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A good friend from Melbourne was in town last week, and if I ever needed an excuse to pig out, this was it. I called about 5 days ahead to book for a weekday lunch but it wasn't good enough for the only three-Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant in the world, so I before I continue, I must disclaim that my booking for this lunch was made through the very kind public relations department, and you may make your own judgement as to how representative this is of an average meal at Lung King Heen (I'd say it pretty much is - oh sorry, what did I say about your own judgement again?!). Needless to say, this is not my usual protocol, and aside from this, we enjoyed and paid for the meal as normal diners would.
Right, so with all that done, I can get started on the important bits, the food. As we were here for lunch, I was keen on trying as many dim sum as possible. They offer an executive lunch, but with a serving of carbs at the end and only 3 dim sum to start, I decided we would go a la carte. Xiaolongbao are Shanghainese, not Cantonese, (otherwise my xiaolongbao marathon in Shanghai would have been pretty pointless), but who doesn't love a soupy dumpling, especially one in its own little carry basket. I think most people have no qualms about ordering them during yum cha anymore.
Har gau - shrimp dumplings with morels
When I was little, we used to pretend to be the dim sum cart ladies (because back then, there were dim sum carts) and push our carts, shouting "Har gauuuuuu! Siu maiiiiiiii!" Somehow these were always the things we called out first, and maybe out of habit, I order these on most occasions.
My mother always wrinkles her nose or scrunches up her face a little when I order siu mai, "It's just a blob of minced meat," she says, but for some reason, I really like pressing my lips against the thin floury yellow wrapper, and the enjoyment that is having fresh, clear shrimp and pork juices gushing together is unbeatable in my books. It's true that too many places go overboard with the corn starch in an attempt to make the shrimp more slippery, and over-steam the poor things, drying them out, but the ones here were as fine as they come. The har gau had a fancy addition - morels - instead the usual bamboo shoots. Both are designed to give it texture and give the shrimps some contrast for a sweeter (in a fresh seafood way, I don't mean sugar!) and more fragrant result. The morels amplify and add to the fragrance, making it a more decadent experience, and give it a bouncy sort of bite, rather than a chunky crispness that bamboo shoots give. I could go on and on about what to look out for in different kinds of dim sum, but one of the things that I feel is of prime importance is the thickness and silkiness (finesse) of the wrapper. Too often it's too thick and even clumpy, and sometimes, to top it off, it's been re-steamed. (Dim sum in general are supposed to be steamed to order, but in some cases it isn't, so to play safe, especially at lower-end establishments, it's worth going earlier.)
Lobster and scallop dumpling
This is probably the first time I've ever had lobster in a dim sum dumpling (us plebeians aren't afforded the opportunity too often, y'know), and it was delicious. The cabbage wrapper, replacing a more traditional starch-based one, kept it light. Needless to say, the ingredients were astoundingly fresh, and steaming them together created mouthfuls marine goodness. Although you usually can't go far wrong with seafood stacked upon more seafood, I felt that the slice of scallop didn't contribute hugely to the flavour, and texture-wise, as it was thinner than the lobster and shrimp, it seemed to have dried out at little more.
Baked barbecue pork buns (baked char siu bao)
Of course it seems like everyone in Hong Kong and their dodgy copycat makes these now, but these were bites of airy goodness. The pastry on top is lighter than most, even lighter than the ones at the famed Tim Ho Wan (the chefs at THW are from LKH - perhaps from now on we'll just use abbreviations, etc. LOL OK.) I found the ones at THW a little greasier but these would have passed a Mongkok girl's oil-absorbing-cosmetic-paper test. (Mind you, THW's are about 1/3 of the price of these!)
If I hear another Yung Kee rave, especially about a recent meal, I would dare them to do a side-by-side tasting with this one, and probably the one at Yat Lok and the old Chan Kee in Sham Tseng. And if I wanted to get real crazy nasty about it, I would also keep shouting like a (loud) broken record to say that I grew up in Sham Tseng, Hong Kong's home of roast geese, and have eaten more geese than they have eaten rice*. Or bread, potatoes, or whatever staple they eat. And then they can get out of my face.
Almond and egg white sweet soup (sorry about the bad focus)
Ahhh. So after that imaginary shout-fest, it seems fitting that we end with a soothing dessert - almond milk with egg whites, supposedly good for your skin and lungs, and otherwise just good for your tastebuds.
Is this the best dim sum in Hong Kong? I have a lot of trouble answering questions like that. What does "best" mean, for example? I've raved about places that others find mediocre because they simply had different expectations. If you ask me, there are a few fine dim sum experiences in Hong Kong and this is one of them.
*There's a Chinese saying that goes, "I've had more salt than you've had rice", which means someone has experienced much more than you, but really I just like that we use food analogies on a daily basis!
Lung King Heen
Four Seasons Hong Kong
8 Finance St
(Connected to the IFC & Hong Kong Station)
+852 3196 8888
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