You all know of my quest for the perfect dumpling, right? Well, the perfect yum cha, or dim sum, at any rate.
What I did not expect was to find the perfect little parcels wrapped up in a somewhat dingy little place in Ipswich.
Chef Min Lee Chen/Man Lok Chan (depending on the Cantonese or Mandarin spelling) has a past that is dedicated to good yum Cha. Once the lead chef of ‘King of Kings’, back in it’s heyday, Chef Chen/Chan took to his own kitchen where he has been handrolling, steaming and supplying numerous Brisbane restaurants with yum cha and dumplings for a number of years. If you have eaten at any of the yum cha houses in Brisbane, chances are you have eaten Chen/Chan’s yum cha. But be warned, he tells me he only supplies to ‘good’ yum cha houses.
Chef Chen/Chan read off a repertoire of eating houses I had frequented in the past. I lamented on the decline of quality in many of those house. “No good”, he tells us via the serving staff, who translates. “New owner. Not want to spend money”. He shrug. “My yum cha best, but have to pay!”
He does not believe in the cart delivery system. He tells us Yum Cha should be served fresh and hot, just steamed. He tells us food on trolleys can sit four hours, circling around the air and losing the special blend of flavours that come from fresh, hand rolled dumplings. He also doesn’t believe the taste should be spoiled by drowning the dumplings in soy or chilli sauce, so if you do like the saucy addition you will have to ask. Be prepared to hear why you should try your dumplings pure though! Order your dumplings and they will brought out to you as they are made.
We lunched on recommendations which included prawn and coriander rolls (my favourite of the day); crispy beans, BBQ Pork Buns; chicken chive dumplings; soup dumplings (heaven); Enoki and prawn; and relented to one deep fried offering which turned out to be the most amazing pork concoction I have ever tasted.
All dumplings were hand made on the premises, all were stuffed full of filling and the pork buns were so full of meat I had to reconsider my former opinion of them being a ‘so so’ treat – they were great. We finished off with hot flaky just baked custard tarts – he requests you order these at the beginning of the meal so he can have them fresh baked when you finish.
Heaven. Certainly up there with some of the best dumplings I have had.
The prices were between 5 and 6 dollars per plate, the serving sizes were very good and I will be back for sure.
Hong Kong Cuisine is tucked away behind a dusty façade in Brisbane Street. Dust it off, it’s worth a visit.