There are few things in this world that I love more than the concept of “Brunch”. One of them is the concept of “Chinese Brunch”: Dim Sum in all its glory; trolleys wheeled between tables; expectant and sometimes fearful faces peering over the steaming plates and blind-choosing the next dish.
And then the flavours, the sounds and perfumes coming from the kitchen, your beaming face after you have bitten into a particularly delicious parcel.
Sadly, most dim sum places in London have lost “it”; the food is either of bad quality or verging on the average and trying too hard to fit into the trendy image that this city has fashioned for itself.
In case of emergency I have headed to a chain outlet without a second thought, but I must admit no experience has come close to what I had on a bleary-eyed Sunday morning at Dragon Castle.
A couple of months ago I caught a couple of tweets, someone organising a meet up with friends there and since this someone is of Chinese origins my ears perked up – It had to be good if he was going there and I wanted in.
Too shy to auto-invite myself I made my mind up and traveled from North to South London a few weeks later, armed with a notebook, small camera and the appetite of an elephant (not that I’m ever lacking on that to be honest).
Now I am not Chinese and I clearly can’t judge the authenticity of this dish or the other, but I can tell you that that was the best dim sum I’ve had in a veeeeeeery long time. And at a mere £18 each including a couple of beers it was cheap!
The big dining room was buzzing, but not crowded by 1:30 and my first acknowledgment were the Chinese families that occupied a number of tables around us – always a good sign.
Friends and I went through the menu with trepidation, feeling ready to taste as much as we could and feeling daring.
Among the more usual chives har gau, duck rolls, fried squid with a perfectly crisp crunch, wontons, sticky rice and sesame prawn rolls plates of sweet stewed tripe and chicken claws in a vinegar and chili marinade made an entrance.
Now, for those who know me this will come as no surprise as I’m not one for stopping at the conventional when it comes to food – If I wanted conventional I would have gone to Ping Pong and have a bland bunch of steamed dumplings dipped in a non-descript sauce.
And that’s where my bonus points come in for Dragon Castle: no sign of soy sauce on the table. Believe it or not, soy sauce does not go with all things dim sum.
Each dish came (or not) with a separate dipping sauce from the previous; all flavours perfectly matched in their simplicity. I loved it.
What can I say? I will be going back regularly for my dim sum fix, even if I have to change 3 trains and I will enjoy it.
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