I wrote up dim sum at Yangtze a few years ago in my first post on dim sum in the Twin Cities. That post upset some people in the area. There’s a tendency among a subset of Twin Cities foodies and journalists to inflate the state of the local food scene and I took issue then with the notion that dim sum in the Twin Cities deserved high praise. Not only was it not on par in 2014 with dim sum in Denver more than 10 years ago but compared to that in cities in the US with significant Chinese populations, the best dim sum here seemed fourth rate. And that best dim sum here, in our opinion then, was at Yangtze. (Our last meal at Mandarin Kitchen was atrocious.) But it’s not like we like Yangtze enough to make the near two hour round-trip trek unless we have guests who really want to go.
Well, my parents were recently in town and since, as I’ve said before, even fourth rate American dim sum is better than what’s available in Delhi, we made the drive (in pouring rain). And we were hoping that maybe in the time since our last visit things had in fact improved. I am sorry to say that not only did our opinion of Twin Cities dim sum not improve from the experience but our opinion of Yangtze also took a hit. Continue reading
This meal was part of the fulfillment of three of our London desires at once. After a very good dim sum meal with friends at Royal China’s Baker Street mothership, we’d wanted to go back to Royal China once more. We also wanted to visit the Museum of London, Docklands, which we’d heard very good things about. And the boys, having ridden on every tube line, wanted to complete their set with a journey on the DLR (the Docklands Light Rail). Since we were running short on time in London to do everything we’d left for later, being able to cross three things off the list in one morning and afternoon was a good thing. Continue reading
My first meal report from this extended London sojourn (just a few weeks left to go) was of dim sum at Joy King Lau, a stalwart of London’s Chinatown. It was solid but in no way remarkable. Since then I’ve also reported on a dim sum meal at A. Wong in Victoria—a meal that was very interesting, with every dish given some sort of mod’ish flourish or other other, but not finally terribly satisfying. It was therefore with interest that we landed up at Royal China on Baker St. not too long after our A. Wong meal. This is the flagship location of a mini-chain well known for the quality of their dim sum. How did we like it? Read on. Continue reading
I’d said I’d have reviews of a couple more Indian restaurants this week but I decided to give you a break from Indian food. Accordingly, here is an account of an interesting lunch of mod dim sum and other snacks at A. Wong, located in the borderlands between Victoria and Pimlico and a world away from Joy King Lau.
Named for the owner, Andrew Wong, A. Wong opened in 2013 on the site of a previous unremarkable Chinese restaurant owned by his father. Well, I don’t know myself that it was unremarkable—I’m pulling that description from Jay Rayner’s rave review in the Guardian from about a year ago. As you will see, if you read his review, A. Wong features pan-regional Chinese food, passed through the filters of contemporary cheffy technique and plating. If you’d ever wished you could eat har gow with a citrus foam on top, or a sesame ball with a dab of foie gras inside it, well, A. Wong may be the place for you (but make sure to get a reservation). But how well is all this done? Read on. Continue reading
The word on the foodie street is that Chinese food in London is nothing very special and that, unlike Indian food, there’s no good reason to seek it out when visiting. Accordingly, when I was here last August I didn’t look at any Chinese restaurants. However, when your visit is not for a week or two but for three months the prospect of going without any kind of Chinese food is untenable—for us anyway. As it turns out, one of London’s better reviewed Sichuan restaurants is a hop, skip and jump from our flat—we’ve already eaten there once and I’ll have a report once we’ve eaten there again. But how about non-Sichuan Chinese food? Continue reading
We skipped dim sum on our trip to L.A. last winter—this because we were going to be in Hong Kong a month later and it didn’t seem particularly urgent to eat dim sum in L.A. Now, of course, after five months in Minnesota, the opportunity of eating dim sum that is better than just acceptable was hard to pass up. I have to admit, however, that I was a little bit nervous: years of eating dim sum in the San Gabriel Valley has made it hard for me to get excited about dim sum in Minnesota (the best of which would be about third-tier in the SGV); would eating excellent dim sum in Hong Kong do the same to the SGV? Our meal at Lei Garden had been an order of magnitude better than any we’d ever eaten at Sea Harbour or Elite—would either of these places still do it for us? It was to one of these that we wanted to go, of course: they’re still the consensus top picks in the SGV. The fact that we were going to be eating on July 4 all but ruled Sea Harbour out. The waits can be 1-2 hours on regular weekends. Elite can be as crowded but for whatever reason we’ve always had luck getting in there, and so that’s where we decided to take our chances. How did it turn out? Read on. Continue reading
Well, it’s been over two months since we got back to Minnesota from Hong Kong and here finally is my last meal report. This was our last restaurant meal there and in terms of reputation this was the biggest one of them all: under head chef Chan Yan-Tak, Lung King Heen at the Four Seasons holds three Michelin stars, the only Chinese restaurant in the world with that distinction, and is on most people’s short list of the best Cantonese restaurants in the world.
We’d not originally planned to eat there—I had Fook Lam Moon on my radar instead for high-end Cantonese—but as a result of our fabulous dim sum meal at Lei Garden (also in the International Finance Center where the Four Seasons is located) we ended up there for weekday lunch. Let me explain. Continue reading
After a week off I’m back to reports on our meals in Hong Kong in late January and early February. This is the home stretch—only two more after this, probably. I’m also back in the IFC mall. This was our third meal there and we came back again the next day for an outstanding lunch at Lung King Heen. This, however, was a meal at the far end of the spectrum from Lung King Heen. Which is to say not that it was cheap (though much cheaper than Lung King Heen or even Lei Garden) but that it features very basic Cantonese comfort food: the setting, as befits the IFC location, was also very comfortable indeed; this is no Yat Lok. Continue reading
My friends and enemies alike in Minnesota are sick of hearing how much better dim sum in the San Gabriel Valley is than dim sum in the Twin Cities. Well, I can now report that the better dim sum in Hong Kong is to a place like Sea Harbour in the SGV as Sea Harbour is to anything in Minnesota: several levels beyond. The basis for this claim is a mindbogglingly good meal we had a few Saturdays ago at Lei Garden in the International Finance Center in Hong Kong. We’d wanted to eat at least one fancy dim sum meal and Lei Garden, with its Michelin star, was our pick. Continue reading
China Red is a relatively recent addition to the top-end of the dim sum scene in the San Gabriel Valley—which is, of course, the best, from top to bottom, in the United States. It opened less than two years ago and gained a strong reputation very strongly. And, unlike another recent opening, Shi Hai, it has managed to hold on to that reputation. We didn’t eat there on our last few trips because a) I am always a little leery about new, hyped places; b) it’s in Arcadia, which is on the far end of the San Gabriel Valley from our home base in Koreatown; and c) relatedly, it’s hard to justify driving out that far when Sea Harbour, Elite, Lunasia and King Hua are all so much closer. It’s for this reason that we didn’t end up eating dim sum on this trip with Sku and his family as originally planned (we ended up at a different place with them, on which more later)—he was loth to drive the extra 10-15 minutes to Arcadia. We, however, were already going to be in the SGV in the middle of the week, last week, and so decided to cut across to Arcadia and finally check China Red out. Continue reading
We’re not very enamoured of the dim sum choices in the Twin Cities metro area. Yangtze is the best, in our opinion, and it’s no great shakes in the abstract, and certainly not worth the long round-trip or the long waits on the weekends. Mandarin Kitchen is the other popular choice and our last meal there was downright depressing, bordering on disgusting. As a result we tend to save dim sum eating for when we’re in Los Angeles and only make the trek out to St. Louis park to Yangtze if guests or friends really want to go. (I wrote about all this last year in a post that I gather made some people a little unhappy with me.) Continue reading
My very slow slow-motion survey of the major dim sum houses in the San Gabriel valley continues with this rather excessive meal at Lunasia—which was also eaten on our trip to Los Angeles in late December/early January.
Lunasia, depending on who you ask, is currently in the third or fourth position in the SGV’s dim sum hierarchy (Sea Harbour and Elite are uncontroversially above it and some would add King Hua as well). It is located in the same space in Alhambra that once housed Triumphal Palace, and like its predecessor (and the aforementioned contemporary luminaries) it offers dim sum not from carts but from an a la carte menu. When I first started eating dim sum in L.A (back in the mid-late 90s) the chaos of the carts was a large part of the attraction but the difference in quality between food that’s rolling around a large restaurant in carts and food coming straight from the kitchen to the table as it is ready is very hard to deny.
Last year I reviewed our outings to Elite and King Hua, two of the most celebrated dim sum houses in the San Gabriel Valley (just outside L.A) but unaccountably failed to write up our meal at Sea Harbour, which is perhaps the most celebrated of them all. Well, we were there again within a few days of my arrival in L.A and here is a report on what was an excellent meal.
Sea Harbour, like Elite and King Hua, does not have carts—instead, you order from a menu and your dim sum is fresher and better for it. There were four adults and two small boys eating. This is what we got: Continue reading
The few Twin Citizens who read all my local food/restaurant write-ups are doubtless sick of my moaning endlessly about the general quality of Asian food in the area. I’m sure I come off like a poseur who wants everyone to know that he knows better than everyone else; or, worse, like an insufferable jerk who wants people to feel bad about what they enjoy. Now I don’t deny that I am an annoying bastard (see the title of this blog) but my version of events is that a) when it comes to most Asian cuisines I have a frame of reference (a decade in Los Angeles and regular visits every year since) against which almost everything in Minnesota pales*, and which I am not willing to let go of to make my gastronomic life here seem better than it is; and b) I do want things to get better and hope they can, and I don’t think overpraising the mediocre or muting criticism is going to get us there. Please bear in mind that I do not have this attitude towards our fine dining scene. We now have a number of restaurants in that genre that would be competitive even in the major metros. But this is just not true when it comes to Asian food. Continue reading