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May Hong dim sum-Berkeley

the(jealous)sound | Jul 22, 200412:09 PM

In between my ongoing banh mi taste testing, I managed to sample a few dim sum plates at May Hong yesterday. It's a small, corridor-like space that still pretty much looks like The Cambodiana. No dim sum carts, so we ordered from the menu: steamed bbq pork buns, the steamed chicken buns, the spring rolls, the ha gao, the shu mai, and the sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf ($1.88 per plate). Overall, I thought the dim sum was pretty good. Strangely, they did not set out chile oil or cider vinegar, just soy sauce, s&p, and what looked like sambal olek. Ice water and forks were provided instead of tea and chopsticks (I'm Chinese and was a little shocked by this table setting). The lone waitress seemed pretty overwhelmed with the five parties dining at lunch, so I wasn't able to chat with her about the restaurant and the menu. I did learn that they've been there for about three months, which was really surprising since I didn't notice the place until last week and I work on campus.

The spring rolls came first, three rolls (completely vegetarian) cut into six pieces (by scissors I hope) served along with some sweet and sour sauce. No worcestshire sauce offered like I'm accustomed to. The rolls had obviously been fried to order as they were hot and still pretty oily. Some time resting on paper towels might have helped, but I liked the fresh out of the fryer-ness of the rolls. They reminded me of homemade ones. I missed the little slivers of pork that sometimes used in the filling (isn't dim sum a convenient excuse to overdose on pork?). A solid "B+"

The cha shiu bao was just the right size (between a golf ball and a racquetball) and was filled with moist, flavorful pork that wasn't neon red with food coloring or excessively salty or sweet. The bun was soft and fluffy, without being wet or dry on the surface. I thought it was the best item out of our selection. A solid "A"

The chicken buns were the same size, but the filling was a dense, compact block of mystery meat that could have been chicken or something else. Biting through the middle of the bun just allowed the meat to fall out in one solid thud. A strange "C"

The ha gao were very food. They were done the right way. A solid large prawn in the middle (not chopped up into a pate like some places) that was fresh tasting and succulent. The wrapper was translucent and moist, with just the right amount of resiliency when chewed. An "A-" for serving them four to a steamer. So unlucky!

Shu mai were a little dense and rubbery. The pork seemed too lean, they weren't juicy and flavorful like ones made with more fat. Like the hao gao, four to a plate. A "B" for rubber and misfortune.

Sticky rice in lotus leaf (what I describe to my non-Chinese friends as the Chinese tamale) was surprisingly good. The rice was just sticky enough, but not overly sticky or overcooked. The individual grains were discernible by sight and texture while eating. The savory pork filling was just the right amount and seasoned perfectly. Too bad there were only two, but they are pretty satisfying. An "A"

They also offer about 6-8 other dim sum plates, but nothing exotic like chicken feet or pork blood or tripe. They also have rice plate lunch specials, jook, and chow fun and chow mein. Based on the sampling of dim sum we had, I will be going back to try more dim sum, jook, and noodles. I recommend this place and it's nice to see a dim sum place so close to campus. I hope it does well enough to stay for a while.

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