I was first introduced to the Wei Wei Palace by my father, who said he had read that it was the best Dim Sum restaurant in West Michigan. However, we weren’t sure of the pronunciation, and called it the “Wee Wee Palace” until we stood corrected (and just a smidge embarassed).
Right now, you might be saying, “my kids won’t eat that kind of food.” Or, you may be saying, “Woman? What on earth are you talking about?”
OK let me start with a brief introduction to Dim Sum. It is a ‘light meal’. More like an appetizer or snack than an actual meal. It is Chinese, and the food usually comes in little metal or bamboo steamer baskets. Some of it is fried or boiled, and comes on a plate. If you have been to San Chez, you kind of get the idea. If it is busy, they will bring a cart around and you choose what you want, but if it is slow you place your order with a waiter and they bring it from the kitchen.
You order several different things and share rather than an ‘entree’. The first time we went with Grandpa Binder, several months ago, we didn’t know this. We ordered so much food our table was overflowing, and we kept asking for the cart to come back by. We were truly tourists in our own town, but not the good way. We were just being American pigs. Oh well, we left a good tip (or my Dad did, anyway).
A.P., Maybelle and I went again for Tasty Tuesday. This time, being seasoned Dim Summers, we ordered just a few things. The waiter looked at me a little puzzled. I asked him if I ordered too much food, and he said no, but they were all desserts. I switched it up a bit, sat back, and waited for our first little basket of goodies to arrive.
Meanwhile, my children were fully entertained by the fish tank. This is not the tropical, colorful, serene fish tank to watch while you are waiting for your meal. This is more the “we’re about to be your meal” type of tank, but my kids loved it anyway.
There is a big picture on the wall, which A.P. impressed me to no end by identifying as the Great Wall of China. So I did choose the right preschool after all! I thought. My proud parental beaming ended when he explained that he knew that from watching Little Einsteins.
They also entertained themselves by playing with the chopsticks, which
Mommy is not going to tell you again, those are NOT DRUMSTICKS I calmly explained that some other cultures used different utensils.
The first round arrived just in time. We got ‘sesame balls’ which are these round (duh) doughy things with almond paste inside and sesame on the outside. A.P. loved these, I think because he associated them with Sesame Street (note to self; lay off the TV). Are these not dessert? Well, whatever, they were really good.
Pretty soon some awesome spring rolls showed up, along with several different dips and sauces. We like our dips in the Binder household, so while I’m sure we did the Cantonese culinary equivalent of putting ketchup on a filet mignon, we tried them all.
We had several other dumplings, the highlight of which was a fried meat dumpling which Maybelle found ‘too sticky’ but A.P. really liked. They both ate a tofu dish, but I think it was because I told them it was eggs.
Then the dessert came; I thought. It was a sweet lotus paste donut type roll that was incredibly good. I guess it wasn’t dessert though, because then some steamed rice packets arrived. We were all way too full to eat, so we took those home, along with a few other leftovers, for later.
One great thing about Wei Wei is that in the same shopping center is an Asian grocery store. They have rows and rows of noodles, and Look Mom Look – you want tea? They got your tea right here. Aisles of it.
I let the kids each choose one thing to buy, and unfortunately, A.P. had his heart set on a gumball from the machine outside the store. Maybelle chose a cute little package with a friendly-looking cartoon bear on it and I was extremely disappointed when it had chocolate in it. When I was young and my parents traveled, they brought us back candy from Asia in cute little packages with bears on it and looked like candy; but it was dried seaweed or something awful like that. I wanted to
laugh at provide the same cultural experiences for my children that my parents provided for me.
So by all means, you should visit the Wei Wei Palace. Oh, and by the Wei, it is pronounced Way Way Palace for those of you not already in the know…