Har Gow (蝦餃) at the Yangtze Restaurant in Ottawa
I have mentioned elsewhere that the Steamed Shrimp Dumplings known as Har Gow (蝦餃) are often used as a standard by which to judge the skills of a Dim Sum Restaurant. This often works as a pretty good rule of thumb, but occasionally, you will come across a restaurant like the Yangtze Dining Lounge in Ottawa’s Chinatown where the overall quality of dishes is excellent despite the house Har Gow being mediocre, or even poor.
The one thing that can be said about the Har Gow at Yangtze was that the size was quite small. I much prefer this as it is much easier to manipulate them and then eat each one in a single mouthful, whereas many of the larger ones require more then one bite, and the dumplings can sometimes fall apart during the process.
Unfortunately, things went downhill from there, beginning with the unattractive, almost sloppy wrapping job for each dumpling. Take a look at the traditional and beautiful folding of the Har Gow at Le Piment Rouge, and compare it to the rather shapeless, barely pleated blobs above. Immediately, these Har Gow have to be dismissed as at best second-rate.
The wrapper itself was thin enough to be translucent, which is a plus, and the texture was a little overly chewy (although not to the point of being dried out), but, for some unaccountable reason, there was the distinct taste of raw starch which you usually only get with thicker skins that have been insufficiently steamed. I am not sure why that was the case here, but it didn’t help the overall quality of the Yangtze style 蝦餃.
The final failure here was the filling. The shrimp were chopped into smallish pieces and the texture was alright, but they really had no flavor, not from the shrimp themselves, nor from any discernible seasoning. I could, quite honestly have been eating anything, In the end, there was almost nothing about the Har Gow at Yangtze to raise them even to the level of mediocrity.