram or Foodspotting feeds) you will know that I am completely gaga for dim sum!
But I am not a chef, I don't cook. I eat.
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What was I going to bring to the table? Tony Wu is an amazing chef and I felt nervous about what my contribution could be. I studied the M.Y. China menu.
And then I had it.
I have eaten dim sum in cities all over the country and the world and there was one dumpling that I had in Beijing but had never seen it anywhere else. I loved that dumpling, it conjured memories of a really great trip despite freezing temperatures and endless pollution. It was the spirit of one local resident (along with the adventurous nature of a colleague I was traveling with) that has forever cemented that trip in my mind as exceptional.
The reason? Food.
Judy took us to a super local, I mean really local, hutong neighborhood where I had Uyghur food for the first (and only) time. She took us to some of the usual places as well – the Emperor's Summer Palace, Tienanmen Square, etc.
But she recognized foodies when she saw them. She took us to a very special dumpling place, one that had a millennium of history where we shared baskets of dumplings, one of which was a coarse lamb dumpling, that I had never had before.
I still think about that dumpling!
Spring in California means lamb. And when I met up with Tony and the M.Y. China team, I shared my dumpling story. I shared that I had never seen that dumpling outside of Beijing and that I noticed there were no lamb dumplings on the M.Y. China menu and maybe, just maybe that could be a potential dish?
Tony's face broke out in a huge smile (which I quickly learned is somewhat of a natural state for him!) and he told me he knew of that dumpling, that very few people knew it, and that he had actually been trained to make it! He loved the idea, in fact, he wanted to jump into the kitchen and make it right then!
Unfortunately, the dinner rush was about to happen and I had to head out to another commitment. We set a date for me to come back so that we could do a trial run together.
And so it was, a few weeks later that I found myself in the M.Y. China kitchen working with Tony to make lamb shumai.
First, they had me dress the part – I had about 4 layers on, along with a dumpling maker hat and I looked like the Pillsbury dough girl, but I had to dress the part to get into the spirit.
I begged Tony to have infinite patience with me, that I was better at eating than cooking!
I need not have worried. Tony is an amazing, patient, in fact, a hilarious instructor and we walked through step by step:
Like slicing the lamb without slicing my fingers off!
And then he added a second knife!
Although we were using exceptional quality lamb, Tony explained that lamb in China can be quite gamey so he showed me a trick for removing some of the gaminess.
We added that to the lamb which I mixed with chopsticks using a particular methodology that would allow the meat to remain smooth and creamy.
Next came the dumpling dough. I knew after taking the baguette class in Paris that working with dough was not easy. In fact, it is a lot of hard work. But Tony can do this in his sleep and he had quite a lot of fun showing me how he does it. I should also mention that we were doing this in M.Y. China's open kitchen, so if I was nervous about failing Chef Tony, you can also imagine my horror when people sat at the bar and started watching and taking photos of my efforts! No pressure!
I can see now how Tony stays in shape as he has a different exercise (or dance) move for each part of the preparation process, including rolling the dough out. I wish we had captured his little dance on video!
Here's Tony showing us what the finished product should look like. Unlike a lot of dim sum you may be used to seeing this one is a bit “rougher” around the edges, actually like a flower, we were reenacting the traditional one dating back to thousands of years ago.
Mine didn't quite turn out the same!
But I did manage to eventually make a few that were presentable and our combined efforts made a couple of basketful of dumplings to steam.
The best part of the whole day?
Sampling the goods!
The culmination of my misadventures in the M.Y. China kitchen is the lamb shu mai now available in the Westfield Dine on Time app, don't they look yummy?
So if you are shopping at the Westfield San Francisco Centre and get a hankering for food, more specifically the shui mai that Chef Tony and I collaborated on, then you simply need to download the Westfield Dine on Time app or by visiting westfield.com/food online or via mobile web and order it!
Pick them up to take back home (or with our current gorgeous San Francisco weather, head outside) or dine-in, either way, it is super fast and convenient!
Here's an incentive: at the end of the Dine on Time pilot, the Tastemaker whose dish has received the most number of orders will receive a donation in their name to the San Francisco & Marin Food Bank.
Try out Dine on Time and order my Lamb Shui Mai dish, you'll LOVE it!
It's the home stretch! My secret menu item – lamb dumplings are only available until November 16th, so if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, get there by next week or miss out forever!
Do you like dumplings? Have you ever made them? What's your favorite kind?