Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Dim Sums and the Locals that ‘Touches Heart’

I missed dim sums. Royal China is as close as it gets to authentic dim sums in London. Bring it back to Hong Kong, I'd probably rank it mediocre at its best. Admittedly I am rather picky with dim sum restaurants; quality of tea leaves, soy sauce for cheung fun and fat/meat ratio are fundamentals.

Markings Hotpot (which serves dim sum during the day) in Jordan is my usual choice. They only serve c.18 types of dim sum, which is very limited by any standard, but quality wins over quantity anytime.

Custard buns

This gets 10/10. Its filling resemble a fondant; runny and infused with liquidised preserved egg yolk, enveloped by a spongy and adequately moist bun.

Sportful Garden and Maxim Palace at Central City Hall used to get my vote for consistently brilliant dim sums, sadly I think they have gone slightly downhill in the last 2 years. Familiar faces have disappeared and fillings have shrunk to combat inflation, hence deviating from the perfect ratio.

Newly added to my list is BuDaoWeng, which specialises in posh Japanese hotpot, but also offers dim sums at lunch. Situated on the 23rd floor of the recently erected ISquare, it boasts a panorama of the Victoria Harbour in a spacious and contemporary setting.

The translucent shell of Har Gau was thin and springy, encasing the crunchy juicy prawns. Steamed fish collar in XO sauce was moderately spicy, fleshy and heavy in dried scallops.

(Stay well away from the other two branches.)
It's stereotypical that Chinese eat absolutely anything and everything. Offal used to be hugely appreciated in Chinese cuisine, but with more emphasis on health and hygiene in recent years, the traditional ingredient have been fading out. Not that I am not health conscious, but one little portion can't do much harm, right? This brought us to Block 13.

Food stalls on trolleys selling local delicacies used to line the busy streets of MongKok when I was young. These have drastically diminished as stalls were forced to move into proper shops for infrastructure improvements. Few stalls could afford the exorbitant rents, hence their disappearance. Block 13 originated in a modest residential region, owing to its popularity, it expanded to the older commercial area on HK Island, closer to Central. Needless to say, it specialises in offal, slow-cooked in soy sauce, Chinese spice and beef juices. The broth gets better with age as more organs release their flavours, and its intensity differentiates a good trolley from a mediocre one.

It doesn't look appetising, I know. The various organs bubbling away in a stainless steel cooker, softening and soaking up the sauce. We bought a small bowl to share, since one skewer wouldn't suffice but a large bowl would leave an aching stomach. Upon ordering, the matron gears up with industrial scissors on one hand and tongs on the other, skilfully picks out each piece and slash it into pieces. One small bowl comprises of beef tripe, another stomach chamber, tendons, lungs and intestines. With a generous squeeze of mustard and hoi sin sauce, this ancient delicacy is rather dandy. Understandably, it's not for everyone.

Despite the dominance of western style breakfasts in Hong Kong, I still prefer a bowl of heart-warming congee to start my day. Pair it with plain cheung fun for a lighter meal, or a rice dumpling as a hearty brunch. These rice dumplings vary in style depending on their originating province, but are generally made with glutinous rice, different bean paste and possibly a lump of fatty braised pork, all wrapped in lotus leaves for a distinctive scent upon steaming. I like dipping mine in sugar as opposed to soy sauce, but some do both.

Another ideal breakfast that I sorely miss in London is this:

A direct translation would be "sticky rice", not to be confused with the coconut infused rice in Thai cuisine. A layer of glutinous rice envelops a deep-fried dough, preserved spicy cabbage and pork floss. Ahh... they work so well together: it's chewy on the outside, but crispy inside; the pickle is hot, but the floss is sweet; the rice is dense but the dough is airy. 

This goes hand in hand with a bowl of hot soya milk, lightly sweetened. Don't we all know the hormonal benefits of soya milk to women? Sticky rice is by no means an easy feat. Soggy rice and damp dough are the usual killers. Tofulism not only puts together the textbook rice roll, it also brews the best soya milk in town. In fact, their soya pudding is also way above average, manufactured in the most traditional methods, hence the cockiness in the name. I'd avoid any non-soya related products, though.

Nothing beats Mum’s homemade dinner.

It’s official. Mum’s roast pork is unbeatable. Yes you may get very jealous, but this is exclusive.


  1. 流沙包好正~!

  2. ahhh, you just made me wanna go back to HK right now! I've also been to block 13 and I loved the offal! there is another brilliant one in mong kok for beef offal, right on the corner of dundas street & sai yeung choi street.