We all know that Dim Sum can be found at all the major Chinese restaurants in town. Hey, you just have to look for the big lineups in front while driving by on a weekend morning. On that note, is there really any place that does not have a lineup during peak hours? That is probably why I hesitate to go for Dim Sum between 11:00am - 1:00pm without a reservation. I absolutely hate lineups. Even with a "reservation", some Chinese restaurants consider it no more than a politician's promise. It's all fine and dandy at first; but when it comes to delivering, it doesn't exist. So imagine my dilemma when I woke up late on a Sunday at 11:00am? I felt like Dim Sum while not feeling it for lining up. Hmm... How about a smaller place? Wait. Western Lake is an example of a smaller Chinese restaurant and they have lineups to end all lineups... Okay, I had to reach deep into my subconsciousness for this one - Chong Lum Hin. As you know, I have a 6th sense. No, I don't see dead people. Rather, I can see restaurants. While driving, I'm always on the lookout for places to eat. I've driven by Chong Lum Hin countless times without stopping to eat at the place. Why? Well, it looks dumpy. I'm not adverse to dives; but this place was just never a priority... until today.
Hoping that there would be no lineup as well as inexpensive Dim Sum, I loaded the family into the SUV. We ended up parking across the street rather than their parking lot. I really should've done that instead. You see, we parked right in front of a sex shop. My son who can read very well asked, "what are adult toys?" Uh... Viv interjected and replied that they were cell phones and stuff... Well... I guess that is somewhat legit since some people have been known to use cell phones... as "toys". Ahem. Anyways, once across the street and into the restaurant, we noticed that it is indeed a dive. Reminiscent of the 80's, this place is short on decor; but really, that was expected. With most items at only $2.75, I don't really care about the decor. Luck would have it, we ended up with a table at the corner with windows on both sides! It must be my lucky day... Should visit the that sex shop after Dim Sum! Er... Okay, onto the food... Since the place is incredibly cramped, they employ the order checklist rather than push carts.
Everything seemed to show up at once, so there was really no real order to the food. I'll just starting taking about the Haw Gow (shrimp dumpling) first. For $2.75, these were pretty solid shrimp dumplings. The filling had the proper snap texture while not being over-seasoned. The natural sweetness of the shrimp was present. The dumpling wrapper was very respectable as well. Not too thick and steamed perfectly. The same could be said about the Sui Mai (pork & shrimp dumpling). Also nicely cooked with the desired bounce from the meat. For one the one dumpling that I did eat, I didn't notice any shrimp. It could be a bad mix or there was no shrimp? That didn't hurt the flavour though. It was a nice balance of sweet and saltiness with some shiitake mushrooms bits. As much as the 2 dumplings were good, the Beef Rice Noodle Roll was not. They put way too much water in the rice flour mix; hence the noodle could not be picked up without it totally disintegrating. Furthermore it was too thick. We did like the beef filling though, it was tender and had a right amount of cilantro. Of course, here comes the offal in the form of the Satay Tendon and Tripe. It wasn't the most pleasing of colours since it was very pale (especially for satay). However, the flavour was right with plenty of garlic. Both the tendon and tripe were tender and easy to eat. We thought the Shark's Fin & Dry Scallop Dumpling in soup was alright. The broth was naturally flavourful from the dry scallops. The dumpling itself was large and full of seafood. However, it could've done without the imitation crab meat.
Normally, I'm not a huge fan of overstuffed Steamed Bean Curd Rolls. It just becomes a chore to eat and the fried bean curd sheets become lost. However, I didn't mind this one since it wasn't all meat inside. Rather, there was a mix of veggies which kept the roll quite light despite its size. The next dish was Viv's pick. She loves Deep Fried Eggplant stuffed with shrimp mousse. We both agreed that this was done very well. The eggplant was fully cooked without being slimy while the shrimp mousse was both plentiful and right texturally. The only negative was the bland black bean sauce. Rather than ordering a plate of spareribs, we did the "Chinese-value ordering strategy" and got the Steamed Spareribs and Chicken Feet on Rice. Normally, this dish is "come bao" which means it can fill you up quickly. Thus, people order it so they don't need to order much more food to be full. It really didn't matter in this case since we ordered 14 dishes for 2 adults and 2 young children! Anyways, the rice itself held up to the ingredients and still had some chew. The spareribs were very good being soft with a bit of chew left. We liked how most of the pieces were meaty and not that cartilage crap that has no meat and all fat. Taste-wise, it was very garlicky, just the way we like it. The single chicken feet (foot?) was big and plump.
On the topic of feet, we got an order of the Steamed Duck Webs with taro root. Much like the chicken feet, the duck webs were equally large and plump. Lots of gelatin and soft tendon underneath. Yah, if you didn't grow up eating this, this might be slightly gross sounding... Once again, there was plenty of garlic in the flavourful sauce. The large pieces of taro helped soak it all up at the bottom of the plate. As mentioned, we got 14 dishes, so the food kept coming. The Pan Fried Daikon Cake had a beautiful crust with an appetizing colour. Normally, that would mean there was copious amounts of oil used to achieve this. Now, there still might been a lot of oil; but it didn't show up on the cake itself. It was soft while maintaining its form, even after separating it into quarters. Lots of big daikon slivers and the right amount of dried shrimp and diced Chinese sausage made for a great tasting cake (somehow that didn't come out right).
So the next dish was strictly for the kiddies. Nothing like deep fried goodness in the form of Garlic Shrimp Spring Rolls. Somehow I get the idea that this place likes using garlic... And yes, there was lots of garlic mixed in with the shrimp. They were good. Crispy on the outside while not being oily with loads of crunchy shrimp on the inside. Not sure if the plum sauce was necessary since the spring roll had plenty of flavour on its own. Another thing for the kiddies was the Preserved Egg and Salted Pork Congee. Well, at least most of it was for the kiddies, we ended up eating the preserved egg. They're not into the black egg thing yet. It's funny how we watch Fear Factor where people are so freaked out at eating it. I guess growing up having it in everything tends to desensitize people. Anyways, the congee itself was on the watery side. It did taste great though. I suspect there was a fair share of MSG in it. There was no shortage of ingredients either. A decent Dim Sum congee. The best congee is usually best to be had at a place that specializes in it such as Congee Noodle King.
Lastly, we got an order of the BBQ Pork Buns and Custard Buns. Since they are essentially the same except for the filling, I've only posted the picture of the custard buns. The bun itself was soft and fluffy if not a bit sweet. That was significant since the BBQ pork filling was quite sweet too which resulted in an overly sweet product. Yet, that's nitpicking really. The Dim Sum in general was more than acceptable given the price. In fact, we thought it was good. Sure, the place ain't much to look at from the outside and inside; but it fits the bill for inexpensive Dim Sum in the New West/Burnaby area. Furthermore, the service we got was more than adequate and bordered on friendly. As for the sex shop we parked in front of... we rushed the kids into the car. We weren't interested in explaining what XXX meant.
- Pretty decent stuff
- Service ain't bad
- It ain't much to look at (if that matters to you)
- A bit cramped