I love dim sum. It’s possibly my favourite food so it was understandable that dim sum would feature somewhere during my birthday weekend. I like all types of dim sum: tradition dim sum brought out on little carts, the slightly more anglicised but still authentic dim sum you find in Soho and I even like the ridiculously westernised, fusion dim sum you find in Ping Pong. I’m lucky enough to live really close to Queensway Road, which has a whole host of dim sum restaurants.
Recently a new dim sum restaurant opened in the area. Dim Sum Diner has occupied a small commercial building that seems to be cursed. In the two years we’ve lived here it has been three different restaurants. Is Dim Sum Diner in for the same fate?
The first thing you notice about Dim Sum Diner is that it’s very clean and very contemporary. It’s large, frosted frontage reveals a bright red interior and almost ad hoc pine bench furniture, making it unlike any dim sum restaurant I’ve ever seen. The menu hanging on the side of the entrance shows a short, simple menu that has the staple dishes you’d expect and a couple surprises (note the dim sum hotdogs). Willing to give it a shot, we committed and entered unlike other couples whom after contemplation opted for Kam Tong (our usual).
The interior is… confusing. The bright red walls with vinyl logos, coca-cola symbols and white birdcages hanging from the ceiling is odd and a bit try-hard. The pine benches are cute and interesting but awkward. Every single person (all five tables parties) had some difficulty getting in or out and the scraping sound was deafening. On the upside, the table utensils and condiments were clean and plentiful.
Now, on to the food. We selected some of our usual dishes and a couple different things to spice it up a bit. Each dish is £3.80 with the exception of the sides (chips, rice, prawn crackers), which are £2.50. Fairly reasonably priced (though more expensive than Kam Tong) and nicely uniformed. The drinks however were extortionate! £3 for a soft drink and £5 for a bottle of beer. It’s unsurprising that every single table had tap water.
You might be asking yourself why haven’t I started talking about the food yet… it’s because we had ample time to contemplate our surroundings and the menu because it took well over half an hour for our food to arrive. After 25 minutes the waitress came over and whispered something about a burner not working but other tables were getting food and we didn’t have a scrap in front of us. Service equals nil points.
But finally it arrived and it is as follows:
The satay chicken was very thinly sliced, over cooked and dry. The peanut sauce was pretty bog standard with a little extra spice. However, if you try the sauce after eating something with a bit more flavour it becomes pretty void of taste.
The pan-fried pork dumplings were really tasty. The meat was well seasoned and the meat was fairly moist but the pastry was far thicker than you would expect from a dumpling and they were huge. Each dumpling was about 50% larger than I am used to and it was packed with filling. Not really a bad thing but certainly not authentic dim sum.
Their honey barbequed pork buns are light and fluffy with really sweet dough and really disappointing pork. The filling was drier than I’m used to and very bland. The sweet dough definitely overpowered the meat, which is a shame.
Barbeque pork puff rolls are usually my favourite things. This however was not. They were overcooked making the pastry dry, dense and bitter. Once again the filling was bland so the overcooked, buttery pastry was more than overpowering.
I don’t eat seafood but my boyfriend had the pork and prawn dumplings and all her could say about them was “eh, bland”.
He also had the prawn and chive dumpling and said that it was actually pretty good. The pastry was fairly thin and the filling was what he was expecting.
We also tried a small plate of sautéed garlic green beans. They were a bit cold and a big overcooked – I would have liked a bit more crunch – but they were delicious. At the bottom of the plate they were swimming in soy sauce so a bit overpowering but as a whole a bit of a winner.
Part of me wants to give them an easier ride because they are new and it is a diner rather than a restaurant but the rest of me just yells “KAM TONG IS £3.50 PER DISH AND IS SOOOOOOO MUCH BETTER!” Maybe we did have a bad experience because a burner was out but it certainly doesn’t excuse the lack of communication. The diner was less than half full and a quarter of the clientele were children. It really does worry me that it seemed like they were struggling. But as I say, maybe they were having a bad day.
I sadly won’t be revisiting Dim Sum Diner and from the reaction I saw other people won’t even give it a chance let alone revisit. I’m sorry to say that I think the curse of the building lives on unless they ensure they don’t have a bad day again.