HK: Unimpressed by Maxim's City Hall
On my first ever trip to Hong Kong last weekend, i wanted Saturday dimsum. So i chose Maxim's City Hall based on the NY Times' rec. Went there solo, and i waited one hour for a table (but it was Saturday prime time, so i was stoic about the wait).
But overall, i was really unimpressed. A couple items, especially the hargow and the chive dumplings were very good. But the rice w/ pork/sausage/etc in banana leaves ("tsonse"? sp? -- that might be the Mandarin word, sorry) was inedibly bad: dry and flavorless and awful.
But i was more shocked by the price. 211 HKD for dimsum for one person?? (i ordered maybe 5 items). The chive dumplings were memorable, but I've had better overall dimsum exepriences in NYC and LA and Vancouver for 1/3 the price.
Will seek out somewhere less touristy the next time i'm in HK. Any suggestions on a more local-oriented dimsum experience?
indeed, Maxim's as a company doesn't seem to strive to serve the 'best' food, but it is often the most reliable and offers the most variety, as HKTraveler mentioned. City Hall is popular for it's traditional carts (actually not as traditional as servers holding large trays with a belt around the shoulder/neck, like old fashioned ice cream sellers at cinemas/theatres) and a very nice view.
For a totally authentic experience, try Lin Heung on Wellington St (waits and sharing tables essential, questionable hygiene, but very very trad food - this place hasn't changed in decades) some people hate the food, some swear it's the best, either way, ( obviously i fall into the former school), it's not like yum cha in vancouver, sydney or wherever HK immigrants have fled, so be prepared for innards and heavy oil. you'll come out heavier, and your wallet not too much lighter, thanks to the nostalgic prices!
I've been biting my tongue because I only was at the City Hall Maxim's once and that was 10 years ago but I too have been mystified by the acclaim; I think I have had better dim sum at half a dozen places in San Francisco. I supposed it's mentioned a lot because it's on the tourist path and is highly visible.
During the short time I spent working in mid-Kowloon, I followed co-workers to lunch at dim sum places tucked away in upper floors of nondescript office buildings. They seemed to be just taken for granted, and I'm not sure my co-workers could tell you the restaurants' names, but they were very busy and offered better fare than I recall at the City Hall Maxim's.