Dim sum is serious business in Los Angeles. With dozens of restaurants offering dozens of dumplings and other dim sum delights all around town, you need to know what to look for when seeking out the good stuff.
Just in case you’re dim on the concept of dim sum—it’s a Cantonese style of food that involves small bites presented in steamer tins, bamboo baskets, or small plates. The dishes themselves can be anything from shrimp dumplings to chicken feet to turnip cakes. Commonly the dim sum arrives to the table on a rolling steam cart from which the customer can pick the desired items; although there is another style of dim sum that allows guests to check off selections on a form thereby ensuring that the food is made to order.
One of the poshest establishments in L.A. sealing up dim sum is Hakkasan in Beverly Hills. Some of the exquisite small bites you can expect at Hakkasan may be items like an egg yolk squid roll encased in a crispy, egg noodle cocoon topped with orange tobiko flying fish roe, or the luxurious lobster dumpling crowned with a rare Tsar Imperial caviar from Petrossian.
Hakkasan’s Michelin-starred chef Ho Chee Boon shared with me some helpful tips for identifying high quality dim sum gathered from his dim sum chef Kwok Keung Ho, who has clocked more than 40 years of dim sum making experience from Singapore to Hong Kong, home of the best dim sum in the known world.
Chef Ho suggests that you scrutinize three of the most popular dim sum items to determine how good the restaurant is. Those items are: har gau, shumai, and cha siu bao.
Har gau, shrimp dumpling
“The skin of the har gau needs to be clear, and the folds need to be clean and pretty. The more folds the better skill and quality. Average restaurants will have 3 to 5 folds. Mine have 13 or more.”
Shumai, pork dumpling
“The texture of the dumpling should be elastic.”
Cha siu bao, barbecue pork bun
“The bun needs to be very soft. The top of the cha siu bao should be slightly open, and the opening has to contain exactly three cracks, not two, not four.”
Furthermore, chef Ho explains that each dim sum dish challenges a different cooking skill: har gau for folding, shumai for perfecting filling texture, and cha siu bao for the bun. Another unique aspect about Hakkasan’s dim sum is that it is offered at night whereas most dim sum service elsewhere happens during brunch hours. You can also nibble on Hakkasan’s dim sum at its newly expanded lounge.
Har gau, cocktails, and nightlife—dim sum just got more awesome.
Hakkasan, 233 N. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-888-8661