Review: Hung Sum Restaurant – Ottawa

870 Somerset West, Ottawa, Ontario, (613) 238-8828

Date of Visit: March 22, 2012

I wanted to visit this place after reading a brief review at Ottawa Foodies, where it was misidentified as the ‘Hung Sun’ restaurant. Apparently, the establishment is quite new and the reviewer in question described it as something of a gem that he hoped would be kept ‘secret’. I suspect that the owners of the place might have some different thoughts on the subject but I can certainly appreciate the sentiment as I very much enjoyed my meal there and would hate to see it change its character to cater to more ‘mainstream’ tastes… 

The name of the restaurant is not easy to decipher as the Chinese characters on the sign are very stylized and I am not sure I am reading the first character correctly. The last two characters, 飯館 (fàn’guǎn), just mean ‘rice shop’ and this is just one of the many ways of saying ‘restaurant’ in Chinese. The second character, 心, is pronounced ‘xīn’ in Mandarin and ‘sum’ in Cantonese and is the same character as in ‘Dim sum’. As for the first character… I *think* it may be 恆. If so, together with the second character, it forms a compound meaning ‘perseverance’. This seems like an odd name for a restaurant but it could be possible, I suppose. If any readers can shed any light on this I would love to hear from you…

Ambience and Service

Hung Sum is a tiny little place and there are seats for only about 32 patrons. It is very plainly furnished, almost Spartan actually, but it is clearly well maintained and very clean.

I arrived for on a Thursday afternoon at about 1:15 p.m. just after the normal lunchtime ‘rush’ and there were only 4 other patrons the whole time I was there. There was a single waitress on duty and I found her very friendly and helpful. I was particularly impressed when one of the other patrons forgot  ‘doggie bag’ she had asked for and the waitress, who didn’t discover this until about five minutes after the woman left, chased her way down the street to return it.

Hung Sum basically offers Dim Sum dishes only***. In the picture above, alongside the pot of complimentary tea, you can see the sheet of paper that doubles as the menu and the order form. Patrons are expected to make their selections and mark down the number of each dishes required in the box provided. This place is a bit too small for the traditional Dim Sum cart service in any event, but I have to say that I much prefer this method of ordering Dim Sum as you can see at a glance what is on offer and order the dishes in the order you prefer.

*** (Update: A reviewer at Ottawa Foodies has advised that there is an evening menu that offers dishes other than Dim Sum)

You can see a copy of the Dim Sum Menu here…

The Dishes

Turnip cake: This is a standard on most Dim Sum menus but I don’t order it very often. It is made by blending shredded Asian white Radish (Lo Bok) with rice flour or other starches to make a thick batter. Other chopped ingredients such as dried shrimp, black mushroom and Chinese sausage or ham, are added and then everything is steamed to form a firm cake. Usually, this is sliced and the pieces are then briefly pan-fried before serving. When I make this, I generally make the cake very thin and fry it quite well to make it very crispy on the outside. Here, as in most Dim Sum restaurants, it is quite thick and very soft. I wasn’t sure I liked this version when I first tried it but it actually grew on me and I finished it all. It had a very slightly sulphurous taste, which may have meant it was steamed a bit too long, possibly, but it was otherwise sweet and tasty. There wasn’t much in the way of additions, a bit of shrimp, ham and possibly some mushroom, perhaps, but it was still quite good on the whole. Rating: 3 out of 5.

Chicken feet in Black Bean Sauce: These were, quite simply the best I have ever had. The waitress was very surprised that I, a non-Chinese, would order these and asked, with some incredulity ‘You like Chicken feet?’ …  I just shrugged and said I liked them the last time I had them and, for some reason, this struck her as very funny. When they arrived the aroma was lovely and they were steamed to perfection. The meat and skin came easily from the bone but it was still nicely chewy and with the proper, slightly ‘gelatinous’ mouth-feel. Often, I find that the sauce that comes with chicken feet is bland and uninteresting but this was delicious. It was piquant and nicely sweet and savory with a hint of garlic.  Rating: 5 out of 5.

Green Onion and Ginger Squid:  This wasn’t bad although the squid was a little bland. It was cut quite thickly but managed to not be overly chewy despite not being scored. I found the Ginger taste a little too much but this is just a personal observation. I have had better versions than this but I have also had plenty that were not as good.  Rating: 3 out of 5.

Shrimp Har Gow: – These dumplings were very prettily folded and frilled. Unfortunately, they were carelessly placed in the steaming basket and stuck together so that the skins ripped when I tried to take them out. The filling was tasty but not especially remarkable. Rating: 3 out of 5.


I very much liked this place. The service was friendly and quick and the surroundings comfortable, if a little plain. The menu has quite a lot of things I would like try and the selections I had on this occasion were tasty. I particularly enjoyed the steamed Chicken feet and found them to be the best I have ever had. I will definitely return.


  1. The name of the restaurant in chinese appears at the top of your menu picture. What do these characters say ?

  2. Ah,so it does…

    It looks like I did make out the first character correctly as ‘恆’ so the characters on the menu are the same as on the sign. I’m afraid I can’t come up with a better translation for the name than ‘Perseverance Restaurant’ which may be WAY off 🙁

  3. I went their with my friends today for lunch. I am impressed and we are very happy with the dim-sum we had. Will definitely go again (but not on the weekend when the wait time is long).

    1. Oh, I am *so* glad you enjoyed. You are actually the first person to comment on one of my reviews after visiting the restaurant in question. I’d love to hear what you had and liked (or didn’t) 🙂

  4. I like all the dim-sum dishes (shrimp har-gows, steamed sticky rice in lotus leaves, pan-fried turnip cake, fried noodles with sprouts, pork congee, flat rice noodles with shrimps) that we ordered were all good (all arrived hot and tasty). We went again the second time and we ordered almost the same, but we added fried sticky rice to our order and it was very good. We brought our friend from US to eat there and she also liked the dim-sum very much.

    1. It’s so nice to get follow-ups from others who have been there. I am looking forward to taking my wife there whenever we can get away together at the same time….

      1. We went there few more times. The food was consistent except that the service was slow. I think the chef takes Monday off and in which case, the food quality won’t be the same. (Hints: If you see the owner’s wife is not the server, you can assume that she is working in the kitchen as the chef instead.) I also tried the fried noodles few times and I found it quite greasy and won’t order again. The veggie spring roll is something I won’t order again. (BTW, have you tried Genji Japanese restaurant? The food there is quite good. I like their Specials and Chef’s Selection. I normally went there on Thursday or Saturday.)

      2. It’s funny how places can be so hit or miss, isn’t it? I haven’t been to Genji yet. I have had it on my list of places to visit on my last couple of trips to Ottawa but still haven’t made it yet… maybe next time 🙂

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