Just as the best curries in London are not on Brick Lane, the best dim sum is nowhere near China town. After all, dim sum devotees are dedicated people and they are prepared to trek far and wide in pursuit of their dumpling dose. When Mr Noodles told me and Tamarind and Thyme he had heard great things about the dim sum at Dragon Palace in Earls Court I was not surprised at all at its obscure location. Strangely enough despite it being tucked away in Earls Court, once I arrived at Dragon Palace I realised I had already been there once before but not during the day so had missed out on the dim sum.
Prawn dumplings, prawn and scallop dumplings and village dumplings (with the chive tie)
The bad thing about eating at Dragon Palace during the day is that the dodgy decor is in full view from the giant chopstick wielding Santa Claus painted on the window to the faux wood, faded prints of China and perilously dangling ceiling tiles. To be honest, we didn’t mind at all and just hoped the money and effort Dragon Palace had saved on ambience they had diverted to the food.
Love the decor and the seasonal snowman with chopsticks on the window
The dim sum while sadly not served from trolleys did feature in photos on the menu to make ordering easy and you also got a handy tick list to consult and make sure you were not missing out on any dumplings. We started with prawn dumplings – har gow (£2.50), scallop and prawn dumplings (£2.60) and village dumplings (£2.50). While the dumpling wrappers were on the thick side this was probably because they were holding so much goodness, these dumplings were all stuffed with fat, juicy prawns and generous servings of fish in the case of the village dumplings. There was no skimping on the fillings here.
Char siu bao
Honey roast pork buns – char siu bao (£2.20) are one of my all time dim sum favourite dim sum dishes and Dragon Palace’s version did not disappoint with clouds of puffy wrapping yielding up rich shreds of sweet pork.
Steamed squid with garlic
The steamed squid (£2.20) was heavy handed on the garlic which was clearly a positive rather than a negative as long as you were not too self concious about garlicky breath. From the specials menu the steamed pork belly and taro bun (£3.20) was deliciously fatty in a guilty pleasure sort of way.
Pan fried shrimp cheung fun
After all the steamer baskets were cleared we moved on to the fried goodies. Pan-fried dried shrimp cheung fun (£2.20) had a light backpacker tan from the pan and was nicely crisp on the edges. The squid cakes (£2.30) were unusually wrapped in bean curd skin all crunchy and wrinkled after being deep fried. The skin added an interesting texture to the soft squid cake. Squares of turnip paste with wind dried meat (£2.20) had a rich flavour while the yam croquettes (£2.40) looked like a tiny birds nest, the crisp, jagged spikes protecting a juicy, centre. I wasn’t as keen on the red bean paste dessert (£3.20) which was oozing with red bean as I found the flavour a little too sweet and sticky for my liking but then I have never been much of a red bean fan.
The most interesting dish though was the silver needle noodles (£5.80) which are also evocatively known as rats tail noodles because of the way they taper at the end. Mr Noodles told us these are very hard to find in London (actually we don’t think they are served anywhere else as the noodles are hand made at Dragon Palace). The noodles were almost translucent with a rich yellow tinge from a liberal sprinkling of curry powder. They had a great mix of flavours and were packed with shrimps, bean sprouts and tiny flecks of fried egg which gave a textural contrast to the slippery noodles.
Silver needle noodles
In true dim sum style we lingered over our lunch and copious cups of tea of the iron goddess until the afternoon was almost gone then we played that other traditional dim sum game of guessing what the bill would be and delightedly discovered it was below all of our estimates coming in at only £14 a head including service charge. Certainly worth the trek at that price.
Details: Dragon Palace, 207 Earls Court road, London SW5 9AN (Ph 020 7370 1461) Tube: Earls Court
Damage: Such a bargain my mother would approve