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CULTURAL POTPOURRI | Papa G’s Dim Sum Delights




Jamaica Tan of Papa G Dim Sum House

SIOPAO, siomai and congee (lugaw/arroz caldo for Pinoys) are but some of the Filipinos’ favorite food which are considered standard dim sum dishes.

These savory Cantonese dishes have truly gone a long way from the tea houses of the port city of Guangzhou, China, the birthplace of Cantonese cuisine, to the Chinese pansiterias of the Philippines in the 19th century.

One can conjecture that the early Chinese traders, naturally craving for the food of Mother China, cooked Chinese dishes in their Philippine homes.

And yes, since they had to use locally available ingredients, modifications occurred in their dishes. Adaptation and indigenization affected the Chinese dishes in the different Philippine towns and regions where the Chinos and Sangleys settled in and shared their food culture with the native Filipinos and the colonial rulers. Obviously, one major influence the Chinese contributed within Philippine culture was the culinary arts.

Papa G Dim Sum House

Dim sum is a style of Chinese food which comes in small servings of various dishes. The savory or sweet food items that comprise dim sum were originally created to complement the tradition of drinking Chinese tea. These dim sum food items are often served in small plates or in steamer bamboo baskets just like how it was served centuries ago in Guangzhou’s tea houses. Dim sum is generally presented and eaten family-style, with the small servings shared by diners who are able to try a variety of dishes.

Kuchay dumplings, beef brisket rice topping and buchi
Century egg congee
Wonton noodle soup
Papa G’s dumplings and steamed buns

Dim sum translates literally to “touching hearts.” Wherever the Chinese migrated all over the world, they brought with them their teahouse culture and thus, dim sum can be found in many forms all over the world where Chinatowns exist. That includes the Philippines’ Binondo Chinatown, reputed to be the oldest Chinatown in the world established in 1594.

Take note that Davao is reputed to have the largest Chinatown by area in the country, and the only one established in the Mindanao region. Chinese restaurants that offer dim sum often serve ready-to-eat dishes from carts that are pushed around in Chinese restaurants for diners seated at tables to choose from.

Davao’s Papa G Dim Sum House bravely and confidently opened its door to Davao’s foodies in June 2020, despite the Covid pandemic which saw the closure of so many eating establishments. “Our family has been in the food business for almost 20 years now.

But Papa G (named after Papa Governor Arturo “Chiongkee” Uy) is our first venture into a dim sum house business. My papa is a passionate foodie. And Papa G Dim Sum initially started as his ‘quarantine project.’ He started concocting the Hong Kong-inspired dim sum food items, ably assisted by a hired Chinese chef from Binondo, at our kitchen in our Nova Tierra Village residence.

His initial products were pork and shrimp siomai as well as siopao. We started selling his frozen siomai and siopao creations in June of last year. It was well received by our friendly patrons which encouraged dad to add more dim sum products to his list until he finally decided it was time to open a dim sum house,” narrated Jamaica Tan, who manages Papa G. Jam is a BS Entrepreneurship degree business graduate of the Ateneo de Davao University.

As dim sum is basically Cantonese cuisine, Papa G’s dim sum delights are heavily influenced by those of Hong Kong’s Cantonese dim sum which is favored by Papa Gov. Chiongking. Just like any traditional dim sum house, Papa G offers such culinary delights namely dumplings, steamed buns, noodles, congee and rice toppings.

“Our specialties include the salted egg pork bola-bola pao, Hong Kong-style pork asado pao, xiao long bao, special Cantonese pork and shrimp siomai, fried prawn dumplings, and kuchay dumplings. You must try as well our century egg congee and wonton noodle soup.

If you’re really hungry, our rice toppings like beef brisket, chicken and mushroom, tausi spareribs, and chicken feet will surely satisfy you. We serve quality products and make sure that our dim sum food items taste just as good as the ones served in Hong Kong’s dim sum houses,” guaranteed Jam with a wide smile which made her chinky eyes disappear into slits.

“We have been blessed to get good and encouraging support from diners who have tried our dim sum. We have tough days, but our loyal customers keep coming back to Papa G, so they are what keeps us going. We are glad we are earning somehow to keep our employees working for us, and the necessary dues of a restaurant business we have to pay. We are looking and praying for brighter days ahead when this pandemic is over,” said Jam as we bid each other goodbye.

Please support our very own businesses. Papa G Dim Sum House is located at the Nova Tierra Square, Brgy. Vicente Hizon, Sr., Davao City; while it has the Papa G Take Out Counter at the ATU Plaza, Gov. Duterte St., in downtown Davao.

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