Begin the dim sum journey with Wah Lok Cantonese Restaurant at The Carlton Hotel in Bangkok’s upper-Sukhumvit. The signature restaurant of the Singaporean Carlton Hotel brand, Wah Lok, is somewhat of an institution in the Lion City where it was born. It is the city’s premier spot for Cantonese delicacies, including Hong Kong-style dim sum. In Bangkok too, Wah Lok is quietly creating a following for its dim sum experience (served only at lunchtime). Executive Chef Lam Kok Weng, part of Wah Lok Singapore’s opening team 30 years ago, brings three decades of experience to the table. He is not new to Bangkok, having worked at several 5-star hotel restaurants in the city and is also a winner of Iron Chef Thailand competition.
Begin your food adventure with Baked Barbecue Pork Bun (char siu bao), somewhat of a Wah Lok signature. The regular Salapao Moo Daeng pales in comparison. Perfectly flavoured pork filling wrapped in yeasted wheat flour dough baked a light golden brown with biscuity tops. It’s hard to stop at one, and you will probably order some takeaway. Not that the Deep-fried Shrimp Wanton served next with a light and tangy mayo is not equally addictive – it’s the perfect balancing act of crisp exterior and tender shrimp, still warm. It’s a new addition to the dim sum menu, as is the steamed spinach and shrimp dumpling. Steamed lobster and Scallop dumplings, Steamed Xiew Long Bao Pork with Pork Broth and Steamed Vegetarian dumplings with bamboo fungus and truffle follow.
Each hitting the mark. The Xiew Long Bao though, stands out for the delicacy of the broth and the vegetarian one for the unexpected truffle hit, which strangely works perfectly. In between, we nibble on deep-fried salmon skin dusted with salted egg yolk and garnished with deep-fried curry leaves. Again, very addictive.
The mains bring the chef’s signature Sautéed Australian Beef Tenderloin with Garlic and Black Pepper Sauce – the cubed beef melting in the mouth. It’s a dish you will order on repeat. For contrast, we have Soy Braised Snow Fish With Eggplants and Tofu – eggplants and tofu are staples of any Cantonese home-cooked meal. Both tend to absorb flavour easily and work perfectly as backup dancers to any protein. In this case, the flaky snow fish shines – comfort food at its best.
Tofu is also the star of another of the chef’s delicious signatures: Deep-fried house-made Tofu with Spinach in XO Sauce: the spinach is layered onto the tofu rectangles like seaweed on sushi, the tofu firm but bursting with XO flavours it has soaked up like a sponge. And for duck’s sake, try the Peking duck; you will thank us. Order the whole duck or go for a half. The perfectly crispy duck skins come with the classic steamed flour pancakes and/or fine omelette sheets.
We end the meal with what is possibly the most refreshing Cantonese dessert in town: chilled lemongrass jelly with aloe vera and fruits - light, clean and refreshing. (Tuesday-Sunday; Lunch: 11.30am-2.30pm; Dinner: 6pm-10.30pm; +662090 7888; Fbreservations@carltonhotel.co.th)
Pagoda Chinese Restaurant: At the Marriott Marquis Bangkok Queen’s Park, this restaurant combines classic and modern takes in seamless harmony. The setting is dramatic with a pagoda-inspired ceiling and lacquered tiles. The dim sum menu offers quite a variety. Still, the standouts are Steamed Prawn Dumplings, Steamed Pork Spare Ribs with garlic and black bean, steamed garlic, chives and prawn dumpling, their signature Mushroom-shaped Steamed Buns, and steamed pork dumplings with abalone and shitake mushroom. (Monday-Sunday; Lunch: 11.30am-2.30pm; Dinner: 6-10pm; +662 059 5999)
Hong Bao: You cannot go wrong with this bright and airy eatery on Sukhumvit 39 with its all-day dim sum menu. The crowds here underline its popularity; the diners just can’t get enough of the authentic Cantonese fare. Try the steamed rice roll with shrimp, Ha Gao (steamed shrimp dumpling) and Steamed Radish Cake with Dried Scallops. Their Salapao Lava (golden salty egg bun) is famous for a reason, and their Peking duck is second to none. The accompanying sauce is a house signature based on reduced duck broth. The duck meat can be cooked two ways: Hong Kong-style deep-fried with garlic or stir-fried with a spicy chilli sauce. (Monday-Friday 10am-1.30pm, 4.30-9pm; Saturday-Sunday 9,30am-9pm; +662-662-3565)
Yào Restaurant: On the 32nd floor of Bangkok Marriott Hotel The Surawongse, Yào Restaurant offers 360-degree views of the city and is known for its dim sum. Standouts: Foie Gras and Shrimp Dumplings, Crispy Fried Crab Roll, crab dumplings with cheese, Pan-fried Salty Egg Yolk Bun, Crab with Fish wrapped in Tofu Sheet and Taro and Roasted Duck Dumpling. (Monday-Sunday; Lunch: 10.30am-2.30pm; Dinner: 6-10.30pm; +662 088 5666)
Spice & Barley: This Asian gastro lounge on the riverside offers a non-stop dim sum menu. The dramatic rattan interiors dominate the narrative at this Avani+Riverside Bangkok restaurant but check out the menu once you can look away. Besides the Prawn Hakao and the Pork Siew Mai, try Fried Taro Balls with Chicken Curry, Steamed Broccoli with shrimp, Char Siew Pork in a Fresh Noodle Roll, Salted Egg Lava Buns and steamed Pork Ribs with Chinese Plum. Add the Peking Duck and Koi See Mee (Cantonese egg noodles with shredded chicken), and you are sorted. End on a sweet note with the delicious date pancakes. (Wednesday-Friday: Lunch 12noon-3pm, Dinner 5-10pm; Saturday - Sunday: 12noon-10pm; +66 2431 9491)