But I've mainly only gone at lunchtime, usually primarily for dim sum, for which they have little competition. The dim sum menu (which oddly has never been on their website) also seems to change more frequently than the main à la carte menu, which goes on for page after page. The dim sum menu is also pretty much on-trend in that they are looking to regions outside Canton, and are pulling it off (as in the Tianjin buns mentioned below). I think the Yeungs should think about how and where the main à la carte menu can be modernised too. It would be nice to see something like a specials of the day menu, and waiting staff more able to say that such and such is really good today, etc.
We had been meaning to return to the Yang Sing for some time, when I saw at the end of July that they had suffered a fire in the kitchen. 15 years ago, they had been hit by a fire which saw them forced to move into temporary premises for almost two years. Fortunately, this time, the fire had been contained in the kitchen, and within a week or so they had been able to re-open, but when we went they were effectively only camping out on the ground floor of the building, with a somewhat limited menu (the cheung fun steamer had been destroyed and they had no access to the ovens for roast meats). I've often thought how much I would prefer to be on the ground floor than in the basement, which is the only room they usually have open. This meal showed I was right: it was much more pleasant having proper daylight and even, strangely, sunshine. It was also quite a bit busier than it has been on my last few visits, though still not back to the days when you used to have to queue for a table.
As already mentioned, because of the restricted kitchen facilities, the dim sum menu was equally a bit restricted, but it's still a huge selection, taking in many of the usual suspects and a number of more unusual items. On this occasion, we noticed quite a few new dishes, and these are largely what we concentrated on.
|The "limited" dim sum menu|
|Char sui puffs (someone had eaten one before I took the photograph)|
One of the weaker dishes today were these cuttlefish balls with a molten prawn centre. Not because they weren't delicious: minced cuttlefish deep fried in panko breadcrumbs - what's not to like? No, the disappointment was with the molten prawn centre. The waiter had warned us to be careful eating them because of the liquid filling. But he needn't have bothered, as there wasn't really much of the molten prawn filling, and I didn't really get much of a prawn flavour from it. If you'd just given me them, I'd have loved them, but on the day, they didn't quiet live up to the billing.
|Cuttlefish balls in panko breadcrumbs with molten shrimp sauce centre|
|steamed Tianjin pork buns with wood fungus and Chinese celery|
|Interior of the Tianjin pork bun|
Steamed honeycomb tripe with satay sauce was also absolutely terrific. The honeycomb tripe made a nice change from the library tripe I usually have at the Yang Sang. Nothing more to say: the picture says it all.
|Honeycomb tripe with satay sauce|
Prawn & vegetable dumplings came in a beautiful, clear consommé. Really nice flavours, both in the dumplings and in the broth.
|Prawn and root vegetable dumpling in consommé|
|Steamed mooli with Chinese sausage and dried shrimp|
|Not really much prettier when served|
Our last dish was the disappointment of the day.
|Crispy lai wong bao|
So, some pretty terrific dim sum, and there are still plenty of new dishes on the dim sum menu that we need to try. Service was mostly very good, but not entirely immune from what seems to occidental eyes as an abruptness.
I suppose one issue that is worth raising here is that they continue not to have itemised bills. You get a bill which is essentially only broken down into food and drinks, supported by a number of dockets in Chinese. I think in these days they should upgrade their till systems so that it's much easier to check the bill is correct. That said, as I'd taken a photo of the menu earlier, I was able to quickly add everything up, and the bill was correct, and on previous occasions it's always been around what I've thought it should be, so I'm not suggesting any impropriety at all. I just think it should be easier.
I want to end on a positive, however, and will just repeat that the food was very good and very interesting, and they deserve credit for continuing to innovate.