Sunday Sin Day
A tale of three Dim Sums
Lest it be said that we only care about our readers in the South East of England, this is an article of international importance!
As everyone knows, I am a MASSIVE FOODIE.
Here, I review and rate three Chinese restaurants for dim sum; Joy King Lau in Chinatown, London, Tai Tung on Purley Way, Croydon and Chinatown in Glasgow. It is not designed to be a detailed food review but a whistle stop guide to some of the restaurants I frequent.
I often get asked how one chooses a good Chinese restaurant. There’s one rule: look through the window. Are there lots of Chinese people sitting in there? If yes, chances are, it is a safe bet.
A few tips:
1. Don’t expect amazing service, particularly not on a busy Sunday.
2. A decent dim sum restaurant will not leave you thirsty. If you feel parched despite gulping gallons of water, the use of MSG (monosodium glutamate- a flavour enhancer) is high.
3. You have to pay for tea per head.
4. Ask for a teapot of hot water and a teapot of tea. Jasmine tea is popular among Westerners for the sweet aroma and the light taste but why not give other teas a whirl. Po li is a strong dark tea with plenty of flavour and packs a punch and Tit Kwoon Yum (means literally ‘metal Goddess’) is somewhere in the middle of the two. Getting hot water means you can adjust your tea to your tastes.
Dim sum is the beating heart of the Chinese community. Sundays are usually when families go for dim sum, which the Cantonese call ‘yum cha’ which means to drink tea. Saturdays tend to be avoided in the UK for Chinese locals, many of whom own takeaways or restaurants and Saturdays are the busiest days for them. In Hong Kong, dim sum can span from early morning to very late afternoon with special offers and different dishes being available throughout.
My favourite restaurant in Chinatown is Joy King Lau, 3 Leicester Street: http://joykinglau.com/. It is reliable, consistent in food quality and you can book in advance on a Sunday, which isn’t the case with lots of Chinese restaurants for dim sum. It’s even got its own website, which is very unusual. Service is alright, nothing to write home about but it’s the food that is the delight here. Try the roast pork and roast duck rice, the beef balls, Ming Har Gok (fried prawn dumplings that come with a salad cream dip) and the Shanghai dumplings. Be warned, if you do order the Shanghai dumplings, take care not to burst it when picking it up and don’t burn yourself on the soup that oozes out!
A restaurant I am very fond of is Tai Tung, Purley Way in Croydon. Nearest train station Waddon or a short bus ride from East Croydon. Benefits include a massive car park and it’s near a huge Chinese supermarket Wing Yip and a Chinese bakery. Tables are at busy times, not allocated until everyone is present. Try the beef cheung fun; it is divine with its light, thin rice roll. The custard tarts have a fluffy, flaky pastry and the warm filling oozes out but are so popular that they sell out unless you get there early. The suckling pig has perfectly crispy skin and the meat is tender.
My third recommended restaurant is Chinatown in Glasgow. Nearest underground is Cowcaddens but most customers tend to drive there. Free parking is available but is limited but a car park which charges, even on a Sunday, is nearby. The restaurant is next to a fishmongers while a Chinese supermarket and bakery are a stone’s throw away. Dim sum restaurants are few and far between in Glasgow, which is surprising in a city with so many Chinese people living there. The main two restaurants have been open for years. Going to Chinatown restaurant is like going to dim sum in Hong Kong. It’s full of locals, many of whom either know each other by name or are related.
It’s quite difficult to compare restaurants in Glasgow with those in the South East. For starters, some of the dishes available as standard in the South East, like chicken feet and spare ribs rice, are just not available in the restaurants in Glasgow. Nevertheless, I will do my best. Roast duck and roast pork rice is a massive hit with my kids. The duck is beautifully roasted and the roast pork has an effective honey glaze. The noodles are good value for money. Highly recommended is beef tripe mixed with noodles- Ngau tou lo meen. It’s not to everyone’s taste but why not push the boat out? Avoid the cheung fun- the rice rolls are too thick and clumsily made!
Anyways, that’s all for now. I hope this has inspired you to go out for Sunday Sin Day dim sum!