Sometimes, restaurants have to be versatile and offer different items on the menu to entice customers – like Ying Jia Restaurant in Happy Garden KL, which serves dimsum by day and dai chow fare by night.
The Moo and I had originally wanted to eat dimsum at Phang Kee, a popular stall just a few shops away, but since it was packed, we ended up here instead. The restaurant is very spacious, and even though it isn’t air conditioned, it does not feel hot thanks to the high ceilings and large fans. Orders are made on a chit.
We got the usual favourites: har gao, chee cheong fun and minced pork meat with fish maw.
The restaurant has a novel way of keeping their dishes ‘protected’ – by using a plastic bottle with the top half cut open to act as a ‘shield’.
Shanghai siew loong bao are conveniently served on spoons for easy eating. The dumplings are steamed together with cabbage, which imparts the skin with the natural sweetness of vegetables. The broth is flavourful and the skin’s thickness is just right.
Salted egg custard buns. The colour is lighter than the ones I’m used to from my favourite dimsum place, but they’re nice and fluffy. I think the inside could have used more custard, though. Tasty nonetheless.
And last but not least, ‘salad prawns’ – essentially deep fried shrimp dumplings. These are my favourite and a must-order whenever I go to any dimsum shop. The version here is done well; crispy and flaky shell, juicy, bouncy shrimps enveloped within. Best eaten with mayonnaise and washed down with lots of hot tea.
Overall, I found the dimsum at Ying Jia pretty good and value for money. The owners themselves are out and about serving customers, and service is fast and friendly.
YING JIA DIMSUM & SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
1, Jalan Lazat 1, Taman Bukit Indah, 58200 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: 7.30AM – 2PM, 5PM – 9PM (closed for dinner on Tuesdays)
*Opinions here are my own. Feel free to agree/disagree with my taste buds.
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Growing up, my favourite part about weekend mornings was when my parents brought me out for a dimsum breakfast. I loved the hustle and bustle of the dining floor, filled with the chatter of patrons and the clink of plates and chopsticks. I loved the towering baskets of bamboo steamers piled up high on carts that were wheeled to each table, where diners got to pick out their favourite items. But most of all, I loved savouring the dimsum itself: delicious bite-sized morsels that are either steamed, fried or baked. It’s no wonder the literal translation for dimsum is ‘touch the heart’!
As an adult, I still love dimsum, and even though the pandemic has changed the way we dine, I still find myself getting dimsum for takeaway every now and then to satisfy my cravings.
For those unfamiliar with Cantonese cuisine, ordering dim sum can feel like a daunting task, what with the bewildering array of choices available. But fret not: here’s a handy dimsum guide that will help you to tell your siew mai apart from your siew loong bao (and perhaps impress your Cantonese friends while you’re at!)
**Spellings may differ slightly depending on which country you’re from; I’m using the versions most common to where I live. Also, I’ve only listed 12 types; otherwise this would turn into a compendium lol.
You can’t go to a dimsum resto and not order a basket of har gao. These shrimp dumplings are distinguished by their slightly translucent wrapper and delicate pleats. The wrapper is made from rice flour, which gives it a slightly chewy texture that contrasts perfectly with the juicy, crunchy shrimps enveloped within. A good har gao should not stick to the bottom of the steamer, and the skin should be thin enough to see-through, but thick enough that it doesn’t break when you lift it with your chopsticks.
Next to har gao, siew mai is another must-have at every table. Like the har gao, the siew mai is also a ‘dumpling’, but a different kind altogether. The filling typically contains ground pork and whole or chopped shrimp, sometimes paired with ingredients such as mushrooms, chives, bamboo shoots or water chestnuts (for that added crunch). The wrapper is made from lye dough and is either yellow or white; sometimes it has a slightly sweet taste. To garnish, crab roe or diced carrot is used to form a dot at the top of the dumpling.
Char Siew Bao
These barbecued pork buns are my husband’s favourite. In the Philippines, where the hubs is from, they are known as siopao, and the pork filling is usually red in colour. Here in Malaysia, a dark filling is more common; although tastewise, I think they are quite similar. The filling is savoury with a hint of sweetness, thanks to the marinade of oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar and roasted sesame seed oil.
Although char siew bao looks similar to baozi (traditional Chinese steamed buns), the texture of the former is different, as the dough uses yeast and baking powder as leavening, making it dense but fluffy.
Siew Loong Bao
While the name means ‘mini basket buns’, siew loong bao (or xiaolongbao) are actually soup dumplings. Traditionally a dish from Jiangsu, it is often associated with Shanghainese cuisine. The dumplings are also very popular in Taiwan, thanks to brands like Din Tai Fung, who have also popularised it in the West, so much so that they are sometimes called Taiwanese soup dumplings.
So, how does one fill a dumpling with soup? Chefs use a solid meat aspic (sort of like a gelatin cube), which they stuff together with ground pork into the thin wrapper before steaming. The heat from the cooking process then melts the aspic, creating a savoury soup. There’s supposed to be a ‘proper’ way to eat siew loong bao; ie you poke a hole in the skin, slurp up the soup, put a couple of ginger slices on then dip it into vinegar before consuming whole – but I say food is to be enjoyed, so eat it as you like. Just don’t burn your tongue on hot soup!
Fung Jao (Phoenix Talons)
A lofty name for chicken feet braised with black bean sauce. Some consider it a delicacy, and if you’re not used to eating parts like feet, this dish might be a tad … adventurous. The black bean sauce is savoury and sweet, masking any unpleasant odours. There’s not much meat on the feet, but plenty of skin, cartilage and tendons, so if you enjoy gelatinous textures, then dig in. If you’re really skilled, take a big bite – then elegantly spit out the small bones.
Since Canton (Guangdong) is close to the sea, a lot of dishes in Cantonese cuisine use seafood. Har Guen, or fried shrimp rolls, is one of them. Shrimps are wrapped with dried beancurd sheets (fu pei) into rolls, then deep fried to crispy perfection. To suit modern tastes, dimsum shops often serve them with dips like mayonnaise and garlic chilli sauce.
Chee Cheong Fun
Many dimsum items are bite-sized, so if you’re looking for something more substantial, there’s chee cheong fun, ie steamed rice noodle rolls. The name actually means ‘pig intestine noodles’, since they look like pig intestines. Chee cheong fun starts off as a ‘sheet’: a mixture of rice flour, tapioca or glutinous rice flour plus water is poured over a special flat pan. The heat causes it to solidify; it is then rolled into its signature long shape and sliced. The noodles are very versatile, and different places serve different versions, but the ones you find at dimsum shops are usually served plain and drizzled over with soy sauce, or stuffed with shrimp (no surprise) or barbecued pork. Here in Malaysia, dimsum restos often add sambal or chilli on top.
Lo Mai Gai
My dad and brother are typical Asians. Rice is a must have at every meal, which is why they always order this glutinous rice dish whenever we have dimsum. Traditionally, the rice, together with ingredients like mushroom, Chinese sausage and pork is wrapped in a lotus leaf and steamed, giving it a fragrant aroma – but modern versions use an aluminium foil bowl so that it’s easier to remove (sourcing for lotus leaves is probably an expensive endeavour too). The rice has a chewy texture with a sticky ‘glaze’ to it.
Lo Bak Go
“Lo bak” refers to carrots, but these savoury ‘cakes’ are actually made from Chinese radish. Water, rice flour and starch is added to mashed radish roots to form squares, which are then deep fried. Sometimes ingredients like dried shrimp, dried mushrooms, Chinese sausage and jinhua ham are added to give it more flavour. The starch/flour gives the cakes a crisp, brown coating, whilst retaining a soft but solid consistency throughout. Chao lo bak go is essentially the same, but stir fried with vegetables like bean sprouts and chilli instead of deep fried.
Lao Sar Bao
My personal favourite, lao sar bao (molten lava bun) is a relatively new creation to grace the menus of dim sum restaurants. Popularised in recent years due to the salted egg yolk custard craze, these steamed buns are soft and fluffy with a sweet and creamy filling of mashed salted egg yolks. The filling is a wonderful balance between sweet and salty, and although it has a sandy texture on the tongue (due to the egg yolk mash), it still slides down your throat effortlessly. There’s almost a sensual quality when you tear the buns apart and watch as the filling oozes out. Hmmh.
Deep fried yam puffs? Comfort food at its best. The pastry has a croquette-like texture, in that it’s flaky and crumbly rather than firm like other types of deep fried dumplings. At first bite, you get a light and crispy texture on the outside, before moving on to the smooth, paste-like consistency of the yam. Finally, there’s the juicy centre of moist pork and vegetables.
Of course, we can’t round off the meal without dessert. Dan taat, or Cantonese egg tarts are inspired by English tarts and the Portuguese pastel de nata; a vestige of British colonial influence in Canton / Hong Kong, as well as Portuguese influence in Macao. While dan taat isn’t traditional dimsum per se (it was only sold beginning the early 20th century), it is a staple on many dimsum restaurant menus today, as well as in Hong Kong-style char chaan tengs (coffeeshops). Making the pastry is tedious process, as it requires multiple folding to get that flaky texture, and a careful baking process to ensure the custard is perfect. I can’t imagine a more fitting dessert to end a dim sum feast.
And there you have it! This is by no means a comprehensive guide: there are literally dozens if not over a hundred different types of dimsum, some of which even I have not tasted before. But hopefully, if you haven’t been to a dimsum resto before, this will give you a better idea of some dishes to order and make the experience less intimidating.
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It’s that time of the year again!
I’m talking, of course, about the Mid-Autumn Festival, which sees hotels, confectionaries and even cafes pulling out all the stops with their mooncakes.
Among them is Hilton Petaling Jaya’s Toh Yuen Chinese restaurant, which recently launched its Jade Rabbit series – inspired by the character from Chinese folklore who lives on the moon and prepares elixirs of life for Chang’E, the moon goddess. The offerings include various flavours of mooncakes and snowskin mooncakes, and come in pretty boxes decorated with images of rabbits.
Aside from the baked classics such as white lotus paste, red bean paste, black sesame paste and mixed five nuts, Toh Yuen has also put a modern spin into its snow skin offerings, with flavours such as Blueberry Cheese, Pomegranate Raisin, Tiramisu Treasures, Chocolate Walnut Indulgence and Durian Delights. Durian lovers will definitely want to indulge in the latter, which tastes like real durian rather than flavouring, and even has bits of the fruit embedded within.
Another must-try is the Blueberry Cheese, which has a mild, subtle cheesy flavour in the centre, as well as the Pomegranate Raisin, which is tangy and fruity. The best part is that they’re not too sweet!
You can get the mooncakes ala carte for RM30+ each, purchase a premium Jade Rabbit Series gift box of four pieces for RM118 nett, or two pieces for RM68 nett. The oriental Standard Box of four and the Oriental Bloom Premium Box of four are RM78 nett and RM88 nett respectively.
Mooncakes aren’t all you can have at Toh Yuen, as they are also having a Mid-Autumn Afternoon High Tea promotion, where you’ll get to enjoy mooncakes as well as several other dishes.
For our media tasting session, we were treated to plump parcels of har kau, perfectly pleated with chewy, slightly translucent skins enveloping juicy shrimps within. The chicken siumai was excellent as well, topped with delicate fish roe that just explodes in the mouth.
A more substantial dish would be Chef’s handmade La Mien, which comes topped with deep fried chicken cutlet and bokchoy. Tossed in a light sauce, the noodles have just the right amount of al dente.
The high tea is available until 22 September 2019. For reservations, call +603 7955 9122 or email PETHI_FB@hilton.com.
All of the traditionally baked and snow skin goodies are also available for purchase at the pop-up store in Hilton Petaling Jaya’s lobby or Toh Yuen Restaurant (Level 1) from until 13 September 2019 as well as from One Utama Shopping Centre (29 August – 13 September 2019).
Whenever someone asks for suggestions on places to eat dimsum in Ipoh, chances are that people would tell you to go to the ever popular Foh San and Ming Court. While both are undeniably popular, there are many other options both in and around town. One of these under-the-radar dim sum joints, at least up until recently (coz they opened up a new hypermarket around the place and it has drawn quite the crowds) is Sun Kim Aik in Falim, Ipoh. Locals have been coming here for years and it is considered one of the pioneers of dimsum shops in Menglembu.
The restaurant spanned two shoplots and was packed during our visit. Noise levels were through the roof, as serves and customers alike jostled too and fro. Due to its limited space, the resto has done away with traditional practices, where they wheel a cart or a tray to your table. Instead, you go to the fried dimsum station to the left, or the steamed dimsum station on the verandah.
Ordered a simple selection of items: the typical har gao and siew mai, lor mai kai (glutinous rice with chicken), chee cheong fun (steamed rice rolls), pork buns, fish balls, fried shrimp dumplings and an assortment of other goodies.
Plump, juicy mushrooms on a bed of minced pork/seafood.
Fatt choy, a type of seaweed (?) that resembles hair. Often eaten on special occasions because the name sounds like ‘prosperity’.
My favourites were the fried dumplings and the charsiewbao, which as nice and fluffy. Everything else was fresh and tasty, but I can’t say it’s the best dimsum I’ve ever had. Maybe because I’m used to the dimsum I always have in my native Puchong.
Still, this is a decent option to consider if you want to try something new besides the usual Ming Court and Foh San.
RESTORAN SUN KIM AIK
Jalan Lahat, Taman Falim, 30100 Ipoh, Perak
Opening hours: 5.30AM – 12.30PM (daily)
Google ‘breakfast in Betong‘, and chances are you’ll be directed to Seng Dimsum, a Chinese establishment in the centre of town (near the clocktower) that serves cheap dimsum. Back in the days it used to be RM1 per plate (!! ) but with inflation and increasing costs, they now cost 20baht (RM2.55)… which is still cheap, considering most places in Kuala Lumpur serve upwards of RM6.
Signboard in Chinese and Thai. I am unable to read both. Lol
Dining area is your typical Chinese resto setting and can easily seat 100 people or more. Unlike traditional Malaysian style dimsum where some auntie will be pushing a cartload of goodies to your table, here it’s all self-service.
The dimsum plates were placed on ice. Some were familiar (the usual fishpaste, siew mai, etc) but there were also other types that weren’t common in Malaysia, like the stuffed pork paste in mushroom, the mini veggie combos, fish slices. Select the ones you prefer and hand them over to the staff who will steam it fresh and take it to your table after.
Buns, dumplings, the usual suspects.
At the front was where all the steaming was done. I think this was partly for visuals – aside from the fragrant aroma of food being cooked, there’s also the steam wafting out to entice passers-by.
To the left was the chee cheong fun (rolled rice flour noodles) which we didn’t order.
Dimsum must always be accompanied by a pot of hot Chinese tea. 🙂
We were feeling a bit peckish, so got 12 plates to share between the our of us. The portions were smaller than those in Malaysia, but then again, it’s only 20baht. I liked the siumai (pork dumplings with wonton skin) and the one with century egg. Tastewise, everything was quite tasty but I wouldn’t say it’s the best dimsum I’ve had. Still great value for money though!
SENG DIMSUM, BETONG
410, Amphoe Betong, Chang Wat Yala 95110, Thailand
Open for breakfast
It’s always nice to have dimsum on the weekend, and there is certainly no shortage of dimsum joints in Puchong! My favourite is Taiji Eatery in Bandar Putri Puchong, one of the ‘pioneers’ in the area. So when Moo said she saw that they were closed when she passed by recently, I screamed internally.
Fortunately, it was a false alarm – they’ve merely renovated the space and rebranded themselves as Yuan Le, now boasting an air-conditioned interior and new order system. Instead of picking and choosing from pushcarts and trays, like how the traditional dimsum outlets would do, patrons write their orders on chits and the waiters will punch them into the computer. The staff was clearly trying to get used to this new system because there was a lot of running around, confusion and missed orders. Personally I prefer the old way coz it’s faster and much more convenient. New tech isn’t necessarily better.
Ordered the usual items: siew mai (shrimp and pork dumpling in sweet egg wrapper). Noticed that the price had increased by a whopping 50 cents: so now instead of RM4.50, all of the items are RM5 and above. Quality wise, the dumplings were still good though.
The last time C and I came, she introduced me to a chicken feet dish braised in spicy sauce. It was really tasty then, so I ordered them again. Wasn’t that good this time around though; the sauce was quite tasteless and the chicken feet less tender. Hargau (crystal skin shrimp dumpling) was nice, with fat pieces of juicy shrimp enveloped within transclucent wrappers.
Gotta have the crispy fried shrimp foochok.
And last but not least, bacon wrapped around minced pork and shrimp paste, steamed in a light salty broth.
Food quality is still consistent, but I really wished they had kept their prices for just a little while longer.
YUAN LE DIMSUM
2-G, Jalan Puteri 2/3, Bandar Puteri, 47100 Puchong, Selangor, Malaysia
Open daily: 7AM – 3PM
Malaysia has a huge Cantonese population, so it’s only normal that some Canto culture has trickled into our daily lives. One is ‘yumcha’, which literally translates to ‘drink tea’, referring to the act of going out with friends/family to enjoy dimsum and, well, drink tea. Usually this is done in the early morning, but with people being late risers these days, Tai Zi Heen@ Pullman KLCC is offering a very value for money brunch buffet with all-you-can-eat dimsum.
Recently I got to sample some of the 45 steamed, deep fried and pan-fried goodies available on their menu, and even had a fun little session preparing our own deep fried, cheese-stuffed beancurd rolls while guided by the chef. Usually if you’re having dimsum at a typical street-resto, they will have elderly aunties/workers pushing carts filled with dimsum, so you can simply pick and choose which ones you want. Here, though, you write the items on a chit and the team will prepare it fresh to order. 🙂
Didn’t manage to get individual shots; but some of my favourites were:
- Beef Tripe – super tender, steamed in a spicy sauce that gave my tongue that much needed spice kick.
- Beancurd rolls – anything that is stuffed with cheese is awesome. Crunchy and crispy on the outside, with gooey melted cheese and minced chicken/shrimp on the inside. Comfort food at its best.
- HK-style chee cheong fun – thin, slightly transclucent steamed rice rolls wrapped around juicy shrimp, swimming in a delicate soy sauce.
Fried noodles. These were nicely flavoured, with enough ‘wok hei’, so you can tell they were cooked over a strong fire.
More noodles. Those opting for something more ‘filling’ can also go for their buns (try the salted egg bun, which is fluffy with a deliciously oozy salted egg custard center), glutinous rice wrapped in lotus leaf for that extra fragrance, spicy radish cake or even stir-fried vegetables. There are also cold appetisers like marinated jellyfish. Of course, there’s always the classic dimsum must-haves like the hargau (shrimp dumpling with crystal skin) and siewmai (the version here uses mushroom/chicken/shrimp).
Wash everything down with a nice hot cup of Chinese tea – it is ‘yumcha’, after all – from specialty tea company Harney & Son’s. They offer a variety of different blends, from the traditional Pu-Erh to Tie Guan Yin.
The Yumcha @ Dimsum Buffet Brunch @ Pullman KLCC is available on weekends and public holidays from 11.30am – 3pm until September 30 2017 for RM75 per pax. Kids under 5 eat for free, while those aged between 6 – 12 years old enjoy 50% off. Considering the high-end dining environment + service, I’d say it is very value for money.
For reservations, call +603-21708888 (extension 8200)
Undoubtedly one of the best known dimsum joints in Ipoh, Foh San was once a humble shop frequented by locals – but has since expanded to include a couple of shoplots, complete with air conditioning, self-service counters and a more extensive menu. Fam and I came here for lunch one afternoon. While the food quality was decent, the service and hygiene definitely needed a major improvement… more on that later though. First things first though – the noms.
Did you know that aside from dimsum, Foh San also serves rice dishes?
The colourful Claypot Charsiew Rice with Egg was nicely presented: yellow from the corn, bright red from the chillies, brown from the tender bits of charsiew, loads of green spring onions and a beautiful raw egg in the middle. Leave the rice in for a bit before loosening it for a nice bit of crunchy burnt bits from the side.
Also got the Claypot Rice with Chicken and Chinese Sausage. The chicken wasn’t marinated well and was tasteless, but the sausage gave the dish some saving grace.
Glutinous rice with meat was wrapped and steamed with fragrant lotus leaves to absorb the flavour. The rice was gooey and went well with the sweet meat and plump juicy mushroom on the inside. Since it’s glutinous rice, it makes one feel full pretty quickly.
We did order some traditional dimsum to share. I think the above is one of their signature steamed chicken dishes, covered in a ginger sauce.
Shrimp crystal skin dumpling (har gao) is a must. The version here has thin, slightly transcluent skin and sizable, juicy shrimps.
Fried foochok (beancurd) encasing a mix of meat and shrimp: well flavoured on the inside and crispy on the outside without being too oily.
Last but not least, siewmai, which has a thin skin made from egg wrappers that gives it a sweetish taste, encasing a delicate mix of pork and shrimp meat. The ones here are generous in size and taste great with chilli sauce.
Now, on to what I said earlier – hygiene. Idk if it’s because it’s the afternoon, but the dishes were fkin dirty. None of them were washed properly, there were bits of food on supposedly ‘clean’ plates, and the ‘fresh’ cutlery had food stains on them, which was very off putting. Didn’t experience this eating here in the morning before.
FOH SAN DIM SUM RESTAURANT