So, who shouts “Dim Sum!” above the usual generic bellowing of “Pizza!”, “Indian!” “Shwarama!” when dinner decisions are being thrashed out between friends? You do? Well, of course, there’s always one well-travelled, cultured, perhaps slightly pretentious member of the group: “So ya, I was backpacking through the Guangdong province back in ‘91….”
Personally, I am pretty wet behind the ears when it comes to this particular culinary experience. I’ve only tried Dim Sum a couple of times before; once on a recent trip to Hong Kong and once by accident at a brunch. On both occasions I surrendered my chopsticks at the end of the meal with my taste buds sat very firmly on the fence. So, excited about giving my taste buds the opportunity to finally make up their minds, I headed to Hong Loong for the Dim Sum brunch at Sofitel on The Palm.
This Sofitel is a 100% five star hotel from every aspect – everything about it oozes quality, from the ornate woodcarvings decorating the walls to the comfy loungers aching for you to sink into them around the pool. The Saturday (yes, Saturday) five course unlimited Dim Sum brunch is AED 350 from 12.30pm – 3.30pm and includes house beverages plus pool and beach access.
The restaurant itself is impressive, modern and understated; a million miles away from my old local Chinese restaurant back in the UK, which looks like a storage unit for unwanted New Year’s decorations. The live-cooking station is of particular note, where you can watch the chefs prepare your little parcels of fun.
It’s all table service here, so, as myself and my date got comfy, our host talked us though the proceedings and our first course of steamed and slow poached Dim Sum was promptly served. A variety of neatly crafted dumplings arrived in steaming bamboo baskets, complete with a guided tour of the contents. Chopsticks at the ready, I tucked into Chicken Siew Mai, Har Kau Shrimp Dumplings and BBQ Chicken Buns, experimenting with various dips and sauces along the way. As you plough through the menu you mark a menu card with your favourites and they will bring you more of whatever tickled your taste buds – a brilliant idea!
Fried Dim Sum was next up for the tasting. The real star of the show here was their deep fried prawn toast. Delicious, light and crunchy -if I’d just been served one large plate of these I’d still have gone home happy. On the other hand, if you had served me a large plate of the pan fried radish cake and dried chicken floss with its slightly odd, squishy texture….not so much.
We moved on to their Chinese Barbeque specialties. The sweet and sticky BBQ honey chicken and the bite size Peking duck rolls are definitely worth getting your chops around, but a special shout-out has to go to the vegetarian goose rolls – yes, you read that correctly: vegetarian goose. Suitably baffled, I clarified from the host that this was actually made from bean curd/tofu because, truly, it could almost pass for chicken in texture and taste, and was delicious. By the time the noodle course arrived I was slightly struggling for room, but who am I to turn down some Hor Fun or a Vegetarian Hakka?! Diners choose between their favourite fried noodle dishes or noodle soups at this point, and while the Char Koay Teow beef was a little greasy, I highly recommend the Tom Yam noodle soup – a very tasty little bowl that packed a good spicy punch.To refresh your pallets and cool your tongue, the Mango pudding with coconut cream is just the ticket, slipping down rather well even after you think there couldn’t possibly be room for more.
So were we glad we shouted “Dim Sum”? Well… yes and no. It appears that my westernised and uncultured taste buds still have some developing to do, but for Dim Sum lovers this will surely be a resounding yes.
This seemed like the right moment to waddle to the pool for some contemplation with a side order of sunburn. If you’ve not beached on the Palm, here’s your chance to do it in style. With a full stomach and a satisfied grin you can lounge on a sunbed and take in views of The Atlantis, Burj Al Arab, the skyscrapers of the Marina and the impressive skyline of Downtown Dubai. From here, just relax and enjoy your Saturday afternoon.
For booking: Hong Loong