I’ve always enjoyed the idea of dim sum more than the reality.
For those who haven’t experienced dim sum yet, it’s a meal where servers bring around carts or trays covered in small plates of dumplings, buns, noodles, etc. It’s a great way to taste lots and lots of stuff and great for sharing.
(It’s not all-you-can-eat, btw. They mark down each little plate you grab and you’re charged at the end of the meal.)
In some cases, dim sum dishes were...ehn. Not bad, but not great.
Still, when my friends said, “Come have dim sum with us at Kwan’s Kitchen,” I was fully on board. Because I trust Kwan’s and I know the legacy of the restaurant, with chef Kwan coming from Fung’s Kitchen, where he made dim sum an absolute delight.
In the large and opulent restaurant on Memorial, dim sum has taken on a grander feeling. And maybe I’ve grown enough, in age and experience (and waistline, sadly), to better appreciate its charms. Or maybe Chef Kwan is just doing a better job with dim sum than the stuff I’ve previously eaten.
(For a review of Kwan’s non-dim sum offerings, click here.)
Because dim sum is a meal of lots of small portions, this review will be made up of small observations. Buckle up. This is going to go fast.
Pan-fried turnip cakes - It taste like buttery hash browns. Would grab again.
Pan-fried fish cakes - Crispy outside with lots of veggies inside for added crunch.
Stuffed fried jalapenos - The inside is shrimp and fish. The jalapeno flavor works, doesn’t have much heat, but the steamed seafood inside is a little chewy for my tastes.
Steamed spinach and chive dumplings - Fresh and oily, in a good way. Great texture, great flavors. Would grab again.
Coconut buns - My notes just say, “Best of all time.” So...would grab again.
Braised chicken feet - To each their own, I say, but this is not my own. Flavor’s good, but the texture is too gooey for me and the preponderance of tiny bones freaks me out a little.
Steamed beef crepes - Very. Bland.
Tofu skin cakes - It’s like chicken soup that congealed into a roll and I am Here. For. It. Very tasty. Would grab again.
Curry beef puffs - Crispy outside, very flaky, with a nice blend of soft, curry-tacular beef inside.
Tuna puffs - Ehn.
Singapore shrimp and beef noodles - Yes. Please. More. This reminds me of chow mei fun, which is like curry-fried noodles with every protein they have in the kitchen. The relative focus on beef and shrimp here doesn’t hurt my feelings at all. Would grab again.
Pineapple buns - My notes just say, “Holy crap. This.” That’s a would grab again, I’m guessing.
Deep-fried shrimp and pork dumplings - This is a no brainer. Would grab again.
Baked BBQ pork buns - The interplay between the sweet dough of the bun and the dark roast pork flavor is phenomenal. Would grab again.
Pot stickers - Always and forever. Yes.
Oh, and I didn’t know this code or I would have used it a lot more, but this is straight from the Kwan’s website:
“Show your appreciation. A traditional code of ‘thanks’ is to tap your index and middle fingers twice on the table, with the hand closest to your server. This is the dining equivalent of a bow of gratitude.”
There’s so much more on the rotation, but for some sure-fire hits, feel free to use the Must Have guide to hone in when the carts come rolling by.