Dim Sum became the noughties' sushi in the UK with the advent of fast food dim sum chains like Ping Pong. Before arriving in Hong Kong I'd eaten plenty of dim sum in London but the slightly gummy, insipid little parcels I was used to bore no resemblance to the real deal served up in Hong Kong’s dim sum restaurants. A dim sum lunch is a real Hong Kong must-do. Eating dim sum at a restaurant is known as “going to drink tea”, or “yum cha” in Cantonese. It’s customary for Cantonese families to gather at the weekend to eat dim sum together so particularly on a Saturday and Sunday, expect busy, noisy restaurants packed with large chattering groups.
While I make no claim that the Yum Cha at Maxim's Palace is the best in Hong Kong (I'm still on a quest to discover that, and will keep you posted on my findings), the dim sum's very good, you get great harbour views and it’s also one of only a handful of restaurants in Hong kong which still uses the old school dim sum trolleys. Come at lunchtime but be prepared for a wait - Maxim's doesn't take bookings and it gets pretty hectic, particularly at weekends. Queueing over, take your seat in the large red and gold dining hall and sip on Jasmine tea while keeping a close eye on the trolleys being
wheeled between the tables. Each trolley is laden with bamboo dim sum steamers. When a trolley passes by and you spot something that you fancy, stop the waitress and grab a basket. Struggling to decide what to opt for? I suggest that you try a little bit of everything but my top dim sum picks are: har gau (shrimp dumplings), char sui bau (steamed barbeque pork buns), cheung fan (rice paper rolls which come with various fillings aka Chinese ravoili), sui mai (pork dumplings), and Xiaolongbao (steamed pork soup dumplings originating from Shanghai). If you’re feeling particularly brave, try
the chicken’s feet which actually don’t taste as bad as they look but are not the easiest thing to eat if you’re a little inexperienced with chopsticks. Lunch over, leave City Hall with a tummy full of dumplings and the clatter of the dim sum carts ringing in your ears and head for a stroll along the harbour front to work it all off.
City Hall Maxim's Palace
2/F, City Hall Low Block, Hong Kong Island.
+(852) 2521 1303
Google map: bit.ly/JZ2YQ6
* Natalie is our local for Hong Kong. You can read all about her here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/hong-kong-local-natalie-robinson.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/natalierobinson
She also has her own blog at: www.3badmice.com/
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