Dim sum that highly social Chinese breakfast brunch or lunch offering can be found in specialist restaurants in major city Chinatowns across the world. Hong Kong is often heralded as the epicentre of Dim Sum restaurants.
For Hua Hin residents and visitors, the great news is you don’t have to travel that far to indulge. Hilton Hua Hin’s White Lotus Restaurant offers a highly authentic Dim Sum every Saturday and Sunday lunch. More about that in a moment.
Dim Sum, a meal of small plates, is best enjoyed with tea in the company of family and friends. The cuisine is most closely associated with the teahouse culture of Guangdong Province (formerly Canton) and Hong Kong.
Hundreds of years ago, travellers along the Silk Road and weary rural farmers would frequent local teahouses for rest and conversation accompanied by a cup of tea. When the teahouses began serving small food offerings with a patron’s tea, the seeds for today’s dim sum tradition were planted.
Literally translated dim sum means “to touch the heart” and is often associated with another Cantonese phrase “yum cha” meaning “to drink tea.” So, when people say “let’s do yum cha”, they’re really saying “let’s go eat dim sum!”
Alighting on the 17th floor and entering White Lotus Restaurant, you are immediately taken by the uninterrupted ocean, beach and Hua Hin district views thanks to the expanse of floor to ceiling glass. A wow factor in itself. Marble floors and feature wall panels, elegant Chinese busts, staff liveried in red and black Chinese style, crisp white table linen and silver chopstick rests, all add to the sense that you have arrived somewhere special.
Specialising in Szechuan and Cantonese cuisines, the rooftop White Lotus Restaurant opens evenings Tuesday through Sunday with an extensive menu including specialities like Peking Duck. Lunch is only offered on Saturday and Sunday, specifically for dim sum. Ong Eng Kok, Hilton Hua Hin’s Executive Sous Chef, oversees all of the hotel’s kitchens with Chef Sai in control of the White Lotus culinary team. And to keep things fresh, the Chefs have just updated the dim sum menu.
Typically, in many of the large Chinese dim sum restaurants, pushcarts are wheeled around the tables with diners choosing what’s on offer or waiting for other circulating carts. As is the format, a one-page list-style menu sits on the table, and the server marks the items received.
Though White Lotus does not have pushcarts circulating, it does have an order form-menu on the tables for diners to select the items and number of dishes they want to try. These are prepared in the kitchen and delivered steaming hot and fresh to your table.
And as White Lotus dim sum offering is an ‘all you can eat’ for the set price of THB 580 nett per person, you can work your way through the twenty-nine listed savoury dishes, appetite permitting. Exceptional value, and as we discovered, excellent quality and variety. Here are some of our highlights. Though don’t limit yourself to these as there are just so many tasty options.
Found on most dim sum menus, Siu-Mai is an open-topped steamed dumpling in a yellow wonton wrapper. And with three varieties on offer – crab, prawn, and scallop, we had to try them all, and they did not disappoint. Siu-Mai is said to have originated from Hohhot in Inner Mongolia.
Har Gow, or steamed prawn dumplings are delicate near translucent rice flour wrappers stuffed plump with prawn meat, pork fat, and bamboo shoots. Juicy, springy and full of juice. Often considered the KING of dim sum.
A mixed plate of the deep-fried spring rolls, turnip cakes and shrimp cakes and the fried prawn dumplings wrapped in bean curd were beautifully presented on a black slate plate with carved tomato garnish. They tasted as delightful as they looked.
Another dim sum classic is the BBQ pork buns (char siu bao). These glistening white steamed pillows were super fluffy and stuffed plump with BBQ pork on the inside, and slightly sweet and sticky. Delicious!
Steamed rice rolls (Cheong fun) is another dim sum favourite. Rice flour water is splashed onto a hot metal grill and steamed creating the white noodle. Ingredients can vary however for White Lotus there are three option – duck, seaweed and minced prawn, and a vegetable roll. Then it’s covered in a light soy sauce, and you pull it apart with your chopsticks. A most satisfying dish.
Dessert lovers need not despair, as the menu offers three options – deep-fried banana with honey, and the equally scrumptious deep-fried pineapple, or the melt-in-your-mouth creamy mango pudding. Dessert is included in the ‘all you can eat’ offer.
Diners can accompany their dim sum with chilled Chrysanthemum tea or pots of hot Chinese tea. Both of which are free flow and included in the THB 580 nett per person charge.
Dim sum at White Lotus Restaurant is served Saturday and Sundays only between 11:30 am and 2:30 pm. For reservations and enquiries, call 032538999 or visit http://www.hua-hin.hilton.com/. The hotel’s Facebook page is a great way to stay in tune with current promotions including a Halloween Chinese Horror Party with guest mixologist and DJ on Saturday 31st October, or on the same evening, a Loy Krathong Dinner Buffet on the Beach. https://www.facebook.com/hiltonhuahinthailand
So, when next seeking a dim sum or yum cha fix, gather together family and friends and head to White Lotus Restaurant, atop Hilton Hua Hin Resort and Spa.
By Michael Cullen