Archive | 7:37 am

Craving Mama’s Lu Dumpling House

20 Mar


So what does one get at a dumpling house who doesn’t eat pork? Not the dumplings because every single one of them has pork, but if you’re a meat-eater, then Mama’s Lu in Monterey Park is definitely known for making some great ones. I did; however, get to partake in the green onion pancake, scrambled egg shrimp, Shanghai rice cake, and a dish of my favorite vegetable in the whole world, On Choy. As a bonus, it’s actually more expensive to buy in the supermarket and make at home than it is to order already prepared. I always crave On Choy, but it’s not always in season, not every Chinese restaurant has it, and it’s not particularly easy to describe.

When I saw the menu, I was really excited that they listed On Choy (or Ong Choy), also known as Kang Kong, also known as Ipomoea aquatica on Wikipedia, also known as water spinach in English, and also Kong Xin Cai in Mandarin, which is pronounced kong shin tsai. This translates to something like “hallow heart vegetable;” however, I’ll save everyone from my attempts to elaborate on the tones because even if I did know what the tones should sound like (in my mind, but it doesn’t always come out of my mouth correctly), my Mandarin instructor has communicated that I need “special attention before class,” “more practice,” and asks if it’s “ok to correct me,” which happens frequently. Most of the time, I end up saying something completely different from what I mean to say just when I pronounce something with incorrect tone. Learning a new language can definitely be a humbling experience, especially for some one who isn’t used to not doing well in a class. Well looking on the bright side, what I lack in those skills of pronouncing the Chinese food coming out of my mouth, I make up for in actual Chinese food going into my mouth and eating, which I would classify myself as an expert in. It appears that I am learning Mandarin just to order food, which is a justifiable assumption, since I do love Chinese food; however, knowing several names to this vegetable actually occurred before I even started learning… from several years of trying to order this dish and from explaining what vegetable I am referring to. In this day and age, we can save those painful moments of rambling off several different names just to see if a place even serves the dish that I have now officially wrote an essay on, and leave it to our trusty smart phones with pictures that don’t usually get lost in translation. Or you can try Mama’s Lu.