Aside from being one of my favourite things in the world, dim sum, to the Cantonese, is a tradition, a ritual that dates back centuries. Whilst the long-standing, world-famous dim sum houses around the city are well-worth a visit, sometimes it’s worth finding the smaller, lesser-known restaurants for a more intimate dim sum experience. Ding Dim 1968, which opened earlier this summer on Elgin Street, is one of these.
Creating each little dumpling is a true art, which many chefs learn from their families from a very young age. The master chef behind Ding Dim, Chan Si-Fu, known as Master Black, has been making dim sum since 1968, when he was only 14 years old. Although he always remained anonymous, Master Black prepared dim sum in some of the most renowned restaurants in HK. His nephew, Alex, thought it was about time his works of art were celebrated and people knew who was in the kitchen. Thus, Ding Dim 1968, came about, to showcase Master Black’s delicious dim sum.
The small restaurant is understated, with red brick interiors and simple wooden tables and stools. Out of a semi-open kitchen waft the delicious aromas of both traditional dim sum, as well as a few more adventurous offerings. The menu uses no MSG and everything is made by hand every day. There are also plenty of vegetarian options, as well as a range of tasting menus for those who aren’t sure what to order.
Traditional dishes such as sticky rice with chicken wrapped in a pandanus leaf were excellent, whilst the har gow (prawn dumplings) were definitely amongst the best I’ve ever had, the skin just the right thickness and the prawns within perfectly cooked.
Instead of serving traditional siu mai, Ding Dim offers two variations: siu mai with black truffle and siu mai with quail’s egg. Some traditionalists may cringe, but both of these really worked, adding a little bit of excitement to an already delicious dish.
Everyone’s favourite, xiao long bao, is also modernised at Ding Dim, served with either crabmeat or black truffle. We went for the crabmeat version, which came presented on individual Chinese spoons. The broth had a wonderfully comforting hint of ginger, which infused into the filling, and the skin was again neither too thick nor too thin.
Unfortunately, in the fried dumpling with shrimp and foie gras, I couldn’t really taste the foie gras. And neither did the pan-fried turnip cake, which lacked flavour and was too crumbly, particularly impress us, but then again this can often be a bit hit or miss.
There were a few dishes on the menu that I had never come across, such as the pan-seared green chilli pepper and the bean curd pocket with chicken and vegetables. Both were interesting, if not necessarily my favourite dishes.
The favourite dish award, naturally, goes to the baked BBQ pork bun, with its crispy, sugary top and sweet, sticky filling, followed closely by the Cantonese sponge cake. I once saw a friend dip this sweet cake in soy sauce – after initially thinking she was crazy, I tried it and have never looked back!
Dishes at Ding Dim range from $16 to $78, the more expensive ones due to the addition of black truffle, of course. When it comes to dim sum, I have the tendency to get a little bit carried away and over-order. Nevertheless, the bill for four of us wasn’t much more than $120 each, which is excellent value. Sometimes it’s definitely worth finding those little gems, those where the staff are clearly passionate about what they do and make your dim sum experience all the more enjoyable. Ding Dim also deliver…I see many lazy weekends ahead with dim sum on the sofa…
Ding Dim 1968
14 Elgin Street
Tel: +852 9698 1968