So maybe you've read my rant about (the lack of) Cantonese food in this country. Maybe you haven't, but now you know. (Panda Express is NOT Cantonese food, just FYI)
Since the rant, I actually have found myself a really good dim sum place. I honestly don't know why people don't talk about this place... but then again, every time I have been to this place, it's mostly Japanese people and other Chinese people. So I guess it's not in the radar for many in the English-speaking community. A shame.
This is where I come in, I suppose.
Let me introduce YUEN KEE -
This restaurant only opens for lunch and for dinner, but they serve mostly dim sum dishes found in very traditional Canton-style yum cha.
"Yum cha" directly translates to "drink tea", but drinking tea is just part of what we do. We also eat lots of small dishes called "dim sum". A lot of the dishes are steamed and savory, but there are plenty of fried dishes, rice and noodle dishes, and even various desserts. They're small dishes, but they are meant to be shared. Much like how you would go to an Izakaya with friends, and share those dishes.
The two most well-known dim sum are probably the "Har Gao" - the shrimp dumpling, and the "Siu Mai" - the pork and shrimp "dumpling". I put "dumpling" in quotes there because it's not really a dumpling.
(excuse this photo of half-eaten food.. the food didn't all come at the same time)
On the left is the siu mai, and the right is the har gao.
Here's a better photo of the Siu Mai. Mhmmm... yummm...
And here's a better picture of a Har Gao.
I don't know if other Cantonese people do this, but I find the easiest way to tell if a dim sum place is really good is whether they can make a kickass siu mai. Siu Mai is arguably one of the most difficult to make right - not because it's necessarily hard to make, but a lot of dim sum restaurants (even ones in the motherland) really skimp on the ingredients. And when one ingredient is missing from the Siu Mai, they really just don't taste the same.
A good Siu Mai should have a nice hearty bite from the fresh shrimp, the soft textures from the pork and the pork fat, the umami and chewy textures from shiitake mushrooms, and a soft thin yellow wrapper on the underside.
Yuen Kee hits all of those notes really well. And everything I've tried there so far is very good!
This is the fried turnip cakes - I'm personally not a big fan of these in any dim sum restaurant, but they are actually very good as far as turnip cakes go.
I also tried the congee (Chinese porridge?) with salty duck eggs and pork. So good!
Their stir fried noodles (they call it the yakisoba, but honestly it's not the same as the Japanese one) are really on point too. The picture makes it look really small, but there's actually more noodles on the plate than you think. I had this one solo and sort of regretted it since I wasn't able to eat anything else after that.
They have a ton of other dim sum and dessert dishes on the menu, so I recommend you all go and try it out. They also sell wonton, which I have yet to try. Not sure how those would taste.
The down side though...
It's pretty expensive. I mean, as far as normal dim sum goes... each plate of dim sum goes for about 600-900 yen a pop depending on what you order. That's kind of the price of a higher-end dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong. But I mean, I'm glad I have a place to go to if I really crave some dim sum. I really needed it!
So yeah, if you have a chance to go to Kobe or live there... check it out! :)