I have to admit I have an obsession with Chinese food and ever since being introduced to Dim Sum over thirty years ago by my friend Kam Po But it has been one of those Chinese meals that I have enjoyed on numerous occasions especially with a group of friends.
Dim Sum are basically small plates that are eaten at lunch time and there is no better place to sample these than in Chinatown in Soho London. There are places serving direct from the kitchen and others where trolleys wheeled amongst the tables and you choose direct from them. (these for me are fun but not so good quality wise as never quite so fresh) I often plan my sojourns to London around opportunities to eat these meals as Mrs HC is less keen on this format.
The mix of crispy, steamed and soft (she calls them slimy) is one she find difficult to accept. On a recent visit to meet with some friends made whilst up in the Scottish Highlands this summer it gave me the perfect excuse to introduce them to one of my favourites to consume whilst having a catch up on the local gossip! Just remember Sundays is one of their busiest days as all the Chinese descend on Chinatown for family gatherings and they can be seen tucking into a variety of platters and you will have to wait to get a table more often than not.
There is an art to building a Dim Sum menu as there should be a mix of each style of items and I normally will drink tea with the meal as this is traditional. You often find the fried/baked items will arrive first and then the steamed ones – do not expect all at once and they tend to be 3 or 4 items that can then be shared out with guests. I have to honest you will also find yourself quite thirsty a couple hours later as they tend to use quite a bit of MSG in the seasoning so tea will keep you well hydrated!
I have a few favourites in the heart of Chinatown but they do tend to change as one chef leaves or ownership changes – some of my favourites are Orient Wardour Street (photos are from here) as they do some more unusual items, Tao Tao Ju in Lisle Street has been good in the past and Joy King Lau in Leicester Street is one I have eaten recently with Chef But as he knows one of the owners so we get well treated!
I have to say the food in Orient is always pretty consistent and on this recent visit the dishes made with turnip were absolutely awesome and much admired by the Scottish visitors. So be adventurous and give them a try – I can also recommend the Chickens Feet !!!