Dim sum dilemma: which tasty morsels to devour in what order!
Originally uploaded by Manne.
Update: We interrupt your reading of this post for an important message. As pointed out to me, Hong Kong City actually has a New Cross Gate post code (S14), which to anyone with a grasp of the genius UK post code system means that it is not a part of Peckham after all. Sadly, I must say that Peckham to my knowledge still lacks a decent (any at all!) dim sum restaurant. Thanks to @HollowLegs (blog) for pointing this out!
We now return to normal service:
Last weekend we decided to start the day with early yum cha lunch at a Chinese restaurant called Hong Kong City, on New Cross Road just around the corner from where I live. We had seen on online review sites like Qype and MyVillage.com that they consistently get good reviews (although not many) so we figured it was worth a shot.
While the surroundings are quite bleak (many things can be said about the New Cross area, but being picturesque is not one of them), once inside the restaurant you quickly forget about the dreary exterior.
Typical for so many Cantonese restaurants, a big open room holds several round tables of varying sizes. This is a big restaurant, one of the biggest Chinese restaurants I have been to in London (with maybe Royal China on Baker Street being slightly bigger although I am not entirely sure). Some of the reviews I have read mention that a lot of wedding banquets are arranged at Hong Kong City and that they can seat up to 500 people... If you want to throw a big party in south east London, especially considering that they also do karaoke, this might be a place to check out.
Hungry like a pack of wolves we tore into the menus and started noting dishes down on the ordering sheet. Don't know about you, but when at a dim sum restaurant I certainly appreciate photos next to each dish. While the menu makers at Hong Kong City decided to use the same photo twice for completely different dishes, the menu is clear and quite comprehensive. All the usual suspects are there, but also some dishes I had never seen before like jellyfish, a type of beef meatballs and something simply called "fried pork and vegetable bun" which looked very appetizing.
Service was quick and efficient, only minutes after we handed over our order the dishes started arriving. Deep fried yam dumplings were crisp and dry on the outside with perfectly gooey insides. Pan fried turnip was perfectly fried and satisfyingly rich in flavour. Their fried gelatinous rice (W's favourite of the lot) was sticky and chewy with lots of Chinese sausage and small prawns mixed in.
My favourite today was cheung fun with "golden mushrooms" and scallops. I think "golden mushrooms" would be the same as enoki (also see Wikipedia, enokitake), either way this is one of the best cheung funs I have had.
We went on to devour all of the other dishes, too many to list, as they arrived. This is where I will make a promise to myself: never again order with my stomach, order with my brain... While every single dish was lovely, with perhaps only the beef meatballs being a bit disappointing (nothing wrong with them, just a bit too plain for my liking) we ordered far too many. Ten dishes on two people, even though not having had breakfast (or perhaps because of that very fact...) are clearly two or even three too many.
I can only blame me being really hungry making me forget how rich a meal dim sum is, despite being so small servings.
Having gone through all the dishes, we ended up leaving some of the turnip, most of the deep fried chicken feet and even one of the new made acquaintances "fried pork and vegetable bun" which was sort of like a dumpling made of soft and chewy donut dough and then pan fried. Brilliant.
As we got the bill we again marvelled over the fact that you can completely stuff yourself dizzy on great and intricately made dishes and still get a bill amounting to less than 15 pounds per head. Like I pointed out a few weeks ago, you can't beat dim sum for value. All in all, I would recommend anyone to try on the dim sum at Hong Kong City.
Clearly a lot of people think the same, while we had been munching away the restaurant had filled up to two thirds of capacity. I think we will make a repeat business again quite soon, but make sure to order less greedily and eat a lot slower...
What is your favourite dim sum restaurant in London? What's your favourite dim sum dish? Share your opinions in the comments below! :)