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Dim sum from the heart at Pacific Star Café

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Dim Sum from the heart at Pacific Star Café

Dim sum dishes can take anywhere from 5 to 12 minutes to finish on the steamer. A large commercial steamer belches plumes of steam where Chef Fen loads dozens of the bamboo baskets at once. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

Dim Sum from the heart at Pacific Star Café

Many will remember dim sum chef Li Fen Feng, left, and her husband, Pacific Star Executive Chef Leland Feng from the popular Lotus Restaurant in the first incarnation of the Pacific Star Hotel in the 1990's. The couple arrived on Guam in August of 1990, and have been delivering Hong Kong style dim sum ever since. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

Row after row of small round bamboo baskets tower on seemingly every available surface in the kitchen at the Pacific Star Resort. Each basket is filled with painstakingly prepared morsels. Each stack will sit atop one of the two washing machine sized steamers before being served at the Wednesday buffet at the Pacific Star Café.

Dim Sum from the heart at Pacific Star Café 1

FROM THE HEART: Dim Sum Chef Lin Fen creates thousands of hand made dumplings each week for the Pacific Star Cafe dim sum luncheon each Wednesday in Tumon. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

Dim Sum from the heart at Pacific Star Café 2

HAND MADE: Chef Fen flattens each dumpling wrapper out with the flat edge of a knife. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

Dim Sum from the heart at Pacific Star Café 3

FILL 'ER UP: Then the filling is carefully placed into the dumpling wrapper. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

Dim Sum from the heart at Pacific Star Café 4

BAG OF FLAVOR: Chef Fen deftly seals the dumpling with a few perfectly placed pinches. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

Executive chef Leland Feng deftly maneuvers between stations pointing out rows of shrimp dumplings, and chicken feet, just some of the 30 to 40 offerings he and his team create each week.

His wife, dim sum chef Li Fen Feng, folds hundreds of dumplings by hand each week and is the expert of steaming the dishes for just the right amount of time.

“Dim sum means small things touch to your heart,” chef Leland said. The meal, comprising small portions of Chinese fare, was traditionally served for breakfast but has made its way into the lunch and dinner hours with some Hong Kong restaurants serving dim sum 24 hours a day, he said.

Dim Sum from the heart at Pacific Star Café 5

LIGHT TOUCH: Chef Fen garnishes the siu mai, or pork and shrimp dumplings, with crab eggs for color. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

The Siu Mai – one of the most recognizable of the dim sum dishes – is a blend of lightly salted pork, shrimp and mushroom. It's enveloped in a soft open-on-top flour and egg white shell, which helps hold the flavors together. The shell is also the perfect surface for the slightly sweet and tangy sauce – so that first bite is an eruption of sweet, tangy and salty.

And while the Siu Mai is a staple in the Dim Sum line-up, it’s a more exotic dish many come in search of, said chef Leland.

“Seventy-five percent of the people here come looking for the chicken feet,” he said.

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LIGHT & BRIGHT: The steamed pork sparerib with black bean sauce comes out of the steamer with a lighter color, due to the black bean sauce being made in-house. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

The preparation begins with boiling the feet for 20 seconds and then letting it dry completely. Next, the feet are submerged into red hot oil and fried until the skin turns a golden brown. The feet are then covered in spices and boiled for one hour to soften the skin, cooled and again steamed.

A light nibble causes the spicy red pepper flavored meat to separate easily from the bone, and the skin creates a texture that is chewy without being rubbery. Taking a step outside your comfort zone to try the delicacy is much recommended.

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READY TO GO: Even though the bamboo baskets are piled high, they are quickly whisked away by diners four, five and six at a time. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

Not only are the dishes delectable, they are a treat for the eye, each dish a separate piece of art.

Chef Leland, a stickler for authenticity who trained in China and spent time in San Francisco as a Dim Sum chef, sources some ingredients from abroad such as the lotus leaf.

The steamed sticky rice wrapped in lotus is filled with Chinese sausage, chicken and dried mushroom. A flowery, almost lavender flavor from the leaf is infused into the filling by steaming it again after it is wrapped.

Shrimp dumplings, or har gow-siu mai, in Chinese, are another must try, along with the juicy bits of salmon belly, in diced tofu topped with oyster sauce.

The sea-facing dining room quickly fills lunch goers when the buffet opens at 11 a.m., a testament to the quality of the spread.

Chef Leland is pleased by the response to the result of countless hours of prep that it takes throughout the week.

“Eat what you like,” he said affably. “That’s why we have so many.”

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