Dim Sum has been winning over the hearts and stomachs of London‘s food-conscious crowd for many years; in fact, the word ‘dim sum' translates to touching the heart in Chinese. Recently, we went on a behind-the-scenes look at the dim sum making process at the celestial culinary palace that is Park Chinois, created by Alan Yau, the restaurant entrepreneur with the Midas touch.
The decor of Park Chinois harks back to the glory days of 1930s Shanghai; think walking on to the film set of Moulin Rouge set in the Far East. This is a no-expense spared dining and entertainment experience, where the waiters are all in pristine white jackets and the house band effortlessly supports the jazz singer's sultry sounds.
What is even more surprising is how spacious and state-of-the-art their kitchens are, with dedicated sections to make their famous roast ducks and areas for the dim sum masters to perform their artistry.
We spent some time with one of their leading dim sum chefs, Kin Min How to learn how to make har gau and summer truffle baos. The little parcels of delight look deceptively easy to make, but Chef Kin has been training for over sixteen years including a long stint at Hakkasan.
Most of the hands-on work involved us preparing the dough for the dim sum, making sure it was in the right state, size and wrapping the ingredients around to make sure it was presented in a pleasing manner – suitable for a top Mayfair restaurant.
It was by no means an easy affair as even celebrated chefs like Sophie Michell and Gizzi Erskine, who were at the tutorial, grappled hard with the intricacies of dim sum preparation.
It was a relief when we were invited to the restaurant to sample the fruits of our labour along with what seemed like the whole of the dim sum menu. In spite of our amateurish prep work, the har gau was sensational, with the skin translucent and the bao was light and fluffy with just the right amount of earthy aromas from the truffles.
With Cantonese cuisine, a significant portion of the success is about the ingredients and at Park Chinois, they only use the absolute best, including items like Australian abalone, Hokkaido scallop and Alaskan crab. It was impossible to find fault in any of the dim sum we tasted, including a soupy Shanghai Siew long dumpling, a fluffy-tasting venison puff and an inventive pumpkin and pine nut dumpling.
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