Ham Sui Gok (鹹水角) at Le Piment Rouge in Montreal
Le Piment Rouge is no longer open now, but I had an opportunity to sample some of their dishes before they closed their doors. In a previous post, I gave the Har Gow at Le Piment Rouge a rather negative review and, unfortunately, I have to do the same with their version of Ham Sui Gok as this Dim Sum specialty turned out to be quite disappointing.
The menu entry for this item described it in English as ‘Crispy Sticky Rice Dumplings Stuffed with Seafood’, but the Chinese characters beneath clearly identified as ‘鹹水角’. I first ordered these by the English name but, when the waiter misheard me, I repeated my order using the Mandarin rendering, ‘Xiánshuǐ jiǎo’, only to have him correct me, rather snottily, I thought, with the Cantonese pronunciation ‘Ham Sui Gok’.
Anyway, the first thing that struck me when my order was placed before me was the shape of the dumplings. In my post on the Ham Sui Gok at the Chu Shing Restaurant in Ottawa, I noted that, in North America at least, these are sometimes called ‘Footballs, or ‘Football Dumplings’ on account of their shape. You can take a look at the Chu Shing variety if that is not entirely clear, but the point is that these oddly mis-shaped things only loosely resembled the traditional form.
The one good thing I can say about these particular Ham Sui Gok is that they got the dough right. It was nicely sweet, had the proper, slightly chewy texture one expects with this Dim Sum favorite, and so I enjoyed that part of the experience, at least. It was the filling, however, that rather ruined things as far as my expectations were concerned.
In most Dim Sum establishments, the filling is usually ground pork, sometimes with mushrooms or some other vegetable components. These however, were supposed to be ‘stuffed with seafood’ and so I was looking forward to a rather novel twist on the standard. Sadly, the filling seemed to consist of what I could only take to be diced chicken, with a little bamboo shoot, and merely a single tiny shrimp per Dumpling, none of which contributed any flavor to the dish. I probably might have found the filling quite nice if it had been accurately described on the menu but the failure to provide what was promised smacked of sharp practise and left me very definitely disappointed. Le Piment Rouge may have got the dough right but, in form and filling, these 鹹水角 were a failure.