Dim sum @ 2 places, London
• Young Cheng, Chinatown (there's 3 branches in Chinatown, but only dim sum at the branch on Lisle Street)
Basic dim sum, nothing special nothing great. Spring roll with prawns was probably the best of the items that I tried, crispy, rippingly crunchy prawns.
Dumpling in superior stock with crab meat, dried scallop, chopped duck was merely ok, the skin too mushy and thickm the soup stock fine but not great.
Steamed tofu skin/yuba with prawn and bamboo shotos was competently made, but not exceptional.
A solid sago in mango soup with grapefruit for dessert.
I was impressed by the quality of the cooked pu-erh tea, nice earthy intensity that lasted several infusions.
• Shanghai Blues, Holborn
Excellent turnip croissants (turnip puffs) with fragile shells puffy, multilayered and delicate; within a soft tasty turnip paste.
Xiao long bao was pretty good but not as good as Min Jiang -- the skin was thicker, the filling fairly well seasoned but broth tasted a bit like char siu.
A quail egg "siu mai" was disappointing -- essentially a quail egg in a wrapper attached a slightly overcooked prawn via a strip of nori, without any detectable trace of crab or scallop that was listed on the menu. The flavour combination was fairly neutral, without any enhancement.
Pumpkin dumplings were made to look like little pumpkins, fried to give a blistered look on the outside, with a stalk fashioned from cucumber. The insides were filled with little bits of pumpkin, chopped mushroom and vermicelli, but seemed a bit uneven from dumpling to dumpling, with the last one filled with more vermicelli than the rest.
Pan fried rice cakes looked interesting but were quite plain. Essentially a roll with nori that was sliced to thick discs and pan fried on each side to give a slightly crispy surface. The rice was well seasoned salt-wise, but could have used more flavour, from a stock perhaps.
A steamed Chiliean seabass roll was my favourite -- warpped with brilliant emerald spinach, and set over filly black fungus with a blunt and soft crunch, and flavoured on the inside with little chips that gave off a good fishy flavour (dried fish?). Complementary textures and flavours throughout that enhanced the delicate fish.
A dessert of "yuan1 yang1" (mandarin ducks) roll consisted of a chewy sheet made with glutinous rice flour (think mochi), with a thin spread of custard on one side and red bean on another, and copious shredded coconut on the outside, with a final bit of orange jelly for contrast. Fine but nothing special, certainly not the most delicate glutinous rice sheet I've had, and the fillings were a bit thin.
I liked the gai4 wan3/"covered bowl" style tea service, which had multiple infusions of the same tea, and they were able to provide a decanter to pour off each infusion into, so that there would not be excessive steeping that would lead to astringent bitterness. The 15 year old pu-erh I had was pleasant enough but the amount of leaves seemed a bit skimpy.
A couple of excellent items that were worth going back for, such as the turnip croissants and the Chilean seabass roll. Very attentive and careful service. Expensive for what it is, perhaps ~10-20% more pricey than the more refined Min Jiang, which still ranks as my best experience so far.