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Roly-Poly Diary: Westernized Dim Sum

Coming from Vancouver, we go for dim sum at least once a month. When I went to Hong Kong, we went daily. Sometimes even twice daily. Having been away from home for 3 weeks, we missed dim sum, so we took our chances at Lucky Bamboo Restaurant, which has received very favourable reviews on Yelp and Urbanspoon. 

When we walked in, we thought it could be all hit or miss. Hit because

    1. the majority of the staff were Chinese,
    2. the spelling mistakes, and
    3. the presence of Asian customers.

Miss because

  1. most dim sum places I have been to are named [Golden Jade Deer Garden] Seafood Restaurant,
  2. they give you a fork at the start,
  3. the bar looked like a tiki hut, and
  4. the interior decor – the fountain, paintings of pandas on the walls and overkill of bamboo – was just trying too hard.

The verdict: miss. And here’s why:

No selection of tea, just “hot tea.” At authentic dim sum restaurants, they should offer you a choice of Ti Guan Yin, Bo Li, jasmine and others. But no. Plus, they charge $1.00 per person for tea. The most we’ve ever been charged before was maybe 75 cents each.

The shumai, or pork dumplings, were mushy and overly salted. The filling separated too easily from the wrapper.

The har gow, or shrimp dumplings, tasted all right, but the shrimp had no “bounce.”

The mystery meat (probably pork) wrapped in bean curd was, again, overly salted.

We only got two pieces of daikon cake, when we were used to getting triple that volume. Again, it was mushy and not pan-fried until crispy on at least one side. The girl, who wasn’t Asian, who served it to us gave us what she called “sweet sauce” (hoisin) and chili sauce, and said we can try both. How about some XO sauce instead?

The foulest-tasting dish we had was the cha siu bao, or BBQ pork buns.  The consistency of the meat was like that of beans. The waitress had told us they were BBQ pork buns, but it could have been red bean buns for all we know. We couldn’t discern what it was because of the weird, unnatural chemical taste.

The worst – oh yes, the cha siu baos were not the worst – was this dish:

What they are are rice rolls with shrimp inside. We have had very good ones in Vancouver, but Lucky Bamboo’s comes nowhere near. The shrimp were overcooked and tough, and the rice rolls were starting to get hard, as they do when they’ve been cooled for too long. What made us angry was that there were only ONE shrimp per roll! And this dish cost $6!

The overall bill was just over $30.00. It used to cost us less than $10 per person for good dim sum. Lucky Bamboo has literally the worst dim sum I have ever had. It’s not worth the money nor the calories.