I will go a long way for perfectly made dim sum and frequently have, even to Croydon. That’s not a snub by the way, the postcode has disparaging connotations – so I hear. I’m sure I’ll be greeted with disdain now for those who live here. Sneer away. This part of town is famed for a Chinese shopping centre called Wing Yip. It’s gargantuan and has everything under the sun oriental, even live seafood. Tai Tung is within the same complex and has the same chilly manners and brisk service up in Chinatown – hasty in then hasty out. It’s called efficiency. That’s when you’ve got beyond the queues, there’s usually a big one here mostly on weekends. Can you hear that noise? It’s the clink of teapots, the thud of the cleaver chopping through char siu, mellifluous Cantonese vocals and the clunk of stacking bamboo racks full of the good stuff. Like how a dim sum house should sound – it gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling, like I definitely belong here.
Onto the food, cross reference what the numbers are from the ordering sheet onto laminated menu, and with the pen provided, mark down how many you’d like. It’s an intimately familiar format when ordering dim sum from Hong Kong to London and beyond.
You probably would have noticed from previous posts that I love morning glory in all of its advocations – this one was Malaysian style £12.50 which comes with the sweet stench of shrimp paste, dried shrimps, ginger and chilli. It’s intense and powerful. But it turned out to be a very bad idea unless you like the sound of grit and sand grinding against your teeth. We were too polite to send it back even though they didn’t wash them properly.
Vietnamese spring rolls £3.60 and savoury meat croquettes £3.60 were competently done, although not with the best quality of fillings – they lacked flavour and quantity. Given the choice, I’d have the former.
For me cheung-fun is a benchmark dish in any dim sum parlour for quality. The beef version here, although edible was just not fresh – the oils were beading out of the wrapper which was on the side of turning hard from standing.
Beancurd rolls with seafood and oyster sauce £4.20 arrived ripping hot as they should but were second rate in flavour, the liquid just needed more reduction and a dollop more oyster sauce to bring things together.
Sticky rice rolls £3.60 had pleasing density – it was a dish worth ordering again.
Prawn and chive dumplings £3.60 lacked the pleasing succulence and pertness good prawns should have. The pastry lacked the elasticity too – the hallmarks of a good dumpling wrapper.
It was very much the same fate for the har gau £3.60, although perfectly edible they just lacked the x-factor.
Steamed curry squid £3.60 on paper sounds tremendous but we got a situation between just cooked and slow-stewed – it’s called rubbery.
The chicken’s feet with black bean sauce £3.60 were dark, rich and gelatinous, full of intense umami. If you like them you’ll have a lot of excitement eating these.
Glutinous rice with wrapped in lotus leaves £4.20 is thigh cladding for all its sticky, earthy goodness – their version of a classic seemed to hit the spot.
Custard buns £3.60 were decent too – they were the runny sort but the kind that have a soft egg sunshine interior – perfect for soaking up the MSG onslaught.
When did I go? Oct 2018
The damage: Expect to pay £30/35 per head with tea
The good: There were some good bits to note from our meal, like the chicken’s feet, sticky rice rolls and lotus wrapped rice, I don’t need to labour the point that that’s a shabby ratio against 12 dishes.
The bad: Let’s not mention the grit in the morning glory again. That aside the dumplings lacked the silkiness and flavour that you’d associate with good dim sum. A shame really as I remember it being decent when I used to come a while back.
Would I go again? Still deciding…
Address: 544 Purley Way, Croydon CR0 4RF