I love dimsum. Particularly siu mai. I’ve always thought that if dimsum was the universe, siu mai (and it’s numerous varieties) was the point of the big bang. Where everything started. But that’s my opinion. I’m sure Chinese cuisine historians have differing opinions.
I miss the Philippines and it’s numerous siu mai kiosks dotted around. If you wanted siu mai, there would be some small kiosk that you could go to to satisfy the craving. It’s not so available here in the UK. While Chinese takeaway is a favourite and every town, no matter how small, will have a Chinese takeaway establishment, not all the takeaways have dimsum. The closest thing to dimsum is wanton soup, which is, thankfully, available on all the Chinese takeaway menus where I live. Small favours, and am very thankful for them!
I am a huge fan of the dimsum trolley service. Ladies going around the restaurant, pushing steaming trolleys filled with tiny bamboo steam baskets filled with unknown goodies. I love the excitement of finding out what the trolley is carrying: siu mai, dumplings, hakaw, beef balls, char siu pork in puff pastry, spring rolls, crab dumplings, crispy prawn balls, turnip cakes and the occasional lotus wrapped sticky rice parcel. I’ve since started mourning the loss of 2 restaurants that did trolley service really well. There was a restaurant that I only remember as CCK in Chinatown. It stopped its trolley service, then turned into an all-you-can-eat then closed down. Then came New World. It was dimsum perfection — for a while. The service and the quality of food has since declined and it’s been 2 years since I’ve been. People have suggested going to Royal China either in Bayswater or Baker Street but I haven’t had the time to. Since New World, I’ve only ever gone to dimsum restaurants that serve you dimsum after you order them.
We went to the newly opened Ping Pong brance in Westfield Stratford yesterday. The only word that comes to mind is horrible. They didn’t have prawn or pork siu mai (which, in my opinion, is the backbone of dimsum choices), the dimsum was bland and oversteamed. When the steaming baskets came to the table, you uncovered a gelatinous mess! Everything needed a bit of flavour because everything was basically globs of nothing. Even the soy and the chilli oil and sauce were bland. For all the colour and styling in the restaurant space everything faded into the beigeness of the food. And never again am I coming back to a Ping Pong branch. It didn’t live up to the hype. And it was all style and no substance.