For Vancouverites that are Chinese or Taiwanese, dim sum is like a separate food group for us. Dim sum is Cantonese, it literally means “snack,” something you have just a little of. With the many fantastic dim sum restaurants in Richmond, it’s basically inevitable that we eat dim sum frequently. Like weekly. If not more.
Some people may have Sunday dinner as their family meal, we have dim sum. This week we chose to go to Empire Seafood Restaurant. For people who have never had dim sum before, dim sum is like Chinese tapas, but we eat it for breakfast/lunch/brunch. Most dishes come in small plates, so it’s best to go with a group of people, so that you can try more dishes. Some dim sum dishes are larger like congee, fried rice, noodles and such.
The photos below are from two visits to the same restaurant. We aim to be dedicated, thorough reviewers, you know.
This is the Taro Root and Duck Pastry(front) and the Baked BBQ Pork Pastry(back). These are pretty standard dim sum dishes. The Taro Root & Duck Pastry is nice and crispy outside with creamy taro root paste and minced duck meat inside. The Baked BBQ Pork Pastry is a nice mix of sweet and savory, wrapped in flakey pastry. In the photo, you can also see the scissors cutting the pastry. Most of the time, the waiters will do the cutting so that the whole table can share, or if you’re like us…we came prepared!
This is the Pan Fried Turnip Cake. I highly recommend ordering this at Empire. They fry the turnip cakes Singapore-style, so it’s a little spicy and very fragrant. They also added the omelette strips on top, which is a pretty common feature of turnip cakes prepared in Singapore. However, in Singapore, the omelette is fried with the turnip cakes, so the eggs will coat the turnip cakes like batter. The turnip cakes also have bits of sausage and bacon in it, which makes them extra tasty!
Baked Tapioca Pudding. I confess, I basically finished this by myself. I love the buttery, short-bread like cookie crust on top, with the mango tapioca baked underneath with sweet taro paste…yum! The Tapioca pudding can also be made as is, with red bean paste or black sesame paste inside.
This is the Deep Fried Sesame Balls with Runny Salted Egg Yolk. The ball is purple because it’s made with purple glutinous rice. This is salty and sweet. The sesame makes a nice nutty crust and as you can see in the photo, the inside is nice and oozy. The salty egg yolk may look weird, but the egg yolk just adds a bit of savouriness to the balls. It’s essentially dessert.
The Steamed Rice Rolls with Chinese Donut is a very popular and standard dim sum dish. Empire’s version is pretty good. The Chinese Donut is essentially deep fried dough, which you can use either in the rice roll, or sometimes we soak them in congee or savory soy milk. The Chinese Donut in the rice roll was crunchy, not too chewy. Empire Seafood also added pork floss, which is different. This rice roll is best if you dip it in either seafood sauce or tahini sauce, or if you’re like me, I double-dip. Steamed rice rolls can also come in a variety of other filling like beef, scallop, mushroom and others.
The Crispy Seafood Roll is also a common dim sum dish. The roll has a nice crust outside and inside there are prawns, and fruits like pineapple and everything is smothered in mayonnaise. It sounds heavy but it actually just tastes sweet, creamy and a little crunchy.
Steamed chicken and sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves. This dish always comes in little steamed packages like this. The lotus leaves gives a nice clean fragrance, which goes well with the hearty chicken and sticky rice.
The steamed mushroom dumplings are fantastic. It tastes very woodsy and earthy. There is a mix of different kinds of mushrooms in each dumpling, with a strong shiitake mushroom taste. The dumpling skin is soft and clear and not too chewy, which is great.
Baked Chicken and Truffle Tart. I loved this one. We ordered it twice. The top is the same cookie-like shortbread crust. But inside, there is chicken and a small amount of black truffle, which makes the tart taste and smell like heaven. Very earthy and delicious, and coupled with the flaky tart crust, it’s quite indulgent. I’ll probably order it again if I go back.
This is the pan fried tiger prawns with eggplant. As you can see, this was a little spicy with strong flavors and a little sticky and sweet. The prawns were pretty easy to peel and the eggplant were tender and soaked up all the delicious spicy sauce.
This was a very long post, but I hope it was a nice introduction for people who have not had dim sum before. And I hope this will tempt you to give it a try. Remember, drink lots of tea while you eat, and be adventurous!