Hong Kong’s best is in front of me: yum cha,
Dim Sum Happy Hour until 10 AM
at my grandparents’ signature restaurant
across the street from their apartment.
I help Grandma wash our teacups and chopsticks
in hot tea. She’s picky with her porridge,
says there’s not enough bones in the pork.
Grandpa orders my favorite, chicken feet:
feet never smelled so sweet, mixed with spices,
their alluring burgundy. Spit out the bones.
We eat with our eyes, spin the Lazy Susan.
This isn’t Hong Kong from the movies.
I eat lychee gelatin and egg tarts,
tell my cousins about American life.
My cousin and I search for the best street food.
She’s obsessed with “American” waffles
egg-shaped, gai daan jai, made in a griddle,
Hong Kong’s snack that’s rounded, not checkered.
We wait in a line as long as a mile—
they’re the craze that’s never going away,
along with curried fish balls on a skewer
with curried squid or mini sausages.
How cute you are, Hong Kong, just how special,
I think as we get our waffles, walk through
Mong Kok, the Times Square of East Asia,
how I want to adopt all these puppies
in the windows, buy all these cheap clothes
counterfeiting European runways.
In America, Dad craves Hong Kong eats—
his life in his 20s: the shumai-stand
down a few flights, the next hawker stand
of glistening-century-eggs, cut, shiny-
black-cores, like black-eyes-on-the-lookout
in their thick bowls of congee that sure beats
the 2:00 AM mashed potatoes and okra
he’s picking up for his sick daughter
from the chain-country-kitsch restaurant
down the street—PA suburb of his 40s.
He sneaks a burger patty for the dog,
thinking back to the time his daughter tried
her first burger, her state of shock when she opened
America on a bun, beef sandwiched by bread.
Dorothy Chan’s chapbook, Chinatown Sonnets will be published May 2017 with New Delta Review (view the contest results here!). She was a 2014 finalist for the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship and a 2017 finalist for the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize for Poetry from Pleiades Press. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Blackbird, Plume, The Journal, Spillway, Little Patuxent Review, and The McNeese Review. She is the Assistant Editor of The Southeast Review.