Two of my Chinese friends and I schedule monthly dinners so that we can catch up. Last month, we tried Pho, and this month they took me along to Chung Ying in Chinatown. When Chung Ying was first suggested, I was only aware of the Central branch near Victoria Square, as I think most people would be – I wasn’t even aware there was one in Chinatown!
When we arrived, we were quickly shown to our table and given menus. While we were ordering, we were given a complimentary pot of jasmine tea, which was a very nice touch. The menus were impressively extensive and came alongside a dim sum menu which had pictures – perfect for me. Although the menu had English and Mandarin translations, my friends decided what we were going to order – this normally happens and I’m either pleasantly surprised and find a new favourite dish, or it completely backfires. This time it was a definite success.
We ordered one dish of Yu Xiang Qie Ziu (“Yu Shang Che Tzu”) – aubergine cooked with pork mince in garlic, spicy bean sauce and soy sauce. I was taught how to make this last year and had been pretty damn proud of how good it tasted. My version pales in comparison to Chung Ying’s. The sauce was absolutely delicious and the aubergines were beautifully soft without being oily. The smell coming off the dish was also divine. What I didn’t realise until the dish came was that this version included pieces of salted fish. I ate one piece without realising and had quite a surprise!
Next up was a plate of Char Siu – barbecued shoulder pork cooked in honey, five-spice, dark soy sauce and a touch of red food colouring which gave the meat its red coating. I thought it was delicious, even though the presentation of this was a bit lacking. I probably ate more than my fair share of both the pork and the aubergine dishes, but I couldn’t help it as it was so good. We ordered enough rice for two people to go with our meal, but ended up with at least one third of it left at the end, if not more as we were so full.
My friends then shared a portion of pork dumplings and king prawn dumplings from the dim sum menu, which I avoided as I’m just not a fan of seafood or of Chinese dumplings (I also forgot to take a photo of these – oops!). Next up was ‘dessert’ – in the form of “Liquid Gold” steamed buns. My only previous knowledge of steamed buns was being at my friends’ house when she tried to cook one in the microwave and nearly set fire to it, so I had no idea what to expect.
My friends told me they were egg yolk buns, so being not egg’s biggest fan I was a bit apprehensive. They assured me that the buns were sweet so I took the plunge and bit into it. I may have found my new favourite dish. Liu Sha Bao are steamed buns which contain a a sweet and sticky egg custard. When you bite into the bun, the sugary filling oozes out with an incredibly vibrant yellow colour. They definitely deserve the name ‘Liquid Gold’ as they taste so divine. I was almost disappointed when I finished the bun that there was no more, despite being full to bursting at that point.
The decor of the Chinatown branch doesn’t quite compare to what I’ve seen of the more contemporary Chung Ying Central, but it had a warm homely feel. Considering that we ordered two meals, rice, dim sum and ‘dessert’, the meal came to around £12 each, so was definitely very reasonably priced. I am very intrigued by the Cheung Fun menu that only runs before 5pm, so we’ll definitely be popping back soon!