I absolutely love dim sum; it is one of my favourite eating experiences. Dim sum is the Chinese equivalent of brunch with many different tapas-like dishes that are served in mini bamboo steamer baskets. Dim sum staples include steamed dumplings, BBQ pork buns, sticky rice, and spring rolls. All are delicious and meant for sharing.
Happily for me, there are dozens of dim sum places in Vancouver. We frequent Chongqing on Broadway and Sun Sui Wah on Main Street. Both serve excellent dim sum and Chongqing in particular has extremely attractive prices, each steamed basket is $3.25. We go about once per month, have a feast, which rarely costs more than $30 (incl. tip) for two.
I stumbled upon an article in Tourism Vancouver’s blog, Inside Vancouver, last week and discovered that a newish Chinese restaurant in Yaletown was serving dim sum. This immediately caught my eye. I am borderline fanatic about dim sum and had to try it ASAP.
Chinois is located at 1035 Mainland Street; it’s a ‘trendy/modern’ Chinese restaurant, like Wild Rice & Bao Bei, and I doubt the owner is Chinese. As we walked in the first thing I noticed was the lack of customers, I think there was one other table. Not a great sign. We ordered 6 dishes: Shu mai, BBQ pork buns, potstickers, steamed prawn dumplings, prawn toast and prawn spring rolls.
Overall the food was not very good. The shu mai was really small compared to other places and just did not taste like authentic Chinese.
At first glance the colour of the sweet BBQ pork filling in the pork buns looked grey rather than the usual pink, but the meat was tasty.
The potstickers were described as ‘twice fried’. While they did have a flavorful sweet sauce, the filling was bland and again they were on the small side.
The steamed prawn dumplings were ok, but just did not taste as good as they usually do in a ‘real’ Chinese restaurant.
Prawn toast is rarely found in most local dim sum restaurants; however it’s a dish I used to eat frequently in Scottish Chinese restaurants and something I love. It was probably the highlight of the meal, although far too greasy for my liking which made it hard to finish.
Finally the prawn spring rolls were also swimming in grease and contained no vegetables whatsoever. We couldn’t finish them either.
The bill came to $50, which is far too expensive for 6 dim sum items! This would have cost $19.50 at Chongqing where the portions are decent and taste delicious.
Sorry Chinois of Yaletown but your dim sum is not authentic, too expensive and not worth it. I won’t be back!