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Whenever the wife and I go for dim sum at Hollywood East Cafe on the Boulevard in Wheaton, Carrie almost immediately starts scanning the carts for her favorite dessert, these custard-filled treats shaped like carrots. The deep-fried goodies brilliantly undermine the very idea of healthy veggies.
After all, whose mother, at some point or another, hasn’t uttered the phrase, “Eat your carrots, honey”? At Hollywood East, your response would be: “You bet your ass!”
Anyway, the carrot dessert isn’t always available from the carts roaming the dining room, a crisis that usually leads to some subdued-but-palatable mourning at our table. Last weekend, however, Carrie spotted a plate of these beauties half-way across the room. She’s practically a birder when it comes to this exotic dish, minus the binoculars and inability to commune with non-feathered creatures, of course.
Carrie kept a close eye on the dessert as the dim sum service wound down. A server was trying to offload the carrots at a nearby table that clearly didn’t want them. Carrie was watching the negotiations with a mix of dread and hope; our table was obviously next in line for that last plate of dessert carrots, and if Carrie could have clocked the nearby guests with our teapot and gotten away with it, I think she would have.
As it was, our dining neighbors reluctantly accepted the carrots.
This turned out to be a good thing. As I learned for the first time, you don’t have to rely on the fate of the dining-room carts for your dim-sum meal at Hollywood East. You can order individual items from a paper check-list, much like the ones used at sushi houses for nigiri pieces. We ordered the carrots and, five minutes later, were presented with a plate of steaming-hot dessert sticks fresh from the deep fryer.
If you’ve never had these treats before, they are a unique pleasure. The exterior, as you can imagine, is crunchy, but it quickly gives way to a gelatinous, slightly sweet rice dough that has a pleasing chewiness, not unlike, say, a Gummi bear. Inside this cone is a thick squirt of yellow custard—-very eggy custard that provides not only a silky contrast to the chewy dough, but also a secondary, creamier sweetness. You can easily understand why Carrie hunts for these things like a lioness on the Serengeti whenever we visit Hollywood East.