With Chinese New Year just around the corner (February 5, in case you were wondering) I thought it was only right to assemble a list of places where you can enjoy one of the best things about Chinese food – dim sum. Dim sum, which aptly translates to ‘touch the heart’, refers to small plates or serves of steamed, baked or fried foods — the most delicious of which, for me, are the dumplings. I’ve sampled as many of these baskets of goodness as I could in Dublin (it is the Year of the Pig after all), and here are my favourites…
Mr Dinh, 101 – 102 Capel Street, Dublin 1
Mr Dinh has all the right looks on the outside for me — glistening roast duck hanging in the window and a photographed dim sum menu plastered on the front. A menu offering Japanese, Hong Kong, Malaysian and Thai Cuisine can be a bit overwhelming but rest assured; everything here is good and made from scratch in-house. An enticing dim sum menu features all the classics and favourites but as the master (dim sum master!) only works until 5 pm, be sure to plan an early visit to get stuck into these.
Lucky Tortoise, 8 Aungier St, Dublin 2
After popping up in various venues around town, dim sum doyens Lucky Tortoise have finally set up a permanent home on Aungier Street. They offer a unique take on Asian eating in Dublin, far removed from neon bright sauces and chicken balls. A mix of modern dim sum, made from scratch and served family style might include black pudding soup dumplings or Irish pork and red cabbage siu mai. Go all out and order the whole menu for €20 and there’ll be no arguing when the bill splitting comes.
Ka Shing, 12A Wicklow Street, Dublin 2
Ka Shing is your classic old-school Irish Chinese — all elaborate interiors and massive menus but don’t let that put you off. They also do one of the most extensive dim sum menus in town. There are photos, so you can just pick, point and wait for piles of steaming bamboo to arrive holding tasty parcels of deliciousness. Shrimp Har Gow, pork Sui Mai, pork ribs and bao are all worth trying. Add plenty of chilli sauce and wash it down with lots of green tea.
The Vintage Teapot, 8 Cathedral Street, Dublin 1
Across the road from the much-lauded M&L Chinese (who also do some great dumplings), you’ll find their sister venue The Vintage Teapot. Wade through the menu of cakes, quiches and standard lunch options to find Chinese teas and dim sum. It’s a short menu but has exactly what you want; steamed shrimp ha-kao and siu-mai, which are delicate dim-sum with smooth transparent pastry and just the right amount of bite. They also have Guo Tie, pan-fried dumplings with chicken, pork or vegetables. The star of the tea menu is the Pu’er, an aged earthy tea that’s fermented in its production, meaning it’s a powerhouse of health. And it happens to go down a treat with a few steaming baskets of dumplings.
Bowls, 56 Marlborough Street, Dublin 1
You’ll find plenty of dim sum around Parnell Street, especially at the shiny new spot Bowls. Chef Kwanghi Chan offers up plenty of dim sum dishes and daily specials. For dumplings, choose from pork and chive pot stickers, pork and prawn siu mai and baked char sui bao. There’s a small bowls section of umami packed choices like crispy wok-fried prawns with XO sauce, Korean kimchi and wakame seaweed. There are even some sweet dumplings — Tang Yuan, black sesame puree in rice ravioli. And whatever you order, make sure to leave space for the irresistible Macau style egg tarts.
Bao House, 34 Aungier Street, Dublin 2
One of my favourite types of dim sum has to be bao; a sort of Taiwanese version of a hamburger. So to have a whole place dedicated to them is a dream. Head here for a fun feed of these soft, steamed bread-like buns, stuffed with tender pork belly, crispy duck, grilled chicken or tofu. They also do rice bowls, curries and other specials — all wonderfully comforting Asian street food.
Mak, Ranelagh, Dublin 6 & Zozimus Bar, Dublin 2
Mak has been dishing out tasty baskets of dim sum in Ranelagh since 2012 and more recently, they’ve joined forces with Zozimus just off Grafton Street, serving their Mak menu alongside a long list of great cocktails. Both are more of a fancy approach to devouring dim sum than usual, but don’t worry — they still deliver the goods. Their menu covers plenty of the favourites – steamed prawn har gau, king prawn with bamboo shoots in a translucent pastry, spicy chicken potstickers with a crispy base and they do some good tofu options.