It's easy to become jaded by dim sum living in Hong Kong. Every corner you turn, dim sum is there for the taking so much so that either my palate is jaded or quality has generally suffered over the years. I no longer get excited (mind you, I used to be a dim sum freak) at the prospect of dim sum lunches or yum cha. To the point where dim sum lunches can be quite a chore these days.
But H is a dim sum fiend. And because it's her birthday, it's all whatever she wants. And so we decide to do upmarket dim sum at the revamped Mira Hotel and at the signature Chinese restaurant Cuisine Cuisine (their branch at IFC is a fave of mine!). We were certainly not disappointed.
Unusual dumplings filled with quick-fry egg whites interspersed with crab meat and conpoy were yummy. And the use of a cleverly designed syringe where you can neatly inject vinegar into the dumpling was ingenious. No fuss, no mess. And the vinegar lifted an already good dumpling to greater heights. Delish. If only other Xiao Long Pau shops will follow suit.
Osmanthus-laced honey eels were very well done. Oil-bathed but not soaked, capturing enough of the honey to not be cloying but tasty with hints of Osmanthus fragrance makes me give this an A. Many places offer this but as they say, execution is everything.
Yet another traditional dish of squid colloid with lots of sweet water chestnuts for crunch. But the secret to this dish, as an old birdie once said, is the use of bare hands rather than a machine to get real squid into colloid form. The right bite and texture is lost in a machine. And so it is with the belief that there are assembly lines of squid beaters in the kitchen whipping this up and so each order only has 3 pieces. I guess there is a certain maximum speed one can achieve only with bare hands.
Probably by far the most sinful but perfectly executed piece of dim sum of the afternoon. A traditional "wu-kok" (yam paste pastry) given a 21st century twist with a piece of foie gras adds to the smoothness and richness of the inside, while contrasting with a perfectly deep fried but light batter on the exterior. A wondrous combination of textures and tastes.
The crispy roast pork was crispy but your eyes light up as you sink into a piece of extremely tender pork topped with a suitable (small) layer of fat but topped with a fragrant crispy roof that is pure unadulterated skin. Gives the best a run for their money.
Not that it was disappointing - tasty enough - but because it was meant to be the signature, the abalone-sauced octupus fried rice was decent but failed to deliver a wow! after all the dim sum that had been served. But nice enough to round off the meal.
Desserts were ordinary - although we did enjoy the suitably sweet (ie. not cloyingly so) custard-filled Por Lor Paus. Soft paus stuffed with a slightly eggy custard and topped off with a cake-like crust like good old fashioned por lor paus.
Our other dessert of the chestnut soup with egg white was decent, with a good use of the seasonal chestnuts, such that enough of the fragrance came through. Quite a feat since the chestnut is such a subtle fruit. The egg white added some substance to the soup although the droplets were more like a meteor which fell in. A surprising faux pas.
Overall, a great place to take special guests or just to enjoy a quiet afternoon, away from the madding crowds. Especially since the food is every bit as inviting as they are innovative.
3/F, The Mira
118 Nathan Road
Tsim Sha Tsui