Day: August 26th, 2007

Dim sum Sunday

Sunday, August 26th, 2007 | All Things, Eats, Friends

Jing Fong on Elizabeth Street is easily one of the largest restaurants in Chinatown. At the height of the yum cha crush on Sunday morning, we and our out-of-town friends rode the long escalator to the oversized, overloud banquet hall. The five of us were immediately ushered in by a headsetted hostess, who darted quickly through the maze of tables to lead us to a large round eight-top in the center of the room, where we joined a couple of elderly Chinese men just beginning their meal. After placing our tea order (chrysanthemum), we were ready to start selecting from the bounty being wheeled before our eyes.

Jing Fong dim sum

Other than one stray case of vegetarianism – good thing for Buddhist dishes! — our friends were very good sports about the often inscrutable offerings.

Last year, six waiters sued Jing Fong for allegedly using their tip money to pay the wages of the dimsum cart ladies. The restaurant has a history of labor disputes: a decade earlier, Jing Fong was involved in a protracted, highly public battle with their staff, sparked by one waiter’s unceremonious dismissal after confronting his bosses about missing tips. Through the summer of 1995 heatwave, hundreds of protesters demonstrated on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. In response, Jing Fong infamously hung a pair of 25-foot banners on the building’s facade bearing the face of “the devil” Wing Lam, the leader of the Chinese Staff and Workers’ Association. (“Oppose the labor tyrant stirring up trouble!”) The cause was eventually taken up by the Attorney General’s Office (under Dennis Vacco), and the restaurant settled the disputes for $1.1M(!) in back tip wages.

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