Dim Sum Commissions
Chris Hashimoto used to brag about making better Dim Sum than her husband Ben. In fact, they used to have contests in which both of them would get into the kitchen with their flour and oil and frying pans, each claiming to outdo the other. I had chuckled at these two competitors so when an occasion arose for me to sell an Asian restaurant I thought it would be interesting. It was the business only in a leased property.
The wife was the cook and general everything else while the husband watched the till. He actually had his own business of tinting windows like on cars, showroom windows and so on. They were a lovely young couple making their way in the business world. But she was pregnant with her second child and needed some time off, so they wished to sell the business. I have absolutely no idea of how they came to us and that I ended up with the listing, but I imagine that we were the only company close by and, since I was the only one doing commercial real estate, I was it I suppose.
Well it was a lovely restaurant in a newer strip mall but since it was also a newer residential area, it was somewhat struggling. As it turned out, the owners were not inactive either. The fellow (whose name escapes me) found a chap willing to take on the restaurant provided the wife would stay on to teach him her recipes for a period of two months. It was an agreeable situation for the owners, but now they wondered about how to pay me for the listing agreement.
I had a solution to the problem. Let their lawyer draw up the agreement to purchase the business (which got me out of that end of things) and in exchange for any payment, the wife should teach me how to make Dim Sum and we’d call it even. The woman looked at my big white hands and the look on her face indicated some doubt as to the possibility. But she agreed and we made a date to do it.
We chose an early afternoon when the restaurant was quiet and got right down to business. All the ingredients were already laid out and the lady greeted me cheerfully. Was I ready to learn how to make Dim Sum? Absolutely I was so we got into it. Among other things, she’d chopped up some pork, some shrimp, and various vegetables. She had some rice with it and began shoveling them all into circular skins of dough.
“This is the hard part,” she smiled as she deftly folded the ingredients into the skin, closing and sealing it in a fancy series of folds until it was magically formed into a round thing that looked something like a garlic pod. Now it was my turn and it was a little awkward at first making all the fancy folds in the skin, but I imagined myself making perogies like I used to do and it became amazingly simple. I had made a lot of perogies as had my mother before me as had the whole Mennonite community as well as the Ukrainian community at large. Mind you, the filling was different but that was no big deal. My mother had a whole variety of fillings to hers too. They were more like Perishky that she made except for the folds and the shape of the dough. So that’s what these were then was Japanese fancy Perishky. Ha, ha, that was a blast! No wonder Chris was so good at making Dim Sum. She came from a Ukrainian background and she could out maneuver Ben’s culinary skills any day of the week if she put her mind to it.
Giving my hands a little artistic encouragement, I managed to make the required fancy twists and with the cook’s help we managed to get several dozen made. She steamed half of them in traditional Japanese style and we fried the other half. It was a delightful afternoon of cooking and chatting and cleaning the counters and when we were done no one would know that we had been there. But I came away with what was left of the Dim Sum and a warm feeling of friendship.
Of all the commissions I’ve ever received, this one ranked right up there with the best of them.