Tag Archives: dim sum

Naturally Chinese, Surbiton 

Ahhh, the food I grew up surrounded by, I’m not sure if Chinese food is my out and out favourite, but it’s definitely up there! The idea of feasting on dim sum all day long, grazing on steamed dumplings and fried stuff fills me with joy, literally!! But for my husband that would probably sound like one his worst nightmares, he enjoys the food but as Chinese restaurant menus go, let’s face it they’re usually laden with gluten which he has an intolerance too. 

A couple of months ago we were scouting out the Kingston and Surbiton areas, basically trying to get our bearings as possible places to set up home. On our way round we drove passed Naturally Chinese, within seconds I got onto the web for a spot of research. Brilliant, a restaurant producing authentic dishes without a hint of MSG, with its own gluten free menu, and not the kind with just a few items to make it look like an afterthought. 

The idea was mentioned and a table for lunch booked after my husband was pleasantly surprised at the variety on the GF menu! A gorgeous Saturday it was yesterday and we hopped onto the train from the flat into Surbiton, spending a little time to have a wander around the town. The restaurant is between 5-10 minutes from the train station, depending how speedy a walker you are and located on the corner of Brighton Road. Benefitting from large windows on two sides it’s a light and airy place, with a more intimate dining area to the side. 

A pot of green tea was quickly ordered, something I’d never have drunk by choice as a child, in fact I would wait to the last minute to drink it at the end of yum cha with my family, just so it wouldn’t be refilled!!   

  

The dim sum menu had all the usual classics on it, so I was in my element and picked four dishes, selecting them on a tick sheet. The other half had plenty of choice on the GF menu and even I was a bit jealous when he went for sliced belly pork!

I couldn’t fault the dim sum, I could’ve told myself off though as I wish I’d ordered more!! All made and cooked to perfection, especially the handmade dumplings which were on point! The cheung fun rolls were delicate and much thinner and less heavy than some I’ve had recently, I find that sometimes char siu pork can be overly sweet, but this had been made with a far more delicate touch.  

Deep fried taro and minced pork croquettes (wu gok)
Char siu pork rice noodle rolls (cheung fun)

Steamed prawn dumplings (ha gau)
Shanghai pork dumplings – minced pork, ginger and spring onions in superior soup (XLB)

The other half had ordered some cuttlefish and coriander cakes which looked awesome and I’ve been informed tasted equally as good. Golden and crisp on the outside, whilst being juicy and meaty on the inside making it a fantastic starter before the star of the show that was the pork belly!! Enough for two really, in our family it would normally be amongst a whole manor of sharing dishes, where you just help yourself; fill a bowl with rice and top it with the things you want. I managed to snaffle a couple of pieces and was impressed! The meat was juicy and its skin crisp, but not only that it wasn’t too salty, even my parents who know a thing or two about cooking belly pork would approve I reckon.

Cuttlefish and coriander cakes  
Crispy skin pork belly with egg fried rice

Service was quick, dishes came out in good time, in particular the dim sum. Lots of menu choice and more importantly for us no more worries when it comes to gluten intolerances. Naturally Chinese is a definite winner, I’m looking forward to my next visit!!

Naturally Chinese

59-63 Brighton Road

Surbiton

Surrey

KT6 5LR

Tel. 020 8399 5533

http://www.naturallychineserestaurant.co.uk

Naturally Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

A San Francisco Food Odyssey photoblog

When my friend and I decided to go to San Francisco at the start of the school summer holidays, apart from all the things I wanted to see and do, it was all about the things I wanted to eat. I knew that the place was well known for the quality of it’s food, whether it be Michelin starred or street food so I had done plenty of research on how we could fill our faces, time dependent obviously!!! I’d done literally weeks of reading up on blogs/reviews/menus, even annotating our map so we could hopefully find them on our way round. We had seven days to eat/see/do as much as we could. For each district there are too many wonderful places to try out, I so wish I could’ve stayed there for a lot longer. 

Here’s a selection of photos from my food diary, you’ll see tasty wun tun soup and dim sum in Chinatown, empanada and a proper mahoosive Mission burrito in the Mission district, delicious street food ices at Golden Gate Park, beautiful seafood in Sausolito and yummy pasta from a cutsie bar/counter service restaurant Sweet Woodruff (Hayes Valley/Tenderloin).

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This is just a small selection of the foodie delights we encountered during our week in San Francisco, so expect more to come in the form of street food, coffee, sweet treats, Sunday brunch, food markets and Michelin-starred eats.

Have you been to San Francisco, what did you make of the food scene there? Any notable favourites?

Dim Sum reward @ Oriental City, Leeds

Yes, I may be on my school summer holidays, but I’d like to think I’m not one to take things easy, I always like to fill my days doing fun things. One not so fun that I’m doing at the moment is training for my first marathon, the Yorkshire Marathon in October. I’ve been running for a couple of years now and have some half marathons and 10K’s under my belt. Yesterday my target was to run 17 miles for the first time, it was a hard slog and by the end of it I was absolutely knackered, my right ankle ached and I was starving. When I’m lacking energy I always tend to want food that I’m comfortable with, home comforts really. It was nearly lunch time so I thought to myself that lunch should be tasty and filling. I wanted Chinese as that’s what I think of as comfort food for me.

Instead of going to my usual restaurant Maxi’s off Kirkstall Road, I decided to go to Oriental City off Cross  Stamford Street. The Oriental City Restaurant is part of the Sing-Ying Group which imports anything and everything oriental throughout the North of England. They say their chefs from Hong Kong have over 40 years of experience in the kitchens producing their Cantonese and Sichuan dishes.

The restaurant opened in 2007 but I’d never heard of the place until I’d read something a month ago, I used my sat-nav to find my way there as I probably would’ve have got lost in Sheepscar otherwise. From the road you would never really guess it’s there as the building it’s in doubles as a Chinese supermarket, arguably the largest in Leeds.

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The car park is very small and I was very lucky that I managed to squeeze my tiny car in a small space. The restaurant is found on the first floor and on entering it I saw a large dimly-lit room, with it’s black tiled ceiling and lots of the customary large round tables with the rotating tops for big groups. Staff were friendly and efficient, as always seems to be the case in Chinese restaurants. I’d asked for the dim sum menu and I was quickly shown a table and given a pen and dim sum tick-sheet, like the ones you would get in Hong-Kong so I could choose exactly what I wanted.

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The good/bad thing about these tick-sheets is you can really go over board on your order. A large table in front of me (6 adults and 4 children) had ordered vast amounts from the lunch menu and stacks of steamed dim sum as well, far too much food. I can’t really say much because as usual my eyes were much bigger than my belly and I chose 4 items off the menu myself!! I knew I’d have no chance of eating it all, but I’m not afraid to take some goodies in a doggy-bag back home.

Being A’level results day there were quite a few large parties (all Chinese) also dining, so there was a busy atmosphere in the restaurant. With all of my dishes being steamed they normally take at least 10 minutes before they are ready, so I settled down to drinking some Chinese tea.

Beef cheung fun - rice rolls filled with beef
Beef cheung fun – rice rolls filled with beef
Sui mai - steamed pork and prawn dumplings
Sui mai – steamed pork and prawn dumplings
Lo mai gai - steamed glutinous rice in lotus leaves
Lo mai gai – steamed glutinous rice in lotus leaves
Steamed glutinous rice with pork, chicken and prawn
Steamed glutinous rice with pork, chicken and prawn
 
Ha gau - steamed prawn dumplings
Ha gau – steamed prawn dumplings

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The first dishes to arrive where the ha gau, sui mai and lo mai gai, brought into the traditional bamboo steamers that they would have been cooked in. All piping hot and looked great. I went for the ha gau and sui first as they tend to cool down the quickest. The ha gau are made with rice flour and filled with a mixture of prawns and bamboo shoots. When perfectly cooked the rice flour casing should be translucent and thin enough so the delicate pink of the prawn shows through. These were lovely, the wrappers were really thin and the prawn was sweet. The sui mai are made with a casing very similar to wonton wrappers, they may even be wonton wrappers filled with a pork and prawn mix, Chinese mushrooms topped with a small piece of carrot. These were lovely and meaty, the chinese mushrooms giving a really tasty woody flavour to them. Usually there’s a seasoning of rice wine/soy sauce mix which give the filling a mild salty flavour. The rice wine tempering the saltiness of the soy. The lo mai gai were really yummy, lotus leaves filled with sticky, glutinous rice, chicken, pork, chinese mushroom and shrimps. It’s strange how tastes change as you get older as these weren’t really favourite of mine as a child, I remember my father used to love ordering these on Sundays. But now I really like them. The meat is lovely and tender, full of flavour from the mushrooms and shrimps. A great combination. Last but by no means least were the beef cheung fun, these are streamed rice noodle rolls which can be plain or filled with a variety of ingredients (shrimp, king prawn, beef, char sui), I’d gone for the beef variety. When they arrived I noticed the rice noodle wasn’t as thin as I would normally like it, so when cooked you can see the filling inside. The flavour of this dish comes from the filling and the sweet soy sauce which is poured over the top. The filling was tasty but I would say that I’ve had better cheung fun elsewhere. Nevertheless I’d had a tasty lunch, I could only manage to eat two thirds and could not fit another thing in my belly. Realising I was defeated I asked for some takeaway boxes to pack away the rest of my meal which I couldn’t finish.

Service was attentive enough, even though it was fairly busy with the larger tables requiring attention, mainly because of the number of dishes that were being ordered.

The total cost of my lunch was £14.40 (without service charge), considering I had enough to take away with me shows thats its really good value for money. I’d recommend the place and next time would like to try it out on a busy Saturday night and go for dishes from the full menu.

Food: Tasty and filling, mostly very good, cheung fun could be better.

Value for money: Good, lots of food for not much money! They offer a great deal for business lunch (3 courses for £5.80)

Atmosphere: Good, fairly busy with lots of chat from large groups of families.

Service: Efficient when needed.


Oriental City on Urbanspoon

Friday Dim Sum @ Maxis.

I haven’t been able to do a post recently as I’ve been a little under the weather, but now I’m on the mend I thought Friday after work deserved a meal from the ethnic homeland.

My favourite Chinese restaurant in Leeds was the well loved, family-run Lucky Dragon just off Vicar Lane and Eastgate. I’d had many a great meal there, then I remember with much clarity we went on a Friday night. I already knew what I was going to order and when we got to the door it had a message on it saying it had closed indefinitely with immediate effect. I was absolutely gutted and must have bored my husband with my ramblings on and on about it. I later found out that it had closed due to the plans for the Eastgate development, those plans are still to be realised.

So we started going to another Chinese restaurant called Maxis, which is also very well known in the city. A lot of the staff from the Lucky Dragon moved here. This one is located between Burley Road and Kirkstall and on the same site as Napoleon’s Casino. IMG_2782

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Chinese restaurant menus are always very comprehensive and have every combination you could imagine. The menu is divided into dim sum (served daily 12 – 6pm), vegetarian soups, vegetarian starters and main course. Next come the non-vegetarian dishes of soups, appetisers, aromatic crispy duck, sizzling dishes and a whole host of dishes for different meats, e.g. duck, chicken, beef and pork, bird’s nest, curry, seafood and sweet and sour. Lastly are the chow mein, fried rice, side dishes and speciality dishes. For those wanting a good mix of dishes there are also the set meals and banquets to cater from couples to large parties.

I had gone before the 6pm deadline for dim sum, which is a bit of a favourite of mine, all Chinese people have been brought up having ‘Yum cha’ which means ‘drinking tea’, where families normally gather together in the morning and/or afternoon together for dim sum. We used to do this on Sunday afternoon’s in Cardiff’s chinatown @ the Riverside restaurant. I immediately ordered a pot of chinese tea, I remember that as a young child I wasn’t really a fan of the tea and would always let it go completely cold before I drank, just to prolong me having to drink it. Now it’s tends to be the drink of choice for me, just because it’s so good at cleansing the palate.

They have an extensive dim sum menu with little pictures so you can see what you are choosing. I have a number of favourites but decided on two – ha gau (prawn dumplings) and prawn cheung fun (beef in rice noodle rolls) and then dry fried beef with ho fun noodles from the speciality dishes.

Just a small selection of the dim sum on offer.
Just a small selection of the dim sum on offer

The ha gau and prawn cheung fun are steamed, so it can take 10-15 minutes to cook properly. When they arrived the ha gau are brought in their bamboo steamer. For those who are unfamiliar with ha gau, they are made with wheat starch and the skill in making these is shown by the number of pleats the chef can put when making the little pouches. It’s then filled with prawn and bamboo shoots and steamed until the wrapper is translucent. Perfectly cooked once the prawn turns pink which should be seen faintly through the very thin wrapper. I have always loved these since I was a child and this has not changed, the little morsels in my opinion are gems of dim sum. Just the right size for a mouthful of dim sum goodness. The prawn lovely and sweet with a little crunch from the chopped bamboo shoots. The rice flour wrapper sticky and doesn’t have much flavour on it’s own, but with a little dip into Kikkoman soy sauce or chilli oil cannot be bettered.

Ha gau
Ha gau

The prawn cheung fun are also a very traditional example of dim sum. Made from a mixture of different rice flours, there are many variations and fillings to choose from. Similarly to ha gau they are steamed and should be translucent in appearance showing off their filling with little slashes across it’s length. The fillings provide the dish with flavour and the sweetened soy sauce that is added has exactly the right balance of salty and sweet that works brilliantly with them plain or filled. These were filled with large prawns which were absolutely delicious, tender and sweet; the rice rolls soft and slippery, just as they should be. Now in terms of food looking pretty, these steamed delights are not particularly pleasing to eye, but damn do they pack a punch in terms of  moreishness and taste!

Beef cheung fun
Prawn cheung fun

My noodle dish of dry fried beef with rice noodles is a classic yum cha dish, in fact all 3 dishes we would order when my family went out for on a Sunday.

Dry fried beed with ho hun noodles
Dry fried beef with ho fun noodles

The dish is made of wide rice noodles with strips of beef that has been wok fried quickly so that they are very tender; sliced onion, bean sprouts and spring onions are added giving a mild onion flavour, which helps to cut through the rich soy sauce that flavours the whole dish. This dish is probably the one I will always order and the only time I manage to eat the whole thing is without any starters.

For one person these 3 dishes are a lot to eat, but I always take half the noodles in a doggy bag for the following days lunch or dinner.

All in all, a very satisfying and filling meal at a very good price. Two dim sum, one main course and a pot of chinese tea for £20 including a tip.

Maxi’s Restaurant 
6 Bingley Street
Leeds
LS3 1LX
0113 244 0552