Dim Sum at the Hai Hong
Ithaca, NY

Once upon a time, there was a really great place to enjoy a Dim Sum breakfast on Sunday mornings in Ithaca. The Golden Dragon was clean and airy, but not much to look at. Who was looking, though? We were all eating.

When I was younger, the chief attraction of the Dragon was the all-you-could-eat lunch. I knew each day's specials by heart. After a while I learned about the wonderful dinners at the Dragon.

Then, one Sunday morning, I took my stomach in tow to try something different: Dim Sum. Every week after that, for ten years, my eyes, taste buds, and stomach took me back for another treat.

The Dragon eventually closed, reducing Ithaca to the state shared by many other cities in the United States: lots of Chinese-American food, and very little truly Chinese cooking. For those who can tell (and enjoy) the difference, it's a desolate wasteland. Luckily, there's still a few restaurants in Ithaca that serve a version of Dim Sum.

Hai Hong, on the corner of State and Meadow streets, is the best of the Dim Sum places. I like it, I recommend it, but I have to be honest: most of the dishes are probably trucked in (frozen) from New York City. They serve off a menu rather than parading overflowing trays of individual dishes around the dining room. Your food arrives all at once, so you have to eat fast or deal with lukewarm dumplings and cold steamed buns. The atmosphere is a little more elegant than necessary, unless you prefer to sample polyester tablecloths rather than good food. The menu is a bit pricey, too.

In summary, it's not the Golden Dragon, but it's good enough.


Up the stairs to Dim Sum Waiting for food
You climb the steep stairs in the glowing airshaft... wait for your food... and it arrives all at once.
the feast arrives Congee (rice soup) w/ vinegar sauce
Steamers are traditional fare.
Congee is a rice-based soup with petrified eggs and other wonderful treats floating in it.
Eggplant stuffed with shrimp Fried baby octopus
All sorts of dishes, like the delectable eggplant sandwich, are stuffed with tasty shrimp or pork.
Baby octopus is a treat of both taste and texture.