Tuesday 14 January 2014

Paradise Dynasty, Bangsar Village, Kuala Lumpur

Feeling quite hungover after winning a pub quiz, and its subsequent celebrations, we decided to go for lunch in Bangsar in an attempt to feel human again.

Our plan was to go to a tried and tested brunch favourite called Plan B, but on our way through Bangsar Village we spotted a new Chinese restaurant which quickly became our Plan A. The restaurant was called Paradise Dynasty and came with the somewhat entertaining but enticing sub-heading - 'Legend of Xiao Long Bao'.

For those who don't know, xiao long bao is not a Chinese fairytale, myth or really anything that should be preceded by the word 'legend'. Xiao long bao are small steamed buns which usually contain a soupy pork mixture. Erin and I love bun/dumpling-based things that come from China so we were immediately excited to find a new restaurant of this ilk in our neighbourhood.

We immediately ordered the xiao long bao RM13 (approx$4) to see if they really were the stuff of legend.

I've eaten my fair share of xiao long bao around Asia, although a lot more outside China than in China itself. In my opinion, they are quite difficult to do well. The skin needs to be thick enough to support the soup inside, and the pork meat-to-soup ratio needs to be good - I prefer there to be less in the way of meat. Finally, the whole thing has to taste good, which can be difficult because the pork mixture inside can sometimes taste too fatty for my liking.

Xiao long bao are supposed to be dipped in Chinese vinegar with ginger, like this:

The next thing to do is to bite the top of the bao to avoid being burnt by the often piping-hot soupy mix inside like so:

Next, you put the whole thing in your mouth and enjoy the porky soupy flavours that explode out of these little bundles of joy.

These were very enjoyable, I'd say comparable to those of the most famous xiao long bao chain, Din Tai Fung. Perhaps my only complaint would be that RM13 is quite steep for only 6 of them.

Overall - Good xaio long bao 4 /5

Sticking firmly to the dumpling/bun theme, we ordered some Beijing dumplings RM10 (approx $3), which Erin and I often scour Asian cities looking for. We haven't found much in the way of northern Chinese cuisine in KL, with the spicy southern fare being preferred by the local Chinese community.

Erin is somewhat of a dumpling connoisseur, with me taking the role of her eager, but still not entirely trusted apprentice. She just needs to look at dumplings and their skin to know if they have potential or not. These ones passed the visual test I was told...

Dumplings are to be eaten in the same way as xiao long bao in that they need to be dipped in the vinegar. The inside of traditional dumplings is quite different from their counterparts; they don't contain soup, these ones just contained pork meat.

Again the skin-to-meat ratio is important here, and dumplings are often best when they are not completely stuffed to the brim with pork. Like the xiao long bao, these were really good, and because we were too busy shoving them down whole, I didn't manage to take a photo of what they looked like inside! Erin's only criticism was that the skin was maybe a tad rubbery but overall they met all her stringent criteria.

Overall - very good dumplings, and good value for RM10 4 /5

In what completed a bit of a pork-fest, we opted for the sliced pork with noodles served in a pork bone soup RM 18 (approx $6). It came in a beautiful chinese bowl:

Chinese soups can be slightly bland in my opinion, but the pork bone soup was highly recommended in the menu. My initial impression was that the soup was indeed bland, although the hand-made noodles and Chinese vegetables were nice.

The soup did get better as it went on, maybe as all the flavours became more infused. However, we couldn't help but think we had ordered the wrong dish here with many other appetising alternatives on the menu.

Overall - Good noodles, slightly bland soup 2.5 / 5

Although the soup was a little underwhelming, we left Paradise Dynasty feeling very satisfied and excited to return and try other things. I left with my hangover diminished, and Erin finally got her KL Beijing dumpling fix.
Tasteful decor

Busy making buns and dumplings

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