Anyone who doesn’t know what dim sum is needs to correct this pronto, as dim sum is delicious, moreish, bite-sized pieces of bliss, and their addition makes any weekend a million times better.
There’re two places in Belfast that I know to offer dim sum: Sun Kee on Donegall Pass and Lee Garden on Botanic Avenue. To save you to the trouble of having to visit each one to figure out which is better, I’ve taken it upon myself to sample both places and share my thoughts with you.
So here goes.
It recently changed management and has a new chef, although the interior and staff remain the same. We tried their roast duck and roast pork, both of which were moist, fragrant and infused with flavour. The roast pork had a delightfully crisp crackling, although I can’t decide whether I prefer it to Dragon Rendezvous’ version, which is less fatty (hence less juicy), less crisp but much more meaty.
Their cheung fun skin was top-notch too. It was paper-thin but did not fall apart upon handling, neither did it get soggy from the soy sauce. Sun Kee’s char siu cheung fun was a delight with the tender, delicious meat wrapped in delicate skin. My friends also gave the thumbs up for the egg tarts’ light, crumbly pastry, while the deep fried taro balls also had a satisfying crisp to them.
On the other hand, Lee Garden stands out for the skin on its king prawn dumplings (har gow), which is thin, translucent and with a hint of flavour. The filling in its dumplings are more substantial too – there’s nary a taste of flour added, the king prawn dumplings have a firm bite and I love that they’re not stingy on the chives in the king prawn and chives dumplings, which gives its robust flavour.
Another of my favourites is their pan-fried turnip cake – a fragrant combination of sweet, grated turnip with ham, fried till golden brown. I prefer their chicken feet in soya bean sauce too, as it wins on taste and the skin and meat comes right off the bone. Unfortunately, I’ve never tried their roast duck nor roast pork, but will add it to the list when I’m there next to compare against Sun Kee.
Which should you go?
The crowds at Lee Garden at the weekend are a clear indication of which is the more popular option. While I’ve never had trouble being getting a table on the ground floor, my friends have had to wait for a table and been seated upstairs.
The lack of crowds at Sun Kee, however, means that service is quicker and you can have a leisurely meal without feeling guilty about lingering for a chat when you’re done eating.
Verdict: The slightly lower prices and the fact that Lee Garden does the dishes I enjoy the most better makes them the winner in my books.