Monday, 14 July 2008
Dim T, Victoria
You can see why people are talking about dim sum as the "new fast food". It's tasty, cheapish (as long as you're careful) and comes with a dose of far-eastern medicinal mysticism that is as exciting to Londoners in 2008 as burgers and French Fries must have been to a nation used to Spam and Bovril in the 60's. And like the "old" fast food, we are starting to see embryonic chains of dim sum restaurants open up, as I imagine it's quite easy to standardise the dining experience of steamed dumplings and sake. There is Ping Pong, with branches across the city and serving some excellent cocktails, and there is Dim T, comparably represented in London and with a few in carefully-selected middle-class enclaves elsewhere (Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells, you know the kind of places).
As I've said before on many occasions, I don't have any problems with chain restaurants at all as long as they're good. And Dim T stands up incredibly well considering some stellar competition in the dim sum field (Yauatcha, China Tang). The menu is refreshingly brief for a chain Asian restaurant, nothing too unusual but enough to keep most people happy, and indeed this is somewhere that knows its customers well, with "Healthy" salads and soups on offer amongst the fried rice and crispy duck. The only problem I had was that it occasionally seemed a bit too dumbed-down, with "Buns" instead of "Char Sui", but then this is a minor and pretty pedantic (even by my standards) complaint.
I was initially concerned when I asked for the duck dumplings that they were off, even though every other item containing duck on the menu was available. This suggests the dumplings had been made quite well in advance, but then maybe this is normal. Certainly it didn't seem to affect the standard of what did eventually arrive, as everything was at least good, sometimes excellent. My favourites were, after all, the Char Sui, big and fluffy and with nice spicy pig meat. The scallop and prawn dumplings were a strange lurid pink colour but tasted great, and also worth a mention were the spicy chicken parcels which went very well with the chilli sauce left on the table. The only thing you could pick fault with was that some of the dumplings seemed excessively 'sticky', suggesting perhaps slight overcooking, but who cares if you have to prize them out of the baskets with your fingers when they taste so good.
Add in the usual perfect service and the fact that this feast for two (including a portion of fried rice and edamame to start and a couple of alcoholic drinks) came to just over £16 each, including the 12.5%, and you have yourselves a quite wonderful evening out. The décor also deserves a special mention, all dark wood and spot lighting that wouldn't be out of place in a restaurant charging three times the price. Better toilets than Yauatcha, too.
So, another day, another 8/10. We're on a roll here at Cheese and Biscuits. Long may it continue.