Sadly new kid on the block Dim Sum Diner falls firmly into the latter category. It filled a hole, but even an hour after eating Teacher Boy and I struggled to remember the detail of the ones we liked. Writing this up a few days later and I had to fall back on photographs.
There's nothing wrong with the location; a small unit on the populus Queensway drag. The decor is relatively inoffensive; clean, plain and primary coloured surfaces and Wagamamma's style furniture. The staff are friendly, efficient and attentive - the fact we were the only ones in may have helped this. To an extent my ennui came from the prosaic and unimaginative menu; offering a range of dim sum 'classics' (though no cheung fun oddly) and small plate Chinese dishes alongside a random handful of diner fare; mini hot dogs, burgers and a battered fish dropped into the mix for no discernible reason.
Of the good, we enjoyed a punchy and fresh if not terribly authentic Dan Dan Noodle dish. Chilli calmed from the dish's Sichuan street peddlar roots, interpreted here as mince and noodles in a light spicy gravy rather than the tongue tingling peasant soup I would have liked. Still, it was filled with meat and certainly pleasant enough. Pan fried Peking pork dumplings came with moreish dipping sauce, crisp skins and the heat of several suns inside. Steamed pork Xiao Long Bao and hot white clouds filled with sticky Char Sui were perfectly fine. Hot and freshly prepared, I had nothing against them, though the claims that they were 'made in-house with fresh ingredients' were tested by the delivery man walking pre-prepped trayfuls through the restaurant from the outside street.
Sadly the meal went awry with the PR's recommendations. Interesting on paper, disastrous in the mouth. Barbeque Pork Puff Rolls were over-fried cigars with a thick carapace managing to be cloyingly dusty and oil soaked at the same time and filled with red hot viscous gloop. Prawns in a vermicelli crust were drowned in a sweet and sickly mustard sauce that unpleasantly reminded me of an 'experimental' and unsuccessful take on salad cream. Guinness crab meat dumplings were as wrong as they sound.
Despite that, there's much to like. The staff were lovely, the basic dumplings were acceptable and portions are less than £4 each, so it's a reasonably cheap variant, even compared with Soho standards. I'd come back again if I lived or worked in the area though couldn't see myself making a special trip unfortunately.
Dan Dan Noodles (above) and prawns in a mustard salad cream combi
The brains below are the Guinness Crab Dumplings...