Greater than the dim sum of its parts

Today we ate Michelin recommended dim sum. Tim Ho Wan was tracked down by a New Zealand friend who is currently living and working in Hong Kong and hosted us at the restaurant for yum char. Yum char is the name of the meal, effectively brunch, whereas dim sum is the name of the style of dining, effectively tapas. Cantonese speaking China, including Hong Kong, is ground zero for dim sum and we were lucky to sample some of the very best on offer.

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The food was outstanding, of course. I especially enjoyed the fried roll with beef, pepper and tomato. Fiona liked the steamed fish on garlic toast. Everyone liked the dumplings of every stripe. And anyone with any sense anywhere would have appreciated the baked pork buns. We all liked how much we could order and how little it cost. The menu was a variation on what we might see in a Chinese restaurant at home, but less muddled by Western tastes. There were chicken’s feet instead of chicken wings, for example.

Two things stood out in terms of the experience that you wouldn’t get at yum char at home. First, the waitress actually scolded us for taking too long to make our order. We were distracted by chatting, she said. Scolding’s probably not something they teach you on a kiwi host course, but maybe not unreasonable when there’s a queue of people snaking out the door and into the baking Hong Kong sun. Second, the restaurant supplied hot tea for us to wash our utensils and bowls before using them (and more to drink). Apparently this is done so you can be sure of their hygiene yourself. But in the context of Michelin stars we were pretty comfortable it was mostly for tradition.

We left concerned only that we might turn into dumplings, for we had consumed so many, and otherwise sated in every way.

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