Best dim sum in Hong Kong? Lung King Heen

17 Mar

xiao long baoI’m glad I saved Lung King Heen till pretty late on in my Hong Kong sojourn. Like flying business class for the first time, once you’ve done it, everything seems inferior by comparison. I’d hate to have spent the past two years moping about from one ‘sub-standard’ dim sumerie to the next; bemoaning the stolid thickness of the pastry, the prosaic mediocrity of the filling and the sub-standard Ryanair-ness of the service.

As it is I’ve had a blast so far. But good dim sum is not great dim sum and Lung King Heen has brilliantly blown my carefully constructed ‘dim sum quality graph’ out of the water.

On that fateful Saturday lunchtime a fortnight ago we were escorted into a light, airy room – a picture of modest understatement (apart from the silver leaf ceiling) as befits the first and only Michelin 3 star Chinese restaurant in the world.

I’m not one to dwell on surroundings as long as the food is good, but this is one of the nicest dining rooms I’ve ever had the pleasure to park my overfed arse in. Everything from the silver-plated tea warmer to the matching dim sum basket holders, the elegant Chinese tea pots and art deco-like toothpick holders gelled effortlessly. As did the service; less obsequious than the two starred Tin Lung Heen across the harbour and only missing a beat once when we waiting 10 minutes for our menus.

I’d made my mind up to stuff as many different little treats down my cake hole as possible on that, my first and probably last visit. Cheung fan came first – the thinnest, lightest rice noodle rolls I’ve ever tasted. A scallop version slippery and singing of the sea came with a nice bamboo crunch while an earthy mushroom variety was bejewelled with finely chopped carrots and mange touts. Next came ha gao – shrimp dumplings containing huge juicy prawns entombed in ethereally thin rice flour casing. This dish is a kind of steak-frites test of a good dim sum restaurant and it passed with ease. Turnip cake came with the addition of dried scallops (conpoy) and was all the better for it, although I’d have liked the edges to be a bit more crispy.lobster dumpling

The standout dishes came later. Sea bass dumplings were filled with soft, delicate fish and, unexpectedly, chopped okra, which gave the parcels a different texture and helped bind the whole together. From the subtlety of that dumpling we then got a huge garlic kick from prawn spring rolls. Again those monster prawns, fat and juicy and this time wrapped in paper-thin deep fried wantan pastry.It was served with Worcester sauce which was a nice touch to cut through the greasiness of the dish. Xiao long bao followed, the best I’ve had outside of Din Tai Fung – thin casing, and a juicy, umami-packed porky filling, with each bao perched on its own little bamboo gazebo for easy serving.

xlb

The best we had, though, was the lobster and scallop shumai. At one piece for around HK$45 it’s not cheap but if there’s one dish you try off this menu it should be this one. Like a greatest-hits-of-the-sea shumai, juicy chunks of lobster and minced scallops came wrapped in a strange green steamed wantan case topped with another prawn – just in case lobster and scallops weren’t enough seafood for you. Sadly even my oversized gob wasn’t big enough to take this in one bite which led to some rather inelegant spoon-sawing in the basket. But it was incredible.

All told the bill came to around HK$750 with jasmine tea, which for cooking of this quality in these surroundings is not bad. I’d be back in a second but I’ve got some graph rewrites to do first.

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