Restaurant Guide: Dim Sum Hunting around HKU
As a HKUer, do you have a list of things you want to do before you graduate? For me personally, I want to discover the best eateries within a walking distance from campus. Although the main campus does offer a range of different food options, it is possible to try out the 3 canteens, 5 restaurants and the Subway outlet within a month. Considering that I have to spend the next four years here, attempting to find good food options around campus didn’t seem like a bad idea.
So you might be expecting me to write something about the popular out-campus restaurants like the King Prawn Restaurant, Ba Yi Restaurant or the Northern Dumpling Yuan. They are all-too-popular for me to introduce here; if you are looking for alternative choices, join my food hunting journey—to look for some restaurants that are lesser known.
I’ve always wondered why there are no dim sum restaurants at HKU, so the very first thing I went to try out was dim-sum.
The opening of the HKU MTR station encouraged me to go beyond Water Street for food hunting outside campus. Just cross the street at Exit B1 and turn left, you will find a few small shops the size of a tiny living room, and one of them is a Chinese restaurant called “蒸飯館”—literally translated as “Steamed Rice House”. The roughly 25 item menu made it easy for me to order in a jiffy. The dim-sums here were cooked to order.
“Siu mai” is a signature dim sum and it is the first item I usually try at every Chinese restaurant. Out here, I would give it an above-average rating. They were hot and fresh, but the whole shrimp dumpling was a bit small. The steamed minced beef balls were juicy and full of ingredients, but I would have preferred if there was more bean-curd under the beef balls. Beef balls, bean curd and Worcestershire sauce together make one of the most unique dishes found in HK. Another way to test the quality of a dim sum restaurant is by trying the rice-rolls, as they are simple to make. The rice-roll here was not the exciting bit, rather it was the soy source used. The hot and fried soy sauce highlighted the freshness and sweetness of the rice rolls. If you aren’t counting calories, the steamed bean-curd sheet roll would be a good choice for trying traditional Chinese ingredients like mushroom and lettuce, together with oyster sauce and the mysterious “mixed sauce”.
I wanted to balance my meal with some carbs, so I ordered the sweet milky bun. Most people prefer a more fluid “egg milk” but this one had a more solid inside probably because the proportion of salted egg yolk was higher. Frankly speaking, dim sums in this restaurant were not exceptionally delicious, but the pan-fried bean-curd prawn sheet roll was unexpectedly great. I can hardly ever find a restaurant which offers this dish with crispy skin and fresh shrimp inside, but this restaurant managed to do both.
My experience could have been better if they offered Chinese tea, to give it a more a “yum cha” feel. Personally, I felt strange having dim sum without Chinese tea. Nevertheless, as seen in the menu, the food here was rather cheap. Keep in mind that the last order will be at 15:00 pm so you need to come beforehand.
I went to another dim-sum restaurant called “Hey Hey Dim Sum” which is located in Des Voeux Road West, the road with the tram railways. It would be closer if you go from Exit B1 of HKU MTR station, or you can turn left after you go straight down from East Gate and Water Street. It’s a larger restaurant than the previous one, and the decorations make it seem like a traditional Chinese restaurant.
I tried similar food here, but the sweet milky buns here were excellent! Unlike the typical ones, sweet milky buns here were yellow with smiley faces drawn on them. They were adorable, and the egg milk was the “fluid type”. One of the most famous dim sums here is the deep-fried cream custard, you should try this if you’re looking for a combination of a “deep-fried snack” and a “sweet Chinese desert”. The other items I tried were, the Chiu-Chow-styled steamed dumpling, siu mai (as always), steamed bean-curd sheet rolls and beef balls. These didn’t compare to the yellow smiling buns and deep-fried cream custard, but they were good. The only dim sum I didn’t enjoy were the spicy wontons, since I expected it to be more hot and spicy. But trust me, this restaurant is a great place to hang-out.
If you are going out with more than a couple of friends or if you’re just a fan of Chinese tea, this restaurant is a good choice. Just walk in and you’ll get a seat. I want more people to try the amazing food here, but at the same time I don’t want it to get too crowded for the next time I come here! Price wise, it’s is a little bit more expensive than the previous one but the amount spent per person is a reasonable 60 HKD.