Tuesday, June 15, 2010


My trip to Hong Kong a few weeks ago really put me in the mood for dim sum, even though (or maybe because) I didn't get to eat any good Chinese food while I was there. A few blocks away from where I live in Tokyo, however, there's a fairly new dumpling restaurant called Dalian, a branch of the Yokohama Chinatown original, whose stylish interior design and terrace defy all expectations about what a dim sum shop should look like. The lights are strung up in black wire bird cages, the windows are criss-crossed by a vaguely Oriental carved trellis, and the chopsticks are green and bamboo-shaped. The menu includes a range of Japan's favorite Chinese dishes, from shrimp in chili sauce to an omelette with gooey gravy. What the restaurant is most famous for, however, is gyoza (potstickers) cooked so that the edges all meld together, kind of like a pancake.
You can get this in either a boiled or a fried version, although unfortunately it's not offered with the vegetable filling available for plain old individual gyoza. It's a beautiful presentation with the lacy batter cracking off between the plump gyoza, which are so juicy they'll squirt all the way across the table if the person eating them isn't careful.
Besides gyoza, the restaurant has a few traditional dim sum choices, served in lovely bamboo steamer boxes, and the most assertive vegetarian spring rolls I've ever tasted - though meatless (at least as far as I could discern), they're filled with gooey harusame rice noodles, strong-flavored shiitake mushrooms, and other shredded vegetables, and served with spicy mustard.
Just to be healthy, we ordered the stir-fried seasonal vegetable, which turned out to be bok choy in a creamy garlicky sauce. It was slippery between the chopsticks, but tender and brightly flavored. If I go back, I'd like to try some of the other dishes on the menu - the hundred year old eggs with tofu sounded like an especially intriguing choice.
Azabu Juban 3-6-2
Minato-ku, Tokyo

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