Friday, May 16, 2008

Bigger Not Better

I know it was more than 4 months ago that we were in Melbourne, but I want to show you some of the dimsum we ate in Melbourne. One of our CDs doesn't read so I'll just have to go with what I have. Somebody promised to upload the missing photos for me but never got around to it.

New Royal Garden (NRG) at High Rd and Blackburn St, about half an hour out of Melbourne city impressed me 4 years ago when I had a 9-course banquet dinner fit for a queen (thanks to Simon and Margaret), and the most yumtious dimsum lunch (thanks, Serena!) there. The dim sum was excellent in NRG, far better than any dim sum in KK and I always told anyone who was going to Melbourne to not miss NRG . When Thomas and Betty invited us to spend the whole day with them at their house near Dandenong, I was thrilled when they took us to NRG for dim sum (thanks Thomas & Betty, who were wonderful hosts, taking us to lunch, made us excellent ais kacang, then to the veg n flowers farm and the mall and most of all opening their home to us).

NRG was fully packed as usual so the dim sum trolleys were slow and there wasn't much variety. Although still very good, I thought that it wasn't as good as the first time (that first time thing?) I ate there. I think Hong Kong's to blame. I kept comparing it to Hong Kong. I am now of the opinion that despite what people say about all the best HK chefs having left HK and gone to England, US, Canada and Oz, the very best dim sum is still found in HK. Even Guangzhou's dim sum didn't impress me, but then again maybe I didn't go to the right place.

As far as taste is concerned, many dim sum items were very good and some were as good as HK's. I ate dim sum 3 times on this Oz trip and we lived next door to Dragon Boat in Docklands (famous dim sum place which I also was very impressed with years ago), and yet not once did I yearn to go next door to eat. Okay, frankly it was because we usually got up late. But still, on this trip, I realised my love for dim sum in western countries is over. However, just in case anyone wants to treat me to dimsum when I'm in Oz, I would jump at that offer because I don't eat KK dim sum.

The thing about dim sum in western countries is that not only is the portion huge (which I don't mind), the individual items are big (which I do mind). A ha gow or siu mai is easily 2 times bigger than those in Asian countries, beef tripes are so big it can choke you, and chicken feet is not just the four digits but the digits and the whole length of the foot. I suppose the cheaper prices of meat and availability of stuff that westerners don't eat like pig stomach and tripe and the fact that western mouths (and stomachs) being bigger on the average mean dim sum have to be proportionately bigger (McD now offers an even bigger burger, Mega Mac. Btw, I did the McD Chant at Centrepoint yesterday and was clocked at 2.5 secs. Got my free Big Mac!) But that's not how dim sum should be. Dim sum (meaning "point at the heart") are small delicate snacks to be enjoyed slowly with a good Chinese tea while reading a stack of newspapers or chatting with friends. For a lot of Hong Kongers, it is eaten everyday, usually for breakfast and extending until lunch, and they don't tire of it because there are so many to choose from. Because of their daintiness, you can eat many different HK dim sum varieties without feeling full. Dim sum in western countries though tasty, are chunky, coarse and very filling. The Japanese know that very well that too much of a good thing will cheapen it so they always give you a dainty portion that makes you want more. Hub thinks I have nothing else to complain about. I guess for a lot of guys "the bigger the better" applies to food too. Am I the only old-fashioned dim sum eater here? Or do you think dim sum should go the Mega Mac way, the bigger the better?

The following photos were taken at NRG and Fu Long (942 Whitehourse Rd, Boxhill), another popular dim sum restaurant in Melbourne which I found was better in terms of taste and variety. Thanks to L & V (LV!) and their 3 wonderful kids for the best barbie ever, plus the dim sum lunch at Fu Long. Will return your treat in December!

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Siu mai, King of dim sum, is an all-time favorite for most people. Me, I prefer ha gow, the queen. All siu mai used to be topped with crab roe but these days carrots or prawn roe or even colored sago pearls are used.

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Prawn paste wrapped in bean curd sheets.

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Battered and deep-fried white baits.

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Roasted suckling pig.

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Cold cuts of cuttlefish and jellyfish which are fun to eat if you, like me, love chewy and crunchy food.

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Battered and deep-fried squid tentacles. Too oily.

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Another oil absorber, deep-fried prawn paste nori rolls. In the past, most dim sum were steamed but now for convenience many are deep-fried.

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Crullers wrapped in cheong fun.

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Pipis in bean paste. The pipis were fresh, sweet and chewy and the beans sauce absolutely delicious.

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Ma lai go. Good but not as good as Tai Wing Wah Village Restaurant in Hong Kong. In fact, nobody does it like Tai Wing Wah Village Res.

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Mango pudding and jellies.

10 comments:

triShie said...

i love dimsum.
i wan dimsum.
NOW.

i have 4 more hours here in uni and i am ravished!!

and i think we shud follow western style, have bigger dimsum!! but, then it'd be more expensive, no? currently already not cheap...

got tip for homemade dimsum??

Precious Pea said...

Ooo...Fu Long is my sis's fav dim sum place although I declared Shark Fin House in the city as my all-time fav. U are right...dim sum should be delicate for one to sample a wide variety in one meal! Yumzzz..I miss the dimsum in HK too!

Hazza said...

The pics looks great. I recognise the dishes but I can see some have been localised, like the shellfish dish .. we have a version that uses whelks (sea snails). Char leung is popular with lots of people but I dont get it ..... yau chau kwai wrapped in chee cheong fun does not seem to go. Can you get that roast cuttlefish in Malaysia? I have had it in UK, but not seen it in KL.

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

trishie: me too, love dim sum. i read tt there's a new dim sum place in kuching. how good is tt? kk's a strange place. we have this phenomena which we call 'new toilet' where a new restaurant will be packed for months n then totally abandoned after that. the food will usually start off good n then becomes dogfood.

ha, i used to like big dim sum too. it's like wow, such generous portions!

i made ha gow n siu mai years ago. maybe will do tt again. try my bao recipe?

pp: i'm afraid i have to go with ur sis on this one. i didn't like sharks fins house either. it was good, better than all the dim sum here plus more, but i rmber some of the pork items were too porky-smelling. maybe they've changed since. hey, ask ur sis to try the pizzas at bimbo. i think tt's really good, plus cheap.

hazza: yes yes, d cheong fun n char kwey don't go well! i like whelks but we don't get much here so i didn't grow up on them n sometimes i feel squeamish eating them. we don't get d stewed cuttlefish here in kk. when i was 12, i visited my grandparents in hk n fell in love with the red cuttlefish. they sold them in carts those days n snip them with scissors. one day i was out with my aunt rosa n i heard the 'tak tak' of the scissors n i followed the sound. to cut the story short, i found the cuttlefish but my aunt lost me. i was tt rash when it comes to food!

irene-serenity said...

dimsum has been sonnie's fav brkfast since d day he grew enough teeth to bite n chew. me & hub always preferred noodles 4 brkfast. but over d years i've been so influenced by sonnie n learn 2 love dimsum so nowadys it's always 2 hands vs 1 hand on choice of brkfast venue. our frequent dimsum venue is foopin n royalchina simply bcos they're nearby our hse. sonnie's fav r siu-mai n rice dumplings wrapped in leaves but of late the rice dumplings we ate at foopin made sonnie frown bcos it's all sticking to the leaves, the meat has been reduced and he had to dig thro the leaves juz to find his fav salted egg yolk which had shrinked to d size tt i've to use my reading glasses.
my fav is the mouth-watering big chicken pau, n hub? ok-lah, the pai-kuat n ju-cheong-fun not too bad-lah...
any tips on nice dimsum venue in kk?
hmm....think i'll probably pick up some dimsum for lunch today.

Precious Pea said...

Hmm...many people commented Aussie pork got strong porky taste...but somehow I find it ok for me. It's the chicken that I have problem with. No way it could be steamed just like that. Hahaha! Ok..will ask her to try the pizza..or better still..I go try it out myself! ;)

wmw said...

Sigh...I'm still missing Malaysian food after my trip. Next on the eat list, dim sum! hahaha...

JeromeFo令狐冲 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Agnes said...

Lovely Dim Sums!!!!

The jellies look kinda local style :S

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

pp: wey has this fear of the chickeny smell tt u mentioned, n i got a taste (literally) of what he meant when i was at Hyatt last Fri for the Xian food promotion (which, btw, sucks). u know how hotels here can't use pork so they use chicken instead n i must say there's no worse dim sum than halal dim sum! yikes!

wmw: i'm like u..into my 3rd or 4th day overseas, i'd be hankering for chinese food, n by the 2nd week, home-cooked chinese food, n by the 3rd, plain congee pleaassse!

agnes: yes, i'm proud to be a cantonese bc of dim sums, how stupid is tt?? d jellies look like '7-layer kueh' don't they.

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