Ham Sui Gok (鹹水角) at the Yimin Restaurant in Ottawa
The Yimin Dim Sum House in Ottawa’s Chinatown is still relatively new to the area and, while decent enough, is not likely to win away custom from the more established Dim Sum restaurants like Chu Shing, or Yangtze as things presently stand. Their 鹹水角, or ‘Ham Sui Gok’ were pretty good on two criteria but failed pretty miserably on the third.
First of all, the Ham Sui Gok at Yimin, were, it must be fairly said, pretty well poster-quality examples of what this Dim Sum specialty should look like, with a lovely golden shell formed into the characteristic shape that often gets them named ‘Footballs’, or ‘Football Dumplings’ in North American restaurants.
As for the second criterion, the dough for 鹹水角 is made with wheat starch, glutinous rice flour, plus sugar and oil, and, when deep-fried, should ideally result in a shell that is slightly crispy on the exterior and delightfully soft and chewy inside. Yimin, managed this superbly, but unfortunately, the good qualities thus far were not matched by the filling inside.
Supposedly, these were pork filled Ham Sui Gok, which is common in restaurants, but here, the filling was almost completely absent. I should probably have cut one of these in half and taken a picture of the interior but, no word of a lie, had I done so you would see virtually nothing but an empty, cavernous space. Now, to be fair, because the air in the inside of the uncooked dumpling expands during deep-frying, the centers are never completely stiffed with filling, but here, there was nothing except two or three grains (and, yes, I mean grains) of ground pork. Really, I get that restaurants have to make a profit but every where else manages to put in just enough meat, and sometimes vegetables, to let you taste that they are there. That was definitely not the case with these ones, and that is a shame really, because just a little filling would have elevated these Ham Sui Gok to being deserving of a top-notch rating.