Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Chinese Dim Sum Guide

After we've moved to the UK, one of the things we missed most is Chinese food. We even miss food that we hardly eat in our home country, such as Dim Sum.

Dim Sum, or Chinese Dumplings, was created in South China by Cantonese. It is a bit like French's Petite Four, delicate small portions made to impress. Normally families will gather together on a Sunday morning for Dim Sum, or what we call Yam Cha (meaning 'drink tea' - originally the main thing was to drink tea while having one to two containers of Dim Sum to go with the tea). In Hong Kong, our family hardly do that, unless it was for special occasions.

Dim Sum has become popular in the UK. Every time we go Yam Cha, we see a lot of locals in the restaurants, but only a few ate Dim Sum. Most of those who was having Dim Sum sat with a few Chinese who introduced them to it. So without a Chinese to guide you through, you will most likely not try Dim Sum out, as there are so many of them, and some are classed as delicacies (you might ended up with chicken feet on your table!)

Last weekend, we went to Yam Cha while we met up with my brothers and their family, and to our surprise, they have a brand new, local friendly menu on the table.

Click to enlarge - Picture A
Click to enlarge - Picture B
Menu from Wing Wah Restaurant, Birmingham

With this new menu, anyone can order Dim Sum without much problems.

The basics that will most likely appear on the table:
  • A2   Pork and Prawns Dumplings
  • A1   King Prawn Dumplings (or just normal Prawns)
  • A7   Tofu Roll with Oyster Sauce - minced pork and prawn, carrots and Shitake mushrooms wrapped in fried tofu skin, coated with oyster sauce
  • A9   Roast Pork Buns - pork is roasted with a thick honey sauce, stuffed inside a white, slightly sweetened bun
  • B26-32   Rice Rolls - a thin layer of steamed rice flour 'pancake' with fillings inside, dipped in sweetened soya sauce)
  • B38   Pan Fried Turnip Paste - actually grated Mooli, mixed with bits of Chinese sausages, dried shrimps and Shitake mushrooms, steamed and then fried
  • B42   Fresh Cream Egg Tarts - actually milk custard tarts, much crispier and lighter than the ones you get from a local bakery

Other favourites I'll recommend:
  • A8   Glutinous Rice in Lotus Leaf - has lots of ingredients inside including chicken, Chinese sausage, Shitake mushrooms, etc in a flavoursome sauce. The rice is fairly sticky though which I find some of the locals can't really accept
  • A10 and A12   Egg Custard Buns - 12 is the fried version, which I love!
  • A11   Minced Pork Dumplings - Shanghai mini dumplings, very juicy inside
  • A13   Steamed Butter Sponge Cake - vanilla cake, although steamed, it's light and airy
  • B33   Minced Prawn in Pastry - more like crispy battered minced prawn, served with salad cream
  • B34   Deep Fried Squid - served with sweet and sour sauce
  • B36   Crispy Tofu Roll with Chive - like A7, but without the sauce and deep fried
  • B37   Meat and Prawn Croquette - I wouldn't call it croquette to be honest, the skin is quite thick and quite chewy, I'm guessing it is made of glutinous rice flour. It is delicious, but again, some people can't stand the chewiness from glutinous rice or flour.
  • B41   Roast Pork Puffs - like A9 but in a puff pastry

So if you are ever interested in trying out Dim Sum in a Chinese Restaurant, give my guide a try and let me know what you think!

If you are worried about quality and affordability:

Glamorous Restaurant - Manchester
Yang Shing - Manchester
Wing Wah Restaurants - Birmingham, Nuneaton, Wolverhampton, Burton, Coventry

If you don't live anywhere near these towns/ cities, try those that has a Chinese superstore connected to the restaurant, they are normally quite good.