SHANGHAI: STALE DUMPLINGS IN DALSTON
There are certain words you will never hear either of DH say.
“Make mine a half”
“Well done, please”
“I’m catching up with my Jane Austen”
Most unlikely of all, however are those three special little words every one likes to hear across the dining table
“You have it”
It just doesn’t happen. In fact so determined are we to make sure that all things are fair and square when it comes to divvying up food, that I am pondering on buying HP a micrometer for Christmas to be used when portioning out the rashers of bacon atop the turkey.
So, when I heard these unlikely little words coming out of his mouth on Sunday’s excursion to Shanghai, a well-regarded Chinese restaurant in Dalston, I knew that all was not right with HP Dim Sum wise.
We had been before, a number of times, but not for some years. Our first visit saw us enjoying remarkably good, fresh and imaginative Dumplings which confirmed the reviews we had read claiming this was where many of London’s off duty Chinese chefs came to eat on their days off. A second visit was pretty dreadful and we never bothered again. Until yesterday, that is, when after reading some half decent recent reviews we made another trek up for an early pre-football lunch.
Little has changed. The room, a former pie & mash shop still looks great with all the old fittings and the same manager is still greeting people. Unfortunately, the food was more like our last visit than our first with little to distinguish the dishes we were served from the bog standard bought in versions of Chinatown.
There should be a prompt but definite progression to eating Dim Sum. First the baked, then the fried, then the steamed with the pre-requisite plates of roast duck and belly pork coming out whenever they damn well like. About five minutes after we ordered, our table was covered with nine of the thirteen dishes we has chosen, with the others following soon afterwards. Bamboo bowls stacked up and plates of cheung fun sat congealing nicely as we worked our way round to them. The treasury pork pies, always our first port of call, were stone cold, a bad sign when there is no one else in the place and the roast meats slid around in a slick of grease.
It was all pretty depressing stuff and the almost rank air of stale food and shoddy cooking confirmed our view that their low turnover meant we were experiencing the previous day’s leftovers brought back to life. Only the har gow and a plate of crab meat fried in noodles escaped the withering opinion of HP and when he uttered those three little words “you have it” about the last pork pie, I knew it was time to get the bill.
At £42 including service, it was cheap enough to last less in the memory than the nausea caused, for the remainder of the day, by the food in the stomach, but was still as big a robbery as The Arsenal’s snatch and grab we saw later on T.V.
Oh, and in case you are wondering, yes I did eat the last pork pie. Mainly because I am greedy, but also because I have no doubt it will be a cold day in Hell before I hear those words issue from the mouth of HP again.