Turnip Cake at the Hum Sung Restaurant in Ottawa’s Chinatown
I gave a basic introduction to the Cantonese Dim Sum specialty 蘿蔔糕 in my review of the Turnip Cake at the New Town Bakery and Restaurant. The version at the Hum Sung Restaurant in Ottawa’s Chinatown, which you see pictured above, was arguably prettier than the New Town’s, but it was a bit disappointing in a couple of ways.
The Hum Sung Restaurant is tiny place, run, I think, as a family, or mom-and-pop style operation. It is spartanly decorated inside but the service is friendly and I had a some very nice dishes there, including the Hum Sung Chicken Feet with Black Bean, which were, to date, the best I have ever had. It is unfortunate that their Turnip Cake, or Lo Bok Gau, did not reach the same level of quality.
When I make Turnip, I generally make slice cake very thinly after chilling it, and fry it quite well to make it very crispy on the outside. Here, as in most Dim Sum restaurants, it was quite thick and just a little softer inside than I really like.
I wasn’t sure I liked the taste when I first tried it, as it had a very slightly sulphurous note. This usually means that the cake has been steamed for a bit too long before frying, but, thankfully, didn’t ruin the flavor entirely for me. The pan-frying was brief (I would have liked it fired a little more), but the browning added to the overall flavor quite nicely.
My main quibble was there wasn’t much in the way of additions, a bit of shrimp, ham and possibly some mushroom scattered rather sparsely throughout. The overall effect was too bad, I suppose, but it wasn’t among the best I have had.