Yauatcha, Kai and Hakkasan are the three Chinese restaurants which currently hold 1 Michelin star in London. They are in my good book, however, they are no way as charming (and cheap!) as One Dim Sum 一點心- a tiny little dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong, which recently received a Michelin star in Hong Kong & Macau’s Michelin guide.
Photo above shows the shop front of One Dim Sum- The bright red Michelin sticker is dwarfed by laminated signs in Chinese stating the that the toilet is for the use of customers only and that they are recruiting waiters. (!) Possibly the only restaurant in the world where they draw more attention to toilet usage than the Michelin star award. Hmm, it shows an interesting sense of priority.
What truly is astonishing was the value. A meal for 3 people, that left us all more than comfortably full, for HK$160 (£12.60)! That was under £4.20 per head for a meal!!
Proudly on display was also a laminated colour photocopy of an interview with a Japanese magazine about their signature dish- Chinese rice cannelloni 布拉腸, which was prepared the traditional way, ie. by hand pulling with plain cloth. (Photo above. The texture was amazingly smooth by the way)
There is no wine list but tea is served, which only cost HK$2 (£0.15) a head. We placed our order by filling in a order form with the pencil provided, just like we do in most modern Hong Kong dim sum restaurants. We put a tick beside the dishes we would like to order and gave it to the waiter.
I like the menu, which also doubles as a placemat. (photo below) Those who can not read Chinese need not worry as the menu is written in English as well. They can order by matching the numbers on the menu to that of the order form. The price ranges from HK$25 (£2) to HK$10 (£0.80), with most expensive dish being ginger chicken feet 沙薑雞腳. (We had to try it, of course!)
Salted fished and pork on rice 咸魚肉片飯
The pork was tender and the salted fish had a great aroma. Even though the salted fish was dried, it was moist and did not feel dry. The ginger and the soya sauce was a great complement. This dish really took us back to our childhood. It tasted just like what we had when we were little.
Ma Lai Go (Chinese sponge cake) cooked with old receipe 古法馬拉糕
For dim sum, we usually do not mind mixing sweet with savoury dishes. This Ma Lai Go was delicious! It was soft, sweet, and richer than normal, thanks to their use of raw sugar. The ‘Modern’ recipe usually involves steaming a huge Ma Lai Go in a big bamboo steamer and cutting into pieces out for each order. This sometimes means that when you get your piece, it may no longer be steamy and moist. With the old recipe, each Ma Lai Go was steamed indvidually in small bamboo steamers. Each piece was only cooked to order. It was a popular dish- on the day we went nearly all tables ordered one! It was not hard to figure out why- it was simple but outstanding. Its flavour and memory will stay with us for a very long time.
Thousand year (century) old egg with pork in congee 皮蛋瘦肉粥 (photo below) was good with lots of meat and egg pieces in side. It complemented very well with the rice cannelloni (mentioned above) and the deep fried dough wrapped in rice cannelloni 炸兩 (photo below). The deep fried dough was crispy but not too hard- this was a good sign to show that it was freshly made, not reheated by deep frying.
Ginger chicken feet 沙薑雞腳 was the most expensive dish in the restaurant but unfortunately it was also the most disappointing one. I am a fan of chicken feet and love ginger sauce. But the ginger marinade just tasted a bit raw, weird.
There were only 3 in our party, and since One Dim Sum is so small, they like to make full use of the room. So with one seat spare on our table, the waitress squeezed on one more diner. We chatted with him while we ate. The great thing about Hong Kong is that everyone is a foodie. The guy was a regular at One Dim Sum before it was awarded its Michelin star. He was in the area making a delivery and he took the opportunity to grab a quick lunch there. He thinks that what makes One Dim Sum is that they cook the dishes the traditional way. We could not agree more. It sounds simple and obvious but this is something that disappears fast in any fast moving city, where time is money. 10 years ago, One Dim Sum might not be special as most restaurants cooked like that anyway. But these days, when others were trying to cut corners to save time (thus money), One Dim Sum’s principle makes it special.
The classic dishes we tried (and thought were well executed) were Siu Mai 蟹肉墝賣(prawn and crab meat dumpling)
A surprising delight was the Cha siu chan bao 义燒餐包(Cafe style cha siu bao barbecue bun). It was delicious! The pork was in a rich sauce inside the baked bun. Slightly larger than bite, it was a nice change to have buns in cafe style, i.e. a baked rather than steamed.
For dessert, we had deep fried dumpling with black sesame filling 擂沙湯丸 It was fantastic! I would have put the whole dumpling in and let it ‘burst’ in my mouth had I not needed to take a photo to show you what it was like inside. The black seasame paste had a rich flavour and was very aromatic. I could feel the texture of the ground sesame in the mouth!
Unlike most 1 Michelin Stared restaurant, One Dim Sum has no table reservation service. Customers who would like to sample their yummy dishes would have to come and wait. In a way, it is ideal for people paying a flying visit to Hong Kong as all you need to do is to be patient. There was no maitre d’ to greet you- we just talked to the lady at the cashier and asked for a ticket.
When it is your turn the waiter will shout out your name. We went on a weekday for a lunch and the wait was 45 minutes. The wait for a single person is only about 5 minutes. Compared to getting into other famous Michelin starred restaurants, merely queueing for 45 minutes was a refreshing change. We waited 2 months to eat at the Fat Duck!