• Jade Garden, Chinatown
DaveMP's post about the quality of their dinner made me think about trying them for dim sum. Excellent pan fried turnip cake - good turnip flavour, soft on the inside, crisp but not overly greasy on the outside -- worth going for this.
Interesting combination of crab, bamboo shots, prawn and possibly dried scallop in the crab dumpling with a nice slightly chewy skin. Scallop shu mai was backed by the prawn and pork filling, and was decent overall. Ok sugar cane prawns, a Cantonese rendition of the vietnamese dish. Yuba/bean curd skin rolls filled with alternating crunchy/soft textures of bamboo, black fungus and prawn under a starchy glossy sauce. Spongy steamed custard buns with hot oozing custard.
Noticed that some of the fried items were pre-fried and kept warm under a lamp in a display case, so I skipped those.
• Penninsula, Greenwich
Very solid all round performance in a vast array of items that we had. Nothing disappointed and all were at least good.
Well made skins on the dumplings (e.g. har gau and the prawn/chive), with just a little bit of resilience. Hearty meaty siu mai. A fairly smooth congee with preserved or thousand year old eggs. Porky fried chitterlings, crispy on the skin side. Rice sheets (cheong fun) warpped around a crispy crullers were a good example of this dish, no mushy texture in the cheong fun. Spring rolls had a certain lightness, despite the deep frying -- both the prawn filled ones, as well as the more blistery Vietnamese ones (cha gio, iirc). Good fried prawn meat balls as well. An interesting glutinous and chewy bun filled with honeyed char siu.
For a rich sticky and stocky experience, I really liked the duck web with minced prawns and bean curd sheets, rounded by a savoury sauce probably based on a deep "master stock".
• Phoenix Palace, Marylebone
Prawn and chive dumplings here use a skin similar to the ones in the crystal dumplings, thicker, more chewy, with a grainy translucence, rather than the thinner style a la har gau. That and the vegetarian crystal dumplings (filled with a variety of finely chopped vegetables and mung bean vermicelli) were indications of good timing at the steamer.
I liked the braised beef dumplings the most, really captured the beefy essence, highlighted with watercress.
Prawn spring rolls with paper-thin skins were quite nicely fried, and coated with sesame seeds for added aroma. Char siu pastry was a bit ordinary, somewhat flakey, but nothing exceptional.
Another hot oozing custard bun, the soft centre given a delicious grainy texture and salty note with finely crumbed salted egg yolk, judiciously applied for a good salty-sweet combination.
Tieguanyin for tea, nothing special, a bit on a flat side.