Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dim Sum Heaven

Yum cha at Maxim'sI had less than two days to spend in Hong Kong, most of that time devoted to business. Sight-seeing was clearly not on the agenda this time, but I could not return without the yum cha experience of Hong Kong. Which is how I found myself at Maxim's on a Sunday morning, one of the most popular yum cha outlets in town. Arriving at 11 AM, we found outselves amongst a crowd of families, tourists and businessmen - all awaiting their turn for the city's primary gastronomic indulgence of tea and dim sum.

While most of the world uses the word dim sum, the entire dining experience is actually called yum cha, which involves drinking Chinese tea, dim sum dishes, soup and desserts. Maxim's is a culinary instition in Hong Kong having existed since the 1950s. The Beatles actually performed at their original restaurant in the 60s during a visit to the city. The Maxim's empire now has a variety of high-quality restaurants across the city. The one we were in today, the Maxim Palace in City Hall, is among their most popular.

Yum cha at Maxim's
Yum cha at Maxim's
Yum cha at Maxim'sSmartly dressed girls in embroidered pink uniforms gave us a number. Over the heads of the waiting people, I could the huge hall with its large windows overlooking the ubiquitous shorelines of Hong Kong. A large crystal chandelier cast a golden glow in the cavernous interiors crowded with happy families. It was only 50 minutes later that the girl called out our number; the appetizing smells wafting my way from the dim sum carts had already gotten me ravenously hungry and without much ado I settled down to dig in.

Yum cha at Maxim's
Yum cha at Maxim'sGleaming gold carts came by with a variety of fresh steamed, fried and baked delicacies. All we did was point and pick as we slurped up the little bundles of pure bliss. Among the twenty-odd dishes that passed my plate, I can't remember one that I didn't like! Simply amazing! Some had a crunch in the palate while others were slippery little devils. Yet others surprised with their combination of textures and flavors, but every one of them was piping hot and absolutely terrific.

Yum cha at Maxim's
Yum cha at Maxim's
Yum cha at Maxim's
Yum cha at Maxim's
Yum cha in Maxim'sI had selected an interesting warm drink made of crysanthimum, lemon and honey. This was very exotic and refreshing too. I also remember having a soup in-between.

Yum cha at Maxim'sFinally, we ended with a dessert of cocunut jelly cubes and more tea. While I was completely satiated after that yum cha meal, I know this is something I want to repeat with my family very soon.

Yum cha in Maxim's
Yum Cha in Maxim's
Late in the evening, I ventured out again to the harbour-front on the Kowloon side. As the skies darkened, the steel and glass towers began lighting up. It was a very pretty sight and it felt good just sitting on the shore-side, listening to the waves and seeing the Hong-Kong skyline come alive in neon splendor. I took the ferry back to Central and located a lovely, warm restaurant in the IFC tower. The Union Bar & Grill with its red brick walls and mahagony detailing looked inviting with its Xmas decorations.

Lamb Chops in Hong Kong
Union Bar & Grill in Hong Kong
Baked Potato Skins in Hong KongThe baked potato skins with cheese were nicely done and made for a good starter. The lamb chops I ordered were very tasty too. All in all, a great end of a quick visit to this historic port city of Asia.

PS: For some amazing dim sums in New Delhi, try this place.



Must have been a splendid gastronomical experience

Lakshmi said...

thats a lot on your plate :)

kyh said...

We have lots of dim sum restaurants here too. Yum cha is a must for my grandpa in the mornings. And the baked potato with cheese! Looks heavenly.

Shantanu said...

@Harekrishnaji: Certainly was!

@Lakshmi: :)

@kyh: Is yum cha common in parts of Malaysia too?

kyh said...

Yum cha is common in the urban areas, where most Chinese Malaysians dwell and make a living. :)

Shantanu said...

@kyh: Oh..ok. I guess this must be a common custom with Cantonese Chinese in other countries of Asia too.