I couldn’t have been more excited to learn of a new restaurant in the UTC Mall area that serves Dim Sum as well as many other classic Chinese dishes. The fact that it opened practically at my doorstep leaves me beyond excited! (Sticky Rice for the win!)
How excited you may ask? I used to drive to Tampa to the late, great T.C. Choi’s whenever the overwhelming craving came upon me. In fact, I was one of those people that you could always ask to drive you to Tampa International Airport because it gave me an excuse to drop in for some dim sum!
Now, with Dim Sum King only minutes away, I can indulge in my favorite Chinese delicacies whether it be a midday meal or in the evening – 7 days a week! When I dropped in, Dim Sum King had been opened less than a week, and the place was busy, busy, busy! They have clearly nailed the pent up demand for dim sum, those cherished cravings that are celebrated in a myriad of bamboo steamer baskets.
The nicely lit room itself features high ceilings, a giant Dim Sum King mural on the back wall, and, as if they needed it, a hi-def TV screen showing pictures of the meal yet to come. Stop teasing me! I’m sold!
There’s a convivial, relaxed atmosphere as the experience itself lends itself to socializing and sharing of the dishes. And depending on the volume of business, traditional steamer carts are wheeled table-to-table for you to make selections. It’s like a culinary Uber that will take you instantly to the far east without the jet lag, far less expensive, and waaayy better than airline food!
In true kid-in-a-candy-store fashion, my enthusiasm led me to order an inordinate amount of dim sum for one person (unless that person is me!) After all, I need to order a lot of food in order to report to the foodies-at-large that this is, indeed, the real dim sum deal.
I began my feast by choosing SIX(!) of the offerings in order to enjoy a veritable symphony of flavors to play with my taste buds.
Sticky rice is something I will go out of my way to bring home as a side dish. While it has come to my attention that some places have made the unforgivable sin of omitting Chinese sausage in their preparation, it is not the case here. The Lotus leaf unfurls to reveal the sumptuous umami flavor of rice, sausage, mushrooms, and chicken, with appropriate seasonings including soy sauce for that salty accent. I seriously will never tire of this.
In no particular order (as I reveled in one delectable bite after another of each basket,) I enjoyed the following:
Steamed Pork and Shrimp Dumplings, or Shu Mai, are always available at any respectable Dim Sum restaurant. ACCEPT NO (FROZEN, STORE BOUGHT) SUBSTITUTE! These bites presented a delicate, yet robust bite that will please any palate. I’m pretty sure I will run out of words to describe everything in minute detail, so please accept a huge smile and an MMMM.
Steamed Chicken Feet in Black Bean Sauce are about as edgy and far from most North American sensibilities as it gets on the Dim Sum King menu. But before you go all “EEWWWW” on me, you most likely won’t have that opinion after you’ve tried dim sum chicken feet. These are sweet, a tad spicy, with a melt in the mouth gelatinous texture highlighted with the soy and black bean sauce. What!!??? You still don’t like them after trying them? Call me – I’ve got your back.
Steamed Shrimp Dumplings, or Hagao, are tempting in and of themselves, if only for the simplicity of the presentation and the pop of flavor stored inside. These morsels literally burst in the mouth with a clean luscious shrimp flavor. Of course, soy sauce is an arm’s length away, but try one on its own before you “put salt and ketchup on your steak.” You may be tempted to corral the dish for your self after one bite . . . but re-ordering is so much more civilized.
The Pork and Ginger sauced Shanghai Style Dumplings are another of those “soon to be your favorite” dishes with the savory taste of ginger and soy, and soft mouth-feel. Classic, and one of those dim sum dishes I have a hard time not ordering. And, in case you’re wondering, dim sum is typically presented in a two-bite portion, like how Jill likes it, while some of us can pop a whole one in our mouths at once. (So much for the afore mention of being civilized! Sorry, not sorry!)
The Steamed Spare Ribs bring a velvety fattiness to the table and with them a perfectly spiced broth with sweet potatoes and black beans that complements the juicy bits of pork.
There are plenty of veggies and rice porridge dishes on the dim sum menu, and for those of you who like to order classic Chinese dishes like Cashew Chicken, Beef with Broccoli or Peking Duck, you’ll find a healthy variety of that style of dishes on the menu. Me? I’m dim sum-centric, at least on this visit.
It’s not like I was starved after finishing everything, (save for one parcel of my beloved sticky rice to take home and put under my pillow in hopes of a visit from the Dim Sum fairy – Kidding!)
To put a bow on all this magnificence, I finished my meal with the Portuguese Style Creme Brulee Tarts. Served warm in a flaky pastry crust and slightly less sweet than your traditional Creme Brulee, this is another one of those dishes I will stop in for specifically, whether I eat it here or and take come home.
At this juncture, I was beside myself with joy, which may help explain how I managed to eat twice as much as a normal person – and with such ease! I was planning a return visit before I’d even left the table!
Upon reflection, it seems the world is divided into two kinds of people in the world – those who adore Dim Sum dining, (like me!) and those that haven’t had the extraordinary pleasure of trying it. To that person, I would beseech you to stop depriving yourself of the culinary joy called dim sum. Make a trip to Dim Sum King and experience it for yourselves.
Although judging by the buzz in the room, you may experience a short wait. But trust me . . . it’s totally worth it!!