When dim sum lover Zach Brooks recommended World Tong in Bensonhurst, he warned that it was popular and gets crowded early. How did my friends and I get a table so easily? We went at 10:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning.
The three friends (yes, a paltry three) who managed to roll out of bed were rewarded with fresh, mostly awesome dim sum with a few never-before-seen dishes thrown in. Here are the highlights.
My favorite dish was the rice noodle roll-wrapped crullers. Although I've had this dish before, World Tong's was the best so far due to the fresh ingredients: super soft, slightly chewy noodles paired with hot, crispy bread sticks. You can't go wrong.
The rice noodle rolls on their own were also some of the best I had for the same reasons. Soft as a baby's bottom. Not that I've eaten a baby's bottom, but I'm assuming.
Turnip cakes are always good, and World Tong's are better than good. Super crispy on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside.
It's not going to whizz by on a dim sum cart, so make sure you order the crispy roast pork from a waiter. While the meat was moist enough, the main draw was the fat-tastic skin, crispy as thick potato chips, but way more delicious.
I'd recommend the tripe stew with daikon if you are fond of the chewy and spoingy texture of tripe.
One dish stood out for being something that I will never order again: duck tongue and taro. I'll try anything once—that was my "once" card for duck tongue. I had barely bitten into the tongue—my teeth just hitting the unexpected bone that ran down its center—when I was immediately reminded of my other "loved by many, loathed by me" dim sum dish: chicken feet. To my taste buds, duck tongue tastes a hell of a lot like chicken feet—I call it an "off" fatty flavor—just in a different shape. This may or may not appeal to you.
World Tong had a few dishes I had never seen before. This bean curd skin-wrapped meat dish, or Seen Jook Guene according to Chinatown expert Gordon, was...interesting. The bowl contained paper-thin tofu skin, ham chunks, chicken, fish maw, shiitake mushroom, and taro. It's like a grab bag of food scraps. Tasty with a variety of textures and flavors, but not something I'd be dying to eat again.
Another "what the hell is this?" dish was the sea sponge-wrapped bitter melon and meat patty topped with sliced abalone, or some other mollusk. Like the last dish it offered a surprising mix of textures and flavors in every bite: crisp sea sponge-substance (there's a Chinese name; I just don't know what it is); soft, mildly bitter melon; seafood-y, slightly chewy meat mash. Another interesting dish that I wouldn't necessarily feel like eating again.
I'm still dreaming about the mochi filled with green tea cream. The pillowy soft, smooth texture of the fresh mochi melded perfectly into the creamy center. Gray lumps filled with green goo may not look appetizing, but unless you hate mochi, you have to try this.
And then there was the durian pastry. Oh sweet lord. The. Horrors. Within. I could feel the stinging fumes invade my body halfway through my first bite of the diminutive flaky pastry-wrapped durian custard plop. The pastry was a bomb of concentrated durian flavor and immediately knocked me out with that not-quite-right rotting garlicky oniony stench. These are definitely well done durian pastries—great if you like durian, nearly poisonous if you don't. Luckily, one of my friends was on the "like" side and the pastries didn't go to waste.
6202 18th Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11204 (at 62nd Street; map)