Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Become a Master of Dim Sum @ Chinese Cricket Club
When I was little, I'd watch my parents make wontons on weekends. Methodically, quickly, and deftly, they'd smear a dollop of pork and prawn filling onto a wonton wrapper, dip their finger into the small bowl of water on the table, and fold it into a little parcel - placing them into rows on a wax paper-lined tray. I'd peer over the edge of the table at the neat little parcels, lined up like pilgrims waiting to enter a church to pray, with their peaked "hats" folded into corners at the top and tied like a kerchief under their chins. Occasionally, my mom or dad would help me make one and I'd inevitably use too much filling, or not enough water, causing the sides to gape and burst. So, I kind of left them to it.
I had a vivid flashback of time spent watching my parents make these wontons when, mesmerized, I stood at the helm of Chef Ken Wang's table at Chinese Cricket Club Restaurant, watching as he and dim sum chef Mai Lan effortlessly rolled, tucked, and folded wrappers into place to make perfect examples of egg rolls, siu mai and other popular dim sum dumplings.
My egg roll didn't fare too badly, and I smugly dropped it into the bamboo basket to be steamed, but my siu mai was rather lacking in flair and when I sent a screenshot to my mom, she exclaimed, "Ai ya! You overstuffed!" Typical.
Previously, I'd popped those bad boys (i.e. har gao, siu mai, and other favorites) into my mouth at our favorite Chinese restaurants in Seattle, Vancouver, and Hong Kong without the slightest thought at the effort that went into making them. I left Chinese Cricket Club that evening red-faced and sheepish, much more appreciative of the skill it takes to be a dim sum chef. If you want to have a go at becoming a dim sum master, you totally can - Chinese Cricket Club is running masterclasses which can be booked here.
After feeling suitably embarrassed at my lack of dim sum-making skills, I sat down with a table full of foodies to sample Chinese Cricket Club's Sichuan cuisine - their speciality.
Since my family's originally from Hong Kong, I've always leaned toward Cantonese flavors and styles of cooking. Sichuan cuisine, known for its seven "key flavours" (hot, spicy, sweet, sour, savoury, bitter, and aromatic - which to me, just translates to spicy, spicy, spicy, spicy, spicy, spicy and um, spicy), is something I don't eat that often.
So, what to order? Well, standout dishes at Chinese Cricket Club included the slow-braised pork belly (cooked for five hours and served with rice and gravy), which was all sorts of melt-in-your-mouth good. Of course, the popular crispy duck with pancakes was a favorite across the table and even I tucked into seconds. And thirds. (And maybe a fourth.)
The spicy sea bass (which is part of Chef Ken Wang's Tasting Menu) tested my spicy pain threshold, but it was surprisingly bearable and - dare I admit - incredibly addictive and delicious.
My parents arrive in London on Saturday and I'm curious to see what they think of Chef Ken Wang's impressive menu - I struggle to find a good Chinese restaurant in London, so I was thrilled to discover the proper Sichuan cuisine at Chinese Cricket Club.
I was a guest of Chinese Cricket Club, Crowne Plaza London – The City, 19 New Bridge Street, London, EC4V 6DB. All opinions are my own.