Growing up (half) Chinese, I had my fair share of exposure to dim sum over the years. It was always a weekend brunch activity, where myself and my parents, or sometimes a huge portion of my Lee family clan, would head to our favourite dim sum restaurant and satisfy our cravings for bite-sized shrimp and pork dumplings. Siu mai was life.
And yet, never in my life did I have dim sum for dinner until February of this year. In a world where you can get a Tim Horton’s double double at any hour of the day, or go to the gym at 2:00 a.m., it can come as no surprise that dim sum, traditionally served for brunch, is now served all day at a number of restaurants. I’ve never even considered eating it past the early afternoon, but when my friend Dana suggested we grab dim sum for dinner, I was intrigued.
Enter Urban China. I’ve heard great things about their dim sum but have never managed to make it out on the weekend. An evening meal was the perfect time to try out their dumplings.
The restaurant is well taken care of, with white tablecloths, plenty of traditional decorations, and a nice, relaxing atmosphere. It’s a little classier than many of its Chinatown competitors and the price point reflects that–it’s a few dollars more per dish than restaurants like All Happy and Garden Bakery, but the food is made fresh and the service is much more attentive. While I do love the occasional greasy spoon, Urban China is about midway between the bustle and bluntness of All Happy Family Restaurant and higher-end Asian restaurants like East. It honestly just depends on your mood.
And we happened to be in the mood for dinnertime dim sum. Do you know why there are no pictures of siu mai in this post? Because we ate them much too quickly for me to even grab a photo. They’re delicious. Firm, non-greasy, and tasty–a dumpling to write home about. The har gow (which, despite having gluten, never seem to affect me) were little pieces of heaven, wrapped firmly in dough that held together steadily when picked up by chopsticks. The sticky rice was delicious, but could have contained a little more meat for my liking.
One thing about going for dim sum in the evening is that, without the constant train of carts, you select only the items that you know you like. We didn’t waste space on trying out something new; instead, we indulged in multiple orders of our favourites (two pieces of siu mai is never enough for one person).
Overall, I was impressed with the food and the service at Urban China. It’s a little pricier than my usual dim sum haunts, but I’d rather pay a few dollars more for fresh, non-greasy siu mai, since the alternative can be extremely unappetizing (i.e. pre-closure Mirama). I probably wouldn’t go there if I was starving and looking to down a million pieces of har gow, though–those beautiful little dumplings just go down way too easily.
10604 101 St NW
Edmonton, AB T5H 2S1