Dim sum at Purple Dot café
I had surprisingly edible dim sum this morning at Purple Dot Café at about 9:30. I knew nothing about the place, but the server at the front was refreshingly brusque and that seemed like a good start to the culinary day. It's not so surprising that the food was good -- I like most of the dim sum that I have when visiting Seattle. But it did surprise me that I could get nice, bright-tasting dim sum on a Tuesday morning before 10 and, by the time I left, I certainly wasn't the only patron.
As I experienced it, Purple Dot was a dim sum menu establishment -- no carts and all of my dishes were clearly steamed or fried after I ordered them. I could hear the kitchen bell as each of them was finished. The menu isn't extensive, but it's fine for breakfast.
In general, the food had bright flavors, and the vegetables in the fillings were flavorful -- especially the greens and the bamboo shoots. The skins were diverse, intact, and neatly wrapped.
I didn't pick up the menu, but from memory (and looking at my picture, here's what I tried. I'll try to give the basic Cantonese pronunciations -- and I'm sure I'm murdering them -- and hope people know what dishes I'm talking about:
ha cheong fen2 -- shrimp rice rolls in the long style that's popular in Singapore. These were delicate in texture, and not drowning in sweet soy sauce or stuffed with tasteless goo. Instead, the mix of Quite edible.
ngau tou ("baak yip", I think I might have also heard this called) -- steamed beef tripe. Specifically, bible tripe. This is very simple, quite salty, was garnished with one piece of jalapeño, and a nice way of eating tripe. It's worth telling your tablemates that tripe doesn't have a strong organ meat flavor, like kidneys and liver do. It's more like muscle tissue than most offal -- even though it looks nothing like any other muscle nor, really, any other food. Maybe it's closest in appearance to sliced mushrooms.
chui4 jau2 fen2 guo2 -- literally, something like 'Chuizhou starch skin', but really just a beautifully translucent skin around a generous filling with pork and lots of bamboo shoots (and carrot, I think), flavored with steamed peanuts and shrimp. This was my favorite especially for its mix of textures.
haam sui gok (I think this literally means 'preserved water ball', but that doesn't make any sense). These are spheres of slightly sweet glutinous rice paste, filled with a mix of meat and greens, then deep fried. They were both pretty and kind of fun to eat, although I admit that by the time they got to the table, I only had one. The moderately sweet dough happened to provide a nice contrast with the other flavors in the meal. Incidentally, the frying oil was very fresh. Often, when I get deep fried things (and especially you tiao / yau ja gwai), they come out the color of mahogany shoe polish, and combine that flavor with essence of dried shrimp.
The tea was wulong and it was potable.
So I have questions for you locals:
- is Purple Dot normally a bad dim sum place, but I lucked into being one of the first customers so I got everything fresh and cooked to my order? I tried nothing daring -- really just dim sum standbys, but they are standbys for good reason.
(After I wrote this review -- having found no references on Chowhound -- I googled and came across a bunch of typically disjointed and unhelpful Yelp comments, all of which seemed to be about eating there late at night after clubbing and not enjoying the food. Thank goodness for chowhound.)
- the name on the front in Chinese is not 'purple dot', but I don't remember what it was. Who does? (And why 'purple dot'? It's a nice play on the word 'dim' (dot), I guess, but that isn't really a good answer.)
Furthermore, which are other early morning dim sum places or Hong Kong style coffee places that you would recommend?