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 d├ęcor 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.


Dim T on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

"Char Sui" however, means just barbecue pork, and the correct name for buns is either buns or bao. While char sui bao are the most famous, it's not really correct at all to call buns simply char sui.

Chris Pople said...

Ah - I stand corrected. Thanks for the info, mortein. In my defense, I was just going on what Yauatcha called them.

Anonymous said...

I agree, I think Dim T is generally pretty good. I've always enjoyed it. It ain't haute cuisine, but it does usually hit the mark.

Anonymous said...

Not tried Dim T, appreciate the recomendation and will give it a go.

One query though, "excellent cocktails" at Ping Pong? Don't know many who are with you on that. "Very sweet and lacking in alcohol cocktails" in Ping Pong would be my take.

Chris Pople said...

Well they're perhaps more "unusual" than "excellent" but I've always really enjoyed them. Try the rhubarb and sake on next time you go.

Anonymous said...

I have been a dim sum addict for over 15 years, and Dim T does a very credible rendition. (Any of the Royal China restaurants would get my top recommendation).

The real shame of the dim sum story is that traditionally it is never served after 5pm so there are authentic chinese restaurants all over London that by sticking to tradition have missed out on offering dim sum to evening diners.

Final comment: head down to your local chinese supermarket and get some dim sum to prepare at home - you'd be surprised how easy it is.

Hollow Legs said...

Some dim sum is easy to prepare at home. I do find it strange to find dim sum being served now after 5pm, as it's usually eaten for lunch, but this isn't a bad thing.

I went to Dim T in Charlotte Street and had their noodles. It was good, but I found it strange how they straddled countries; chicken, wasabi and mushroom dim sum and red duck curry, for example.

Chris Pople said...

Yes I'm sure it's not even the least bit authentic, but that's what you get from a chain. I suppose the best you can say is that it's not anywhere near as bad as other chains, and very reasonably priced.

SuburbanGent said...

Great post, although I note it's a few years old now (I found you via Google!). I've just visited Dim t on London's Charlotte Street and loved the dim sum - but sadly the service was a bit lacking.