This Cantonese restaurant was awarded two stars in the 2018 Michelin guide. It has traditionally been a no-reservation restaurant, but has just introduced the option to book for quiet times such as early lunch and early dinner. It has a large, smartly decorated ground floor dining room, a private room behind that, and three further private dining rooms upstairs. It is noted amongst the Chinese community for its low prices relative to other, similar restaurants.
We tried a number of dishes, a mixture of dim sum and a la carte dishes from the evening menu. Scallops were stir fried with mushrooms, beans, bell peppers and snow peas. The scallops themselves were nicely cooked, although they did not have much in the way of inherent sweetness. The vegetables were good though, especially the snow peas, which had good flavour and were precisely cooked (14/20). Wok-fried beef was rather odd. The meat seemed to have been marinated at length before being fried, and the result was that the slices of beef had a very soft texture that was not very appealing: it also tasted bland. If you tried a piece blind you might almost think it was a slightly overcooked mushroom rather than a slice of meat. One of my Chinese dining companions told me that this style of preparation was something he had encountered before, but that it went out of fashion decades ago. I can see why (10/20).
The classic har gao prawn dumplings were much better. These were neatly folded, the casing quite delicate, the prawns nicely cooked (14/20). Of the barbecue dishes that we tried, rose pork was pleasant but the char sui pork was just a touch soft in texture, though it was still pleasant enough (13/20), Glutinous rice wrapped in lotus leaf is another classic dim sum dish, and the version here was good, with the rice evenly cooked through. In some places the rice can be clumpy and hard in places, but not here, though the filling of pork, bamboo shoot and dried shrimp was a bit lacking in flavour (13/20).
The classic shu mai dim sum dumplings were very good, with a nice filling of prawns and pork (14 20). Stir-fried rice was pleasant, and again the vegetables within the heap of rice were nicely cooked (13/20). Deep fried prawns were also fine, their crisp coating non greasy, the prawns inside properly cooked (13/20). The best dish was the “pineapple char sui bao”. This dish resembles a long established Chinese sweet pastry that has a (distant) resemblance to a pineapple when baked. Here, instead of a sweet filling, there was char sui pork. This was lovely, the filling having good texture and flavour, the casing having excellent, lightly crisp, texture (15/20).
Service was very good, despite this being a packed service even at a very early lunch. Our waitress was helpful and flexible e.g. changing the number of dumplings from the default number so we could each have one, rather than the four of us having to divide up three dumplings. Oddly, a lot of places seem reluctant to make this simple adjustment. We had plenty of food to eat and unlimited jasmine tea, but the bill was a remarkably low CNY 136 (£15) each. If you came for dinner and ordered beer rather than tea I suppose you could drag the bill up to £25 more or more per person, but this is certainly a very cheap place. If you leave price aside then the food is of good rather than remarkable quality, but the value for money is the main appeal. Why on earth Michelin would choose to grant it a star, never mind two, was a mystery both to me and my exceptionally well travelled Chinese dining companions, but if you leave that aside then the restaurant is a pleasant place offering very good value.
I remember the ‘soft beef’ from Chinese takeaways here in the UK during the 80’s , a very strange eating experience, it was a bit like eating a meat/beef looking chunk of that pink buddle gum sold in corner shops and news agents at the time. It was soft and springie in the mouth, very much like an other more pleasant experience which I won’t go in to.