The Har Gow pictured above were served to me as part of a dim sum lunch at the Yangtze Dining Lounge in Ottawa’s Chinatown. I first visited this place almost 8 years ago and I later prepared a short review based on my notes. It was a very brief and rudimentary review, especially as I did not take any pictures.
My notes of that first visit recall, at best, a mediocre experience in that there were a couple of decent dim sum offerings, along with some not so good, and service that varied from server to server from moderately friendly to brusque and unwelcoming. On my recent second visit back in August of this year, I found that little had changed. The dim sum on offer was passable, but distinctly unimpressive, and the service, while generally friendly and efficient on the part of the ‘cart-ladies’ was sharp to the point of rudeness on the part of the hostess (as was the case 8 years ago, although I cannot say if it was the same person or not).
Anyway… the Har gow pretty much reflected the overall experience. I have had many worse, but here the wrapper had a bit of a doughy-raw taste and the shrimp inside had very little flavor at all. The only thing I like about these, really, was the size. I dislike overly large Har Gow as they are unwieldy to eat and often tear under their own weight, especially where you have to take more than one or two bites. These ones were just right for a single mouthful each.
Along with Har Gow, I almost always order Shu Mai when I go for a dim sum meal as the quality these two offerings is often a good indicator of the overall skill and quality of the kitchen. The Shu Mai here were just plain pork without any discernible seasoning other than, perhaps, a bit of light soy. That might not sound especially appealing but, in fact these were very succulent and tasty, and I liked the fact, as with the Har Gow, that they were small enough to eat in a single bit. The only thing I was a bit unsure of was the red spot on the top… It had no flavor and was obviously there just for garnish but, for the life of me, I have no idea what it was.
Stuffed Peppers are actually something I make and eat at home much more frequently than I have them served to me in dim sum places, but I typically enjoy them wherever I have them. The ones pictured above were probably the most pretty and nicely cooked dish I had at Yangtze on this occasion, but, unfortunately, the execution did leave a little to be desired. The peppers themselves were actually very nicely done. They were cooked just to the point of charring in a few places, which adds nice flavor, and they were still beautifully crisp-tender. The only problem was that, although bell pepper is fairly mild in and of itself, the filling, composed of both pork and shrimp, was so bland that it was overwhelmed by the peppers. This was a shame and detracted from what was otherwise a pretty decent selection.
In all, my second visit to Yangtze was okay, but not especially satisfying. One of the issues I have is with the traditional cart-service (which I dislike) and I will probably elaborate on that in a future ‘Dim Sum’ post sometime. Generally though, I just found that the dim sum dishes were mostly mediocre. I did have one other dish which I have not described here though. It was an interesting one (if not one I especially enjoyed), and it really deserves being featured in a separate post …