Eastern Promises 11: Awful Dim Sum at Dim Sum Cafe
King’s Dumplings, at 955 King’s Street, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong; call them at 2127 7068.
There are a lot of reasons to write about food.
Food often involves sharing an experience with others, be it at a turkey dinner at a family gathering, partaking in “stoner bowls” at the Gathering of the Juggalos, or nibbling on hot-pockets while playing Magic: The Gathering.
Wordplay aside, for me Eastern Promises is as much about sharing the experience of living abroad is it is about the food itself. And in some cases, all I want to share is a cautionary tale. And that’s really the purpose of this report: Dim Sum Cafe sucks; stay away.
A few weeks ago I was out in Quarry Bay, searching for dinner. By the time I had moved out of Q-Bay, I had eaten at most of the interesting places. This night was feeling a little down and wasn’t in the mood to be alone in a busy restaurant. There was a congee place I’d been meaning to try – and eventually did – but it was absolutely slammed that night.
A little joint called Dim Sum Cafe seemed like a nice compromise. I like dim sum food and it had it seemed fairly accessible to Westerners. I guess maybe that’s a bad sign.
It was very easy to order here with a clear English menu I could mark with my choices. I got steamed char-siu baos, har gao and fried radish cakes, the last of which has been a favorite of mine since my friend Des, nearly ten years ago, spent all day making them for our friends in Vancouver. His were good. These were miserable. Dripping with old oil, someone fell asleep at the fryer. The baos were hard and stale and the har gao unremarkable.
Sometimes you put a lot of thought into what you want and it blows up in your face.
I wrote this ode to Notting Hill, Patrick Dempsey and Zooey Deschanel for the terrific website Zero Writing Credits.
The lyric represented therein can be found in the song below.
Eastern Promises 10: Taiwanese-Shanghainese Mashup with Wes at King’s Dumplings
King’s Dumplings, at 128 Lockhart, WanChai, Hong Kong; call them at 2890 6366.
Wes is a new friend of mine here in Hong Kong. He’s a first year JD student who wishes to return to his home in Calgary one day. Wes’ family is from Hong Kong, and he relishes playing an ambassador-like role for the exchange students.
On this day Wes was especially generous with his time, accompanying me to the police station to have some fingerprints made for an immigration application. Earlier communications with the station made it seem like I would need a translator for this somewhat odd request. Things went off without a hitch, and per our agreement, I treated Wes to lunch at a restaurant that seemed interesting.
We initially thought it was a purely Shanghainese restaurant given the prominence of xiao long bao on the menu, but it turned out to be more Taiwanese.
Still, the xiao long bao were excellent – some of the best I’ve had – delicate yet sturdy and full of a rich soup. We also enjoyed a pan-fried dumpling also with a soupy interior and one of the best bowls of beef noodle soup I’ve had. The broth was an exquisite balance of spices. The brisket was remarkably well marbled, a tapestry of tender beef and fat. I don’t know if this was a one-off – just a happenstance of the beef order that day – or the norm. But for now, this is a must-order.
Dan-dan noodles, however, were an afterthought – bland and overcooked.
We definitely over-ordered with Wes only having a bite of the beef noodle soup before tapping out. The total bill was upwards of $250 HKD ($33 CAD), which is a bit much for lunch in Hong Kong. But for the impeccable food, friendship, and the lessening of my immigration woes, I was happy to pay it.