My long weekend eating adventures continued on Monday where I met both C. and JJ. for dim sum at Beijing Beijing. Ever since developing a shrimp allergy a few years ago (devastating times) I’ve slowly started to avoid going out for dim sum as there are a lot of shrimp dishes pushed around on those carts. Luckily after scaring everyone with the “if I eat it, I might die” line, all my friends have been really good about accommodating me and the allergy – it really just means more shrimp for them.
Beijing Beijing used to be this Chinese buffet place so everyone always wonders a little bit about why on earth we want to have dim sum there. I almost wish the new owners had changed the English name along with the Chinese name, but there is no buffet left at Beijing Beijing – it is now a pretty typical Chinese restaurant the mainly focuses on Cantonese cuisine. I’ve been to Beijing Beijing for banquets and dim sum a handful of times and I like the decor compared to some of the older places in city as it has clean lines and a modern(ish) feel. Service was ok but the man who greets you at the door and shows you to your table could certainly be friendlier – he only perked up a bit when C. showed up as she is a regular.
I should note that weekend dim sum gets really busy and sometimes if you get there a little too late, you’re stuck waiting in line for a table so I recommend going earlier instead of after the crowd has died down because there are more options and everything is a little fresher. We were at Beijing Beijing at 11(ish) and by noon it was pretty full with a few people waiting in line – we were there on Easter Monday but I’m sure Saturdays and Sundays are even busier.
Generally speaking, I tend to follow the order three dishes per person rule when it comes to ordering because it seems like a good way to avoid having too many dishes on the table and boxes of leftovers. It actually worked really well for us as there we didn’t end up taking anything home. So what did we order? Let’s just start from the top row:
The rice roll was our only vegetarian dish as it is a rice roll wrapped around a fried Chinese donut. It also comes with a small dish of hoisin and peanut sauce. Normally this is one of my favorite dishes but the green onion embedded in the rice roll was a turn off for me. This is strictly a personal preference as green onions are not something I enjoy, but otherwise, this was a pretty tasty dish.
JJ likes to order the curry squid dish and it’s one of those dishes I don’t really have many feelings about. The curry squid was a bit of a miss as there was not much curry flavor in it and the squid was a smidge overcooked so it was a little chewy. The curry used is not a spicy curry but more of a sweeter Japanese curry.
The tripe is steamed with ginger and onions. Very few of my non-Asian friends are interested in this dish. Nearly everyone has bravely tried it (yay cultural expansion) but no one really likes it – I actually don’t mind it – I think it’s because my family had me try it and like it before telling me what it was. Beijing Beijing’s version was quite nice and I certainly enjoyed it.
The chicken feet is not one of my favorite dishes and not because it’s well chicken digits but because there are a lot of tiny bones. Chicken feet is one of those dishes that I feel requires lots of effort to eat but minimal return on flavour/texture/taste. I did sample one of these and the flavour was fine – all you really taste is the black bean sauce but I feel like that’s how all chicken feet taste like. If my friends don’t want order this dish, I probably wouldn’t bother to specifically look for it.
The barbeque pork buns are something that I’ve ordered ever since I was a child and it would feel wrong to have dim sum and not have a steamer of these on the table. Beijing Beijing’s barbeque pork buns are really good – there is a good meat to bun ratio so you don’t get lots of bun (I’ve never had a bun where the ratio was more meat than bun). The bun was nice and soft and not overly dry. I love when you break one of these in half and steam just comes whooshing out.
I can’t really say much about the shrimp dumplings since if I eat it, I might die. But C. and JJ. ate them and didn’t have any complaints so I’m going to go ahead and say it’s probably not too bad. This is ordinarily a dim sum staple and when I could eat shrimp, it was definitely one of my favorite dishes to order (again – a childhood favorite).
The fried dumplings with pork filling were one of the best I’ve had in a long time. The outside with super crunchy while there was still a little bit of stickiness/chew under that initial crunchy layer on the dumpling skin/wrapper. The filling was delicious and I was just so happy to find this great combination of crunch and stickiness that not every restaurant has – some places are not nearly as crunchy.
*sigh* Again, here is another dish that I used to love and can no longer eat. The fried shrimp and tofu dish looked like crispy goodness. I love fried tofu (well I love tofu in all forms) but this smelled really good. I’m going with the no complaints from C. and JJ. means it must be ok. So probably worth trying if you’re at Beijing Beijing – it’s probably ok (definitely not disgusting? wow that is sad endorsement!) but I can’t give you anything better than that (boo shrimp allergy).
The pan fried turnip cake is my absolute favorite dim sum dish ever (in general). My Aunt makes a killer version and no one can really compare (at least not yet). Like seriously, she gave me a pan for Christmas and it ranks as one of the BEST gifts I’ve ever gotten and I’ve gotten some pretty wicked gifts over my lifetime (my childhood self was uber stoked to get a rock star (ROCK STAR!) popple [obvs. I am a child of the 80s?]). Anyways, getting back on track, this dish was not bad and was relatively tasty, although it definitely would pale in comparison to my Aunt’s. So if you don’t have a connection to a relative who makes a fantastic home edition of this, it’s a good item to order at dim sum.
Beijing Beijing Dim Sum and Seafood Restaurant
3803 Calgary Trail Northwest
So What Would Argenplath Pay?
So it’s been a week and I have lost my receipt but according to my credit card statement, my Beijing Beijing total with tax and tip was ~$55. The number might seem a little high but again JJ’s mom (what an awesome lady!) was babysitting, so we added a fried rice noodle dish for her ($10.95), therefore our 9 dishes technically came out to $42 (including tax and tip) so it works out to $14/person or $4.70/dish. Most dim sum dishes tend to run in the $3.50 – $5.00 depending on the dish but there are certainly other places that are less expensive but I don’t have dim sum much so I can’t vouch for quality – they could be just as good and I could be overpaying (that would hurt). I have to add that normally there is a tea charge of ~$1/person but the wait staff has the discretion to waive that and they generally do for regular customers etc., so originally it was on our little stamp sheet as a tea charge for 3, but once C. arrived, it was magically crossed out.
For $14, it was a pretty satisfying lunch and I was not hungry after, so I chalk that up to being a good meal. I even had room for dessert at Twisted Yogurt across the parking lot (I still prefer Tutti Frutti though). I feel like dim sum is always a fun weekend thing to do and my favorite thing about it is you can eat so many different items without having to order large portions and take home leftovers. If you haven’t tried dim sum before, I say just go and have a cultural expansion day – Chinese not required as the ladies (and they are always ladies – in my x years of dim sum experience – I’ve never seen a guy do this) pushing the cart will tell you what they have and/or lift the lids of the steamers to show you each item. If you want to eat more shrimp items – invite me to come along – I promise you can have it all to yourself!