There are a lot of places that offer dim sum in London, but try to count how many that are tasty and of good value and I can count them all with my two hands. Nevertheless, I am always scouting for new places and wider options. A new dim sum place opened recently, taking over the site in Queensway that used to house the infamous ‘Kiasu’.
Touted as an American-style diner offering both modern and traditional dim sum, I was thinking, “what do you mean by both modern and traditional? American-style dining?”. All thoughts of trolleys and roundtable dining went out the window. My love for dim sum coaxed me to accept when I received an invitation to DimSum Diner. As it was, not all authentic/traditional food is the most delectable and not all fusion/modern food is unpalatable. I was ready to go and let my taste buds do the talking.
Minimalism is how I would describe the décor with long rectangular wooden tables and benches. The benches were more comfortable than they seem, as mentioned by my dining companion. The menu is split into various categories with the usual being steamed, baked, fried, sweet with the addition of diner and small plates. Everything is priced at £3.80 with sides being £2.50.
After some recommendations, we placed our orders and ready to start.
L - R: Phoenix prawn dumpling, Guinness crabmeat dumpling
L - R: Fish and spinach dumpling, vegetarian parcel, XLB
L - R: Fish and spinach dumpling, vegetarian parcel, XLB
After trying sea bass dumpling several times before where the sea bass was just overly dry, I have not tasted one utilising fish that was made successfully. The fish and spinach dumpling turned out to be different, instead of using a piece of seabass, a fish paste is used instead which retains the moistness while still having the taste of fish. Wrapped in a spinach dumpling wrapper, this was tasty and I thought was a good way of using fish in a dumpling.
The name, guinness crab meat dumpling came about from the dumpling skin being a dark colour and not because the crab meat was cooked in Guinness beer like I initially thought and was excited about. The filling was a mixture of prawns and crab meat which gave a duo texture and combined with the slight sticky but yield-when-bitten wrapper, this was good.
I wasn’t wowed by the phoenix prawn dumpling and by this stage, was starting to feel a little prawn-out!
The vegetarian parcel didn’t work for me either as each ingredient was too distinct in its own flavour and lacked a sauce to gel and harmonise them.
The xiao long bao were no fireworks but if you love them, you’ll be satisfied as theirs a above average.
Moving onto the fried stuff, the filling-to-puff ratio in the assam chicken curry puff was skewed towards there being more puff than filling so you barely taste much of the assam chicken curry. The puff itself I thought was flaky and fluffy though you do end up with a buttery greased mouth-feel due to the more puff than filling.
London was the first place where I was introduced or heard of the sesame prawn toast. I have yet to be enamoured by it and wasn’t too keen on ordering this. However, my dining party was keen on trying so it was ordered. Good choice I have to admit. This is the best version that I have tried, it is best eaten when freshly fried as it wasn’t as good once it turned cold.
Continuing to the less traditionally seen in dim sum trolleys came the mini beef burgers and hot dogs. The top bread used for the beef burgers were too tough that my poor teeth was having a workout even trying to take a clean bite. I thought that the patty was a tad bland although my dining companion differs in opinion.
The hot dogs are your standard sausage buns that you get in Asian bakeries and these although being good, am not sure if I would be ordering them to eat during a dim sum session.
Time for some noodles and the like and the first to arrived was the beef flank in ramen noodle soup. The beef flank were tender and delicious and that was as much as can be said about this. The broth was bland, add one of the sauces to spike this up.
The same verdict goes to the Malaysian Kwai Tiew Noodles.
The Malaysian spiced mooli cubes did not suffer the same bland fate but it just didn't taste right. They haven't got the flavour balance and all the elements right in this one.
Time for some sweets and the Honey BBQ pork buns hit the spot. Love the soft soft freshly steamed buns. The creamy custard steamed buns were standard.
A special mention has to be given to the sauces that sits on every table. Placed innocuously at the side, do not overlook them as three out of the four are made in house and they are amazing! Generous helpings were eaten by us and if anything, I think management should consider promoting and pairing this with some of the dishes more (like the bland ramen noodle soup, adding the chilli sauce turned the whole thing around)!
We got to chat with the guy who introduced the sauces and he recommended the pineapple bun. How can you not try a recommendation from the awesome Mr. sauce guy right? So stuffed as I was, I nodded and said yes.
Best decision ever! This are the best pineapple buns I have had to date and I love my pineapple bun. This had actual pineapple as a filling and it made such a difference. It was less sweet than the commercially available at bakeries and the pineapple pieces and its juices added a natural sweetness and slightly acidic flavour to lighten it up. I will travel just to have this here.
On a whole, I think its a mixture of delicious, mediocre and some that definitely needs tweaking dishes. Going back to the prices, Pearl Liang averages around £3 per plate while Grand Imperial is a £4.5 average. So DimSum Diner places itself in the middle at £3.80.
Chopstix2Steaknives dined as a guest of Dim Sum Diner.
Will I recommend: Yes
Will I come back: Yes
Have I had better: Yes/No depending on what dishes.
Dim Sum Diner, 48 Queensway London W2 3RY