Ladies and gents, get ready for dumplings, dumplings, and more dumplings.
Hong Kong is all about dim sum. Also known as “yum cha”, dim sum brunch might be the most popular and well-known form of Cantonese cuisine. Traditionally, it is a fun mid-morning to afternoon meal with tea, enjoyed by family and friends, highlighted by the little dim sum carts that get pushed around the dining room while eager eaters pick off their favorite dumplings to be enjoyed.
Over the years, dim sum has evolved. Fusion restaurants exist and modern chefs take chances cooking up twists on different classics. Dim Sum is no longer enjoyed only in China but all over the world! And perhaps most notably, the experience is no longer solely dedicated to mid-morning trolley pushing dining rooms. Now many restaurants allow you to enjoy dim sum any time of day and pick a la carte instead of hoping for the trolley to hold what you’re craving.
I set off to have dinner at Ding Dim 1968, a dim sum restaurant I had seen mentioned many times during my research leading up to my HK trip. I had also seen that it was quite difficult to find – down a tiny street in the Central district of Hong Kong, characterized by sloping streets winding up and across a mountain face. Big surprise – I couldn’t find it.
I walked in circles up and down this specific hill, peering at each and every doorway, and being seen entirely too many times by all the people drinking and dining in the outer parts of the surrounding establishments. I was about to give up when I finally spotted a tiny piece of printer paper with a handwritten note saying they had moved locations. So I took a deep breath and continued through the alleys toward the new location until FINALLY I arrived!
An open restaurant that faces out on to one of the busiest streets in Central and is conveniently located right around the corner from Lan Kwai Fung, one of the largest party spots in HK, I was thrilled to snag a seat. Eating solo has actually worked in my favor these last three weeks. Busy, fancy restaurants have no reason to turn away a girl dining solo. SEAT ME AT THE BAR!
The restaurant is plain. No exciting decorations quite stand out but they did have a few retro red leather diner-esque seats that I thought were cool. I sat on a dinky little chair at my tiny table in the corner and picked up my pencil to mark down my order.
A lot of the dim sum restaurants here have printed menus and pencils lying on the table for you to mark your order and hand back to the server. Perhaps this is to bridge any language gaps between diner and waiter, or maybe just to save time. It’s efficient!
First up, Siu Mai with Black Truffle.
This has been the best pork siu mai that I have had in Hong Kong so far….and I had it on my second night!
The wanton wrapper melted in your mouth and wasn’t too oily. The actual pork filling was hearty and sweet and the black truffle on top definitely added more taste to an already tasty bundle. Usually I think using truffle is kind of overrated (I know, how dare she?). I mean truffle is delicious. We all know that. So obviously adding truffle to anything will make it more delicious. I just don’t think it necessarily marks a good chef to have a delicious pizza with truffle on it, or pasta with truffle shaved over. Like, duh. If I put truffle on my Rao’s it would be even more awesome than it already is, obviously.
But I did immensely enjoy this dumpling.
Next, Pan Seared Green Chili Pepper stuffed with fish.
I basically ordered this to try something different. I already know I love dumplings so figured I should branch out and try some other things and this came highly recommended.
It was tasty and a bit smoky. I don’t think I would have known it was fish if I hadn’t been told. It was good….I just like dumplings more.
Now for the loser of the evening: Xiao Long Bao with Secret Broth.
These dumplings were reviewed in every single mention of this restaurant as being the best thing on the menu. I was expecting big things, especially with the exponentially higher price tag ($90 HKD vs $30 HKD for all the rest of the dumplings). And was sorely disappointed.
These were boring! They were tasty but nothing stood out about them at all! Except perhaps that the skins stuck entirely to the spoon so ripped apart immediately upon trying to pick it up or eat it in any way. They should really grease the spoon so it slides more easily and you don’t lose all of the soup before you even try it. Don’t get these. You can get much better soup dumplings for not such an outrageous price at probably any other restaurant in town. VETO.
And to end on a high note, the winner of the evening was 100% Dumpling with Vegetable and Shrimp.
I am guilty of never ordering the veggie dumpling. “Why bother?”, I’d ask myself, “when there are so many meaty, more delicious dumplings being offered on the menu?” I have only just found an incredible appreciation for vegetable dumplings as they have really been stars of the show in my recent experiences. This one was no different.
A crystalline wrapper filled with shrimp and chives and what looked like bok choy. It was so light and savory. There was so much flavor! Really A+.
I had a fantastic spread
and greatly enjoyed picking at my dumplings and people watching the rowdy crowds walking past the restaurant!
A second delicious meal came to a close and I meandered home, taking in the bright lights of the big city and seeing just how similar HK and NYC really are.
More dumplings coming your way – do not. even. worry.