DimDimSum Dim Sum in Hong Kong

On a recent trip to Hong Kong, we were hoping to find a new dim sum joint to check out and DimDimSum Specialty Store came highly recommended from a number of ‘foodie’ resources, including from several notable Hong Kong chefs.

There are several locations including two in Kowloon (Jordan and Mongkok), Wan Chai, and Shatin. We attempted to locate the one in Wan Chai, which proved to be quite a challenge at first. After several attempts of getting lost, we finally landed in front of DimDimSum.

DimDimSum in Hong Kong's Wan Chai District http://ourtastytravels.com/blog/dimdimsum-dim-sum-hong-kong/ #dimsum #hongkong #ourtastytravels

DimDimSum in Hong Kong’s Wan Chai District

DimDimSum was named one of the top 101 places to eat by the 2012 Newsweek Foodie Awards, Time Out Hong Kong named it best dim sum in 2011, and it’s part of the book “Where Chefs Eat — The Ultimate Insiders’ Guide”.

After a pretty short wait on a Sunday morning, we secured a table for two in the corner and ordered every recommended dish we could. The verdict? While it was definitely good and reasonably priced, it didn’t knock my socks off or wow me a lot more than any other dim sum place I’ve tried. Don’t get me wrong, it was one of the better dim sum joints I’ve been to, but perhaps my expectations were too high based on everything I read? I will definitely go back on a future trip and try one of the other branches as well.

My favorite dim sum joints in Hong Kong are still the original Tim Ho Wan in Mongkok, Langham Place, Mongkok’s Two-Michelin starred Ming Court, and Ritz-Carlton’s Two-Michelin starred Tin Lung Heen

Here’s a look at the dishes we tried at DimDimSum:

BBQ Pork Buns (Cha Siu Bao) 巧製叉燒包

BBQ Pork Buns (Cha Siu Bao)  http://ourtastytravels.com/blog/dimdimsum-dim-sum-hong-kong/ #dimsum #hongkong #ourtastytravels

BBQ Pork Buns (Cha Siu Bao)  巧製叉燒包

 

Apple and BBQ Pork Pastry 蘋果叉燒酥

Apple and BBQ Pork Pastry  http://ourtastytravels.com/blog/dimdimsum-dim-sum-hong-kong/ #dimsum #hongkong #ourtastytravels

Apple and BBQ Pork Pastry 蘋果叉燒酥

 Pan-Fried Radish Cakes 香煎蘿蔔糕 

Radish Cakes  http://ourtastytravels.com/blog/dimdimsum-dim-sum-hong-kong/ #dimsum #hongkong #ourtastytravels

Radish Cakes

Rice Flour Rolls with BBQ Pork 蜜汁叉燒腸

Rice Flour Rolls with BBQ Pork  http://ourtastytravels.com/blog/dimdimsum-dim-sum-hong-kong/ #dimsum #hongkong #ourtastytravels

Rice Flour Rolls with BBQ Pork

Stuffed Bean Curd Wraps with Oyster Sauce 蠔汁鮮竹卷

Stuffed Bean Curd Wraps with Oyster Sauce  http://ourtastytravels.com/blog/dimdimsum-dim-sum-hong-kong/ #dimsum #hongkong #ourtastytravels

Stuffed Bean Curd Wraps with Oyster Sauce

Steamed Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gow) 晶瑩鮮蝦餃

Steamed Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gow)  http://ourtastytravels.com/blog/dimdimsum-dim-sum-hong-kong/ #dimsum #hongkong #ourtastytravels

Steamed Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gow)

Deep Fried Dumplings with Wasabi 芥末咸水角

Deep Fried Dumplings with Wasabi  http://ourtastytravels.com/blog/dimdimsum-dim-sum-hong-kong/ #dimsum #hongkong #ourtastytravels

Deep Fried Dumplings with Wasabi

Pork Dumplings with Crab Roe (Siu Mai) 蟹子燒賣皇

Pork Dumplings with Crab Roe (Siu Mai) http://ourtastytravels.com/blog/dimdimsum-dim-sum-hong-kong/ #dimsum #hongkong #ourtastytravels

Pork Dumplings with Crab Roe (Siu Mai)

Pan-fried Stuffed Eggplant with Teriyaki Sauce 燒汁釀茄子

Pan-fried Stuffed Eggplant with Teriyaki Sauce http://ourtastytravels.com/blog/dimdimsum-dim-sum-hong-kong/ #dimsum #hongkong #ourtastytravels

Pan-fried Stuffed Eggplant with Teriyaki Sauce

Roast Pork Belly and Taro Bun 芋香燒腩卷

Roast Pork Belly and Taro Bun  http://ourtastytravels.com/blog/dimdimsum-dim-sum-hong-kong/ #dimsum #hongkong #ourtastytravels

Roast Pork Belly and Taro Bun

Shanghai Soup Dumplings with Black Truffle 黑松露小籠包

Shanghai Soup Dumplings with Black Truffle http://ourtastytravels.com/blog/dimdimsum-dim-sum-hong-kong/ #dimsum #hongkong #ourtastytravels

Shanghai Soup Dumplings with Black Truffle

DimDimSum Dim Sum Specialty Store

Jordan Shop: 23 Man Ying Street, T: 2771-7766 H: 10am-1am
Mongkok: 112 Tung Choi Street, T: 2309-2300 H: 11am-2am

Wan Chai: 7 Tin Lok Lane, T:2891-7677 H: 10am-12am

Shatin: 1st Floor, No. 108, Citylink Plaza, T: 2285-8152, H: 8:30am-10:30pm

DimDimSum website

 

This post is part of the 2014 A to Z Blogging Challenge. Upcoming tomorrow for Street Food Saturday is Empanadas from Elvi’s Kitchen in Belize! 

Previous Posts on the A to Z Blogging Challenge:

A is for Announcements: Updates and Where Our Tasty Travels is Headed Next

Understanding Wine Terminology: Botrytis or Noble Rot

C is for Carlsberg Brewery — Copenhagen, Denmark 

Tin Lung Heen: Cantonese Dim Sum at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong

This past weekend, we flew to Hong Kong to enjoy a night of pampering at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, which is now the tallest hotel in the world.  Located on the 102nd – 118th floors of the ICC on the Kowloon peninsula, you can pretty much guarantee the restaurants here will become popular with locals and tourists alike.  One of our most anticipated stops of the trip was trying dim sum at Tin Lung Heen, The Ritz-Carlton’s signature Cantonese restaurant.

Tin Lung Heen is on 102nd floor of The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Tin Lung Heen is on 102nd floor of The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong

The culinary world has been abuzz as since Chef Paul Lau, formerly of the Peninsula Hotel, was said to be the newly appointed Executive Chef of Tin Lung Heen.  Situated on the 102nd floor overlooking the western part of Hong Kong, we were not at all surprised to see it fully booked at 1pm on Saturday (thankfully, we had made reservations several weeks prior).

We had requested a window spot when making the reservation and we were given a wonderful table overlooking the harbour and a portion of the Kowloon Peninsula.  The floor to ceiling windows extend to the 103rd floor, maximizing the surrounding views and natural light.  Although the restaurant itself is not that big, it feels quite spacious and includes a mixture of traditional dining tables and lounge style booths.  To see the inner workings of Tin Lung Heen, check out the windows into the kitchen in the back of the restaurant.  The design gives you a sneak peek at the chefs hard at work, surrounded by towers of steaming dim sum baskets.

Tin Lung Heen at Ritz Carlton Hong Kong  http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Interior of Tin Lung Heen at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong

View from our window table at Tin Lung Heen  http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

View from our window table at Tin Lung Heen

Table Setting Tin Lung Heen   http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Place setting at Tin Lung Heen

Chopstick and spoon detail at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Chopstick and spoon detail at Tin Lung Heen

We started off lunch by asking to see the premium tea menu — a must for me in any fine Cantonese restaurant.  I struggle to understand how restaurants earn Michelin star ratings on their Cantonese cuisine, but do not even offer any premium Chinese teas!

Tin Lung Heen offers a selection of premium white, black/puerh, scented, green, and oolong teas that range in price from 40 HKD to 80 HKD per person.  The selection of house teas are 20 HKD per person.  We opted for the 15 year aged Puerh tea, which is a “black” or fully fermented tea — a gourmet tea quite popular here in Taiwan.

Premium Tea at Tin Lung Heen: 15 Year Aged Puerh Tea http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

15 Year Aged Puerh Tea at Tin Lung Heen

All of Tin Lung Heen’s teas are housed in a special tea room, nearly a mirror image of the massive wine cellar located on the opposite end.  If you are unfamiliar with Chinese tea varieties, ask for a recommendation — don’t miss out because you are unsure of what to order!

Tin Lung Heen Tea Room  http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Tea Room at one end of Tin Lung Heen

We started our Tin Lung Heen dim sum exploration off with the Steamed Rice Roll with Barbecued Iberian Park and Mushroom Filling (68 HKD).  The Iberian Pork was moist and flavorful, perhaps not anything too special or different, but a nice combination.  The rice roll itself was better quality than many we have tried.

Iberian Pork Rice Flour Roll Tin Lung Heen  http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Iberian Pork Rice Flour Roll

Tin Lung Heen Steamed Rice Roll with Iberian Pork http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Close up of Steamed Rice Roll with Iberian Pork

Next to arrive were the Pork and Shrimp Dumplings with Caviar (58 HKD), which are pretty traditional siu mai.  These were one of our favorites — Brett is not normally a fan of these as they tend to have a rubbery consistency, but absolutely raved about these.  The siu mai were perfectly steamed with a good blend of shrimp and pork — not overly strong, which made the caviar stand out.

Shrimp and Pork Siu Mai with Caviar at Tin Lung Heen  http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Shrimp and Pork Dumplings with Caviar

Another menu item that caught our immediate attention was the Wagyu Beef Pot-stickers with Black Pepper (68 HKD).  The pot-stickers were one of the best platings of the day.  The black pepper was a bit overpowering for my palate, but otherwise they were good — a decent amount of meat and not overly thick dumpling skins.  I’d love to see this done with something other than the black pepper to enhance the flavor of the Wagyu, not overpower it.

Wagyu and Black Pepper Potstickers at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Wagyu and Black Pepper Potstickers

Wagyu and Black Pepper Potstickers at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Close up details on one side of the potstickers

Wagyu and Black Pepper Potstickers at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Bottom detail of the Wagyu Potstickers

One dish we highly recommend trying is the Baked Abalone and Goose Puff (88 HKD).  These were incredible and surprisingly easy to eat as the abalone was cut into several pieces.  The rich mixture of the abalone and goose with the light and crispy pastry shell was heaven on a plate.

Abalone and Goose Puffs at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Abalone and Goose Puffs

Deviating from the dim sum menu itself, we ordered the barbecue platter for two off the main menu.  We had been sampling barbecue platters from several other 2 and 3 Michelin starred restaurants in the days prior, making it the perfect time to do a side by side comparison.  I will readily admit going into ordering this, the Michelin two-starred Ming Court is my favorite suckling pig EVER!  I am yet to find any that can hold a candle to theirs, which takes the chef two full days to prepare.  Given that caveat, it was quite likely I was not going to like Tin Lung Heen’s.

Three Meats Barbecue Combo Platter for 2 at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Three Meats Barbecue Combo Platter for 2

Verdict?  Surprisingly, the suckling pig from Tin Lung Heen is not too far behind Ming Court!  Like Ming Court, the suckling pig at Tin Lung Heen is served with the skin and meat sliced separately so you lose that sometimes overly fatty and greasy layer.  The consistency of the skin was similar to Ming Court’s and the meat was quite tender and lean.  The main difference with Tin Lung Heen is the addition of a piece of Chinese puff between the skin and the meat.  Overall, we were quite pleased.  The char siu, or barbecued pork, was also good.  Decent flavor, and it was moist and tender, with just a small amount of fat.  Brett said his piece had more fat and gristle, but was still good.

Barbecued Pork on Combo Platter at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Barbecued Pork on combo platter

The roast goose was excellent, with a nice sauce.  The only potential downside of ordering a combo is the portion size.  You order the combination platters by number of persons, and it is literally just one piece of meat each (100 HKD per person for 3 meats).  If you are ordering a number of dishes and just want a piece of each then this is the perfect way to go.  However, those wanting more than a nibble of each might find it better to order portions of the barbecued meats individually.

Barbecued Goose on Combo Platter at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Goose on barbecued combo platter

The next dish that arrived is one many might find quite controversial — Supreme Shark Fin Dumpling in Lobster Soup (88 HKD).  Normally, we do not seek out and order shark fin, but if it is part of a tasting menu or is personally recommended, we will usually try it as not to offend the chef or our hosts.  In this case, it came recommended multiple times by several of the staff who were eager for us to try it, so we opted to order it.  The large dumpling had a nice thin skin, easily punctured, and the broth had a subtle lobster flavor.  Be sure to try it with the red vinegar.

Supreme Shark Fin Dumpling in Lobster Soup at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Supreme Shark Fin Dumpling in Lobster Soup

We inadvertently saved the best for last — Baked Barbecued Pork Buns with Tasty Crust (48 HKD).  Move over Tim Ho Wan, there’s a new crispy pork bun in town!  Known for their delectable crispy pork buns, 1 Michelin-starred Tim Ho Wan draws in 3+ hour waits for their cheap dim sum and crispy pork buns that are so popular there is a limit on the number you can order each day.

Crispy Pork Buns at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Crispy Pork Buns at Tin Lung Heen

Tin Lung Heen’s crispy pork buns are very light and fluffy.  The buns were thinly filled, but with just enough to taste the full sweetness of the barbecue pork.  Personally, I would’ve preferred just a little more sweet pork filling, but they were still easily on par (if not better) than Tim Ho Wan.  And the best part?  No limit of four orders per day!  Had these been on the room service menu…it could’ve been dangerous.

Tin Lung Heen Inside of Crispy Pork Bun  http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Inside of Crispy Pork Bun

If the crispy pork buns were not enough, we still ordered two desserts to finish off — the Chilled Milk Jelly with Black Truffle (68 HKD) and the Chilled Mango Cream with Sago and Pomelo (48 HKD).  I was shocked that the milk jelly was actually flavored with black truffle — not just the two slices on the top!  Like most Chinese desserts, it was not overly sweet and the addition of the black truffle was a hit.  It was very earthy and completely melted in my mouth.

Milk Jelly with Black Truffle at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Milk Jelly with Black Truffle

Milk Jelly with Black Truffle at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Close up of truffle slice on milk jelly

Mango with sago and pomelo is another favorite of mine and the second dessert we ordered.  The light texture and the bright fruit flavors are a great way to cleanse the palate and, for whatever reason, I always walk away feeling a little less stuffed!

Mango Cream Dessert at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Mango Cream

Once we were done, one of the servers came over with another dessert plate.  He said these were complimentary and for us to enjoy.  On the plate were two black sesame rolls of some type and the other were heart shaped red bean and coconut jelly pieces (I think).  Like the other desserts, these were good.  I did not see them on the menu, unless they were the Chef’s special dessert for two.  Had we known they would be bringing these, we wouldn’t have ordered two other desserts — especially since we had dinner reservations later that night at Tosca!

Tin Lung Heen Desserts  http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Complimentary desserts from Tin Lung Heen

Desserts at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Heart shaped dessert at Tin Lung Heen

Black Sesame Dessert at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Black sesame dessert

Overall, the service for opening weekend was excellent.  For the most part, servers already knew the menu items by memory, had dishes and recommendations ready to go when asked, and they were attentive in pouring the tea, refilling the water, and staggering the dishes.  Tin Lung Heen has a decent array of dim sum offerings and an extensive regular menu that may seem overwhelming when you are dining for two or in a small group.  I lost track at how many menu items I want to come back and try — both off the dim sum and the regular menu.

Reservations are definitely recommended and I would try calling at least one week or more in advance to get your preferred time and date.  Have you already tried Tin Lung Heen?  What are your thoughts on the dim sum and their other Cantonese offerings?  Do you see it as a Michelin star contender?

2014 Update: Tin Lung Heen has been awarded two Michelin stars!

Tim Ho Wan in Hong Kong: World’s Cheapest Michelin Starred Restaurant

For our most recent trip to Hong Kong last weekend, we had decided to concentrate on a few Michelin-starred restaurants that had been on our list.  A couple days prior to our departure, Andrew Zimmern tweeted about the best dumplings he’s ever had at Tim Ho Wan in Mongkok.  Ironically, we were staying at our beloved Langham Place in Mongkok again so we were quite interested in adding this one Michelin star restaurant to our list.  After a little shuffling, we decided to check them out on Sunday morning for their dim sum.

A little research online indicated this was not a neighborhood secret – lines form sometimes an hour before the 10am opening and waits can easily reach three+ hours!  We were eating a very late multi-course dinner so we decided to take our chances and go around noon since we wouldn’t be hungry in the morning.  It’s a very short walk from Langham Place and easy to miss if you do not know what you are looking for.  Fortunately, I spotted the line of people outside so we hurried over and got a number to secure our place in line.

Small crowd outside Tim Ho Wan

Tim Ho Wan is not what most people would expect in a Michelin-starred restaurant.  The non-descript tiny storefront is located on the street level of an older apartment building and probably has about 10 tables total — if you have clausterphobia issues, this might not be the place for you.  Tables are pushed together and you will be sitting literally elbow to elbow with strangers, but the food is definitely worth it!

The mastermind behind the restaurant is Chef Mark Pui Gor, who used to be the chef of the Four Season’s Three Michelin Starred restaurant.  He made the decision to open his own restaurant, serving quality dim sum at really affordable prices.

Tim Ho Wan interior - very small restaurant

There are menus in English and Chinese and you must get a number on arrival.  You may have to work to get the attention of the “hostess” who likely doesn’t speak English.  If you do not make your presence known, you may fall back another 10 numbers, which could add an hour to your wait!  Some blogs have noted that you need to remain close or be good at timing numbers because they put you back into the queue if you are not there within 10 or 15 minutes of your call time.  Do not think they always go in sequential order either.  We managed to skip probably an hour or so wait since we were the only party of two present.  Every other group had 3 or more, which was a longer wait.  So, they ended up skipping over 10 numbers when they called us.

Sheet on door where they write numbers

Location in non-descript apartment building

Tim Ho Wan is most known for their crispy pork buns, which are unlike any pork bun you have ever tried.  The dough is not the white spongy dough you often find in bbq pork buns, also known as char siu bao.  The dough in Tim Ho Wan’s crispy pork buns is more like a pineapple cake found in Taiwan — slightly sweet and more dense.  The filling is the best char siu I have ever tried.  The meat is incredibly tender and the honey flavor was quite evident, unlike many others that taste like a mouthful of sugar.  Not surprisingly, these are limited to 4 orders per table, which includes take out orders.  So eat wisely and be sure to get your “daily allotment” to go — they make great snacks later in the day. :-)  The price of these culinary masterpieces?  …..$12 HK (about $1.50 US based on current exchange rates).

Crispy Pork Buns

Another shot of these heavenly buns

Can't get enough of these!

The char siu is so tender and has a subtle honey flavor

We tried to order many of the recommended dishes and ended up leaving quite full.  Here is a look at the other items we tried.  The grand total including our two orders of take out buns was less than $20 US (which also factored in tea, tip, and tax!)  Here is a look at the other dishes we sampled:

Steamed fresh shrimp dumplings (ha jiao) $18 HK

A perfect blend of shrimp and crystal dumpling skin.  The shrimp was definitely fresh and much more flavorful than many other dumplings we’ve tried.  I’ve found many cases where the shrimp overpowers the delicate dumpling or you just cannot taste it at all.  Definitely recommend these!

Steamed Fresh Shrimp Dumplings

Single Fresh Steamed Shrimp Dumpling

Glue Rice Dumpling $20 HK

This is quite similar to what we call jongzi here in Taiwan and are served during the Dragon Boat Festival in June (although you can find them all over the island other times of the year).  It is a very dense and large pat of glutinous rice typically steamed in banana leaves.  Traditional jongzi have a variety of ingredients that are often quite strong for us (sorry, just cannot get used to the strong taste of dried shrimp here) including salted duck yolk, pork, mushrooms, etc.   The one served at Tim Ho Wan is filled with chicken and mushrooms.  The poultry is quite tender and the mushrooms add a perfect amount of earthiness.  (All I kept thinking about was whether I could pair this with a good red wine as the mushrooms imparted such a beautiful earthy quality to the rice and chicken as well).  This is a heavy dish so consider skipping it if there are only two of you — or just don’t finish all the rice as it will fill you up rather quickly.

Outer leaf of the Glutinous Rice Dumpling

Actual Glutinous Rice Dumpling

Steamed Dumpling in Chiu Chow Style $10 HK

These are crystal skinned dumplings filled with vegetables and a nice amount of crunch.  Chiu Chow style cuisine originates in the north-easternmost area of the Guangdong province and is known for its use of seafood and vegetable dishes, both of which are regarded as being healthy.  The flavors tend to be more mild and delicate.  This was filled with spinach, mushrooms, and garlic.

This was probably my least favorite item, but Brett loved them.  The mix of vegetables and crunch were perfect for him and he loved the delicate taste.

Crystal Dumplings

Steamed Pork Dumpling with Shrimp $18 HK

These are the basic shu mai (spelled a variety of other ways) you find in Cantonese dim sum.  Many places serve them with crab roe on top that Brett finds he is not a fan of, but these lacked the typical “orange dot” in the center.  These delights were overflowing with bits of shrimp and pork that were evenly balanced.  Definitely one dish not to miss.

Steamed Pork Dumplings with Shrimp

Deep Fried Dumpling Filled with Meat $12 HK

The next item to arrive was the deep fried dumplings filled with meat.  These are typically one of my least favorite things in dim sum as the gooey texture of the glutinous rice dumpling inside always makes me think it is undercooked and I will get sick (I’ve had several terrible bouts with food poisoning and I’m allergic to the medicines used to treat it, so perhaps I am a wee bit paranoid at times!)  I decided to give these a go and they were much better than others I have tried.  The dumpling still had the glutinous texture inside, but it was not a mouthful of goo.  The meat inside was fairly sweet, similar to the char siu.  Surprisingly, this ended up being one of my favorite dishes!

Deep Fried Dumplings Filled with Meat

Inside of the Deep Fried Dumplings

Rice Roll Stuffed with Pig Liver $15 HK

Tim Ho Wan offers four different varieties of rice rolls — bbq pork, shrimp, beef, and the good ol’ pig liver.  Now, I am not a liver fan, but give me anything with foie gras or a pate and I am in heaven.  I’ve even survived several rounds with monkfish liver pate, but something about liver itself makes me gag.  I tried it and well, it was exactly what I was expecting.  Much too strong of a flavor for me, but this is one of the highly recommended dishes so give it at shot and make up your mind.  For less than $2 US, there is not much risk!

Rice Roll Stuffed with Pig Liver

Sadly, we had already arrived at the end of our dim sum dishes.  We saw a number of tables ordering other dishes that seemed to be quite popular, but we were pretty full.  Other popular items included the Steamed BeefBall with Bean Curd Skin ($12 HK), Steamed Chicken Feet with Black Bean Sauce ($12 HK), Pan-Fried Turnip Cake with Pan-Fried Turnip ($10 HK), and Chicken and Pork Wrapped with Dry Bean Curd ($16 HK).

We did order dessert which notes on the menu can take 20 minutes so be prepared.  All desserts were $10K each.  We tried the hot Sweet Chestnut and Pumpkin Cream which was amazing!  There were chunks of chestnuts and the pumpkin had a slight natural sweetness.  I love Chinese desserts as they are not sweet like American ones often are so I feel less guilty about ordering them.  This was a pretty large portion so definitely wise to split one between two people if you can.  While I definitely enjoyed the Chestnut and Pumpkin Cream, it seemed the most popular item ordered was the Steamed Egg Cake that was not on the dessert menu.  Another option was Tonic Medlar and Petal Cake, which is Osmanthus Jelly.  There was also one last option for dessert — the Double Boiled Pear Soup with Snow Fungus.  These probably would’ve been excellent choices as well, but we need to save something to try on our next visit! :-)

Pumpkin and Chestnut Cream Dessert

Tim Ho Wan Address:

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Taipei Dim Sum: Shang Palace at the Shangri-La in the Far Eastern Plaza

Surprisingly, quality Cantonese dim sum is quite a hit or miss in Taipei.  With its proximity to Hong Kong and the variety of other mainland China culinary influences, I would have expected Taipei to be filled with excellent dim sum options.  A year of exploring has led us to several decent options, which do not always come cheaply.

On our latest search for good dim sum, we decided to finally try the Shang Palace at the Shangri-La Hotel, which is located in the Far Eastern Plaza in downtown Taipei.  We definitely had high hopes since the location in Hong Kong is a Michelin Two-star restaurant.

The Shang Palace in Taipei is quite elegant and has a number of private rooms that open up to accommodate busy weekend diners.  The dim sum menu was filled a number of tantalizing options — many of which we have never seen elsewhere.  For NT 899 (around $30 US), opt for the all-you-can-eat dim sum, which allows you to order a number of excellent dishes off the menu, some of which are very pricey on their own.

If you like to try various Chinese teas, they had a decent menu (although nothing compared to what we just had at Langham Place in Hong Kong a few weeks before).   The menu featured  a number of classic teas like Jasmine, Chrysanthemum, Ooolong, andPu-erh.  We tried the Bi-luo-chun from Jiangsu, China.  It is known for its delicate appearance, fruity taste, floral aroma but we were not that impressed.  It was too mild — I much prefer stronger flavor teas like Pu-erh and Ti-kuan-yin.   Most of the teas on the menu are from mainland China, but both the Oolong teas are local to Taiwan.  All the teas are NT $80 (about $2.50 US) per person with meal service.

We started with a traditionally expensive delicacy – bird’s nest soup. Shang Palace serves Braised Bird’s Nest and Winter Squash Soup which was excellent.  Although we did not really get any winter squash taste, the soup was quite flavorful.

Braised Bird's Nest Soup with Winter Squash

If you have never heard of bird’s nest – it is quite the delicacy in fine Chinese cuisine.  Soups or desserts made with real bird’s nest can easily run upwards of $50 US on a menu.

What is a bird’s nest you might ask? Exactly what it sounds like – it is the saliva nest of certain types of swifts.   When dissolved in water, it takes on a gelatinous texture that is perfect in soup.  Bird’s nest can be insanely expensive with entire shops in places like Hong Kong devoted to selling the various types available.

After the Bird’s Nest soup, we tried the deep fried black vinegar pork.  The pork had pineapples along with red, yellow, and green peppers included.  The sauce was thick and sticky, almost like honey.  The pork was tender and the crispy coating was not overwhelming.  The black vinegar taste was a nice compliment to the pork and peppers and cut the tartness of the pineapple.

Deep-Fried Pork with Black Vinegar Sauce

Next were a couple more traditional dim sum items – shrimp dumplings and pork dumplings.  The shrimp dumplings were amongst the best I have tried in Asia – the filling was a mix of shrimp and water chestnut and the dumpling skin was not rubbery like many places serve.

Shrimp and Water Chestnut Dumplings

The pork dumplings are more like Cantonese shu mai and not the Shanghai style dumplings.  We tried the pork with crab roe and they were excellent – not overly seafood forward like many of the shu mai with crab roe tend to be.

Pork Dumplings with Crab Roe

We went on to traditional bbq pork buns, with the sweet char siu pork filling.  The buns were light and fluffy and not overly dense.  The bbq pork was not as sweet and chunky as I prefer and am used to, but the flavor was excellent.

BBQ Pork Buns

The next item we ordered was one of my favorites.  Spring rolls with shrimp and goose liver paste.  The spring rolls were cut in half prior to serving and more flat than some dim sum restaurants serve.  This is quite a help with chopstick navigation since spring rolls can tend to be greasy and difficult to grasp.  These culinary gems were not the least bit greasy and the strong shrimp and goose liver flavors mixed surprisingly well together.  The shrimp flavor was mild and the goose liver paste melts in your mouth.

Spring Rolls with Shrimp and Goose Liver Paste

Moving to another unique menu item — jellyfish.  This is a common menu item in many fine Chinese restaurants and like bird’s nest, jellyfish is an expensive delicacy.  Shang Palace serves a jellyfish on their regular menu that is $50 so this was a perfect opportunity to try a smaller portion.

Jellyfish with Shrimp in Sesame Sauce

Shang Palace’s jellyfish is served with shrimp roe in a sesame sauce.  I expected the jellyfish to be rubbery and rather disgusting, but it was not.  The texture is slightly rubbery, yes, but the flavor was very mild and it was easy to chew.  The flavor was clean and it reminded me of eating a fresh seaweed salad from a Japanese restaurant.

Next to arrive was the order of baked bbq pork pies.  These flaky delights are not always that common in dim sum restaurants unfortunately.  These were among the best I have tried.  The crust was flaky and had a slightly sweet taste — perhaps it had been brushed with a bit of honey.

Baked Barbecue Pork Pie

And we still had several more plates coming!  Just to clarify – we asked them to make everything in small portions or just orders of two where possible, allowing us to order more dishes.  I am invariably guilty of my “eyes are always bigger than the stomach” scenario.

Next was a BBQ pork with honey sauce.  This was among my favorite dishes.  The pork was very tender, moist and small crispy bits of skin where excellent.  The honey sauce had a citrus tang and worked beautifully with the pork.

Barbecued Pork with Honey Sauce

One of our last dishes was the roasted goose.  This was probably my least favorite.  The goose was greasy and pretty fatty.  Duck and goose are not my favorite choices in meat anyways (except Peking Duck, of course) so I did not have high hopes I would love this dish.  For those that love game meats and stronger flavors, this would be a great choice.

Roasted Goose

Our last “main” dim sum dish was deep fried mashed taro with seafood.  One thing I have learned living in Taiwan, I typically do not always love the seafood here.  I thought this dish was ok, but definitely had a strong seafood taste that overpowered the mashed taro.  I’ve had this combo elsewhere and the seafood flavor was not so overpowering.  This would definitely not be on my list to order again, but I saw almost every table around us order them.

Deep-Fried Mashed Taro with Seafood

At this point, it is safe to say I was pretty full and it was nearly time for the dim sum lunch to be over.  We tried to order one each of the desserts to split, but due to a miscommunication, we ended with 3 desserts each.  One thing I will not complain about in Taiwan is too much dessert.  Chinese desserts are excellent as they are not overly sweet like many “western” desserts tend to be.  And in some cases, they are often somewhat healthy (although that was not really the case here).

The desserts included coconut red bean jelly cake, coconut milk with sago, and deep-fried milk jelly.  These are very interesting desserts and quite a departure from what I have tried before.  The coconut red bean jelly cake is obviously a favorite as numerous plates of these circled the dining room (some tables even ordered multiple rounds).  The deep-fried milk jelly was interesting although I think having it served in a soupy syrup is preferable (especially after ordering too many fried items during the meal itself).  The coconut milk with sago was more like a coconut cream — it was very thick and coated the spoon.  I could not stop wondering how many calories were in that dessert alone!

Coconut Red Bean Jelly Cake and Deep-Fried Milk Jelly

Coconut Milk with Sago Pearls

Overall Shang Palace rates as one of my favorite dim sum places in Taipei.  If you can believe it, there are still a number of menu items we did not try.  We plan to go back and try the other menu items soon.  Although $60 + for two people at a dim sum lunch is on the high side, the food quality and choice of menu items is completely worth it.

Reservations are recommended for Shang Palace and there is a dress code (smart business) for dinnertime, but lunch was less formal.  Be sure to allow yourself enough time to enjoy the items you want to try.  The last order is at 2:30 pm so I would suggest giving yourself at least two hours if possible.  If you cannot allow that much time, rest assured if you place a large order at one time, they do an excellent job at staggering entrees so you are not stuck with five things getting cold at once.

Shang Palace at the Shangri-La Hotel
Far Eastern Plaza

No. 201 Section 2, DunHua South Road
Taipei City
02-2378-8888

Lunch: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm
Dinner: 6pm – 9:30 pm
Dress Code: Smart Casual
English menu
Credit cards accepted
http://www.shangri-la.com/en/property/taipei/fareasternplaza/dining/restaurant/shangpalace

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