Hong Kong Style Dim Sum in Dublin

...is it possible?


Absolutely.


Last weekend I met with my Chinese teacher and a bunch of friends (mostly from Hong Kong) for a traditional Dim Sum (点心diǎn xin) meal...my first but definitely not last! We went to a cosy little Hong Kong restaurant called 好世界 (Hǎo Shì Jiè / Good World) in the heart of Dublin, a stone's throw away from St. Stephen's Green Park.


You can find 好世界 on South Great Georges Street - check menupages.ie for more info. The restaurant is usually buzzing with families and couples (mostly Chinese) tucking into a wide array of delicious dishes. Most guests enjoy the Dim Sum menu which features most (if not all) of the classical Dim Sum dishes, click here for full list of the Dim Sum dishes available at 好世界.




Because there was a large group of us, we pre-booked a table and were seated at the very back of the restaurant which gave us the feeling of being in a little world of our own. Our table was also nearest to the bar so we could easily grab (not literally!) a waiter to order more food, ask for more tea or generally pester them with annoying questions (not that we did!). Our table also turned out to be the perfect place to take a group photo with the beautiful restaurant logo, which is in Chinese characters.


I would not recommend for you to try practising your Mandarin on the staff as most of them speak Cantonese (if you do too, go right ahead, they're all really friendly). Some will understand Mandarin but if yours isn't quite up to scratch, you may end up having some trouble ordering your food - the old-fashioned "this one" + point at the desired dish on the menu will save you should you be entirely lost.




As most of my friends, including my teacher, know their way around a Dim Sum menu, the other two laowais and I left the ordering up to the more experienced among us. While my friends heatedly debated over what to order (in Cantonese naturally), I proceeded to sip on my 绿茶 (Lǜ Chá / green tea). I also fell in love with the cutest little Chinese baby I've ever seen. Her dad was dotting on her and I couldn't stop smiling, watching them. I was actually contemplating to go over there and ask him whether I could have his daughter but I figured that would result in me getting kicked out off the restaurant so I behaved.


We didn't have to wait long for the food to be brought to our table. We had three waiters serving us simultaneously so that all the different dishes got to us at the same time. The dishes you can see in the photo above are really just a small selection of the 20-something different dishes we had on our table. We started out with some 酸辣汤 (Suān Là Tāng / Hot & Sour Soup), which is a firm favourite of mine. The soup was decidedly more spicy than the Northern Style 酸辣汤 I tried a couple of weeks ago at a different Chinese restaurant. I definitely prefer the spicier version of the soup. Along with the green tea it really warms you up and gives you a boost of energy, perfect for sipping in-between sampling all the different dishes.


I was a bit overwhelmed by the selection and to be quite honest, I had no idea what to choose first...there were just too many wonderful things to eat. Thankfully my friends (and especially my teacher) made sure I got to try just about everything by continuously filling up my little plate. While they did that I bugged them by constantly asking: 这是什么?(Zhè shì shénme? / What is this?) and they obediently explained.


Whenever I wasn't pointing at random dishes, demanding to know their name, ingredients and how they were made, we all chatted away, sharing stories, laughing, etc. - you know like you do at any normal dinner. My friends introduced some Chinese customs, such as gently tapping the table twice when somebody serves you food or drink - a simple way of saying 'thank you' without having to interrupt the conversation you may be having with somebody else. Very handy. I put it into action pretty much straight away, much to the delight of my friends.


Naturally I also managed to put my foot right in it, like I always do when I hang out with my Chinese friends.


  真的好笑!
Zhēnde hǎoxiào!
Very funny!


I didn't realise that one of my friends had just shared a joke about a young man learning Chinese with the very intention to work for a Chinese company at some stage. 


Sadly the guy -- let's call him 'Jack' -- chose a non-native speaker for a teacher and ended up learning a lot of useless stuff, like the multiplication table for example. Things you don't need to focus on when you're just starting out.


So when Jack went for his interview and the interviewer noticed that Jack had put down 'Mandarin' under language skills, the interviewer was, naturally, impressed and looking up, he asked 你叫什么名字?(Nǐ jiào shénme míngzì? / What's your name?).


Jack's response was 啊?(Eh?) - needless to say, this was exactly what I said when my friend asked - 小南瓜,你明白吗?(Xiǎo nánguā, nǐ míngbái ma? / Little Pumpkin, did you understand?)


In my defence, I'd been lost in my world and hadn't heard the joke! None of my friends believed any of my excuses though and in an attempt to put my mouth to better use, I put my head down and just ate - never a bad idea when you have a million and twelve dishes to try out. You see, my friends are like really mean! Not only do they tell jokes that make me the laughing stock of the table, no, they also (under the thread of endless torture and the withdrawal of 王力宏) force me to eat 鳳爪 (Fèng Zhǎo / Phoenix Claw) and 白雲鳳爪 (Bái Yún Fèng Zhǎo / White Cloud Phoenix Claw). You may know said dish under the the well-known name of "Chicken Feet".


Okay, okay, so my friends didn't even force me. In fact, I possibly even got the ball rolling by sheepishly admitting that I'd like to try the 鳳爪 so I'd be able to say that I really sampled everything. Unfortunately my teacher has damn good ears and when she heard, she persuaded me to try until I reluctantly surrendered somewhere around the time where she offered that we eat one together.


I went all out and started off with the 白雲鳳爪 which are plain steamed and served with a vinegar dipping sauce. My entire body shock when my tongue got it's first taste of the entirely unknown but I bravely took a large bite, chewed, disposed of the bones and swallowed. My friends applauded and grinned when I sheepishly admitted something along the lines of 'wasn't all that bad' before proceeding to wash the taste down with two small cups of green tea. More laughter ensued and I consoled myself with something less weird called Turnip Cake (萝卜糕 / Luó Bo Gāo).


After a mere five minutes of peace another friend of mine proceeded to gently coax me into trying chicken feet which are deep fried, boiled, marinated in a black bean sauce and then steamed. Unlike my teacher, she took the more direct approach of simply dumping the chicken feet on my plate, leaving me with no choice to bite the bullet, err feet, I mean. Surprisingly enough I liked these chicken feet a lot more than the 白雲鳳爪 and finished the entire foot (this sounds creepy!) without as much as a complaint. The applause I got was well worth it - it's fun to be a foreigner amongst your Chinese friends, sometimes I feel a bit like a pet or guinea pig but it's all good.


To sum things up, the food was beyond delicious, the company was great and the price for the meal was more than decent. There were eight of us and our bill was just over 100€, 13€ each. I don't know where else in Dublin you can eat this well for such a decent price and feel full all day!


The only thing that I missed was that the food wasn't served in the traditional bamboo steamer baskets but metal bowls. Nevertheless, the Dim Sum was great so if you're looking for a place to eat authentic Dim Sum outside of Hong Kong, then 好世界 should be your destination (providing you're in Ireland that is). I'd definitely go back, especially with a bunch of friends...actually I'm hungry now that I recalled all the yummy food I had.