The thought of dim sum brings to a mind a steaming spread of bite-sized options that best describes a perfect food trip! However, with so many places focused on offering this type of food, it’s always a treat to find one that takes yum cha seriously.
So the question is, “what makes dim sum good”?
In this day where manufactured dim sum dishes are widespread one can’t help but be hardliners for authenticity. We all know that dim sum is an enjoyable fare which not only brings gastronomic satisfaction, but a feast for the palate as well. This is the reason why it remains to be a growing market.
Unfortunately, as crowds swarm to these dim sum hotspots they are often left with much less than they expect. What may not be obvious when it leaves the kitchen becomes evident when it hits the mouth, especially for those who knows good dim sum by heart.
This can be seen in the quality of the wrapper, the juiciness of the shrimps, and how well the meat is cooked. With handmade dim sum becoming a lost art, it is really worth your penny when you do get the artisanal kind.
Taste may seem like a broad concept in contemplation of good dim sum, but let’s narrow down your expectations.
Paying through the nose is a sacrilege. Don’t simply settle for the waft and all that dramatic steaming baskets, rather take the experience in its entirety. Good dim sum is where the different items taste different and not just a derivation of flavour from dishes with similar main ingredients. In fact this is one of the major flaw that results in mediocre dim sum – it is when all the steamed dishes end up tasting similar to other steamed dishes on the menu.
Many also find it frustrating when one thing doesn’t really taste close to what they are made from. For instance, if you have shrimp in your dim sum it should taste like so because in some cases it doesn’t, and that is always an indication that ingredients are not fresh.
Overall, it’s how the balance of ingredients are achieved and ensuring the factors that create the right texture is well put in place.
There is a world of difference when a dish is made from fresh ingredients from those that are not. For example, when eating siew mai, the freshness of the pork elevates the dish as it balances with the shrimp in the mix. The pork in steamed spareribs will also give you a tenderness that just leave your mouth watering for more. The freshness of your shrimp will also be a defining factor for dishes like har gau. Even the freshness of the wrappers can say a lot about what you are getting.
Since Cantonese food has a limited repertoire of taste, part of what makes dim sum a homerun is the texture. It’s in the stickyness of the sticky rice, the sponginess of the steamed buns, or the resilience of shrimp dumplings. The variety of textures in different dim sum dishes is what makes the entire fare interesting and it is also a telling sign of the freshness of your meal.
The balance of the preparation methods also makes good dim sum. Techniques and the care that goes into steamed, fried, braised, or baked dishes, definitely gives the personality to the food. The bite sized proportions shouldn’t overwhelm your palate and appetite, leaving you with more room to try out a lot! As they say, the devil is in the details. You may not see the effort that goes into it, but good preparation will always reveal itself once it hits the mouth and fills the stomach.
A well prepared dim sum menu is one that achieves a delicate balance of everything. Certain shouldn’t overpower another, but rather compliment all the others in the mix. You don’t want your minced pork tasting like it’s sitting in piles of ginger, or your dumplings tasting like seasoning.
Since part of what makes a good dim sum is experience, it’s what you feel when you finish your meal that should seal the conclusion. Don’t simply settle for whatever tastes good, but rather, be genuinely interested in what food is intended to taste, feel and look.
Knowing if your dim sum experience is a good one is just like appreciating art or music. It’s about noticing the nuances in form, structure, and technique. Relishing in the details can take your experience from blah to woah! And when your dim sum restaurant takes these details and meld them well, then you are in for a good dim sum experience.
Take your craving for good dim sum to Tak Po. Allow us to give you the taste of real handmade dim sum in Singapore made from carefully chosen ingredients. Reserve your seats online today!
Photo Source: 123RF